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The Highland bagpipeiits histonr. , litera 

3 1924 022 329 993 









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The Highland Bagpipe 






The Highland Bagpipe 

Its History, Literature, and Music 


Traditions, Superstitions, and Anecdotes 

Relating to 

The Instrument and Its Tunes 

BY • 


Tke tune -with the river in it, the fast river and the courageous^ that 

kens no't stop nor tarry ^ that runs round rock and over fall 

with a good humour, yet no mood for anything 

but the way before it. — Neil Munro. 


puiUc^n to %tt latr iSlafeists ®.uttv. Ftctorta 





Glasgow Weekly Herald 



This book was not written on a preconceived plan, drawn 
up from the beginning of the work. It " growed." It had 
its inception in a commission to write for the Weekly 
Herald half-a-dozen biographical articles on famous pipers. 
The necessary investigation produced a mass of material 
too interesting to be left unused, and the half-dozen 
articles of the original commission became twenty-seven, 
with very little of the biographical in them. These, after 
being finally recast, revised, and in several cases re- written, 
are now in the form of a book flung at an unoffending 
public. If the volume interests any one — well. If not — 
well. There is nothing more to be said on that point. 

It were vain to attempt to acknowledge indebtedness to 
books or to men. Every available book bearing on the 
subject even in the most indirect way has been consulted, 
in many cases read. A great deal of the material used is 
of course common to all Highland literature, and one book 
cannot be quoted more than another. With men it is 
equally impracticable to give names. So many have helped, 
so many have written giving additional bits of information 
or suggesting improvements, so many have, in reply to 
requests, kindly supplied matter dealing with phases of the 

viii. Preface. 

subject on which they have intimate knowledge, that one 
could not do justice to all without naming all. Still, while 
this may not be done, I cannot possibly refrain from saying 
that without the assistance given by Mr. Henry Whyte 
("Fionn'") in matters of Highland history and questions 
connected with the Gaelic language, the book could hardly 
have been published; while Mr. John Mac Kay, editor of 
the Celtk Monthly, in throwing open to me his valuable 
library of Celtic literature, did very much to lighten my 
labours. This, I think, is all I can safely say. If I said 
more, I would have to say so very much. 

W. L. M. 

Glasgow, Ayril 27, 1901. 



CHAPTER I.— Tuning up, 9 

" A Hundred Pipers " — Scotland becoming CoBmopolitan — The War 
spirit of the Pipes — Regiments, not Clans — Annual Gatherings 
— Adaptability of Pipes — Scots folk from Home — An aged 
Enthusiast — Highlands an Extraordinary Study — Succession of 
Chiefs — Saxon introduced — Gaelic printed — Highlands in 1603 
— The Mac Neills of Barra — Highland hospitality. 

CHAPTER II.— Harpers, Bards, and Pipers, ... 18 

Ancient musical instruments — Priestly harpers — Hereditary harpers 
— Irish versus Scottish harpers — Royal harpers — Use of harp 
universal — Welsh sarcasm — Mary Queen of Scots' harp — The 
last of the harpers — ^" The Harper of Mull" — From harp to 
pipes — Tlie clarsach — Pipes supplanting bards — The last clan 
bard — Bardic customs — Bards' jealousy of pipes — The bard 
in battle — Duncan Ban Mac Intyre — Two pipers scared — When 
the pipes became paramount — The fiery cross — The coronach. 

CHAPTER III.— The Tale of the Years, ... 30 

The time of the Flood — Pipes in Scripture — In Persia — In Arabia — 
In Tarsus — Tradition of the Nativity — In Rome — In Greece — 
In Wales, Ireland, and Scotland — Melrpse Abbey — In France — 
In England — At Bannockburn — Chaucer — In war — First auth- 
entic Scottish reference — Oldest authentic specimen — Became 
general — Rosslyn Chapel — Second drone added — At Flodden — 
"A maske of bagpypes" — Spenser — Shakespeare — rJames VI. — 
A poetical historian — Big drone added—The '45 — Native to 
Scotland — The evolution of the Highlands, 



CHAPTER IV.— The Make of the Pipes, ... 59 

The "Encyclopaedia" definition — The simple reed — Early forms — 
Simple bagpipes — The chorus — The volynka — Continental 
pipes — British pipes — The Northumbrian — The Irish — The 
Highland — Tuning — Modern pipes — Prize pipes. 

CHAPTER v.— With an Eae to the Drone,... 73 

Dr. Johnson — Inspiration of Scottish music — Professor Blackie — 
Highland music simple — Scottish airs once Highland — Age of 
Highland music — Capability of the bagpipe — How it has suffered 
— Peculiarities of the pibroch — Pipe music not fitted for inside — 
How it troubled the pressman — Chevalier Neukomm — Professor 
Blackie again — A Chicago jury's opinion^ — An ode to the pipes. 

CHAPTER VI.— The " Language " of the Pipes, 87 

Have the pipes a language 1 — A wild, fanciful notion — How it got a 
hold — How much of it is true ? — The reed actually speaking — A 
powerful influence— The power of association — Neil Munro — 
Descriptive Highland airs — A Cholla mo run — Military stories 
— In South Africa — An enthusiastic war correspondent. 

CHAPTER VII.— The Liteeature of the Pipes, 98 

Ancient music lost — Transmission by tradition — Druidical remains 
—Systems of teaching— No books— "Unintelligible jargon" — 
Canntaireachd — The Mac Crimmon System— The Gesto Book — 
A scientific system — A tune in Canntaireachd — Pipers unable to 
explain — Earliest printed pipe music — Mac Donald's Books — 
More recent books — Something to be done. 

CHAPTER VIII.— The Pipes in Battle, ... 113 

A CuUoden incident — Ancient Celts in battle — The harper and 
bard superseded — First mention of pipes ' in battle — First 
regimental pipers— In the navy— Prince Charlie's pipers— An 
" instrument of war "^A Mac Crimmon incident — Power of 

pipes in battle-^A Magersfontein incident — Byron's tribute 

Position in actual battle. 



CHAPTER IX.— The Piper as a Hero, ... 126 

One cowardly piper— At Philiphaugh — At Bothwell Bridge — At 

Cromdale — The Peninsular War — At Waterloo — At Dargai — 

Eeay Country pipers — At Candahar — At Lucknow — In America 

— In Aslianti — In the Soudan — In South Africa. 

CHAPTER X.— The Regimental Piper, ... 136 

Preserving the pipes — Regimental bands — Pay of army pipers — The 
seven pipers of Falkirk — Duties of regimental pipers — The 
meaning of "Retreat" — A story of Napoleon — In a social 
capacity — An army wedding ^ — A military funeral — At the 
officers' mess — Awkward incidents — " Boberechims." 

CHAPTER XI.— The Piper as a Man of Peace, 146 

Clan pipers — Chief's retinue — At weddings — Pipers prohibited — 
In sorrow — At funerals — Queen Victoria's funeral — To lighten 
labour — The harvest dance — The shepherd's pipe — In church 
architecture — In church services — As a call to church — Minis- 
ters and the pipes — Falling into disrepute — " As proud as a 
piper'' — Jealousy of the old masters — "As fou as a piper" — 
An Irish piper. 

CHAPTER XII.— The Burgh Pipers of Scotland, 168 

Royal pipers — In France — At the English court— The Edinburgh 
Piper — Dumbarton — Biggar — Wigtown — Glenliice — Dumfries 
—Linlithgow— Aberdeen —Perth— Keith— Dalkeith — Dundee 
—Peebles — A weird story— Falkirk— " Gallowshiels " pipers' 
combat — The Hasties of Jedburgh — Habbie Simson of Kil- 
barchan — Bridgeton— Neil Blane of Lanark — The Piper of 

CHAPTER XIII. — From the Seat of the Scorner, 192 
Poking fun at the pipes — English caricature — Mixed metaphor — 
Churchism and pipes— Fifteenth century satire— A biographical 
sneer — Thackeray — Bitter English writers — Testimony of a Jew 
—Home sarcasm— The bards— Joanna Baillie— A Frenchman's 
opinion — William Black— Ignorance breaking its shins — Im- 
ported sportsmen— The duty of Highlanders. 

xii. Contents. 


CHAPTER XIV.— The Humour of the Pipes, ... 205 

Punch's joke — King Charles's heads — An amusing competition — A 
Highlander's Irishism — Wedding experiences — A piper's fall — A 
resourceful piper — A Cameron piper and his officer — Lochaber 
no more — An elephant's objection — Embarked in a tub — 
Glasgow street scene — Bad player's strategy — What the wind 
did — A new kind of tripe — A Pasha and a piper — A Gordon 
nervous — A jealous piper — Dougal Mac Dougal's downfall. 

CHAPTER XV.— Demoniac Pipes and Pipers,... 223 

Tam o' Shanter — The Devil's favourite instrument — "Sorcerers" 
burned — A bard's satire — Glasgow Cathedral story — A Hebri- 
dean Tam o' Shanter — Continental ideas — Reformation zeal — 
Ghostly pipers — A " changeling " piper — The Lost Pibroch — 
The Chisholm "enchanted" pipes — The Black Chanter of Clan 

CHAPTER XVI.— Pipers and Fairies, 233 

In fairies' hillocks — Stories with a common origin — Sutherlandshire 
version — Away for a year — Harris piper and the fairies — Seven 
years away — Fairies helping pipers — Helping the Mac Crimmons 
— A boy piper — How the music went from Islay to Skye — Faust- 
like bargains — A Caithness story — A fairy piper. 

CHAPTER XVII.— Pipers in Enchanted Caves, 247 

Allied to fairy stories — Venturesome pipers — The Skye cave — The 

Mull version — The Argyllshire — The Ghostly piper of Dun- 

derave — "Wandering Willie's Tale" — A Sutherlandshire cave 

— A Caithness cave — Underground passages. 

CHAPTER XVIII.— The Hereditary Pipers, ... 257 

Hereditary in two senses — When they ceased — The Mac Crimmons 

— A traditional genealogy — A Mac Gregor tradition — The Mac 

Crimmon College — Dr. Johnson — College broken up — An Irish 

college — Its system — A Mac Crimmon's escapades — Respect for 

the Mac Crimmons — The Rout of Moy — The last of the race 

How they excelled — The Mao Arthurs — The Maclntyres — The 
Mac Kays — The Rankins — The Campbells — The Mac Gregors, 

Coidcids. xiii. 


CHAPTER XIX.— SoMJL Laiteii Day Pipers, ... 276 

Angus Mac Kay — Queen Victoria's first piper — His book — Donald 
Mac Kay— John Bane MacKenzie — The Queen's offer — The 
piper's reply — Donald Cameron — His achievements — His theory 
of pipe music — His system of noting — His last competition — A 
special reed — " The King of Pipers " — Other latter day pipers. 

CHAPTER XX.— How Piping is Preseuved, ... 287 

The waking — Professor Blackie — Highland Society of Scotland — 
Highland Society of London — The system of competitions — The 
first competition — The venue changed — The gold medal — 
Present day competitions — Some suggestions — R.L.S. — Pipe 
bands — Examples from high life — Quality of music — The 
pipes abroad — Sir Walter Scott. 

CHAPTER XXI.— The Oldest Pipe Tunes, ... 299 

Unreliability of tradition — Lost in antiquity — Occasions of tunes — 
Interest of stories— The MacRaes' March— Story of " Suara- 
chan "—Hal o' the Wynd — The Mac Intosh's Lament— Two 
different stories — A Cholla mo run — Duntroon's Salute — The 
Campbells are coming. 

CHAPTER XXII. — Some World-Famous Pibrochs, 314 

MacCrimraon's Lament — Best known of all pipe tunes— Its story— 
Blaokie's poetry— Scott's— The war tune of Glengarry— A tragic 
story— The Pibroch o' Donuil Dhu— Too long in this Condition- 
Pipers and inhospitality— Oh, that I had three hands— Loohaber 
no More— Allan Ramsay's verses— An elated Mac Crimmon— 
Rory Mdr's Lament — Clan Farlane Pibroch— Pipers, poetry, 
and superstition. 

CHAPTER XXIII.— Some Well-Known Gatherings, 335 

A Tune with four stories— The Carles wi' the Breeks— The Mao 
Gregor's Gathering— Scott's verses— Oabe)- Peidh—The Camerons' 
Gathering— Well-matched chiefs— The Loch of the Sword. 

xiv. Contents. 

CHAPTER XXIV.— More Stouies and a Moral, 

The Clan Stewart March — Mac Gregor of Ruaro — The Braes of the 
Mist — Episode at a Dunvegan competition — A Mao Crimmon 
surpassed — Mac Pherson's Lament — Burns and the story — Rob 
Roy's Lament — The Mao Lachlans' March — GUle Galum — The 
Reel o' Tulloch — The Periwig Reel — Jenny Dang the Weaver 
— Mao Donald's Salute — Mac Leod's Salute^Disappearing lore 
— What might be done. 


The Scale of the Pipes, ... ... ... ... 369 

Practical Hints, ... ... ... ... 375 

Bibliography of Pipe Music, ... ... ... 383 

Gold Medallists of Highland Society of London, 388 

Directory of Bagpipe Makers, ... ... ... 392 

The Largest Known List of Pibrochs, ... 393 

The Garb of Old Gaul, 400 

INDEX, 411 


From St. Martin's Cross, Iona, ... 

"The Coronach," 

Harper : on a Stone at Monipeith, 


Carvings in Melrose AsBEr, 

The Oldest Bxtsting Pipes 

Carvings in Rosslyn Chapel, 


Old German Wind Instruments, ... 

The Northumbrian Bagpipe, 

The Irish Bagpipe, 

The Great Highland Bagpipe, 

Capt. Neil MacLeod op Gesto, 

Dancing to Pipe Music 

A Highland Family Party, ... 
Lowland, Highland, and Irish Pipers, 

"The Spirit of the Pipes," 

A Picture from Punch, 

"The Dance of Death," 

The Cave OF Gold, 

A Mac Crimmon Piper, 

A Mac Arthur Piper, 

Angus Mac Kay, 

John Banb Mac Kenzie, 

Donald Cameron, 

Sutherland Volunteer Band, 

Go VAN Police Band 


On Cover, 












... 103 


... 151 


... 193 



to face 247 

... 259 

to face 269 

,. 276 

,, 278 

,, 280 

„ 287 

„ 294 

The Highland Bagpipe. 


Tuning ni'. 

" I liave power, high power for freedom, 

To wake the burning soul ; 
I have sonnets that through the ancient hills. 

Like a torrent's voice might roll ; 
I have pealing notes of victory, 

That might welcome kings from war ; 
I have rich deep tones to send the wail. 

For a hero's death afar." 

" A Hundred Pipers " — Scotland becoming Cosmopolitan — The War 
spirit of the Pipes — Regiments, not Clans — Annual Gatherings 
— Adaptability of Pipes — Scotch folk from Home — An aged 
Enthusiast — Highlands an Extraordinary Study^ — Succession of 
Chiefs — Saxon introduced — Gaelic printed — Highlands in 1603 
— The Mac Neills of Barra — Highland hospitality. 

Wr a Hundred Pipers an' a' an' a'" is a song that 
catches on with Highland people as well now as in 
the days when the piper was a power in the land. 
There is a never ending charm about the pipes, and there 
is a never ending swing about the song of the hundred 

10 The Highland Bagpipe. 

pipers, that stirs the blood of the true-born Celt, and makes 
him applaud vigorously in rhythm with the swing of the 
chorus. But it is because the song harks back to the time 
when one good piper was a man to be revered, and a hundred 
in one place a gathering to be dreaded — if they were all 
there of one accord — that it continues to hold its own. It 
expresses something of the grandeur that was attached to 
the national music, when the clan piper was second only to 
the chief in importance, and the pibroch as much a part 
of the clan life as the fiery cross, so it is accepted as the one 
outstanding bit of song that helps to keep alive the tradi- 
tional glory of the Great Highland Bagpipe. Not that 
there is any immediate danger of that glory fading. It is 
but changing in character. Scotland has become cosmo- 
politan, and the fastnesses of the Highlands are no longer 
the retreats of wild cateran clans, whose peculiar habits and 
primitive idtas of social life helped to bind them together 
with ties of family strength, and at the same time to keep 
them unspotted from the Lowland and outside world that 
knew not the Gaelic and the tartan and the pipes. The 
Pioh Mohr is not now an agency to be reckoned with by 
any one who wishes to explore the hills and glens, neither 
are there any little wars in Lorn or elsewhere, in which it 
can have an opportunity of leading Mac against Mac, or 
clan against clan. As a Highland war spirit, its glory has 
departed, and he would be a bold man who would say he 
was sorry for it. True, the Highland regiments who fight 
Britain's battles abroad still wear the tartan and march 
to the same old strains, but they are not now Highland 
clans. They are British battalions, whose empire, instead 
of being bounded by the horizon of a Scottish glen, is world- 
wide, and they march and wheel, and charge the enemy and 

Tuninff up. 11 

storm the heights in strict accordance with the orders of a 
general who has his orders from Westminster. The only 
gathering of the elans we have nowadays are the gatherings 
in the halls of our big cities, where a thousand or two of 
people bearing a common name meet under the presidency 
of the next-of-kin of the chief of olden times, and drink, not 
mountain dew, but tea, and have Highland or Jacobite 
songs sung to them by. people whose profession is singing, 
and applaud dancers and pipers who dance and pipe because 
it pays them to do so. This is very far removed from the 
time when the Piob Mohr was in the zenith of its power, 
though when one gets enthused with the atmosphere of such 
a meeting, and forgets the slushy streets outside, and the 
telegraph and the railway, and other nineteenth century 
things that have made the Highlands impossible, the song 
of the hundred pipers is quite sufficient to make the blood 
course quicker, and to translate one for a moment to 
other scenes and other times. But it is only for a 
moment. The prosaic present comes back with a reality 
that will not be denied, and one remembers with a sigh 
that the song is but a sentiment, and that never more 
will the gathering cries of the clans re-echo through the 
glens, the fiery cross pass from hand to hand, or the peal 
of the pibroch I'ing from clachan to clachan in a wild cry 
to arms. 

As an inspiration to the clansmen the bagpipe is no more, 
but it remains an integral part of Scottish life and char- 
acter. It is one of the peculiarities of the instrument that 
it adapts itself to circumstances. When that phase of life 
in which it was born and brought up, as it were, passed 
away, it quietly but firmly declined to be moved into the 
background. There is something of the stubbornness of the 

12 The Highland Bagpipe. 

old reivers about it, and just as the Highlander in his times 
of greatest adversity stuck to his pipes, so the pipes seem 
determined to stick to the Highlanders in spite of the ten- 
dencies of latter-day civilisation. The love of the Highlander 
for his pipes is too deep-rooted to vanish simply because 
circumstances change. When Rob Roy lay a-dying, and 
when an old enemy came to see him, he had himself decked 
out in his plaid and claymore, and when the interview was 
over, " Now," said he, " let the piper play Cha til ma tididh^'' 
and he died before the dirge was finished. That spirit has 
lived through the many changes that have taken place since 
Rob Roy's day, and it lives in a modified form now. 
Nothing will make a Scottish audience, especially a Scottish 
audience far from home, cheer as the pipes will, and no 
sound is so welcome at an open-air gathering, or to the 
wandered Scotchman, as the wild notes of the national 
instrument. In the preface to one collection of Highland 
music we are told of a well-known Edinburgh man, dis- 
creetly referred to as " W B , Esq.,'" who was at the 

time the most exquisite violinist in Scotland. Even at the 
venerable age of eighty-three, whenever he heard the 
sound of the pipes he hastened to the place, and after 
giving the itinerant player a handsome reward, he withdrew 
to a passage or common stair near by and had what he 
called " a wee bit dance to himsel'.'" This does not seem a 
very wonderful proceeding, though the story applies to 
about forty years ago, for even now many a Highlander if 
he is in anything like a private place, will begin to " Hooch '' 
and dance if he should happen to hear the pipes. He 
would never think of dancing to any other music — other 
music is foolishness unto him. Many things may and will 
change, but it is hardly possible to imagine circumstances 

Tuning up. 13 

which could dislodge pipe music from its honoured place as 
the national music of Scotland. 

The preservation of the Gaelic, the kilt, and the pipes is 
the most notable feature in Highland history. Without 
his tartan, his language, and his music, the Gael would be 
only " A naked Pict, meagre and pale, the ghost of what 
he was.' But he has kept these, his distinguishing charac- 
teristics, and the Scottish Highlands of to-day is one of the 
most extraordinary studies in Europe, retaining as it does a 
language the most ancient, and the customs and music 
which distinguished it in ages the most remote, in spite of 
circumstances which might have proved too much for any 
social system whatever. The nature of the country did 
much to perpetuate these things. It was hilly, and, in the 
old days, inaccessible ; the wants of the people were 
supplied among themselves, their manners were simple and 
patriarchal, and they had little intercourse with strangers 
except through trading in cattle and an occasional foray 
into the low country. So a spirit of independence and 
jealous pride of ancestry was cultivated, and in tradition, 
song, and music, the exploits of their forbears were cele- 
brated. All this went to make Celtic Scotland a nation by 
itself, and its people a peculiar people. There is nothing 
in the political history of any country so remarkable as the 
succession of the Highland chiefs and the long and un- 
interrupted sway they held over their followers. 

Somewhere about 1066 Malcolm Canmore removed his 
court from lona to Dunfermline and introduced the Saxon 
language, and about 1270 Gaelic was entirely superseded in 
the Lowlands. Latin was used in all publications, and 
there were not many who could read what few books there 
were. Gaelic was not printed till 1567, centuries after it 

14 The Highland Bagpipe. 

had ceased to be the language of the court or of " society." 
Then a book of John Knox's was issued in Gaelic, but it 
was 1767 before the New Testament appeared in the Celtic 
tongue. When it did ten thousand copies were sold. 
There was, of course, a vast store of poetry and literature 
floating around in the minds of the people, passed down 
from generation to generation ; but, with the exception of 
two small collections, one by Rev. John Farquharson of 
Strathglass in 1571, and the other by Alexander Mac 
Donald, Ardnamurchan, about eight years later, it had all 
to wait until 1759, when James Mac Pherson, the collector 
of Ossianic poetry, compiled or wrote (whether he compiled 
or wrote it is' too delicate a matter to express a definite 
opinion about in this place) the classics of the Highlands. 
In spite of all these disadvantages, perhaps by reason of 
them, the Highlands remained the Highlands until the 
beginning of the present century. The many years of 
tribal warfare and of warfare with other peoples, did not 
destroy the individuality of the race, it was the slow civilis- 
ing process of later ages that made the Highlands less a 
distinct nation than a province of the big British Empire. 

Of the circumstances in the midst of which the pipes and 
pipe music first got a hold on the affections of the High- 
land people we know but little. There were harpers before 
there were pipers, and probably bards before there were 
harpers, but these did not record contemporary history or the 
tr'aditions of their age with any degree of fulness or accuracy, 
if indeed they can be said to have recorded anything at all 
who only told the next generation what they had heard 
from the previous. Writing in 1603 a traveller says of the 
Highlanders ; — 

Tuning up. 15 

" They delight much in musicke, but chiefly in harps and clair- 
schoes of their own fashion. The strings of the clairschoes are made 
of brass wire, and the strings of the harps of sinews, which strings 
they strike either with their nayles growing long, or else with an 
instrument appoynted for that use. They take great pleasure to 
deck their harps and clairschoes with silver and precious stones ; the 
poore ones that cannot attayne hereunto decke them with christall. 
They sing verses prettily compound, containing (for the most part) 
prayses of valiant men. There is not almost any other argument 
whereof their rymes intreat. They speak the ancient French lan- 
guage, altered a little." 

As to the country itself, it was a mysterious, unknown 
land to all but the native. Ancient historians puzzled over 
its mystery, but could not fathom it. So they wrote under 
the shadow of the mysterious. Procopius, a Greek writer 
who flourished about a.d. 530, and wrote of the Roman 
Empire, speaking about the Highlands, says : — 

"In the west, beyond the wall (Antoninus' Wall), the air is in- 
fectious and mortal, the ground is covered with serpents, and this 
dreary solitude is the region of departed spirits, who are translated 
from the opposite shores in substantial boats, and by living rowers. 
Some families of fishermen are excused from tribute in consideration 
of the mysterious office which is performed by these Charons of the 
ocean. Each in his turn is summoned at the hour of midnight to 
hear the voices and even the names of the ghosts, he is sensible of 
their weight, and feels impelled by an unknown but irresistible 

Now we know how it was that the Romans could not 
conquer the Highlands. But we also know that the High- 
landers were not, when the Romans came, the ignorant 
barbarians they are represented to have been, for Caesar 
ascertained from them that the coast line of Britain was 
two thousand miles in length, an estimate not so very wide 
of the mark, 

16 The Highland Bagpipe. 

We are told by one fourteenth century historian that 
"In Scotland ye shall find no man lightly of honour or 
gentleness, they be like wyld and savage people ; " and by 
another that " as to their faith and promise, they hold it 
with great constancie," statements which are not at all con- 
tradictory. The once prevalent idea that a Highland chief 
was an ignorant and unprincipled tyrant who rewarded the 
abject submission of his followers with relentless cruelty and 
oppression was entirely erroneous. He might be naturally 
ferocious or naturally weak, but in either case the tribal 
system curbed excess, for the chief men of the clan were his 
advisers, and without their approval he seldom decided on 
extreme measures. But though the sway of the chiefs was 
thus mild in practice, it was arbitrary, and they themselves 
were proud of their lot, their lands, and their dependents. 
It is related of the lairds of Barra, who belonged to one of 
the oldest and least-mixed septs in the Highlands, that as 
soon as the family had dined it was customary for a herald 
to sound a horn from the battlements on the castle tower, 
proclaiming aloud in Gaelic, " Hear, oh ! ye people ! and 
listen, oh ! ye nations ! The great Mac Neill of Barra 
having finished his meal, the princes of the earth may dine." 

The peasantry of the Highlands were always noted foi' 
their hospitality. " I have wandered," says Mr. J. F. 
Campbell of Islay, than whom none knew the Highlands 
better, " among the peasantry of many countries, and this 
trip through the Highlands has but confirmed my old 
impressions. The poorest Highlander is ever readiest to 
share the best he has with the stranger. A kind word is 
never thrown away, and whatever may be the faults of this 
people, I have never found a boor or a churl in a Highland 
bothy." Besides, the ancient Gaels were very fond of music, 

Tuning up. 17 

whether in a merry or a sad humour. " It was," says 
Bacon, " a sure sign of brewing mischief when a Caledonian 
warrior was heard to hum his surly song." They accom- 
panied most of their labours with music, either vocal or that 
of the harp, and it was among these chiefs and these people 
that the national music of Scotland took its rise. It is a 
matter of regret that its wild strains are now more frequently 
heard amid Canadian woods and on Australian plains than 
in the land where it was cradl.ed. 

18 The Highland Bagpipe. 


Haepers, Bards, and Pipers. 

"O'er all this hazy realm is spread 
A halo of sad memories of the dead, 
Of mournful love tales, of old tragedies ; 
Filling the heart with pity, and the eyes 
With tears at bare remembrance ; and old songs 
Of Love's endurance. Love's despair, Love's wrongs 
And triumphs o'er all obstacles at last, 
And all the grief and passion of the past." 

Ancient musical instruments — Priestly harpers — Hereditary harpers 
— Irish versus Scottish harpers — Royal harpers — Use of harp 
universal — Welsh sarcasm — Mary Queen of Scots' harp — The 
last of the harpers — " The Harper of Mull " — From harp to 
pipes — The Clarsach — Pipes supplanting bards — The last clan 
bard — Bardic customs — Bards' jealousy of pipes — The bard 
in battle — Duncan Ban Mae Intyre — Two pipers scared — When 
the pipes became paramount — The fiery cross — The coronach. 

THE harp was the immediate predecessor of the pipes ; 
but in ancient times, and also contemporary with 
the harp, there were other instruments. The Com- 
playnt of Scotland, written in 1548, speaking of a company 
of musicians, says : — 

" The fyrst hed ane drone bagpipe, the next hed ane pipe made of 
ane bleddir and of ane reid, the third playit on ane trump, the 
feyerd on ane cornepipe, the fyfth playit on ane pipe made of ane 
grait home, the sext playit on ane recorder, the sevint plait on ane 
fiddil, and the last on ane quhissel." 

Harpers, Bards, and Pipers. 19 

We cannot speak as to quality, but there was evidently no 
lack of quantity in these days. 

The Horn of Battle was used by the ancient Cale- 
donians to call their armies together. The cornu was 
blown by the Druids and their Christian successors, and St. 
Patrick is represented as carrying one. Ancient writers. 


From Chalmers Sculptured Stones of Scotland. 

indeed, lay particular stress on the musical ability of the 
Celtic priesthood, the members of which they describe as 
possessing extraordinary skill as harpers, taking prominent 
part with their instruments in religious ceremonies. The 
cornu in its rudest form was a cow's horn, and could some- 
times be heard at a distance of six miles. The Irish Celts 
had various other instruments, but the harp was the fav- 
ourite, both in Scotland and Ireland. The Hyperboreans, 

20 The Highland Bagpipe. 

who are believed to have been the aborigines of Britain, 
were celebrated performers on the harp, accompanying their 
hymns with its music ; and harpers were hereditary atten- 
dants on the Scottish kings and the Highland chiefs, from 
whom they had certain lands and perquisites. The cultiva- 
tion of harp music reached the highest level in Scotland, the 
players beating their masters, the Irish harpers, although 
the class were more honoured in Ireland than in Scotland. 
In Ireland none but a freeman was allowed to play the harp, 
and it was reckoned a disgrace for a gentleman not to have 
a harp and be able to play it. The Royal household of 
Scotland always had a harper, whose rank was much higher 
than that of the ordinary servant, and the kings even were 
not above playing. James I. of Scotland, who died in 1437, 
was a better player than any of the Scottish or Irish harpers. 
In Scotland, however, the use of the harp ceased with the 
pomp of the feudal system, while in Ireland the people re- 
tained for many generations an acknowledged superiority as 

It has been claimed for the harp that it is, or at least 
was, the national instrument of Scotland. It is admitted 
that most of the Highland chiefs had harpers, as well as 
bards, and that their music was esteemed as of no small 
moment. In several old Highland castles the harper's 
seat is still pointed out, harps are mentioned in Ossian, but 
not pipes ; there is a field in Mull called " The Harper's 
Field," a window in Duntulm castle called " The Harper's 
Window," it is a matter of history that Donald, Lord of the 
Isles, was killed at Inverness by his own harper, after the 
misfortunes which followed his incursion into Atholl ; and 
there are many other references which prove the universal 
use of the instrument. But we have very few traces of 

Harpers, Bards, and Pipers. 21 

itinerant harpers in the Highlands resembling those of Ire- 
land and Wales. In Wales it was the acknowledged national 
instrument. The pipes were known for some centuries, but 
the Britons never took kindly to them, a famous poet com- 
paring their notes to 

" The shrill screech of a lame goose caught in corn," 
or a 

"Horrible, noisy, mad Irishman." 

Weakness in the use of metaphor was evidently not a 
characteristic of Welsh poetry at this date. In Wales they 
" esteemed skill in playing on the harp beyond any kind of 
learning," but somehow the instrument never got the same 
hold on the national life of Scotland. If it had, it would 
not have been supplanted so easily as it was. 

When the pipes actually superseded the harp in Scotland 
it is hardly possible to discover. We read that when Mary 
Queen of Scots made a hunting expedition into the wilds of 
Perthshire she carried a harp with her, and that that same 
harp is still in existence ; that John Garve Mac Lean of 
Coll, who lived in the reign of James VI., was a good per- 
former ; and that once upon a time an English vessel was 
wrecked on the island and that the captain, seeing this 
venerable gentleman with his Bible in his hand and a harp 
by his side, exclaimed — " King David is restored to the 
earth " ; and that the last of the harpers was Murdoch Mac 
Donald, harper to Mac Lean of Coll. Mac Donald received 
his learning from another celebrated harper, Ruaraidh Dull, 
or Blind Roderick, harper to the laird of Mac Leod, and 
afterwards in Ireland ; and from accounts of payments made 
to him by Mac Lean, still extant, he seeems to have re- 

22 The Highland Bagpipe. 

mained in the family till the year 1734, when he went to 
Quinish, in Mull, where he died in 1739. 

This Murdoch Mac Donald was the musician who was 
immortalised by Tannahill as " The Harper of Mull." The 
story which inspired this song is quite romantic, and will 
bear repetition. The following abridgement is from Mr. 
P. A. Ramsay's edition of Tannahill's poems ; — 

" In the island of Mull there lived a harper who was distinguished 
for his professional skill, and was attached to Rosie, the fairest 
flower in the island, and soon made her his bride. Not long after- 
wards he set out on a visit to some low-country friends, accompanied 
by his Rosie, and carrying his harp, which had been his companion 
in all his journeys for many years. Overtaken by the shades of 
night, in a solitary part of the country, a cold faintness fell upon 
Rosie, and she sank, almost lifeless, into the harper's arms. He 
hastily wrapped his plaid round her shivering frame, but to no pur- 
pose. Distracted, he hurried from place to place in search of fuel, 
to revive the dying embers of life. None could be found. His harp 
lay on the grass, its neglected strings vibrating to the blast. The 
harper loved it as his own life, but he loved his Rosie better than 
either. His nervous arm was applied to its sides, and ere long it lay 
crackling and blazing on the heath. Rosie soon revived under its 
genial influence, and resumed the journey when morning began to 
purple the east. Passing down the side of a hill, they were met by 
a hunter on horseback, who addressed Rosie in the style of an old 
and familiar friend. The harper, innocent liimself, and unsuspicious 
of others, paced slowly along, leaving her in converse with the 
stranger. Wondering at her delay, he turned round and beheld the 
faithless fair seated behind the hunter on his steed, which speedily 
bore them out of sight. The unhappy harper, transfixed with 
astonishment, gazed at them. Then, slowly turning his steps home- 
wards, he, sighing, exclaimed — ' Fool that I was to burn my harp 
for her ! ' " 

It is said that Tannahill first heard this story at a con- 
vivial meeting, as an instance of the infidelity of the fair sex, 

Harpers, Bards, and Pipers. 

whose fidelity he had been strenuously defending, notwith- 
standing that he himself was disappointed in the only love 
affair in which he was ever seriously engaged. The impres- 
sion which the narrative made upon his mind led hira to the 
composition of the song : — 

" When Bosie was faithfu' how happy was I ! 
Still gladsome as simmer the time glided by ; 
I played my harp cheery while proudly I sang 
0' the charms o' my Rosie the winter nichts lang ; 
But now I'm as waefa' as waefu' can be, 
Come simmer, come winter, it's a' ane to me, 
For the dark gloom o' falsehood sae clouds my sad soul, 
That cheerless for aye is the Harper o' Mull. 

" I wander the glens and the wild woods alone, 
In their deepest recesses I make my sad moan ; 
My harp's mournfu' melody joins iu the strain, 
While sadly I sing o' the days that are gane. 
Tho' Rosie is faithless she's no the less fair, 
And the thocht o' her beauty but feeds my despair, 
Wi' painfu' remembrance my bosom is full, 
An' weary o' life is the Harper o' Mull. 

" As slumbering I lay by the dark mountain stream, 
My lovely young Rosie appeared in my dream ; 
I thocht her still kind, and I ne'er was sae blest 
As in fancy I clasped the fair Nymph to my breast. 
Thou fause, fleeting vision, too soon thou were o'er, 
Thou wak'd'st me to tortures unequalled before. 
But death's silent slumbers my grief soon shall lull. 
An' the green grass wave o'er the Harper o' Mull." 

The transition from the harp to the bagpipe was spread 
over about two centuries. In 1565 George Buchanan 
speaks of the Highlanders using both instruments, and 
during the seventeenth century the use of the harp declined 

24 The Highland Bagpipe. 

to such an extent that the number of professional harpers 
was very small indeed. The civil wars largely accounted 
for this, as the fitness of the bagpipe for the tumult of 
battle gave it an easy superiority over the harp. Writing 
at the beginning of the eighteenth century, Alexander 
Macdonald, the Keppoch bard, said he preferred the pipes 
to the harp, which he called ceol nionag, maidens' music. 
When the bards thus openly avowed their liking for the 
pipes, the transition period was over, for the harp was wont 
to be their favourite instrument. The harp still exists as 
the clarsach, which is being revived by Highland Associa- 
tions, more especially in Glasgow, but, if the Irishism may 
be permitted, the bagpipe is now " the harp of the Gael." 

Besides supplanting the harp, the pipes also supplanted 
the bards themselves. The bards were in their day a more 
important body of men than the harpers, and naturally 
much more relating to them has come down to posterity. 
They existed from the remotest period of which there are 
any records, and it was only in 1726 that, with the death of 
Neil Mac Vuirich, the Clan Ranald bard, the race of dis- 
tinctively clan bards became extinct. The race continued 
to exist — bards exist to this day for that matter — but not 
as clan bards, and after 1726 they were only public makers 
of verse. 

The bards, like the harpers, though to a greater extent, 
wandered from house to house, keeping alive among the 
people the memories of their wrongs, celebrating the valour 
of their warriors, the beauty of their women, and the glory 
of their chiefs. The calling was held in such high esteem 
that after the fall of Druidism it was maintained at the 
expense of the State. The bards, however, became so 
numerous, overbearing, and extortionate that they lost 

Harpers, Bards, aiid Pipers. 25 

favour, many of them were killed by their enemies, and 
those left, shorn of their pride, but retaining their skill, 
occupied honourable positions in the retinues of their chiefs. 
In the heyday of their glory the bards summoned the clans 
to battle, and they moved about among the men inciting 
them to deeds of valour, their own persons being held as 
inviolable by friend and foe. The leaders looked to them to 
inspire the warriors, just as at the present day pipers are 
expected to supply enthusiasm to the regiment when on the 
eve of battle. The bard exhorted the clans to emulate the 
glory of their forefathers, to hold their lives cheap in the 
defence of their country, and his appeals, delivered with 
considerable elocutionary power and earnestness, always pro- 
duced a profound effect. When the pipes began to be used, 
they took the place of the bard when the din of battle 
drowned his voice, and after the battle was over the bard 
celebrated the praises of the brave who had fallen and the 
valour of the survivors, while the piper played plaintive 
laments for the slain. The bards themselves did not 
always fight — they thought they were of more value as 
bards than as fighters. At the battle of Inverlochy, Ian 
Lorn, the Lochaber bard, and the most celebrated of the 
race, was asked to share in the fighting, but declined. " If 
I go along with thee to-day. Sir Alasdair," said he, " and 
fall in battle, who will sing thy victory to-morrow ? " 
" Thou art in the right, John," said his chief, " Let the 
shoemaker stick to his last." Ian Lorn, however, is acknow- 
ledged to have been a brave man, and his attitude on this 
occasion is not considered a reflection on his character. 

The bard, especially if he were also a musician, was 
always in great request at social functions, and in the 
absence of books he constituted the local library. The class 

^6 The Highland Bagpipe. 

had naturally exceptional memories, and they became walk- 
ing chroniclers of past events and preservers of popular 
poetry and everyday history. They did not welcome the 
pipes with any degree of enthusiasm. Instead, some of 
them used all their arts to throw ridicule on the newer in- 
strument. Ian Mac Codrum, the North Uist bard (1710- 
1796), composed a satire on the bagpipe of one, Domhnull 
Bhan, or Fair-haired Donald, which is exceedingly humorous 
and sarcastic, and in the course of which he says : — 

" It withered with yelping 
The seven Fenian battalions," 

whatever they were. Then, he continued, the Gael loved 
the pipes as Edinburgh people loved tea, although the 
pipes had weakened for the first time 

" The strength of Diarmaid and of Goll." 

The last bard known to have acted officially in battle 
was Mac Mhuirich, or Mac Vuirich, the Clan Ranald 
bard of the day, who recited at the battle of Harlaw, 
in 1411. Mac Mhuirich was disgusted at the growing 
popularity of the pipes, and composed a set of verses 
descriptive of the bagpipe and its lineage, which are 
more graphic, humorous and forcible than elegant or 
gentlemanly. Duncan Ban Mac Intyre, the bard of 
Glenorchy, has a poem on " Hugh the Piper," who, 
it seems, had insulted the bard in some way. Hugh is 
compared to a wicked dog barking at the passers-by, 
and intent on biting their heels. He is to be hurled 
out of the society of bards and pipers as a fruitless bough is 
cut away from a flourishing tree, it is hinted that if he 
would quit the country it would be a good riddance, he is 

Harpers, Bards, and Pipers. 27 

made the impersonation of all sorts of defects, and his 
musical efforts are compared to the cries of ducks, geese, and 
pigs. It should be added, however, that the same bard 
composed Ben Dorain, the most famous of his poems, to a 
pipe tune, dividing it into eight parts corresponding to the 
variations of the pibroch, and moulding the language into 
all the variations of the wild rhythm, so his spite must have 
been more at Hugh himself than at his music. 

The antipathy of the bards to the pipes is easily under- 
stood. They had all along been the acknowledged inspired 
leaders of the people, inciting the elans to battle with their 
wild verses. The pipes with all their war spirit could hardly 
match this, which is culled from a battle song supposed to 
have been written on the eve of the invasion of England 
that terminated so tragically at Flodden : — 

" Burn their women, lean and ugly ! 
Burn their children great and small ! 
In the hut and in the palace, 
Prince and peasant, burn them all ! 
Plunge them in the swelling rivers, 
With their gear and with their goods ; 
Spare, while breath remains, no Saxon, 
Drown them in the roaring floods. " 

Neil Mac Mhuirich, the bard already mentioned, had 
been at a bards' college in Ireland, and brought back to 
his father's house not only stores of knowledge, but also the 
small-pox. Afflicted with the disease, he lay on a bed near 
the fire, where John and Donald Mac Arthur, two of the 
famous race of pipers, came in, and sitting down in front of 
his bed, began tuning their pipes. The discordant sounds 
raised the bard, and he, bursting with indignation, started 
railing at the pipes in a poetical and mock genealogy of the 

^8 The Highland Bagpipe. 

instrument. The poem itself is presentable in Gaelic, but 
in English it would be too much for the average reader. 
It emphasises strongly the bard's aversion to the pipes, 
comparing them and their music to many ridiculous things 
in nature and art. The pipers, who had intended to make 
the house their quarters for the night, were startled by the 
fierce invective coming from behind them, and on looking 
round and seeing the swollen and marked face of Neil, 
worked up into extraordinary excitement, terror took hold 
of them and they fled in consternation. The bard's father 
evidently sympathised with his son, for he waited patiently 
until the poem was ended, and then exclaimed " Well done, 
my son, your errand to Ireland has not been in vain." 

When the pipes became paramount is about as difficult 
to determine as when they first threatened the position of 
the harp. They seem to have existed alongside the harp 
and the coronach and the fiery cross for a considerable time, 
as we have references to all these in the literature of the 
sixteenth and seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. John 
MacLeod of Dunvegan, who lived about 1650, had a bard, 
a harper, a piper, and a fool, all of whom were most liberally 
provided for. We have got a blind harper, Ruaraidh Doll, 
harper to Mac Leod of Glenelg, and a blind piper, Ian Dull, 
piper to Mac Kenzie of Gairloch, each of whom excelled in 
his own sphere, and both of whom flourished about 1650, 
while, as we have seen, the bards and the pipers were often 
at loggerheads. The pibroch did not supersede the fiery 
cross at all, for, so long as the chiefs found it necessary to 
call the clans together, the goat was killed with the chief's 
own sword, the cross was dipped in the blood, and the clans- 
man sent round. 

Harpers, Bards, and Pipers. 29 

The last battle at which a bard recited was fought in 
1411, the last clan bard died in 1726, the last clan harper in 
1739, when the hereditary pipers were in all their glory ; 
the fiery cross was last used in 1745, when it travelled 
thirty-six miles through Breadalbane in three hours, and the 
coronach was superseded gradually by the lament of the 
pipes. The bards ceased to live as an order on the accession 
of the Kings of Scotland to the British throne, and there 
were no means provided at the Reformation for educating 
ministers or teachers for the Gaelic speaking part of the 
country. But all through the centuries covered by the 
dates given there were pipers. There are pipers still, not 
indeed elan pipers, but the class are recognised as peculiarly 
belonging to the Highlands, while harpers and bards have 
gone completely under in the great social revolution through 
which the Highlands have passed. 

30 The Highland Bagpipe. 


The Tale of the Years. 

"No stroke of art their texture bears, 
No cadence wrought with learned skill. 
And though long worn by rolling years, 
Yet unimpaired they please us still ; 
While thousand strains of mystic lore 
Have perished and are heard no more." 

The time of the Flood — Pipes in Scripture — In Persia — In Arabia — 
In Tarsus — Tradition of the Nativity — In Rome — In Greece — ■ 
In Wales, Ireland, and Scotland — Melrose Abbey — In France — 
In England — At Banuockburn — Chaucer — In war — First auth- 
entic Scottish reference — Oldest authentic specimen — Became 
general — Rosslyn Chapel — Second drone added — At Flodden — 
"A maske of bagpypes" — Spenser — Shakespeare — James VI. — 
A poetical historian — Big drone added — The '45 — Native to 
Scotland — The evolution of the Highlands. 

Gillidh Callum was (so goes the stoiy) Noah's piper, and 
(still according to the story) Noah danced to his 
music over two crossed vine plants when he had 
disco vei'ed and enjoyed the inspiring effects of his first 
distillation from the fruits of his newly planted vineyard. 
So the tune was named after the piper. This " yarn," to 
give it the only appropriate name, can easily be spoiled by 
anyone who tries, but the dance alluded to does seem to 

The Tale of the Years. 31 

have been originally practised over vine plants. Swords, 
however, came to be more numerous in Scotland than vines, 
and they were substituted. Some historians assert that the 
Celts are descended from Gomer, the eldest son of Japheth, 
son of Noah, a theory which would go far to support the 
GilUdh Callum story, for if there were Celts in the days of 
the ark, why should there not have been a piper ? There 
is, however, just about as much to prove either story as 
thei'e is to prove that 

"Music first on earth was found 
In Gaelic accents deep ; 
When Jubal in his oxter squeezed 
The blether o' a sheep," 

and that is little enough. 

That the bagpipe is an instrument of great antiquity is 
an admitted fact, but whether it is one of those referred to 
in Scripture is another matter. The pipe without the bag 
is mentioned in I. Sam. x. 5, Isaiah v. 12, and Jer. xlviii. 36, 
but the pipe without the bag is not the bagpipe. There 
■ have been many attempts made to identify the instrument 
with one or other of those named in Scripture, and in his- 
tories of Scripture times, but these are all based on conjec- 
ture. An instrument is mentioned which was composed of 
two reeds perforated according to rule, and united to a 
leathern bag, called in Persian nie amban ; and in Egypt a 
similar instrument is described as consisting of two flutes, 
partly of wood and partly of iron. Another traveller tells 
of an Arabian instrument which consisted of a double 
chanter with several apertures, and in 1818 ancient engrav- 
ings were found in the northern states of Africa which seemed 
to prove that an instrument like the bagpipe had existed in 
Scripture times. The Chaldeans and Babylonians had two 

32 The Highland Bagpipe. 

peculiar instruments, the Samhuka and the Symphonia, and 
some historians identify the latter as the sackhut, the alleged 
ancestor of the bagpipe. Others assert that a form of the 
bagpipe was used in the services of the Temple at Jerusalem, 
but this in any case, may be treated as the merest of con- 

The historical references to the instrument as having 
existed at all in these days are few and far between : — 

385 B.C. — Theocritus, a writer who flourished about this 
date, mentions it incidentally in his pastorals, but not in 
such a way as to give any indication of what form it 

200 B.C. — An ancient terra cotta excavated at Tarsus by 
Mr. W. Burchhardt, and supposed to date from 200 B.C., re- 
presents a piper with a wind instrument with vertical rows 
of reed pipes, firmly attached to him. The instrument has 
also been found sculptured in ancient Nineveh. 

A.D. 1. — There is a singular tradition in the Roman 
Catholic Church to the effect that the shepherds who 
first saw the infant Messiah in the stable expressed 
their gladness by playing on the bagpipe. This is, of 
course, possible, but there is only the tradition and 
the likelihood that the shepherds would have musical 
instruments of some kind to support the theory. Albrecht 
Durer, a famous German artist of the 16th century, has 
perpetuated the idea in a woodcut of the Nativity, in which 
he represents one of the shepherds playing on the pipes, but 
his work is, naturally, founded on the tradition. The illu- 
minator of a Dutch missal in the library of King's College, 
Aberdeen, has taken Hberties with the tradition and given 
the bagpipe to one of the appearing angels, who uses it for 
playing a salute. 

The Tale of the Years. 

A.D. 54. — The cruel Emperor Nero was an accomplished 
musician, and a contorniate of his time has given rise to 
many assertions connecting him with the pipes. It is 
generally referred to as a coin, but it is in reality a contor- 
niate or medal, which was given away at public sports. 
The sketch here reproduced (full-size) is from a specimen in 
the British Museum, and very little study will show that it 


proves almost nothing relating to the bagpipe. The 
obverse bears the head of Nero and the usual inscription. 
On the reverse there seems to be the form of a wind organ 
with nine irregular pipes, all blown by a bellows and having 
underneath what is probably a bag. It is more closely 
related to the organ than to the bagpipe, and, as has been 
said, it proves nothing. Some writers call the instrument 
on which Nero played a flute with a bladder under the per- 
former's arm, a description which does more to identify it 
as the bagpipe. It cannot have been considered a very 
honourable thing in Nero's day to play the pipes, for the 
emperor on hearing of the last revolt, that which cost him 
his throne and his life, vowed solemnly that if the gods 

34 The Highland Bagpipe. 

would but extricate him from his troubles he would play in 
public on the bagpipe, as a sort of penance or thanii offer- 
ing probably. Perhaps history has made a mistake, and it 
may have been the pipes and not the fiddle Nero played on 
while Rome was burning. The medal, it may be added, is 
believed by the authorities at the British Museum to date 
from abuut a.d. 330, although it bears the impress of Nero. 
That the instrument was in use among the Romans is in- 
disputable. A historian, who wrote a history of the wars 
of the Persians, the Vandals, and the Goths, states that the 
Roman infantry used it for marching purposes, and he 
describes it as having both skin and wood extremely fine. 
The name it went by was pythaula, a word of Greek origin, 
which bears a striking resemblance to the Celtic piob-mhala, 
pronounced piovala. There is in Rome a fine Greek sculp- 
ture in basso relievo representing a piper playing on an 
instrument closely resembling the Highland bagpipe, the 
performer himself being dressed not unlike a modern High- 
lander. It is shown besides on several coins, but from the 
rudeness of the drawings or their decay the exact form can- 
not be ascertained. A small bronze figure found under 
Richborough Castle, Kent, represents a Roman soldier play- 
ing on the bagpipe, but his whole equipment is curious. 
The precise form of the instrument itself is questionable, 
and the manner of holding it, the helmet, the ancient purse 
on one side and the short Roman sword and dagger on the 
other, all furnish matter for debate. About 1870 a stone 
was dug from the ground near Bo'ness, on which was sculp- 
tured a party of Roman soldiers on the march. They were 
dressed in short kilts, and one was playing the bagpipe. 
The instrument was very similar to those of the present day 
except that the drones were shorter. 

The Tale of the Years. 35 

A.D. 100. — Aristides Quintilianus, who lived about this 
time, writes to the effect that the bagpipe was known in 
the Scottish Highlands in his day. This, however, may be 
set aside as a reference of no value seeing that the High- 
lands was then an unknown world to the Greeks. The 
Greeks of the same age knew the instrument as Tibia utri- 
cularis, and from the pipes, we are told, the Athenian shep- 
herds drew the sweetest sounds. Other books again tell us 
that the Athenians rejected the pipes because they dis- 
turbed conversation and made hearing difficult. Still others 
— English be it noted — contain the sentence, " Arcadia in 
Greece : the bagpipe was first invented here," but the state- 
ment is not substantiated in any way. 

A.D. 500. — In the sixth century the bagpipe is mentioned 
by Procopius, a Greek historian, as the instrument of the 
Roman infantry, the trumpet being that of the cavalry. 

A.D. 800. — There is a picture of a primitive instrument 
copied from a manuscript of the ninth century. It consists 
of a blow pipe on one side of a small bag, with a sort of 
chanter having three or four holes and a beast's head instead 
of the usual bell-shaped end. The instrument was held 
extended from the mouth, and the bag, if any pressure was 
necessary, must have been elastic, as it could not be pressed 
in any way. 

A.D. 1118. — Giraldus Cambrensis, the historian, mentions 
the pipes about this date as Welsh and Irish, but not as 
Scottish. But The Complaynt of Scotland, written in 1548, 
states that the instrument was a favourite with the Scottish 
peasantry " from the earliest periods." Another trustworthy 
record says it was in use in Scotland and Wales about the 
end of the twelfth century. Besides, Pennant in his Tour 
was told that it was mentioned in the oldest northern songs 

36 The Highland Bagpipe. 

as the " soeck-pipe." There is little doubt it was cultivated 
to some extent in Scotland in the twelfth century. 

A.D. 1136. — There are. or at least were, in Melrose Abbey, 
built in 1136, two carvings representing bagpipes, but they 
ai'e not supposed to be of a date so early as the abbey itself. 
The first, that of an aged musician, is given in Sir John 
Graham Dalziel's Musical Memoirs of Scotland, published in 
1849, but it cannot now he found in the abbey. If it existed 
when the book was written, it has succumbed since then to 
the action of the elements or the vandalism of the ignorant. 
The second, sketched on the spot, is one of those grotesque 
carvings which artists of early days, in what must have been 
a sarcastic humour, delighted in affixing to sacred buildings. 
It is a gargoyle in the form of a pig carrying a rude bagpipe 
under its head with the drone, the only pipe now remaining, 
on ibs left shoulder, and its fore feet, what is left of them, 
clasped around the bag. The mouth is open and the rain 
water off the roof runs through it. There is a tradition 
that as James IV. was not agreeing very well with the 
Highlanders the pig playing their favourite instrument 
was placed in the abbey as a satire. The chapel, how- 
ever, on the outside of the nave of which the carving 
is, was built before the time of James IV. It is curious 
that all, or nearly all, the carvings on the outside of 
the abbey are ugly, some of them gruesome, while the 
figures on the inside are beautiful. This, it is supposed, 
was meant to convey the idea of Heaven inside and earth 
outside. In the architecture of the middle ages the gar- 
goyle, or waterspout, assumed a vast variety of forms, often 
frightful, fantastic or grotesque. So the carving in Melrose 
Abbey may be simply the product of the artist's imagina- 
tion. Besides, a French architect had a good deal to do 


38 The Highland Bagpipe. 

with the abbey, so the designs may not alj be emblematic of 
Scottish life of the date when they were made. In Musical 
Memoirs of Scotland it is stated that the instrument had 
two drones, one on each side of the animal's head, and a 
chanter which hung beneath its feet, these latter being 
placed on the apertures. The figure seems to have been 
very much worn away since this book was written. 

A.D. 1200. — Coming down to ages of which we have better 
historical records, we find a drawing of the thirteenth cen- 
tury which shows a girl dancing on the shoulders of a jester 
to the music of the instrument in its simplest form, the 
chanter only. 

A.D. 1300. — About the end of the thirteenth century the 
bagpipe in France was consigned to the lower orders, and 
only used by the blind and the wandering or mendicant 
classes. Polite society, however, resumed it in the time of 
Louis XIV. and Louis XV. 

A.D. 1307. —Several payments to performers of the four- 
teenth and subsequent centuries are recorded. In the reign 
of Edward II. there is a payment to Jauno Chevretter (the 
latter word meant bagpiper) for playing before the king. 

A.D. 1314. — ^The Clan Menzies are alleged to have had 
their pipes with them at Bannockbum, and they are 
supposed to have been played by one of the Mac Intyres, 
their hereditary pipers. The Clan Menzies claim that 
these pipes are still in existence, at least three portions of 
them — the chanter, which has the same number of finger 
holes as the modern chanter, but two additional holes on 
each side ; the blowpipe, which is square, but graduates to 
round at the top ; and the drone, of which the top half 
only remains. These relics, which are now preserved with 
great care, are supposed to be the remains of a set which 

The Tale of the Years. 39 

were played to the clan when they mustered at Castle 
Menzies, and marched to join the main body of the Scottish 
army at Torwood, and in front of them on the field of 
battle. There are said to be Mac Donald pipes in exis- 
tence, which consist of a chanter and blowpipe only, and 
which, it is alleged, were played befoi-e the Mac Donalds at 
Bannoekburn. This, most likely, also refers to the Menzies 
pipes, as the Mac Intyres, who are credited with having been 
owners of each, were at different times pipers to the Menzies 
and to the Clan Ranald branch of the Mac Donalds. Bruce's 
son, says another tradition, had pipes at Bannoekburn. Sir 
Walter Scott represents the men of the Isles as charging 
to the sound of the bagpipe ; and David Mac Donald, a 
Clan Mac Donald bard, who wrote about 1838, in a 
poem on the battle, says that when the bards began to 
encourage the clans, the pipers began to blow their pipes. 
There is, however, no historical proof that the instrument 
was used at the battle. Though horns and trumpets are 
mentioned by reliable historians, it is not till about two 
hundred years later that the bagpipe is referred to as 
having superseded the trumpet as an instrument of war. 

A.D. 1327. — In the reign of Edward III. two pipers 
received permission to visit schools for minstrels beyond the 
seas, and from about that time till the sixteenth century 
the bagpipe was the favourite instrument of the Irish kerns. 

A.D. 1362. — There is an entry in the Exchequer rolls of 
1362 of forty shillings " paid to the King's pipers," which 
indicates the use of the pipes at that date. 

A.D. 1370. — ^The arms of Winchester School, founded in 
1370, show an angel playing a bagpipe, and a silver- 
mounted crosier, presented by the founder to the New 
College, Oxford, has among other figures that of an angel 

40 The Highland Bagpipe. 

playing the bagpipe. Some enthusiast might surely have 
adduced the frequent connections of the instrument with 
angels as proof of its sacred origin. 

A.D. 1877. — One "claryoner," two trumpeters, and four 
pipers were attached to the fleet of Richard, Earl of 
Arundel (Richard II). The bagpipe often appears in the 
English sculpture of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, 
and, of course, very frequently later. 

A.D. 1380. — There are no English liter'ary references to 
the pipes till the time of Chaucer, when the poet makes 
the miller in the Canterbury Tales play on the instrument: — 

" A baggepipe wel cowde he blowe and aowne, 
And therewithal he broughte ua out of towne." 

So it seems that the company of pilgrims left London, 
accompanied by the strains of the bagpipe. It must have 
been in fairly general use, else the poet would not have 
worked it into his composition, but there are no means of 
discovering how long before this it had been in favour 
in England. 

A.D. 1390. — At the battle between the clans Quhale and 
Chattan on the North Inch of Perth, Rev. James Mac 
Kenzie tells us in his History of Scotland, which is generally 
accepted as authoritative, the clans " stalked into the 
barriers to the sound of their own great war pipes." 

A.D. 1400. — The bagpipe is supposed to have been first 
used ofiicially in war in Britain at the beginning of the 
fifteenth century, quickly superseding the war-song of the 

A.D. 1406-37.— James I. of Scotland played on the 
"chorus," a word which some interpret as meaning the 
bagpipe. Besides we are also told that he played on " the 

The Tale of the Years. 41 

tabour, the bagpipes, the organ, the flute, the harp, the 
trumpet, and the shepherd's reed." He must have been a 
versatile monarch. If he really wrote Peblis to the Play, 
the fact proves that if he did not play the pipes he was 
quite familiar with their existence, for he says : — 

" With that Will Swane came smeitand out, 
Ane meikle miller man, 
Gif I sail dance have done, lat se 
Blow up the bagpype than." 

And also in another place : — 

" The bag pipe blew and they outhrew 
Out of the townis nntald." 

Except that he gives us the first really authentic histori- 
cal Scottish reference to the pipes, King James and his 
connection with the music is rather a puzzling subject. 

A.D. 1409. — What is believed to be the oldest authentic 
specimen of the bagpipe now existing is that in the posses- 
sion of Messrs. J. & R. Glen, of Edinburgh, which bears the 
date 1409. Except that it wants the large drone, which 
was added at the beginning of the eighteenth century, it is 
very much the Highland pipe of the present day. The 
following is a description of the instrument : — 

" Highland bagpipe, having two small drones and chanter, finely 
ornamented with Celtic patterns carved in circular bands. The 
drones are inserted in a stock apparently formed from a forked 
branch, the fork giving the drones their proper spread for the 
shoulder. In the centre of the stock are the letters ' R. McD,' be- 
low them a galley, and below the galley is the date in Roman 
numerals, M:CCCC:IX. The letters both in the initials above the 
galley and in the numeral inscription are of the Gothic form com- 
monly used in the fifteenth century. On the reverse of the stock is 
a triplet of foliageous scroll work. Bauds of interlaced work en- 


42 The Highland Bagpipe. 

circle the ends of the forked part, which are bound with brass fer- 
rnlea. The lower joint of one of the drones is ornamented with a 
band of interlaced work in the centre. The corresponding joint of 
the other drone is not original. The upper joints of the drones are 
ornamented at both extremities with interlaced work and the finger 
holes, seven in number, are greatly worn. The nail heads placed 
round the lower part of the bell of the chanter are decorated with 
engraved ornament. The bag and blowpipe are modern." 

It should be added that very httle is known of the story 
of this old bagpipe, and the date carved on the stock is all 
that justifies us in attributing it to the fifteenth century. 
Also that its claims to antiquity are disputed by an instru- 
ment in the possession of the Duke of Sutherland, which is 
said to have been played at the battle of Sheriffmuir. 

A.D. 1411. — We have the statement of Rev. James Mac 
Kenzie that at the Battle of Harlaw the Highland host 
came down " with pibrochs deafening to hear." Mr. Mac 
Kenzie, however, wrote at quite a recent date, and it would 
be interesting to know his authority. We do know, of 
course, that what is now a pipe tune was played at Harlaw, 
but that in itself proves nothing, since the earliest known 
copy of the music is not arranged for the pipes. 

A.D. 1419. — An inventory of the instruments in St. James's 
Palace, made in 1419, specifies " four bagpipes with pipes of 
ivorie," and another "baggepipe with pipes of ivorie, the 
bagge covered with purple vellat." 

A.D. 1430. — From this time on till the Reformation the 
bagpipe was fairly popular in the Lowlands of Scotland, and 
it is most likely that its use became general in the High- 
lands about 1500. 

A.D. 1431. — At the battle of Inverlochy in 1431, we are 
told the pipes were played. This may have been supposed 


(By permission of Messrs. J. d^" R. Glen, and the Scottish Society of Antiquaries.) 

44 The Highland Bagpipe. 

from the fact that we have a pipe tune of that date, but it 
is probable enough. 

A.D. 1440.— Iti Rosslyn Chapel, Midlothian, built in 1440, 
there are two figures represented as playing the pipes. The 
first, an angelic piper, is of a class of which specimens are to 
be found in various sacred edifices throughout England. It 
is in the Lady Chapel, and is not therefore much noticed by 
visitors. The other figure is one of a pair which are carved 
as if they were supporting one end of one of the arches of 
the roof. What meaning they were supposed to convey it 
is impossible now to determine, but the representation of the 
piper is obvious enough. 

A.D. 1485-1509.— In Henry VII.'s Chapel at Westminster 
there is a grotesque carving representing a bagpipe. Similar 
carvings appear at Hull, Great Yarmouth, Beverley, and 

A.D. 1489. — In July, 1489, we find there was a payment 
of £S 8s. to " Inglis pyparis that com to the Castel (Edin- 
burgh) and playit to the king ; " and in 1505 another to 
" Inglis pipar with the drone." So the instrument must 
have been as much English as Scottish at that time. 

A.D. 1491. — Here again we find the " Inglis " piper to the 
front. In August of this year a party of them received 
seven unicorns, that is gold coins, at Linlithgow for playing 
to the king. Both of these payments are recorded in the 
accounts of the treasurer of the Royal household. 

A.D. 1494. — In the ninth year of Henry VII. there was 
paid to " Pudsey, piper on the bagpipes," 6s. 8d. Piping 
was not a short cut to fortune then more than it is now. 

A.D. 1500. — At a sale of curios in London in the summer 
of 1899 a jug was disposed of on which there was a painting 
of a mule playing a bagpipe. The article fetched .£200, but 



^ "» I 

Bagpiper , 

1400 • I500 


46 The Highland Bagpipe. 

it cannot be proved that the painting dates from the six- 
teenth ceniury, though that is the certified date of the jug. 
About this time the second drone was added. 

A.D. 1506-1582. — George Buchanan is the first to mention 
the bagpipe in connection with Gaelic-speaking people, and 
when he does mention it, it is solely as a military instru- 
ment. The harp was still the domestic musical instrument. 

A.D. 1509-154)7. — We have a curious set of wood-cuts of 
the time of Henry VIII., one of which represents a piper 
dancing to the Dance of Death clothed according to the 
fashion of that time. He is dancing with a jester, who has 
the tonsure of a monk and wears a sort of kilt.* We also 
know of a suit of armour made for Henry VIII. on which 
the figure of a piper is engraved. 

A.D. 1513. — It is on record that John Hastie, the cele- 
brated hereditary piper of Jedburgh, played at the battle of 
Flodden. There is a painting of this date by the German 
arbist, Albrecht Durer, which represents a shepherd boy 
playing to his sheep on the bagpipe, and another which 
shows a piper leaning against a tree with a naked dirk at 
the left side and a purse exactly like a sporran suspended in 
front. Olaus Magnus, a Swedish prelate of the same cen- 
tury, affirms that a double pipe, probably the bagpipe, was 
carried by the shepherds to the pastures that their flocks 
might feed better. 

A.D. 1529. — At a procession in Brussels in 1529 in honour 
of the Virgin Mary, " many wild beasts danced round a cage 
containing two apes playing on the bagpipes." This state- 
ment may be taken for what it is worth. It is difficult to 
construct a theory that will explain it. 

* See Chap. XV, 

The Tale of the Years. 


A.D. 1536. — In this year the bagpipe was played at church 
service in Edinburgh. 

A.D. 1547-1553. — Among the musicians of Edward VI. at 
the Court of England was " Richard Woodward, bagpiper," 


From the Painting by Albrecht Durer. 

who had a salary of £\^ 13s. 4d., not a princely sum. An 
entertainment was got up at court in this reign, part of 
which was a " maske of bagpypes." An artist " covered six 
apes of paste and cement with grey coney skinnes, which 

48 The Highland Bagpipe. 

were made to serve for a maske ofbagpypes, to sit upon the 
top of them like mynstrells as though they did play." The 
English of these ancient writers is often a bit obscure, but 
this seems to mean that there was an imitation of bagpipe 
playing by counterfeit apes. The Brussels incident of 1529 
may probably be explained in the same way. 

A.D. 1548. — Among the eight musical instruments men- 
tioned in The Complaynt of Scotland, written in 1548, there 
are included " ane drone bagpipe " and " ane pipe made of 
ane bleddir and of ane reid." * 

A.D. 1549. — A French officer describing warfare near Edin- 
burgh in 1549, says " The wild Scots encouraged themselves 
to arms by the sounds of their bagpipes." 

A.D. 1556. — In 1556 the Queen Regent of Scotland headed 
a procession in honour of St. Giles, the patron saint of Edin- 
burgh, and she was " accompanied by bagpipers and other 

A.D. 1570. — In 1570 three St. Andrews pipers were 
admonished not to play on Sundays or at nights. 

A.D. 1579. — We next come across Spenser and Shake- 
speare. In the Shepherd^s Calendar, Spenser makes a 
shepherd ask a down-hearted comrade : — 

" Or is thy bagpipe broke that sounds so sweet 1 " 

And Shakespeare, whose genius touched on everything above 
the earth and under it, but who does not seem to have had 
a high opinion of the " sweetness " of the bagpipe, says of a 
character that he is as melancholy as a glib cat, or a lugged 
bear, or an old lion, or a lover's lute, or the drone of a 
Lincolnshire bagpipe. In another place he speaks of men 

* See page 18, 

The Tale of the Years. 49 

who " laugh, like parrots at a bagpiper," and in yet another 
he infers that the instrument was more powerful than others 
then in use. " You would never," he says, " dance again 
after a tabor or pipe ; no, the bagpipe could not move you." 
He seems, however, to have known the utility even of his 
English pipes for marching purposes, for he concludes 
Much ado about Nothing with " Strike up. Pipers." This 
phrase, by the way, must surely have been taken from the 
play, for it is always held as referring more to the bagpipe 
than to any other instrument. Generally speaking, Shake- 
speare's references are more in the way of sarcasm than of 

A.D. 1581. — In 1581 we find James VI. returning from 
church at Dalkeith one Sunday with two pipers playing 
before him ; and, strangely enough, a little nearer the end 
of the century, we read, two pipers were prosecuted for play- 
ing on the Sunday. At various times between 1591 and 
1596 pipers from the Water of Leith bound themselves 
strictly not to play on the Sundays. There was evidently 
one law for the king and another for the subject. 

A.D. 1584. — A poetical historian describing a battle be- 
tween the English and the Irish in 1584 says : — 

" Now goe the foes to wracke, 
The Karne apace do sweate, 
And bagg pipe then instead of trompe 
Doe luUe the backe retreate. 

" Who hears the bagpipe now ? 
The pastyme is so hotte, 
Our valiant captains will not cease 
Till that the field be gotte. 

50 The Highland Bagpipe. 

" But still thei forward pearae. 
Upon the glibbed route, 
And with thar weapons meete for warre, 
These vaunting foes they oloute." 

Then, when the battle was over, the piper having been 
killed :— 

" The bagpipe cease to plaie, 
The piper lyes on grounde ; 
And here a sort of glibbed theevea 
Devoid of life are found. " 

It is difficult to see how an instrument like the present 
Irish bagpipe could be of any use in war ; but in 1601 a 
traveller, visiting the same country, confirms the statement 
that it belonged to the military. 

In 1584 a man named Cockran " played on his bagpipe 
in a di-amatic performance in Coventry." An Irish bagpipe 
has been seen in London theatres on various occasions, and, 
of course, often enough in Scottish concert rooms. In 1798 
a Mr. Courtney " played a solo on the union pipes in the 
quick movement of the overture with good eifect " in a per- 
formance founded on Ossian's poems. 

A.D. 1594. — At the Battle of Balrinnes, a witch who 
accompanied the Earl of Argyll referred in a prediction to 
the bagpipe as the principal military instrument of the 
Scottish mountaineers. 

A.D. 1597. — In a court case at Stirling in 1597 we are 
told that " W. Stewart brought into the kirkyard twa or 
three pyperis, and thereby drew in grit nowmer of people to 
dans befoir the kirk dur on tyme of prayeris, he being 
always the ringleader himself' Mr. Stewart must have had 
peculiar ideas of the fitness of things. 

The Tale of the Years. 51 

A.D. 1598. — An unpublished poem by Rev. Alex. Hume, 
minister of Logie, about 1598, contains the lines : — 

" Caus michtilie the warlie iiottes brake 
On Heiland pipes, Soottes and Hyberniohe." 

So at this date there was a difference between the Highland 
pipes, the Lowland, and the Hibernian. The instrument 
was, in fact, becoming recognised as peculiar to the High- 
lands, in the one specific form at least. 

A.D. 1601. — In 1601 Moryson, the traveller, visiting Ire- 
land during a rebellion, says that " near Armagh a strong 
body of insurgents approached the camp of regulars with 
cries and sounds of drummers and bagpipes as if they would 
storm the camp. After that our men had given them a 
volley in their teeth, they drew away, and we heard no more 
of their drummers and bagpipes, but only mournful cries, 
for many of their best men were slain." 

A.D. 1617. — When James I. came to Scotland in 1617 and 
decorated Holyrood with images of many kinds, he did not 
clear out the bagpipes from the Palace, jokingly remarking 
that as they had some relation to the organ they might 

A.D. 1623. — Playing on the "great pipe" was a charge 
made against a piper at Perth in 1623. The term great 
pipe would seem to indicate that the instrument was 
evolved from a previous kind, and is an argument in favour 
of the theory that the pipes were not " introduced " into 
Scotland, but are of native origin, and have been gradually 
developed up to their present condition. 

A.D. 1650. — " Almost every town hath bagpipes in it," 
says a writer of the year 1650. 

A.D. 1653. — In 1653 a woman pleaded for exemption from 

52 The Highland Bagpipe. 

censure because " English soldiers brought over a piper with 
them and did dance in her house.'" That, she thought, was 
sufficient excuse for any shortcomings in the management of 
her household. 

A.D. 1662. — A Kirkcaldy man, who shot his father in 
1662, sought liquor from an acquaintance to help to wile 
away his melancholy, and " there comes a piper, and this 
wretched man went and did dawnce." The music evidently 
was enough to dispel all the terrors of the law. 

A.D. 1700. — About the beginning of the nineteenth cen- 
tury the big drone was added to the bagpipe, distinguishing 
it henceforth from the Lowland and Northumbrian. 

A.D. 1741. — On a political occasion in 1741 the Magis- 
trates of Dingwall were welcomed home by the ringing of 
bells, " while young and old danced to the bagpipe, violin, 
and Jewish harp." Rather a curious medley they would 

A.D. 1745. — Prince Charlie had a large number of pipers 
with him in his rebellion of 1745. After the battle of 
Prestonpans his army marched into Edinburgh, a hundred 
pipers playing the Jacobite air, " The King shall enjoy his 
ain again : " and when he marched to Carlisle he had with 
him a hundred pipers. Perhaps it was because of its 
prominence in his rebellion that the bagpipe was afterwards 
classed by the ruling powers as an instrument of warfare, 
the carrying of which deserved punishment. 

A.D. 1775. — In this year we find the first reference to a 
professional maker of bagpipes. In the Edinburgh Directory 
for 1775, a book that could be carried in the vest pocket, 
" Hugh Robertson " is entered as " pipe maker. Castle Hill, 
Edinburgh." It was this same Hugh Robertson who made 
the prize pipes competed for at the meetings inaugurated 

The Tale of the Years. 5 Si 

by the Highland Society of London some time later, and an 
instrument of his make which took first prize at one of the 
competitions was recently in the possession of Mr. David 
Glen, Edinburgh. Where it now is cannot be discovered, 
as Mr. Glen parted with it to one of whose whereabouts he 
is not aware. 

It is not necessary to trace the instrument farther down 
through the years. In Scotland, after it overcame the set- 
back of the '45, it became more popular year by year until 
at last in 1824, we find an English traveller saying that 
'• the Scots are enthusiastic in their love for their national 
instrument. In Edinburgh the sound of the bagpipe is to 
be heard in every street." The Lowland, the Northumber- 
land and the Irish pipes lost favour, and the Lincolnshire — 
that referred to by Shakespeare — has been totally extinct 
since about 1850. The Great Highland Bagpipe is the only 
form that has held its own. 

The early history of the Celts afibrds abundant room for 
controversy, and the origin of the pipes, their introduction 
into, or evolution in, the Highlands, will always be debate- 
able matter. The weight of evidence, however, goes to 
show that the pipes and pipe music are far more likely to 
have been evolved out of the life of the Highland people 
than imported from any other country. The fact that the 
instrument is not mentioned in early Scottish history is no 
■proof that it did not exist. Besides, we have now got away 
from the habit of trying to find the origin of things pe- 
culiarly Scottish outside of Scotland. It used to be the 
fashion to decry everything local to Scotland, and our clans, 
even, traced their origin to Norman and Norwegian sources. 
That time, however, is past, and now Highlanders pride 
themselves on an ancestry which, however far back it is 

54 The Highland Bagpipe. 

traced, is still Scottish. So with the pipes. They have 
been in Scotland from all time, and it is in Scotland that 
they have been brought to the highest degree of perfection. 
The importation theory will not stand the test of inquiry. 
If the pipes came from Norway, or Rome, or any part of the 
Continent, or even England, how is it that in these places 
they have deteriorated almost to the point of disappear- 
ance, while in Scotland they have been continually develop- 
ing ? Ireland, indeed, can put forward a good claim — 
Christianity came from there, the peoples are the same, 
and the relations between the two countries in early days 
were very close — but there is less to uphold the claim than 
there is to show that the pipes are native to the Highlands. 
They are not mentioned in Ossianic poetry. In these times, 
however, the pipes would be so subordinate to the harp that 
their passing-by by the poet is a fact of little significance. 
If the Celts were the original inhabitants of the Highlands, 
and can be identified with the Picts — a theory for which 
there is very strong argument indeed — there is surely nothing 
more likely than that the pipes were always in existence 
among the people. Robertson, in his Historical Proofs of 
the Highlanders, shows clearly that there has never been a 
radical change of race or customs in the Highlands, that the 
music of the Great Highland Bagpipe has ever been peculiar 
to the Gael of Alban, and that the Irish Scots must have 
learned it from the Caledonian Picts. It is strong presump- 
tive evidence in favour of his contenbion that in no other 
counti-y has the instrument been developed in the same way, 
that it is one of the very few national musical instruments 
in Europe, and that in no other country is there such a 
quantity of peculiar music of such an age, composed solely 
for the instrument, and fitted only for interpretation by it. 

The Tale of the Years. 55 

There is nothing in the music that connects it with any 
part of the Continent, or that shows that it was borrowed 
from any particular place. The pibroch cannot possibly 
have come from the Tyrol or Italy, neither can the reels and 
other popular melodies. The importation theory grew out 
of the ideas entertained of the rude and uncivilised state of 
Scotland at an early period, which was considered altogether 
incompatible with the delicacy of taste and feeling its poetry 
and music displayed. But the student of Highland history 
soon discovers that, with all the rudeness, there existed 
among the people just that delicacy of taste and feeling 
which found expression in the music, and he at once con- 
cludes that the music is a real growth of the home soil. 
The race were always in the land : why not their language, 
their music, their customs, in a more or less rude form ? 

Passing from debateable ground, the result of our assort- 
ing of quotations seems to be that the first thoroughly 
authentic reference to the bagpipe in Scotland dates from 
1406, that it was well known in Reformation times, that 
the second drone was added about 1500, that it was first 
mentioned in connection with the Gaelic in 1506, or a few 
years later, that it was classed in a list of Scottish musical 
instruments in 1548, that in 1549 and often afterwards it 
was used in war, that in 1650 every town had a piper, that 
in 1700 the big drone was added, and that in 1824 the 
Scots were enthusiastic about the pipes. There is not the 
slightest doubt, of course, that the instrument was used in 
Scotland for many years, probably for centuries, before we 
can trace it, but previous to the dates given we have only 
tradition and conjecture to go by. 

From 1700 till 1750 was perhaps the most critical time 
in the story of the Great Highland Bagpipe. The disaster 

56 The Highland Bagpipe. 

at Culloden nearly spelt ruin for the pipes as well as for the 
tartan. The Disarming Act was very stringent, and the 
pipes came in for almost as strict a banning as did the kilt. 
The Jacobites were outlawed, the tartan was pronounced a 
mark of extreme disloyalty to the House of Hanover, and 
the life of a professed piper was hardly worth living. The 
Celt was crushed by the severity of his defeat and broken 
by the inrush of innovation that followed. Clanship, as 
such, ceased, and the chiefs, from being the fathers of their 
people, became the landlords. The Highlander lost his 
reckless passions, but he also lost his rude chivalry and his 
absorbing love for the old customs. Traditional history 
and native poetry were neglected, and theological disputes 
of interminable duration occupied much of the time for- 
merly devoted to poetic recitals and social meetings. Poverty 
and civilisation did their work ; taste for music declined, 
and piping died away. Absentee landlordism took the place 
of resident chieftainism, and Gaelic seemed likely to become 
a dead language, for the people seemed willing to let it die. 
The destruction of the crofter system completed the work 
of ruin begun by the destruction of the clan system. What 
this meant for Highland feelings and customs is vividly 
shown by the following extract from the writings of the elder 
Dr. Norman Macleod, Car aid nan Gaidheal, as he was called. 
The speaker is " Finlay the Piper." 

" There, indeed, you are right ; he was the man that had a kind 
heart. But this new man that has come in his place has a heart of 
remarkable hardness, and cares not, a straw for the pipes or any- 
thing that belongs to the Highlands. He is a perfect fanatic in his 
passion for big sheep. It brings more enjoyment to him to look at 
a wether parading on green braes than to listen to all the pibrochs 
that ever were played. If I were to compose a pibroch for him, I 

The Tale of the Years. 51 

would call it ' Lament for the Big Wether,' the wether that fell over 
the rock the other day, the loss of which almost drove him mad. 
It's not I that would be caring to say this to everybody ; but as you 
happen to be with me ou the spot there can be no harm in telling 
you how he treated the poor people here. There is not now smoke 
coming out of single chimney or shelling in the whole glen, where 
you used to see scores of decent people working at honest work. 
This man would as soon give lodgment to a fox as to a poor crofter 
or a widow woman. You never heard in your life what a mangling 
and maiming he has made of the population of this glen. Not even 
a shepherd would he have from the people of the country ; he 
brought them all in from the south. Even his shepherd's dog does 
not understand a word of Gaelic. Mactalla of the Crag has not sent 
back a single echo since good Donald went away. Everything must 
make way for the sheep. There is not a single brake now in which 
a bramble would grow ; no tuft of brushwood on the slope where 
one could gather a nut ; he has shaved the country as bare as the 
gable wall of a house, and as for sloes, where sloes used to be you 
may as well go and look for grapes. The birds, too, have left ns ; 
they have gone to the wood on the other side of the Sound ; even 
the gay cuckoo cannot find a single stunted bush where it might 
hide. He has burnt all the wild wood that ran so prettily up the 
slope from end to end of this property, you won't gather as many 
sticks from the brushwood as would serve to boil a pot of potatoes, 
or as many twigs as would make a fishing basket. But no more of 
this ; it makes my heart sick to think of it. Better to be talking of 
something else." 

The new era davp^ned, however. The dawn came so 
slowly that it was hardly noticed. The rabid anti-High- 
land feeling died away, the powers that were took a sensible 
view of the situation, and in the reaction that followed the 
music of the pipes quickly regained its old position of pre- 
eminence. With this difference, however- — it returned to 
popularity as a social instead of a military force, destined in 
the Highlands to be the pursuit of the enthusiast and the 

58 The Highland Bagpipe. 

beloved of the common people, and in the British army 
only, the inspiration that leads men on to slay one another. 
In this respect the suppression of the rebellions of 1715 
and 1745 marks a turning point in Scottish history, the 
importance of which has never been recognised. With 
Culloden ended the influence of old beliefs, and when, in 
1782, the ban of the Disarming Act was removed, the 
people were ready for new ideas. A spirit of improvement 
and an enthusiasm for things Highland appeared, first 
modestly, then boldly, and under the auspices of a reno- 
vated society, without the envii-onments of war and 
romance, a new order asserted itself. Competitions stirred 
up the more clever of the piping fraternity, and further 
popularised the music, books on Highland piping, written 
or compiled by leading pipers, began to appear, and with 
the publication broadcast of histories of the many tunes, 
the people began to take an intelligent and patriotic 
interest in the music. The Highlands is not now a bar- 
barous and unknown land. It is classic ground, having 
been made so by the pens of clever writers, but the old 
instrument is still the emblem of the homeland to High- 
landers all over the world, and, whatever dies out, many 
generations will not see the last of the pibroch. 

The Make of the Pipes. 59 


The Make of the Pipes. 

There's meat and music here, as the fox said when he ate the bag- 
pipe. — Gaelic Froverb. 

The " Encyolopsedia " definition — The simple reed — Early forms- 
Simple bagpipes — The chorus — The volynha — Continental 
pipes — British pipes — The Northumbrian — The Irish — The 
Highland — Tuning — Modern pipes — Prize pipes. 

" A wind instrument whose fixed characteristic has always been 
two or more reed pipes attached to and sounded by a wind chest or 
bag, which bag has in turn been supplied either by the lungs of the 
performer or by a bellows." 

THIS is the encyclopaedia definition, and generally 
speaking it is correct. But the bag is certainly 
an addition to the simple reed or shepherd's pipe. 
And if we wish to go further back we can go to the 
time when a schoolboy on his way to school pulled a 
green straw from the cornfield, and biting off a bit, 
trimmed the end and made for himself a pipe. " Many 
a pipe," says J. F. Campbell, "did boys make of straws 
in the days of my youth, and much discord did we pro- 
duce in trying to play on the slender oaten pipe in emu- 
lation of John Piper." Boys being still boys, they still pull 
the green straws in the passing by, and no doubt if the pipes 

60 The Highland Bagpipe. 

were not already in existence they would again grow out of 
this primitive pipe, slowly but surely. Without the bag 
the pipe is the most ancient of all instruments. It was quite 
natural that people should try to form sounds by blowing 
through a tube, and afterwards to vary the sounds either by 
varying the size or shape of the tube or by fitting into it 
some special mechanism. The pipe was well known to the 
Trojans, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, who had different 
kinds for different measures, and from contemporary writ- 
ings we learn that the strain of blowing these early pipes 
was so great that the player had to bandage his lips and 
cheeks with a leathern muzzle. One ancient picture repre- 
sents a player blowing a triple pipe, that is, three pipes 
joined at the mouth-piece, but separate futher down, a per- 
formance which must have made the need for some improved 
method of supplying wind very obvious. The name of the 
genius who first thought of having a reserve supply in a bag 
attached to the pipes, which would keep an equable current 
for the purposes of the music, while at the same time it 
would relieve the player's mouth of the continued strain of 
blowing, is lost to posterity, but in all probability the idea 
was originated at different places and at different times by 
different people. Mac Lean, in his History of the Celtic 
Language, considers the bagpipe as originally consisting of 
a bladder with drones and chanter of reeds and bulrushes, 
and affirms that he himself made and played on such an in- 
strument. The first real bagpipe would, however, be a skin, 
most likely that of a goat or kid, and the invention of the 
valve in the mouth-piece would follow as a matter of course 
— that is, if the man who thought of the bag did not also 
think of having a bellows. There were no drones in the 
early pipes. St. Jerome, who lived in the fifth century, says 


(i) Large Bagpipe.^ (2) Diidey or Hornpipe. (3) Sfiepherd's Pipe. (4) Bagpipe 
•with Bellows. 

62 TTie Highland Bagpipe. 

that at the synagogue, in ancient times there was a simple 
species of bagpipe, consisting of a skin or leather bag, with 
two pipes, through one of which the bag was inflated, the 
other emitting the sound. This was the first real bagpipe 
and it was also, it may be added, the germ of the organ, for 
the bagpipe is but the organ reduced to its simplest ex- 

There was an ancient instrument, called the chorus, which 
seems to have been closely related to the bagpipe. The 
chorus was composed of the skin of an animal, which was 
inflated by a pipe in the back of the neck, and had another 
pipe issuing from the mouth. That it was not exactly the 
same as the bagpipe is evident from the fact that it was 
called alterum genus cori to distinguish it from the instru- 
ment composed of a bag specially manufactured with mouth- 
piece and pipe, which was known as unum genus cori. Gir- 
aldus Cambrensis, one of the most authoritative writers of 
the twelfth century, assigns the chorus to Scotland, but says 
nothing of its construction, although he credits the country 
with superior musical skill. Some ancient writers class the 
chorus with stringed instruments, and assert that it has no 
connection whatever with the bagpipe. Living as we do 
at the beginning of the twentieth century, we cannot pos- 
sibly decide such a delicate point. And it does not matter 
much that we cannot. 

Those who hold that the instrument was originally im- 
ported into Scotland believe that the parent of the Scottish 
bagpipe was an instrument known as the volynka, found in 
some provinces of the Russian Empire and ascribed more 
particularly to the Finns, who called it pilai. It was a 
rude instrument, consisting of two tubes and a mouthpiece, 
all apart, inserted in a raw, hairy goatskin. It was not held 

The Make of the Pipes. 

in high esteem, for when the Czar degraded the Archbishop 
of Novogorod in 1569 he alleged that the worthy father was 
" fitter for a bagpiper leading dancing bears than for a 
prelate." But no less than five different kinds of bagpipes 
were known on the Continent in the seventeenth centurv, 
some of them with very high qualities as musical instru- 
ments. They were : — • 

I. The cornemuse, a simple instrument inflated by the 
mouth, with a chanter having eight apertures for notes, but 
without any drones. 

II. The chalemie, or shepherd's pipe, used by peasants at 
festivals, and also in country churches. It was inflated by 
the mouth, had a chanter with ten holes, and had also two 

III. The mussette, which was inflated by a bellows. It 
had a chanter with twelve notes, besides other apertures and 
valves opened by keys, and with four reeds for drones, 
enclosed in a barrel. It was a complicated instrument, and 
elaborately made. In one instance, we read, the bag of the 
mussette was made of velvet embroidered with Jleurs de lis. 
It was, however, the " class " variety of the bagpipe, and 
was played before Royalty. The mussette was said to sound 
most sweetly, " especially in the hands of Destouches, the 
Royal Piper." So they had a royal piper in those days and 
the pipes were honoured. 

IV. The surdelina of Naples, an instrument with two 
drones, two chanters, and numerous keys. 

V. The Italian peasant's bagpipe, having two chanters, 
each with a single key, and one drone. 

64 The Highland Bagpipe. 

In Germany the instrument was known as the sackpfeife, 
in Italy as the cornamusa, in Rome as tibia utricularis, in 
Lower Brittany as bignou, and other Continental names for 
it were tiva, clarmella, sarnponia or samphoneja and zam- 

There was besides the simple combination of reed and 
bladder, so simple that it could be made by the shepherd 
boy himself, without the aid of tools and without any 
special aptitude for mechanics. From it spring all the 
others which demand the skill of the finished artisan and 
the help of turning laths and latter-day implements. The 
Italian bagpipe, which was made familiar in Britain 
through the wandering piffernri, was a very rude instru- 
ment, consisting of a goat's skin, with an enormous drone, 
on which the player performed by means of a mouth tube, 
another player making the melody on a separate chanter. 
A visitor to Naples in 1824 describes a musician in a sheep- 
skin coat, with the wool outwards, playing a bagpipe, of 
which the bag consisted of " the undressed skin of a goat 
inflated by one of the legs in its original shape." How 
anything could be inflated by the leg of a goat he does not 
stop to inform us, but as the bagpipe now used in Italy is 
very agreeable and also presentable, though limited in 
power, it must have been improved considerably since 1824. 
That it did exist in a more finished condition is evident 
from the statement of another traveller, made in 1850, that 
he had heard the national music of Hungary played at 
Pesth on the dudelsack, " a genuine bagpipe, with a fine 
drone, adorned in front with a goat's head, and covered 
with a goafs skin." It is not clear whether he means that 
the bag or the drone was adorned in front with the goat's 
head, but most likely it was the bag, and the head would 

The Make of the Pipes. 


be in its original relation to the skin of the goat. The 
sackyfevfe (bagpipe) and chalemie (shepherd's pipe) seem 
to have been intimately associated with the wandering 
minstrels of Germany from time immemorial^ and under 
the name of dudey or dudelsack, is still well iinown to the 
German peasant. 

There are three recognised kinds of bagpipes in the 
British Islands : — 

I. The Northumbrian bagpipe. 

II. The Irish bagpipe. 

III. The Great Highland Bagpipe. 



The Northumbrian bagpipe is 
in two forms, one like the High- 
land, but of smaller dimensions 
and milder tone, and the other a 
miniature of this, and having the 
same relation to it as a fife has to 
a German band. The liOwland 
bagpipe of Scotland may be iden- 
tified with the Northumbrian, but 
it is looked on rather contemptu- 
ously by the devotees of the High- 
land, because, in their opinion, it 
merely imitates other instruments, 
and is not fitted to perform what 
they consider the perfection of 
pipe music — the pibroch. 

The Northumbrian and the 
Ijowland pipes were easily carried 
about, and were much gentler 
than the great Highland, but 

66 The Highland Bagpipe. 

they did not resemble those used on the Continent. They 
had the same tone as the Highland, but were less sonorous, 
and were blown by a bellows put in motion by the arm 
opposite to that under which the bag was held. In this 
latter respect they were similar to the Irish, and like them 
they had the drones fixed in one stock and laid horizontally 
over the arm, not borne on the shoulder. The real Low- 
land bagpipe, however, never got farther than two drones. 
A new form of the Northumbrian was played until very 
lately, perhaps still is. It also was a bellows instrument, 
and had several keys on the chanter, which gave it a 
chromatic scale. A peculiarity of its fingering was that 
only one hole was uncovered at a time, the end of the 
chanter being kept shut. Although the Great Highland 
Bagpipe has now surpassed the Lowland, the latter is not 
quite extinct, and a few years ago there were, even in Aber- 
deenshire, at least two performers on it. In the Borders of 
Scotland there were probably many more. The Northum- 
brian pipes, it may be added, were often wholly formed of 
ivory, and richly ornamented with silver. The bag was 
covered with cloth or tartan, and fringed or otherwise 
adorned. The compass of the old Northumbrian small 
pipe chanter was only of eight notes (one less than that of 
the Highland) ; but with a few keys to produce semi-tones, 
all the old 'Northumbrian airs could be played. The 
modern chanter has been lengthened by the addition of 
keys until the scale extends from D below the treble clef 
to B above it. 

The Irish bagpipe is the instrument in its most elaborate 
form. It also is supplied with wind by a bellows. The 
drones are all fixed on one stock, and have keys which are 
played by the wrist of the right hand. The reeds are soft 

The Make of the Pipes. 


and the tones very sweet and melodious, and there is a 
harmonious bass which is very effective in the hands of a 
good player. Some of the drones are of great length, 
winding as many as three times the length of the apparent 
tube. The player is seated with one side of the bellows 
tied firmly to his body, the other to his right arm, the 
drones under his left leg, and the end of the chanter resting 
on a pad of leather on his knee, on which it is tipped for 

the purpose of articulating many 
of the notes. The bag is made 
of goat's skin and is rendered 
pliable by means of bees' wax 
and butter. Originally it, like 
that of the Highland pipe, was 
filled by the mouth, but it was 
changed so as to be' filled by the 
bellows. In later instruments 
several finger keys were adapted 
to a fourth tube, whereby a per- 
fect chord could be produced, and 
thus the instrument was rendered 
fit for private apartments, where 
as the Highland and the Lowland 
were only suitable for the open air. 
The sweetness of the sound, the result of the smallness and 
delicacy of the reeds and the prolongation of the pipes ; 
the capacity of the instrument, the result of the many keys, 
and the capability of the chanter; have earned for the 
Trish pipes the title of the Irish organ. The compass of 
the instrument is two octaves. Like the Lowland, the Irish 
bagpipe is fast dying out, but there is in Glasgow at least 
one player, an old man, bent with years, but devoted to his 

68 The Highland Bagpipe. 

pipes, who takes his stand near the top of the classic High 
Street, and can always depend on a small but select 
audience, to appreciate his rendering of Scotch and Irish 
airs on the bagpipe of Erin. Both the Irish and the Nor- 
thumbrian pipes have, it may be added, been elaborated 
until they have almost ceased to be bagpipes. 

And lastly, we have the " Great Highland Bagpipe." In 
this instrument a val>ted tube leads from the mouth to an 
air-tight bag which has four other orifices, three large enough 
to contain the base of three fixed long tubes termed drones, 
and another smaller, to which is fitted the chanter. The 
three are thrown on the shoulder while the latter is held in 
the hands. All four pipes are fitted with reeds, but of dif- 
ferent kinds. The drone reeds are made by splitting a round 
length of " cane ■" or reed backward from a cross cut near a 
knot or joint towards the open end. They thus somewhat 
resemble the reed in organ pipes, the loose flap of cane re- 
placing the tongue, and the uncut part the tube or reed 
proper. They are set downward in a chamber at the base 
of the drone, so that the current of air issuing from the bag 
tends to set the tongue in vibration. The drone reeds are 
only intended to produce a single note, which can be tuned 
by a " slider " on the pipe itself, varying the length of the 
consonating air column. 

The chanter reed is different in form, being made of two 
approximated edges of cane tied on to a metal tube. It is 
thus essentially a double reed, like that of the oboe or 
bassoon, while the drone reed roughly represents the single 
beating reed of the organ or clarionet. The drone reed is 
an exact reproduction of the " squeaker " which children in 
the fields fashion out of joints of tall grass, probably the 
oldest form of this reed in existence. 

The Make of the Pipes. 


The drones are iu length proportional to their note, the 
longest being about three feet high. The chanter is a conical 
wooden tube, about fourteen inches long, pierced with eight 
sounding holes, seven in front for the fingers and one at the 
top behind for the thumb of the right hand. Two addi- 


tional holes bored across the tube below the lowest of these 
merely regulate the pitch, and are never stopped ; were it 
not for them, however, the chanter would require to be 
some inches shorter, and would consequently have a less 
pleasing appearance. 

70 The Highland Bagpipe. 

The two smaller drones produce a note in unison with the 
lowest A of the chanter, and the larger an octave lower. 
The indescribable thrill which the bagpipe is capable of im- 
parting is produced by a sudden movement of the fingers on 
certain notes, which gives an expression peculiar to the pipes, 
and distinguishes the pibroch from all other music. The 
drones, as has been said, are tuned by means of " sliders " 
or movable joints, and this tuning, or preparation for play- 
ing, which generally occupies a few minutes of the piper's 
time before he begins the tune proper, is heard with im- 
patience by those not accustomed to the instrument. It 
gave rise to the saying, applied to those who waste time 
over small matters, " You are longer in tuning your pipes 
than playing your tune." It cannot, however, be helped so 
long as this instrument remains exactly as it is. The 
piper's warm breath goes almost directly on to the reeds, 
and the consequence is that no sooner does he get his pipes 
in tune than he starts to put them out of tune — ^by blowing 
into them. What is needed is some contrivance that will 
prevent this, by cooling the air before it reaches the chanter. 
There are several contrivances in use among leading players, 
each generally the invention of the man who uses it, but 
none has come into general favour. Highlanders are a 
conservative race, and they are not willing to make any 
changes on their much-loved instrument. It would, how- 
ever, be well if they would take this matter into con- 
sideration, and do something to render unnecessary that 
preparatory tuning which many people find so unpleasant — 
that is if it is possible to prevent the reeds getting wet 
while wet breath is blown into the instrument. The 
bellows of course gets over the difficulty, but we hardly 

The Make of the Pipes. 71 

wish to see a bellows attached to the Highland Bagpipe. 
It would not then be Highland. 

The Highland bagpipe is louder and more shrill than any 
other, probably because it was all along intended for use as 
an instrument of war, and pipe music is known to have been 
heard at a distance of six miles, and, under specially favour- 
able circumstances, of ten miles. The Duke of Sutherland 
has a bagpipe which was played on in the '45, and could be 
heard at a distance of eight miles. 

Modern pipes are generally made of black ebony or cocoa- 
wood, the ferrules or rings being of ivory. Sometimes the 
pipes are half-mounted in silver, that is the high ferrules 
in ivory and the low in silver. The drones of the best 
makers have the inside lined with metal, where there is 
friction in the tuning slide. The bag is formed of sheep- 
skin, in which are securely fastened five pieces of turned 
wood called stocks. These receive the ends of the chanter, 
the mouth-piece, and the drones. The chanter reed is 
formed of two pieces of Spanish cane, placed side by side. 
The tops of these are worked down to a fine edge, and the 
bottoms are tied with fine hemp to a small metal tube. 
The blow-pipe has on its lower end a valve, which prevents 
the return of the wind to the mouth. The drones pro- 
vide a background or additional volume of sound, which 
gives body to the music. The big drone is fitted with 
two, and the others with one tuning slide each. The 
drones are interchangeable, so that the big drone can be 
placed in the right or left stock to suit a right or left- 
handed player. When the bag is filled with wind the pres- 
sure of the player's arm must be so regulated that there is 
always just sufficient force of air to bring out the notes 
clearly without interfering with the steady action of the 

72 The Hig-hland Bag^pipe. 

drones. The bag is held well under the arm, the big drone 
rests on the shoulders, and the others are suspended from it 
by ribbons and silk cords. The bag is generally held slightly 
in front, so that the short drones rest on the shoulder. 
^Vhen on full-dress parade a banner flies from the big drone, 
with the arms of the regiment or chief as a motto. The 
drones are generally placed on the left shoulder, but many 
players place them on the right. The whole instrument is 
kept in position by the tension of the bag. The instru- 
ments used by present-day pipers are the full set, the half- 
set or reel pipes, and the practising chanter. 

The bagpipe had originally but one drone. A second 
was added about 1500, and a third about 1800. Bagpipes 
with one drone are still used occasionally, and so late as the 
winter of 1899 an itinerant player might sometimes be seen, 
late at night, playing for coppers at Jamaica Street corner, 
Glasgow, on such an instrument. The two drone pipes were 
barred at competitions owing to some supposed advantage 
they gave to the player, and they appeared last in 1821. 

The pipes awarded as prizes at competitions under the 
auspices of the Highland Society of London are almost 
always of cocoa wood, having armorial bearings and a silver 
plate inscribed with the name of the successful competitor. 
The bagpipe is the result of an evolution process, and if 
this process continues we may yet see it further improved, 
and the instrument made so that it will commend itself not 
only to Highlanders themselves, but to lovers of music 
generally. A great deal of the prejudice against the pipes 
is, however, caused by the ignorance of their critics, and 
perhaps if people criticised less and understood more we 
would not hear so much of the shortcomings of the in- 

With an Ear to the Drone. 73 


With an Ear to the Diione. 

' ' What needs there be sae great a fraise 
Wi' dringing, dull, Italian lays; 
I wadna gie our ain strathspeys 
For half a hunder score o' them ; 
They're dowf and dowie at the best, 
Dowf and dowie, dowf and dowie, 
Dowf and dowie at the best, 
[Wi' a' their variorum ;] 
[They're dowf and dowie at the best,] 
Their allegros an' a' the rest. 
They oanna please a Scottish taste 
Compared with Tullochgorum." 

Dr. Jolinson — Inspiration of Scottish music — Professor Blackie — 
Highland music simple — Scottish airs once Highland — Age of 
Highland music — Capability of the bagpipe — How it has suffered 
— Peculiarities of the pibroch— Pipe music not fitted for inside — 
How it troubled the pressman — Chevalier Neukomm — Professor 
Blackie again — A Chicago jury's opinion — An ode to the pipes. 

DR. JOHNSON, who was in several ways a bundle of 
contradictions, found at least one thing in Scotland 
that he enjoyed. When on his tour through the 
Hebrides, he was on various occasions entertained by the 
bagpipe music of his hosfs piper, and he liked nothing better 
than to stand behind the performer and hold the big drone 
close to his ear while the instrument was in full blast. He 
was not so affected as some of his country men and women 


74 The Highland Bagpipe. 

iiow-a-days, who say the sound of the drone is unpleasant, 
forgetting, or ignorant of, the fact that it is simply the bass 
A of their fine church organs sounded continuously by a 
reed on a wind instrument. But to them the organ is re- 
fined and represents culture, while the bagpipe is the bar- 
barous instrument of a barbarous people, whose chief end is 
to act as custodians of a part of the country that provides 
good sport after the Twelfth, but is best forgotten all the 
rest of the year. So they scoff at the national music and the 
national instrument of Scotland, with the spirit of prejudice, 
half affected, half real, which induces John Bull to deny his 
neighbour north of the Tweed the possession of any good 
thing. And besides, as Gilbert says : — 

" A Sassenach chief may be bonnily built, 
Wear a sporran, a hose (!) a dirk and a, kilt ; 
He may in fact stride in an acre of stripes, 
But he cannot assume an aflfection for pipes." 

The Scots were always a musical people. Their national 
airs, if nothing else, prove this. But music to Scotsmen, 
still more to Highlanders, was always more than music ; it 
was something which inspired and intensified all their 
thoughts, and, combined with the impassioned lays of the 
bards, was to them their principal intellectual food. The 
bards, whether leading their countrymen with naked bodies 
and bared broadswords, against their foes, or reciting in the 
festive hall, endeavoured by means of the choicest language, 
wedded to the tenderest and boldest music, to impart to their 
listeners all that was noble and heroic. With harp and voice 
they poured forth music and words that stirred the very 
depths of courage and fervour in the enthusiastic nature of 
the Gaels. And the music which they composed was, like 

With an Ear to the Drone. 75 

the people, rugged but whole-hearted, " the music of the 
great bens, the mysterious valleys, and of deep crying unto 
deep," a music which showed that the people who could live 
on it were not a people of sordid and sensual tastes, but a 
people who were by nature and circumstances fitted to 
appreciate the grand, the awe-inspiring, and the true. They 
traversed daily a country of the wildest and most diversified 
scenery, mountains and forests and lochs, their minds partook 
of the sublimity of their surroundings ; they mused con- 
tinually with glowing imagination on the deeds of their 
forefathers and their own exploits, and the music to whose 
rhythm they were bred was but the reflex of their character 
and life. " That is what makes all your Celtic music so 
good," wrote Professor Blackie. " It is all so real ; not 
tricked up for show, but growing out of a living root." 

Highland music was always different from Lowland, in 
that it was based largely on memories of the past, and con- 
nected by undying tradition with events that had left their 
impress on the country or the clan. It was always simple 
and unaffected, and the Highlander always preferred the 
simple strains of his countrywomen and the grandeur of 
the pipes in their native glens to the finest opera. Besides 
he liked variety, as the existence of marches, pibrochs, 
quick -steps, laments, reels, jigs, and strathspeys testify, and 
he was equally at home with the grave, the gay, or the 
melancholy. The melancholy, however, was the predomin- 
ating note. One can recognise a Gaelic air among a thou- 
sand. Quaint and pathetic, it moves on with the most 
singular intervals, the movement self-contained and im- 
pressive, especially to the Celt. 

Scottish music as it now exists has been derived largely 
from the Highlands. No man did more to acclimatise 

76 The Highland Bagpipe. 

Celtic music in the Lowlands than Bums. By wedding 
Highland airs to his own incomparable poetry he gave them 
a new lease of life, albeit he helped to destroy them under 
their old names while preserving them under the new. 
The music of " Scots Wha Hae," « Roy's Wife," " Auld 
Lang Syne," « Of a' the Airts," and " Ye Banks and Braes," 
has no countei'part across the Border or among the Saxon 
race. It is the ancient inheritance of the Celt, made 
national by the genius of a national poet. 

The age of Highland music is another guarantee of its 
excellence. It has stood the test of time, the severest of all 
ordeals. We have not much English poetry which can, with 
any certainty, be ascribed to a date earlier than the time of 
Chaucer, but the Scots were celebrated for musical genius 
since the beginning of history, genius which, an early his- 
torian says, could not be found elsewhere on this side of the 
Alps. We have, for instance, a " Song of the Druids," 
though, to tell the truth, we cannot prove its Druidical 
origin ; we have " Somerled's Lament," composed on an 
event which took place in 1164, though not necessarily at 
that date ; we have a piece of pipe music composed in the 
middle of the battle of Inverlochy in 1427 ; the " Rout of 
Glenfruin," which refers to a desperate engagement between 
the Mac Gregors and the Colquhouns in 1602; and a 
"March to the Battle of Inverlochy," and "The Clans' 
Gathering ; "" both composed on the battle fought at Inver- 
lochy in 1645. These do not prove that the pipes them- 
selves were capable at that time of rendering such music, 
but they prove that the music existed. There are some 
pipe tunes — Cogadh na S'lih and A Ghlas Mheur — for in- 
stance, so ancient that their origin cannot be traced, but 
they have, by means of their own merits, and in spite of the 

With an Ear to the Drone. 77 

want of the printing press, lived all through the centuries. 
In the beginning of the twelfth century, Giraldus Cam- 
brensis said of the music of the Irish Celts that it was 
above that of any nation he had ever known, and in the 
opinion of many, Scotland at that time far surpassed Ire- 
land, even while her people were sunk in misery and 

As to the question whether people of good musical taste 
can appreciate the music of the great Highland bagpipe, it 
is a fact that people who have the keenest appreciation and 
intense enjoyment of the music of such composers as Mozart 
and Handel, of the great singers and great musicians, can 
at the same time enjoy a pibroch or a strathspey when 
played by a master hand. Mendelssohn on his visit to the 
Highlands was favourably impressed by the pibroch, 
and introduced a portion into one of his finest compositions. 
The pibrochs are remarkable productions ; all the more 
remarkable that they were composed by men who, we may 
safely assume, were of an humble class, and not blessed in 
anv way with the advantages of education — least of all with 
those of a musical education. 

The great Highland bagpipe is not fitted for executing 
all kinds, or even many kinds of music. Its compass is 
only nine notes, from G second time treble clef to A, first 
ledger line above clef. The scale may be called a 
"tempered" one. The C note being slightly flattened 
admits of a greater variety of keys than could otherwise be 
used, and for its own purposes the scale is perfect. The 
notes are G natural, A, B, C, D, E, F sharp, G natm-al, 
and A. It is this G natural, or flat seventh, which gives 
the scale its peculiar character. The A is that of any other 
instrument in concert pitch. The so-called imperfection of 

78 The Highland Bagpipe. 

scale, together with the somewhat harsh tone, is the cause 
of the unpleasant effect on the accurately sensitive ears of 
those accustomed to music in the natural diatonic scale, but 
these also accoimt for the semi-barbarous, exciting stimulus 
the instrument exercises on the minds of Highlanders, 
especially on the battlefield. The chanter of the Highland 
bagpipe has an oboe or bassoon reed broader than that of 
the other kinds, whence that loudness of sound for which it 
is known. This is a valuable quality in a military instru- 
ment, and when heard at a sufficient distance, when the 
faults of scale are not so noticeable, the music is very 
agreeable. Besides, compass and variety are not always 
the highest qualities of music, and, although the chanter of 
a bagpipe is almost devoid of expression and beyond the 
performer's control, the suitable execution of simple airs is 
equally practicable, and of equal value with music obtained 
from other instruments. Simple airs may be performed on 
simple instruments, and a master hand can bring from im- 
perfect materials results better than those produced by the 
amateur with materials of the highest class. But we should 
not expect from one instrument the music proper to 
another, or blame the one because it fails to please those 
who are used to the other. The bagpipes have all along 
been subject to the criticism of the stranger, who knew 
neither them nor their people, but who came to criticise 
and went away to scoff, not remembering that a Highlander 
suddenly imported into a London drawing-room would 
have as poor an opinion of the music there as the Londoner 
has of his. They have suffered too from the well-meaning 
efforts of their friends. Some have invented contrivances 
and modifications for bringing the instrument nearer to 
all-round music. Others have adapted for the pipes pieces 

With an Ear to the Drone. 79 

never intended for them, and which only sliow up their 
deficiencies, in the hope of bringing the music nearer to the 
pipes. Neither has succeeded to any great extent, and 
neither is liiiely to succeed. The Mac Crimmons of Skye, 
the greatest masters of the bagpipe, never violated the 
principle of using only music specially composed, and they 
succeeded beyond all others in demonstrating the powers of 
the instrument. Those who have since departed from their 
principle have failed to justify the departure, but they have 
proved, what they might have known before they began, 
that an instrument cannot produce what it is not constructed 
to produce. The Highland bagpipe is the exponent of 
Highland music, and of that only. 

And there is enough and to spare without invading the 
realms of other instruments. There are reels, strathpeys, 
and marches out of number, and there are, above all things, 
pibrochs, or, to give the proper spelling, piobaireachd 
(" pibroch " is simply an attempt made by Sir Walter Scott 
to spell the word phonetically, so as to make it pronounce- 
able to his south country readers ; but it has come into such 
general use that its correctness passes unquestioned.)* The 
word does not, properly speaking, denote any class of tune 
— it means pipe-playing — but it is generally applied to a 
class which in itself includes three classes — the cruinneachadh 
or gathering, the cumhadh or lament, and the failte or 
salute. The pibroch has been called the voice of uproar 
and misrule, and its music that of real nature and rude 
passion. It is the great specialty of the Highland bagpipe, 

* The proper name of "classic" pipe music in the Gaelic is CcoJ 
Mor, the Great Music, a word which includes gatherings, laments, 
and salutes. 

80 The Highlaiid Bagpipe. 

and no piper is considered a real expert unless he is a good 
pibroch player. It is the most elaborate of the composi- 
tions devised for the pipes, and is difficult to define other- 
wise than as a theme with variations. Dr. Mac Culloch, a 
rather cynical traveller, who wrote books on Scotland in 
1824, which still pass as standard, considered it " of an 
extremely irregular character, containing a determined 
melody, whereon, such as it is, are engrafted a series of 
variations rising in difficulty of execution, but presenting no 
character, as they consist of commonplace, tasteless flourishes, 
offensive to the ear by their excess, and adding to the 
original confusion instead of embellishing the air which 
the ground may possess." " It has," he adds, " neither time, 
rhythm, melody, cadence, nor accent, neither keynote nor 
commencement nor termination, and it can therefore regu- 
late nothing. It begins, goes on, and ends, no one knows 
when or how or where, and if all the merit of the bagpipe 
is to depend on its martial, or rather its marching, utility, 
it could not stand on a worse foundation." But Dr. 
Mac Culloch, strangely enough, himself says a little later: — 

" The proper music of the bagpipe is well worthy of the instru- 
ment. They are really fit for each other, and ought never to have 
been separated. The instrument has suffered in reputation, like the 
ass in the fable, from making too high flights. It is, properly 
.""peaking, a military weapon (sic), and the pibroch is its real 

A pibroch is generally in triple or quadruple time, al- 
though many are in two-fourth and six-eighth time. It 
begins with the iirlar or groundwork of the composition 
and its doubling. Then comes the high A or thumb 
variation, after which the music proceeds : — 

With an Ear to the Drone. 81 

(1) Siubhal, 

with its doubling 

and trebling. 

(2) Leum-luath, 




(3) Taor-luath, 




(4) Taor-htath fosgailte,-^^. 




(5) Taor-luath breabach, ^ 




(6) Taor-luath a mach, 




(7) Cnm-luath, 




(8) Onm-hmth fosgailte, 




(9) Cnm-luath breabach, 




(10) Or'un-luath a mach, 




It is finished up with the ground or urlar as at the 

The pibroch is not a mere vohmtary, played as the taste 
of the performer may dictate, though it seems so to those 
unacquainted with the nature of the music, especially 
when the player is inexperienced. All, however, are not 
so ignorant or confused as the listener of a story told 
by the late Duke of Gordon. A piper in a North of 
England town had played a pibroch which wonderfully 
excited the attention of his hearers, who seemed equally 
astonished at its length and the wildness and apparent dis- 
connection of its parts. Unable to understand it, one of 
the spectators at the conclusion anxiou,sly asked the piper 
to " play it in English." 

The pibroch is properly a " pipe tune," and its most 
legitimate form is the " gathering." The gathering is a 
long piece of music composed on the occasion of some 
victory or other fortunate circumstance in the history of a 
clan, which, when played, is a warning to the troops to 
turn out. The lament and salute originated in a similar 
way, but should be used on specific occasions only. The 
three classes are now, however, treated as one, propriety 
being frequently so much discarded that the pieces are 

82 The Highland Bagpipe. 

called marches, an entirely unwarranted change, considering 
the nature of the music. The bagpipe has its military 
music mostly composed for itself, and generally employed 
by regimental pipers for marching purposes, and there is no 
necessity either for using pibrochs as marches or for adapt- 
ing for regimental purposes the music of other instruments 
as has been done to far too large an extent. 

Bagpipe music has also suffered greatly in popular esti- 
mation through the efforts of well-meaning but mistaken 
people to lift it out of its proper place and graft it on to 
city life and inside entertainments. It is not pleasant 
chamber music even to Highland ears unless played on 
chamber pipes. There are times and circumstances for 
everything, and there are few pleasures that will admit 
of being transplanted out of their own sphere. The 
" Haughs o' Cromdale " was a grand thing at Dargai, 
and a sonata by Paderewski is all right before a fashion- 
able audience in a big city, but to exchange them 
would only make both ridiculous. The old pipers could 
indeed so regulate their instruments as to make the music 
almost as sweet as that of the violin, but sweetness is not 
the outstanding feature of the bagpipe, and it is not fitted 
for private houses or any but the biggest of public halls. 
The hills themselves are its appropriate concert room, and 
among them it pervades the whole atmosphere, and becomes 
part of the air until one can hardly tell whence it comes. 
It makes rhythm with the breeze and chimes in with the 
rush of the torrent, and becomes part of the world in which 
it is produced. It suits the bare heath, the solitary cairn, 
the dark pass, the silent glen, and the mountain shrouded 
in mists as no music ever did or can do, and it is at its 
best floating across the silent loch or over the mountain 

With an Ear to the Drone. 83 

stream, or round the rugged hillsides. It is a military and 
an outdoor instrument, and there is no justification for 
comparing pipe music with classical productions. It is like 
comparing taties and herring with wine jellies, or hoddin' 
grey with broad cloth. 

Playing within doors is a Lowland and English custom. 
In the Highlands the piper was always in the open air, and 
when people wished to dance to his music, it was on the 
green they danced. The pipe was no more intended for 
inside than are firearms. A broadside from a man-of-war 
has a fine effect when heard at a proper distance, but one 
would not care to be sitting by the muzzles when the guns 
went off. That the large pipes are still used in halls for 
entertainment purposes is accounted for by the strength of 
association, as much as by their appropriateness. High- 
landers would not consider a gathering at all complete unless 
they had their pipers present — a feeling which is easily 
understood, and which no one wishes to see die out. But 
that does not alter the fact that, in a small apartment at any 
rate, they are entirely out of place. The writer is not likely 
soon to forget one experience of his own, which helped to 
confirm him in this opinion. It was in one of the big 
Glasgow halls at a Highland gathering, where I was, in a 
professional capacity, doing a " special " of several columns 
for a Highland paper. To catch that week's issue, my 
" copy " had to be posted before I slept, so, as soon as the 
chairman had finished his speech, I adjourned to one of the 
very small rooms behind the platform to " write up " while 
the musical part of the programme proceeded, expecting to 
be pretty well through before the turn of the next speaker 
came. But the " association pipers " wei'e there before me, 
and what must they do but shut all the doors to keep the 

84 The Highla?id Ba^ipe. 

sound from reaching the platform, and start practising the 
marches and reels they were to play later on, marching from 
end to end of the little apartment. In five minutes the big 
drone seemed to be vibrating all through my anatomy, while 
the melody danced to its own time among the crevices of 
my brain. It was impossible for me to take my fingers out 
of my ears — a position which did not lend itself to rapid 
writing or careful composition. But the pipers did not 
think anything about it (they had in fact stopped conversa- 
tion and started playing because they " did not wish to 
disturb me "), and I soon made an excuse to go out. I tried 
the artistes' room, but the soprano was doing up her hair, 
the comic man was arranging his somewhat scanty habila- 
ments, the old violinist was telling funny stories, and I 
seemed so obviously out of place that I Could not possibly 
start working. Next I tried the stair, but the draught was 
too much for me. Then I tried the concert hall itself, but 
the applause was so frequent that the desks were always 
rattling. So I came back to the pipers, and braved it out 
for half an hour, after which I went back to the concert 
hall and did it on my knee. Anything more indescribably 
disagreeable than that half-hour in the ante-room it is 
difficult to imagine, and there seems, when I think of it now, 
to have been no relation whatever between that " music " 
and the harmonies which used to float across the bay in the 
days long ago, when the piper at the big house tuned his 
pipes and played to the gentry as they sat at dinner, the 
while we boys lay prone on the grass and drank in all the 
twirling of his notes. But in the one case there was a mile 
of sea between and rocks and fields around, and a blue sky 
above. In the other, I seemed to be caged in with some 
mad thing that hammered at every panel for freedom. 

With an Ear to the Drone. 8S 

It was the Chevalier Neukomui, a very distinguished 
musician, who said, when asked for his opinion, " I don't 
despise your pibrochs ; they have in them the stirrings of 
rude, but strong, nature. When you traverse a Highland 
glen, you must not expect the breath of roses. You must 
be contented with the smell of heath. In like manner High- 
land music has its rude, wild charms." 

And our own Professor Blackie puts it even better when 
he says : — 

" The gay ribboned bagpipes moaning away in melancholy coron- 
achs, or rattling like hailstones to the clash of claymores on the 
backs of the fleeing Sassenaohs. In this case at least — 

' 'Tis distance lends enchantment to the sound.' 

On this point no Highlander of good taste will disagree with you. 
The bagpipes belong to the open air as naturally as heather belongs 
to the hills and salmon to the sea-loohs. Men do not mend pens 
with Lochaber axes, or employ scene painters to decorate the 
lids of snuflf-boxes.'' 

As to the man who practises the ordinary pipes in an 
ordinary city apartment, with but the thickness of a brick 
dividing him from neighbours on either side, he is the 
worst enemy of his craft and worthy of all execration. The 
wise enthusiast will get a smaller set made for home use, 
having the lower part of each drone and the top of the 
chanter turned large enough to fit the stocks of the full-size 
pipes, so that one bag and the stocks in it does for both 
sets. These will not sound so loud as to disturb neigh- 
bours, and the performer can enjoy himself as well as with 
pipes of full size. It must have been of neighbours of a 
player on the large pipes that the Chicago jury was com- 
posed which tried an action for damages in 1899. A 
Scottish society was parading the streets to the martial 

86 The Highland Bagpipe. 

skirl of the pipes, when they met a horseman, whose horse 
took fright and bolted, throwing the rider through a shop 
window. The subsequent action turned on the question 
of whether or not the pipes were musical instruments, and 
the jury decided that they were not. After which it may 
be well to conclude with the following verses by Mr. 
Patrick Mac Pherson, New York, contributed to the Celtic 
Monthly, always remembering the open air and giving 
allowance for the poet's license : — 

" Away with your fiddles and flutes, 
As music for wedding or ball, 
Pianofortes, clarionettes, lutes — 
The bagpipe surpasses them all. 

" For polkas, the waltz, the q\iadrille. 

There's nought with the pipes can compare ; 
An anchorite torpid 'twould thrill. 
Such glorious sounds in the air. 

" So tuneful, harmonious, and sweet ! 
The very perfection of art, 
Lends wings to the tardiest feet, 
And joy to the sorrowing heart. 

" Upheaved, the fair dancers would feel 
Like birds, poising light on the wing, 
As nimbly they trip in the reel, 
And roll off the steps of the fling. 

" No requiems grand I assail, 

Like Handel's Dead March, played in 'Saul,' 
But yet I maintain that the Gael 
In coronachs vanquishes all. 

" In music, in warfare, in song — 

With bagpipes and banners unfurled, 
Like a torrid simoom borne along, 
The Higlilanders lighten the world." 

The " Language " of the Pipes. 87 


The " Language " of the Pipes. 

"Wild as the desert stream they flow, 

Wandering along it's mazy bed ; 
Now scarcely moving, deep and slow, 

Now in a swifter current led, 
And now along the level lawn 
With charming murmurs softly drawn." 

Have the pipes a language 1 — A wild, fanciful notion — How it got a 
hold — How much of it is true ? — The reed actually speaking — A 
powerful influence — The power of association — Neil Munro — 
Descriptive Highland airs — A Cholla mo Run — Military stories 
— In South Africa — An enthusiastic war correspondent. 

IN this chapter we would walk warily, knowing that we 
are on dangerous ground. The question is, Has the 
bagpipe a language more than any other instrument ? 
Can it speak to the heart of the Highlander more than any 
other instrument can speak to hearts that know it, and the 
music which it discoiu-ses, and the associations of that music ? 
Through the great bulk of what has been written about the 
bagpipe there runs this idea of its power, this wild, fanciful 
notion that it has an actual language and that those who 
understand that language can converse by its means. Some 
have even attempted to analyse the music, and to discover 
the alleged secret, while others have held that canntaireachd, 
fully dealt with in the next chapter, was in reality a 

88 The Highland Bagpipe. 

language and not merely a very rude system of musical 
notation. And this notion of the speaking power of the 
pipes got such a hold on the imaginative people of the 
Highlands that, although personally each of them did not 
understand how the thing was possible, many of them ac- 
cepted it as truth and believed the stories illustrating the 
subject, which ultimately became part of their traditional 
literature. It seems like sacrilege to disturb the ideas which 
have been accepted as absolute truth for centuries, but there 
is no doubt whatever that of the speaking power of the pipes 
about seventy-five per cent, exists in the vivid imaginations 
of the retailers of Highland tradition. It was indeed in 
the chanter-reed of the pipes that, after a long search, and 
after great difficulties, Baron von Kempelen, a distinguished 
Continental mechanic and musician, discovered the nearest 
approach to the human voice. He believed it was possible 
to get an approximation of language' by some mechanical 
contrivance, and he was able to convert the reed to the 
elements of a speaking machine, and through its aid and 
with many appliajices he obtained letters, syllables, words, 
and even entire sentences. But all the same, the bagpipe 
cannot speak any more than it can fly. If it has ever in all 
its history conveyed, by means of an extemporised tune, in- 
formation to people at a distance definite enough to enable 
them to alter all their battle tactics, we require better his- 
torical proof of the incident than is to be got of any of the 
stories to be given here. 

While, as a simple matter of fact, it is true that the 
bagpipe cannot speak, it is equally true that its music 
exercises a strangely powerful influence over the Celtic 
mind. The race are, or at any rate were, of a peculiarly 
imaginative temperament. This, taken along with the fact 

The " Language " of the Pipes. 89 

that their music always had strong associations, explains a 
great deal. Many of the pibrochs were composed without 
premeditation, under the influence of exuberant joy or the 
wildest sorrow or despair. Consequently, when, under 
favourable circumstances, they were again played by master 
hands, they roused up the old memories, and did really, 
though not literally, speak to the listeners. The construc- 
tion of the pipe also helps. It is the only instrument since 
the days of the old Highland harp which represents the 
Gaelic scale in music, and it is this that makes the pipe 
appeal so naturally and so intensely to the Gael. To him, 
especially if from home, it speaks of the past of his own 
race, and of the days of his youth. In this lies its special 
charm : — 

" When he hears the bagpipe sound 
His heart will bound like steed for battle." 

Pipe music has many voices, and it expresses many of the 
emotions which are given vent to by language that can be 
printed. Neil Munro, as enthusiastic a Highlander as any 
man, does not believe in the " speaking " theory, but he 
believes in the descriptive character of the music. As 
witness — 

" The tune with the river in it, the fast river and the courageous, 
that kens not stop nor tarry, that runs round rock and over fall 
with a good humour, yet no miod for anything but the way before 

The tune that, as Paruig Doll said, had " the tartan of the 

clan it." And — 

" Playing the tune of the ' Fairy Harp,' he can hear his forefolks, 
plaided in skins, towsy-headed and terrible, grunting at the oars, 
and snoring in the caves ; he has his whittle and club in the ' Des- 


90 The Highland Bagpipe. 

perate Battle ' (my own tune, my darling !), where the white-haired 
sea-rovers are on the shore, and a stain's on the edge of the tide ; or 
trying his art on Laments he can stand by the cairn of Kings, ken 
the colour of Fingal's hair, and see the moon-glint on the hook of 
the Druids." 

Most of the old Highland airs were composed on particu- 
lar occasions, or for the purpose of conveying particular 
feelings. One, for instance, is designed to express the suc- 
cession of emotions in the mind of an Ardnamurchan crofter 
while tilling his soil in an unpropitious season and hesitating 
whether to emigrate or attempt to pay his landlord the 
triple rent a rival had offered. Another commemorates the 
arrival of Prince Charlie at a farm-house in Skye, where one 
of his followers was sent forward to see if he was likely to 
find friends there. To a Highland ear the tune expresses 
the first hesitating, half-whispered questions of the mes- 
senger, then his confidence as he finds the goodwife favom*- 
able, and finally his composed feelings on finding that he 
was among friends. Another was composed on an occasion 
when the Mac Kenzies attempted to obtain possession of the 
lands of Mac Donell of Glengai-ry.* The chief of the Mac 
Kenzies had his men and allies assembled at different points, 
one party being concealed in a church at Beauly, and, tradi- 
tion says, this church was burned over the heads of a wor- 
shipping congi-egation by friends of the Mac Donells. But 
the pibroch contradicts this, for when the tune is properly 
played the listener in fancy hears the flames rustling and 
blazing thi'ough the timbers of the church, mingled with 
the angry remonstrances and half-smothered shouts of the 
warriors, but there is no representation of the more feeble 

* See Index under GUliechroist. 

The " Language " of the Pipes. 91 

plaints of women and children. Had these been among the 
victims, their cries would surely have formed the burden of 
the tune.* 

Many other instances of descriptive pipe music are to be 
found. The pibroch of Daorach Eobbi contains the keenest 
satire ever levelled at the vice of di'unkenness. The ludi- 
crous imitation of the coarse and clumsy movements, the 
maudlin and staring pauses, the helpless imbecility of the 
drunkard as he is pilloried in the satire with the ever-recurr- 
ing sneering notes, Seall a nis air (Look at him now) are 
enough to annihilate any person possessing the least sensi- 
bility, who, while hearing them, is conscious of having been 
in the position described, even for once in his life. Gillidh 
Callum is a striking contrast to Daorach Rohbi. The total 
abstainer could hardly find a better text than the latter, 
while the man who advocates temperance only would be 
strongly supported by the former, which illustrates enliven- 
ing virtues of the fruit of the vine without its degrading 
effects. So with most pipe music. It describes something, 
and in this respect is second only to the recitative of the 
bards. It is, of course, necessary that performer and 
listeners should be Highland themselves. No one who is 
not versed in the poetry and music of the Highlands can 
impart to others, or appreciate for himself, the spirit of 
romance and pathos and love and sorrow and martial senti- 
ment which is in the music, just as no actor can play well 
unless he enters into the spirit of the play. To the 
enthusiast for Highland music, the feelings aroused by other 
instruments are general and undefined, and common to 

* It should be stated that the best authorities now agree that 
there never was a church burned at the place referred to. 

92 The Highland Bagpipe. 

Frenchman, Spaniard, German, or Highlander, but the bag- 
pipe is sacred to Scotland. Gaelic itself has a sentiment 
that cannot be expressed, and so with its music. It appeals 
to us, but we cannot express it, and only those who know it 
understand it. 

And now for one or two of these stories where the pipes 
are alleged to have spoken. The best known is that of 
A Cholla mo Run, or "The Piper's Warning."* The 
piper and friends were entrapped in Dantroon Castle, while 
Coll Citto, his master, and his followers were away at Islay, 
and the enemy laid an ambush to entrap the returning party. 
The piper one day saw Coil's boats returning, and he knew 
that unless something was done they would sail right into 
the ambush. So he asked leave to go out on to the battle- 
ments and play a tune. This was granted, and the piper 
played extempore music, which to those in the boats 
meant : — 

" Coll, O my dear, dinna come near, 
Diuna come near, dinna come near ; 
Coll, O my dear, dinna come near, 
I'm prisoner here, I'm prisoner here." 

and more to the same purpose. Coll instantly took warn- 
ing, turned his boats and fled. But the Campbells, in whose 
custody the piper was, also understood, and, some accounts 
say he had his fingers cut off, others that he was killed on 
the spot for his bravery in warning his friends. All agree 
that he spoke to Coll in the boats across an expanse of 
water by means of the pipes alone, and the tune has ever 
since been associated with the incident in which it 

* See Index under A Cholla mo Run. 

The " Language ■" of the Pipes. 93 

Then there is the story of " Women of this Glen," * 
alleged to have been instrumental in warning some of the 
Mac lans on the eve of Glencoe, and several others very 

Some stories come from wars of a less remote date. A 
Scottish regiment, we are told, on a sunbaked plain in India, 
was being mowed down by some mysterious disease. The 
doctors could not tell what it was, but the kilties were being 
swept oft" by it, one by one. . At last it was discovered. 
Away on the outskirts of the camp, in the short still gloam- 
ing of the Eastern evening, a group of the men had 
gathered round the regimental piper. Their heads were 
buried in their hands, and big. hot tears rolled through their 
fingers. And the weird, wae strains of " Lochaber no 
more," played more melancholy than ever, filled the air. 
They were dying of homesickness, and the bagpipe spoke to 
them of home and all that was there. Another Scottish 
regiment had been at the Cape for a long time, and the 
officers found that the bagpipe so affected the men as to 
make them unfit for duty. The men were homesick, and 
their music intensified this feeling, and it had to be stopped 
for a time. The men of course knew the tunes, and what 
they meant, but there is nothing to show that the same 
tunes played on another instrument would not have had the 
same effect. 

We had the old idea revived in all its beauty by one of 
the ablest of the war correspondents in the recent South 
African War. Mr. Julian Ralph, of the London Daily Mail, 
in a letter to his paper, spoke eloquently of the services ren- 
dered to the Highland Brigade by their pipers, and of the 

* See Index under Bodaich nam BHogais. 

94 The Highland Bagpipe. 

way in which the pipes spoke to the men and the men 
listened to the pipes. He was a stranger to the music, and 
at first he was not impressed by it. But gradually he came 
to like it, and to miss it when he was not within the range 
of the notes. Here is how he tells of the pipes speaking to 
the men : — 

" Then off strode the fresh player with the streamers floating 
from his pipes, with his hips swaying, his head held high, and his 
toes but touching the earth. Once I heard a man say, ' Gi' me the 
pipes, Sandy ; I can tell ye what naebody has said,' — at least, those 
were the strange words f thought that I distinguished." 

After General Wauchope was killed along with so many 
of his men at Magersfontein, the soldiers were for a time 
gloomy and dispirited. 

" ' It's the pipes that make tliem so,' said an officer. ' The pipes 
are keeping them a great deal resentful, and still more melancholy.' 
' The pipes ? What have the pipes to do with their feelings ? ' 

" ' Eh, man ? Don't you know that the pipes can talk as good 
Scots as any man who hears them ? Surely 'tis so— and 'tis what 
the pipes are saying, first in one player's hands and then in another's, 
that keeps the men from forgetting their part in the last battle.' 

" Once, as the days passed, when I saw this officer again at leisure, 
I went to him for an explanation of his surprising disclosure. I 
had been trying to learn the language of the pipes in the meantime, 
but I acquired no more understanding than a dog has of English 
when he distinguishes between a kindly human tone and a cross one. 
I could tell when a tune was martial and when another was mourn- 
ful. When a gay one rang out — if any had— I would not have 
mistaken it for a dirge. To some this may seem a very little learn- 
ing, but I had begun by thinking all the tunes alike. 

"'Yesterday,' said my friend the officer, 'we'd a little match 
between men who had some skill at embroidering the airs of the old 
ballads with trills of those grace-notes that they call warblers, but 
this contest was broken up by a rugged son of the hills who, after 

The ^'■Language'''' of the Pipes. 95 

asking for the pipes, flung from them a few strong, clear notes which 
gained the attention of all who are born to a knowledge of the music 
that speaks. I am not one of those, but I called my soldier-servant 
up and asked him what was being played.' ' Well, sir,' said he, 
' that's Mac Galium — a great museecian he is. And hark, sir ; he 
has the right of it and boldly he ia telling every one his thoughts. 
He says that every man kens that the gran' general who's dead was 
as cunning and skilfu' in war as ony man above him, and 'tis late in 
the day — now that he's laid away and dumb — to put blame on him 
as if he were an ignoramus and a butcher, like some others. And 
now, oh ! brawly ye're tellin' it, Mac Galium — he says there may be 
scheming and plotting in high places but no skullduggery o' ony 
sort, however it is gilded, will ever deceive ane single true chiel o' 
the Highlands.' " 

" ' And then,' said my gossip, ' the pipes passed to the hand of 
another man, and my servant — seeing me aboift to move away — 
touched my arm and bade me wait, as this new player was another 
adept with the pipes. 'He's grand at it,' said he; 'well done, 
Stewart. He's saying, sir, that the reason none will heed those who 
blame our grand leader that's gone is that there's men of rank among 
us — and of proud blood — that'll stand up to any man at home and 
swear that when our fallen chief came back with his orders for the 
battle he complained of them sorely, but he said, ' No better could 
he get,' and when he lay down in his blanket his head was full of 
the trouble that was coming on him — he not being able to learn 
what he needed to know against the morrow. ' 

"There was more of this recital of what the pipes had spoken to 
the regiment, but it would only be irritating a sore to repeat it. 
The pipers spoke even more plainly as the bold outpourings of one 
incited bolder from another. At last there were suggestions, by 
pipes grown mutinous, of sentiments which, happily, have seldom 
been spread within the British Army. But what I have told suffices 
to illustrate my sole point, which is that the gift of eloquent speech 
in chords and trills is born with the master-pipers. 

"I never saw my officer-friend again for more than a nod or a 
word in passing. But on one day the pipes next door rang jubi- 
lantly, and man after man applied himself to them with ginger in 
his touch. Each blew triumphant, thrilling, heart-stirring chords, 

96 The Highland Bagpipe. 

and every piper swag<;ered at his work with such a will as to send his 
aproned kilt to and fro with whiit seamed a double swing to each beat 
of the time. 

" I said to myself, ' They have learned tliat Hector Mao Donald 
is coming to be their new brigadier, and the pipes are assui'ing them 
that every Highlander may be himself again, certain of victory and 
new glory under a leader second only to the one they have lost.' 1 
still believe my conjecture was right. 

" And I know from living next door, as it were, that the cloud of 
gloiim tliat had hnng over the brigade was dispelled almost with the 
suddenness of its horrid appearance. 

"After that the kilties began to make in this war a continuation 
of their glorious record in so many lesser wars in the time that was. " 

All of vfhich is very fine writing, but one cannot get rid 
of the idea that Mr. Ralph was the victim of an elaborate 
joke. The speaking theory was new to him and he accepted 
it in all its amplitude. There is no report of what his 
officer-friend said when he read Mr. Ralph's article — if he 
ever did read it. 

The simple truth about the "language" of the pipes 
seems to be that a Highland listener gets from the pipes 
what, in a more or less degree, anyone gets from the music 
he loves^a stimulant for his emotion and imagination, 
nothing more. He is an emotional being, and his imagina- 
tion, aided and abetted by the sorrows and the joys of many 
generations — which affect his disposition though he knows 
it not — and by the many associations of particular tunes or 
styles of playing, runs riot when he hears the pipes, and to 
him they speak as no other instrument ever can speak. A 
primitive instrument working on the feelings of a primitive 
people has a much more direct and intense psychological 
effect than on a sophisticated people who have scores of 
different cunning instruments and myriads of airs, a fact 

The " Language " of the Pipes. 97 

which should always be remembered when the " language " 
of the pipes is discussed. After all it depends much more 
on the listener than on the instrument. In our apprecia- 
tion of any music, and in the effect it has on us, there is 
involved all that we ourselves have been, seen, heard, 
thought, and — sometimes — forgot. A plaintive love air 
brings up the old days, the sunny weather, the sweethearts 
of our youth, all the store of associations that are buried in 
us, and — who knows ? — all the loves and hates, the joys and 
sorrows of our dead fathers, modified or intensified by our 
own personal character. Therefore to us that plaintive air 
is the sweetest of music. To the Highlander the bag- 
pipe conveys the fine rapture a high-class audience gets, 
or at least professes to get, from Sarasate's violin and 
Paderewski's piano. To him it has a direct message, but to 
the rest of the world it is what a violin is to him, probably 
less. But as for an impromptu tune conveying intelligence 
like spoken language — ah well, we must draw the line 

98 Tlie Highland Bagpipe. 


The Literature of the Pipes. 

" I hin-do, ho-dro, hin-do, ho-dro, hin-do, ho-dro, 
hin-da, ho-dra, hin-do, ho-dro, hin-da, chin-drine, 
hin-do, ho-dro, hin-do, ho-dra, hin-do, ho-dro, hin-do, 
ho-dro, hin-do, ho-dro, hin-da, chin-drine, hin-do, ho-dro, 
hin-do, ho-dro, hin-da, hin-da, hin-do, chin-drine." 

Ancient music lost — Transmission by tradition — Druidical remains 
— Systems of teaching — No books — " Unintelligible jargon " — 
Ganntaireachd — The Mac Crimmon System — The Gesto Book — 
A scientific system — A tune in Ganntaireachd — Pipers unable to 
explain — Earliest printed pipe music — Mao Donald's books — 
More recent books — Something to be done. 

FOR long, the music of the pipes was so much a part of 
the life of the people that no records of tunes were 
necessary. But there came a time when interest in 
these things waned somewhat, and it was then that the 
want of printed or written records were felt. By reason of 
that want, we now know little or nothing of truly ancient 
Scottish music. Perhaps we have not lost much, but in any 
case it would have been interesting to know the musical 
tastes of our forefathers away back in the early centuries. 
We are quite willing to believe that some of the exquisite 
melodies still existing were handed down to us by Gaelic 
progenitors, and are as old as the race itself, but the fact 

The Literature of the Pipes. 99 

remains that we cannot trace any of them for more than 
two or three centuries, nor tell whether or not they are older 
than the first mention of them we have in authentic history. 
That many of the tunes were composed on incidents or 
battles four and five hundred years back does not prove that 
the tunes themselves are as old as the events they com- 
memorate. Composers then, as now, chose their subjects 
irrespective of dates. The pipes were in fairly common use 
about the middle of the seventeenth century, probably for 
centuries earlier, and when they were in use, there must have 
been music for them. But we have not that music now, 
thanks to the blank which occuiTed between the decay of 
the system whereby music was taught orally and the intro- 
duction of the educational system of later centuries. Clan- 
ship isolated the people into small communities and pre- 
vented a general knowledge of music from being spread 
abroad, and it could not very well be committed to paper 
when the people knew of no system of signs which would 
represent it. So the only method of preserving the tunes 
was their transmission from one generation of pipers to 
another, a method which rendered it very easy for the un- 
scrupulous to re-baptise or paraphrase old tunes, and pass 
them off as their own, and also left the tunes to change 
gradually as they passed from performer to performer. 
Then, again, the decay of the Gaelic made it necessary to 
give English names to Gaelic tunes, and a number of the 
finest Highland airs have been wedded to the songs of such 
poetical giants as Burns, Hogg, Tannahill, and Cunning- 
ham, and their identity completely lost. Gaelic itself has 
been kept pure enough through traditional generations, but 
the conditions which applied to the music did not apply to 
the language. The language was the heritage of an entire 

100 The Highland Bagpipe. 

people, their daily bread, as it were ; the music was culti- 
vated only by a class of the people, and was far more subject 
to change than the language. 

It is alleged that the chanting of Druidical precepts in 
Pagan times was imitated by the early Christians, and some 
remains of Druidical songs, with music attached, were said 
to have been in existence so late as 1830, but there is now 
nothing to show what were the qualities of Highland music 
prior to the dates of tunes which are well authenticated. The 
music of the pipes is ancient, without a doubt ; it passed 
through a long evolution process, and it has changed but 
little since we have known it committed to paper. That is 
about all that can safely be said on the point. 

Before people learned to express their thoughts by marks 
on paper, they carried the music in their heads. The music 
teacher nowadays gathers his books and his scales and his 
instruments around him ; then he gathers his pupils ; then 
he expounds the theories on which the system of music is 
based ; then he shows how these theories work out in actual 
practice, and then he proceeds to learn his pupils how to 
practice them. All of which makes the learning of music a 
" special subject," and goes to instil into the heads of the 
non-musical the idea that they, too, by reason of having 
passed thi'ough all the com-ses, must needs understand music. 
Whereas all the time it is only the theory of music, as 
taught in the text-books, they understand. This in itself is 
not a bad thing, if people incapable of anything higher 
would be content with it, and not pose as authorities. But 
the tendency of our educational system is, or at least was 
very recently, towards the production of a race of pedants, 
and the creation of a dead level of mediocrity in which the 
common person thinks he is as clever as the genius, and the 

The Literature of the Pipes. lOl 

genius is too modest to hold his head higher than that of the 
common person. In the old days, when the difficulties were 
insurmountable to the common person, genius shone forth 
all the brighter. There was little of the literature of the 
pipes in these days, and a piper's ear was his best teacher. 
Consequently the great pipers stood head and shoulders above 
the common crowd — giants because of their genius and life- 
long study. It is quite likely that the raising of the level of 
the mass, even at the expense of genius, may be a good thing, 
but that is another matter. 

Two hundred years ago there were few, if any, books 
bearing on the subject, and were it not for the powerful 
memories of the hereditary pipers of the different clans, and 
their devotion to their art, but little even of the music of 
that time could have been preserved. The hereditary pipers 
were walking storehouses of Highland musical knowledge. 
They taught their pupils by ear and off' the fingers. Taking 
them out to the hillside, they first learned them to chant 
words with the tunes in a sort of " unintelligible jargon," 
then to finger the chanter silently from memory, then to play 
the chanter, and afterwards to play the pipes themselves. 
This system, if such it could be called, required as its very 
groundwork the possession on the part of the pupil of an ear 
for music, a natural aptitude for pipe music, a devotion to 
the music peculiar to the Highlands, and an intimate know- 
ledge of and reverence for all the circumstances which en- 
twined themselves into the histories of the various tunes. 
Without these qualifications no man could be a great piper, 
and the hereditary pipers were very chary about beginning 
to train anyone who did not promise to come up to their 

102 The Highland Bagpipe. 

The " unintelligible jargon " just referred to is perhaps 
the most curious thing in all the history of pipe music. The 
words are not a fair description, for it was intelligible enough 
to the initiated, but from the point of view of others, no 
other phrase is suitable. It was, in short, a system whereby 
known and fixed sounds in the shape of syllables represented 
sounds in the shape of notes of music known to the teacher, 
but unknown to the pupil, in such a way that when the 
pupil, after being taught, heard a number of the syllables 
repeated by word of mouth, he could at once reproduce their 
prototypes as a bit of pipe music. There were no signs 
about it whatever, no noting of the syllables — that is in the 
early stages of the system — and it is difficult for us who can 
hardly imagine music without conjuring up a book before 
the mind's eye, to grasp the idea. The transmission of music 
by a system of language signs is peculiar to the pipes, and 
no full parallel to Canntaireachd, as it has been called, is to 
be found in any other country. By this " unintelligible 
jargon" of syllables the hereditary pipers trained their 
pupils, without the aid of any scales or other notations, and 
in this form the tunes were chanted all over the Highlands. 
To this day many pipers will give the syllabic wordings of 
tunes, and several of the more expert can play the pipes 
direct from such a notation. The different teachers of 
piping — they were always clan pipers — had different systems, 
but all were based on the principle of arbitrary and known 
sounds, representing certain notes, and a succession of these, 
of course, a tune. The system of the Mac Crimmons, here- 
ditary pipers to MacLeod of Dunvegan, and the most 
famous teachers and players, became most popular, as they 
had by far the largest number of pupils, and a reference to 
it will serve to illustrate the subject. 

The Litetature of the Pipes. 


Some time or other — the date cannot be fixed— the system 
was committed to paper, and in 1828 Captain Neil Mac Leod 
of Gesto published a book, giving the notation in actual 
type. It is perhaps the most remarkable book that has ever 
been issued in connection with any musical instrument. 
Though to the ordinary reader it is absolute nonsense, so 
late as 1880, Duncan Ross, the Duke of Argyll's piper, who 


(From a Photograph in the possession of Dr. Keith N. Mac Donald, Edinburgh.) 

learned his art orally in Ross-shire from the chanting of 
John Mac Kenzie, Lord Breadalbane's piper, himself a pupil 
of the Mac Crimmons, could read and play from it at sight, 
and as he is still alive can, I suppose, do so to this day. In 
the same year, Ross, the Queen's piper, chanted a tune in 
articulate words, and, when compared with the Mac Crim- 

104 The Highlmid Bagpipe. 

mon language, the notes were found to be identical in length 
and rhythm, although the words were different. It was the 
same tune expressed by a different set of words, and the ex- 
periment proved that the old pipers did not teach in a hap- 
hazard style, but according to fixed rules. The Mac Crim- 
mons, in particular, wrote down their tunes, and Captain 
Mac Leod himself took down from the dictation of John 
Mac Crimmon, one of the latest of the race, a collection of 
airs, as verbally taught at the "college'" at Dun vegan, which 
he incorporated in the " Gesto " book. After this it is not 
so difficult to believe that a piper, when he heard the instru- 
ment, could imagine it was a language, and know what the 
player meant him to understand. When education came, 
and the notation was printed, it was seen that it was a sys- 
tem scientifically constructed, and one from which an expert 
could read music at sight, just as a pianist can play from the 
staff, although he has never seen the piece before. At least 
three different systems existed in the Highlands seventy 
years ago, and Donald Cameron, Seaforth's famous piper, 
and the acknowledged successor of the MacCrimmons, though 
practically an illiterate man, could read ordinary music, and 
also had a system of his own. 

The " Gesto " Book contains twenty pibrochs, and is now 
very rare. It was reprinted some years ago by Messrs. J. & 
R. Glen, Edinburgh. Captain Mac Leod had a large manu- 
script collection of Mac Crimmon pibrochs, as noted by the 
pipers themselves, part of which was very old, and part 
more modern. Of these he only published a few as an ex- 
periment. The verse given at the head of this chapter is 
part of the tune Gilliechroist, the first line being inter- 
preted : — 

" Yonder I see a great smoke,'' 

The Literature of' the Pipes. 105 

The tune afterwards proceeds with " variations," which com- 
pHcate the wording considerably, and make it appear even 
more unintelligible. Here again is the urlar or groundwork 
of " The Prince's Salute " in the notation of the Mac 
Crimmons : — 

" hi o dro hi ri, hi an an in ha ra,\ 
hi o dro ha chin, ha chin hi a chin, 
hi o dro hi ri, hi an an in ha ra, 
hi o dro ha chin, ha chin hi chin, 
hi o dro hi ri, hi an an in ha ra, 
\ hi o dro ha chin, ha chin hi a chin, 

hi o dro hi ri, hi an an in ha ra, 
-Jlij) dro ha chin, ha chin hi chin. " 

It is impossible to discover whether the pipers built up 
their tunes, as tunes are now-a-days built up from a certain 
scale, or simply used the syllables as convenient signs to 
represent certain fixed notes. Perhaps no better illustration 
of the subject is to be found than a pamphlet published in 
1880 by Mr. J. F. Campbell, of May, the compiler of 
Popular Tales of the West Highlands, and entitled Qumz 
tavrsachd. An interpreter of the notation who could play 
it at sight, could not explain it to Mr. Campbell. " It 
was like asking a thrush to explain the songs which Mother 
Nature had taught him " : — 

" A party, of whom three were good musicians and the fourth was 
used to play upon human nature, met, the interpreter came, we 
chose a word in a tune and, asked — ■ 

" ' What is hwrin ? ' 

" ' That is hirrin,' said the piper, and played three notes deftly 
with his little finger by striking a note on the chanter once. Two 
were open notes ; one closed. 

" ' Do yon know the name of the fingers ? ' said the teacher. 

" ' Yes,' said I, ' that's ludag, the little finger.' 


106 The Highland Bagpipe. 

"'Well,' said the artist, 'that's hirrin,' and he played the pas- 
sage several times to show how it was done with the little finger. 

" ' Is hirrin the name of the little finger of the right hand, or the 
name of the hole in the chanter, or the name of the note ; or what 
else is it ? ' 

"'No,' said the master, 'that's hirrin,' and he played that 
word over again cleverly with the same little finger. Then he con- 
tinued — 

" ' Old John Mackenzie tanght me that in Ross long ago ; and he 
learned it over the fire in the Isle of Skye. We used to sit and lis- 
ten to liim, and learn what he said and sang, and learn to finger in 
this way.' Then the piper played silently with his fingers, and 
every now and then he blew the chanter and sounded a passage a 
breath long from the book, which he read easily, but could not ex- 
plain — and that's hirrin — and if any of the party ever hear that 
particular combination of three notes again the name of it will be 
remembered. It means three notes combined. 

" Compared to a book of poetry, it thus appears that each tune is 
like a song, and hirrin is like a word in a line which keeps its place 
and its time in the tune. That much we learned from our inter- 
preter. He had learned by rote certain articulate syllables combined 
as words which for him meant passages in a particular pipe tune. 
For the ignorant residue of mankind they meant nothing. " 

There Mr. Campbell had to stop, for further light on 
the subject he could not obtain. " The pipers' language," 
he says, " is not founded upon a systematic combination of 
vovs'els and consonants to make words, like C E D, D E C, 
D E D. It is not a set of names for notes, like Do, He, 
Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si, Do. Each tune has a different set of 
words made of different syllables. Only nine notes can be 
sounded on the instrument, and more than sixty syllables 
occur in a book of twenty tunes." Mr. Campbell must have 
been unaware of the assertion of some enthusiasts that 
3,000,000 combinations can be practised on the pipes, or he 
would not have written that last sentence. Proceeding, he 

The Literature of the Pipes. 107 

says, " it seems that something natural to human songsters 
has been spelt with the Roman alphabet, so that words of 
one, two, three, four, six, and eight syllables, do in fact 
suggest accent rhythm and tune, high and low notes and 
whole tunes, which can be learned by rote, written and read, 
as if the tunes were songs in an unknown tongue. This is 
in fact a language and its music." 

Persevering in his researches Mr. Campbell got Ross, the 
Argyll piper, his brother, and a skilled pianist to help him. 
He opened the Gesto book at the tune called " The End of 
the Little Bridge ;■" Ross read the tune and sounded the 
signs on a chanter, while his brother chanted at intervals 
sounds which both brothers had learned from oral chanting 
and could play on a pipe. The musician with his eyes on 
the book played his notes with his left hand on the piano, 
£is he heard them from the pipers, and wrote them with his 
right on music paper, according to his own system. By this 
means one combination of sounds was translated from the 
pipers' written language into another system of musical 
notation, and the result was music, showing that the heredi- 
tary pipers, whatever is the secret of their system, had a 
system. Were there only as many different syllables as 
there are possible notes on the chanter, the matter would 
have been easily understood. As it is, the Gesto book is 
the only book of its kind in existence. In all countries of 
the world, the natives chant tunes to certain strings of 
syllables, and to this day we have the " Fal de ral " choruses 
to a certain class of songs. In the Highlands alone these 
apparently nonsensical sentences stood for actual living 
music, were written as such, and, in the Gesto book, printed. 
But the system which in a continuance of the congenial 
atmosphere of clanship and hereditary pipers and schools of 

108 The Highland Baffpipe. 

piping, and ignorance of what is now called popular educa- 
tion, might have developed into an exact science, has been 
smothered by nineteenth century progress, and is now known 
only to piping enthusiasts and students of the antique in 
our national life. Various attempts have been made to 
construct a theory which would explain the system, but none 
is thoroughly satisfactory. 

Leaving the mystery of Canntaireachd, we come to the 
time when pipe music was first written in ordinary notation. 
The piece known as " The Battle of Harlaw " was played at 
that encounter in 1411 ; but it is significant that the oldest 
copy of the music extant, supposed to date from 1620, is 
not adapted for the bagpipe. The earliest known attempt 
to write pipe music in ordinary notation was made in 1784 
when Rev. Patrick Mac Donald, Kilmore, Argyllshire, 
included in a collection of Highland Vocal Airs four pipe 
tunes. In 1803 the same author published a " Treatise " 
on the bagpipe, written by his brother, Mr. Joseph Mac 
Donald. This contained one tune, suited for beginners. 
Some time after the '45 — it must have been a considerable 
time — Mr. Donald Mac Donald, bagpipe maker, Edinburgh, 
was employed by the Highland Societies then existing to 
collect and note down as many pibrochs as he could find. 
In these days the mysteries of correct time were known to 
few and those of metre to fewer ; but Mac Donald started 
with a brave heart, and to him as much as to the hereditary 
pipers the Highlands is indebted for the preservation of 
much of its pipe music. He collected mostly in the west 
country, and it is noticeable that the great majority of tunes 
now existing are west country tunes. The east Highlands, 
doubtless, had its own pipe music, but for want of a col- 
lector most of the airs have been lost. " Craigellachie," 

TTie Literature of the Pipes. 109 

the gathering of Clan Grant, is the only notable exception. 
Mac Donald's first volume contained twenty-three pibrochs, 
but the exact date of its publication is unknown. In 1806, 
we are told in Angus Mac Kay's book, Donald Mac Donald 
was voted the thanks of the judges at the annual competi- 
tion in Edinburgh for having " produced " the greatest 
number of pipe tunes set to music by himself. His book, 
however, does not seem to have been published then, for 
from internal evidence (there is no date) it is obvious that 
it did not see the light before 1816. In the volume he 
promised to give histories of the tunes when he published a 
second instalment. A long time after he sent the manu- 
script of his second volume to Mr. J. W. Grant of Elchies, 
then in India, with a plaintive letter asking him to accept 
it as no one had shown so much interest in it as he had, and 
the publication of the first volume had nearly ruined him. 
The manuscript is now in the possession of Major-General 
C. S. Thomason, R.E., a grandson of Mr. Grant, and, it is 
hoped, will yet be published. 

Of a later date, we have the book published in 1838 by 
Angus Mac Kay, piper to the Queen. It was a pretentious 
volume, containing sixty pibrochs, with histories of the 
tunes, the lives of the hereditary pipers, and other interest- 
ing matter. It will always be a puzzle to students of pipe 
music why Mac Donald and Mac Kay included in their 
books so many poor pieces and left out some of the best. 
Ross's collection, which appeared long after, contained some 
which one would have thought Mac Kay or Mac Donald 
might have had. Messrs. Glen, Edinburgh, published a 
collection dated 1854, and there are besides the publications 
of Mac Phee, Mac Lachlan, Gunn, Henderson, Mac Kinnon, 
Bett, and others, all issued later. Most of these, however, 

110 The Highland Bagpipe. 


appear to have been based largely on Mac Donald's and 
Mac Kay's books. Mr. David Glen of Edinburgh has, it 
may be added, published recently the old pipe music of the 
Clan Mac Lean, compiled under the supervision of the Clan 
Mac Lean Society of Glasgow. 

The Gesto collection of Highland music, edited by Dr. 
Keith Norman Mac Donald, and dedicated to the Mac 
Leods of Gesto, is perhaps the most outstanding publica- 
tion in which the music of the pipes has been adapted for 
the piano. It was published in 1895. Dr. Mac Donald's 
avowed object was to supply a collection fi-ee from all 
adulteration, and to preserve the music as it was sung and 
played by the Highlanders themselves. The book, while 
not containing everything that is good in pipe music, un- 
doubtedly contains a larger selection of the best than any 
other. There are songs, pibrochs, and laments ; marches, 
quicksteps, and general martial music ; and also reels and 
strathspeys, numbering in the aggregate about three hun- 
di-ed and forty tunes; and all over, the book is perhaps 
more interesting and comprehensive than any that has been 
issued. A second edition was published in 1898. 

In 1896 Major-General Thomason, already mentioned, 
issued for private circulation a small volume. In this he fore- 
shadowed a larger, which has since been published.* Major- 
General Thomason is the possessor not only of the manuscript 
of Donald Mac Donald's proposed second volume, but also of 
all the manuscript music left by Angus Mac Kay. Besides, 
he spent many years in collecting pibrochs from all possible 
sources, and at the present time he believes that he has almost 
every pibroch known to be in existence. He has spent much 

* Messrs. S. Sidders & Co., Ball Street, Kensington, London, 

The Literature of the Pipes. Ill 

time and labour editing his collection, and the result is the 
volume referred to, which is published under the title of 
Ceol Mot (the proper title of real pibroch music). Besides 
being an extraordinarily diligent collector of tunes, Major- 
General Thomason was imbued with the idea of rendering 
the reading of pibrochs more easy. He took notes of the 
diiFerence in times and the different styles of playing, and 
became so proficient that he could note any strange tune 
from the playing of another piper. It was only a step 
further to decide that the signs which he could note down 
as the tune was being played would serve as a notation from 
which the tune could be replayed. He invented, in fact, a 
system of shorthand for pipe music, and then he set about 
endeavouring to publish a book printed after his own sys- 
tem, in the hope that pipers would learn it in preference to 
the old and cumbersome system. By this means he believes 
he will further popularise bagpipe music, but the ordinary 
notation has now got so firm a hold that it will be difficult 
to convince pipers that it will pay them to learn another. 
Like ordinary shorthand systems, Ceol Mar is doubt- 
less capable of improvement ; but the idea opens up an alto- 
gether new field in the literature of pipe music, and as the 
book contains some two hundred and eighty tunes — the 
result of thirty years' collecting — it is to be hoped that it 
will prove a success. 

After all it is not so much more books that are needed as 
a thoroughly standard work including all that is best in 
pipe music set in some uniform style. There is, however, 
no getting away from the fact that this cannot be done with 
any hope of financial success. The jealousies of musicians 
come in the way, and pipers will have some new tunes, even 
although it is well known that these, as a rule, are worth- 

112 The Highland Bagpipe. 

less. Nothing short of an encyclopaedia containing every- 
thing that has ever been composed would please everybody, 
and this would require to be sold for a few shillings. Then 
there are the difficulties of copyright — diffi^rent persons or 
publishers claiming different tunes or settings of tunes. 
Still, with anything like a common desire to promote the 
best interests of national music, these difficulties could to a 
large extent be overcome. There never was a more oppor- 
tune time than the present, there being so many pipers and 
the ability to read music being almost universal. Meantime 
pipers are struggling along with many tunes and a good 
many books with a lot of irregularities and inconsistencies 
scattered through them. There is certainly room for im- 
provement, and if pipers and publishers, or some of the 
Highland societies — say in Glasgow — took the matter up 
in earnest, something could be done to set up a standard of 
some kind that would give the music of the pipes its proper 

The Pipes in Battle. 113 


The Pipes in Battle. 

" Fhairshon swore a feud 

Against the Clan MacTavish, 
Marched into their land, 

To plunder and to rafish. 
For he did resolve 

To extirpate the vipers, 
With four-and-twenty men 

And five-and- thirty pipers." 

A Culloden incident — Ancient Celts in battle — The harper and 
bard superseded — First mention of pipes in battle — First 
regimental pipers — In the navy — Prince Charlie's pipers — An 
" instrument of war " — A Mac Crimmon incident — Power of 
pipes in battle — A Magersfontein incident — Byron's tribute — 
Position in actual battle. 

PROFESSOR AYTOUN in these cynically humorous 
lines, from the " Bon Gaultier Ballads," would have 
us believe that the piper was more important in 
times of war than the actual fighting man. He was im- 
portant, no doubt, but hardly in the proportion of thirty- 
five to twenty-four. The Duke of Cumberland, a man whom 
Highlanders, and more especially those with Jacobite lean- 
ings, do not hold in very high reverence, was making ready 
to meet Prince Charlie at Culloden, and when he saw the 

114 The Highland Bdgpipe. 

pipers of the clans who supported him preparing their 
musical instruments, he asked somewhat testily. " What are 
these men to do with such bundles of sticks. I can get far 
better implements of war than these." " Your Royal High- 
ness," said an aide-de-camp, " cannot get them better 
weapons. They are the bagpipes, the Highlanders' music 
in peace and war. Without these all other instruments are 
of no avail, and the Highland soldiers need not advance 
another step, for they will be of no service.'' Then Cum 
berland, who was too good a tactician to underrate the 
value of anything, allowed the pipers to take their part in 
the fight. It is difficult to believe, although the story is 
given on good authority, that he was so ignorant, but we 
know that a general who did not understand the music of 
his different regiments would now-a-days be considered very 
deficient indeed. Officers of our day not only understand 
about the music, they fully appreciate its value. This is 
particularly true of the officers of Highland regiments who, 
as a rule, do all they can to foster a love for the pipes, 
knowing quite well that 

" Its martial sounds can fainting troops inspire 
With strength unwonted and enthusiasm fire." 

The use by the Celts of the bagpipes in battle fits in 
beautifully with all we know of the ancient people. Their 
demeanour in the actual fight was always remarkable. In 
old times they did not fight as they do now, with weapons 
deadly at long distances from the enemy, and to use which 
in a uniform style they are disciplined. Each warrior fought 
for his own hand, with his own claymore, subject, after the 
fight began, to no system of rules. Before the battle a 
strange nervous excitement, called by ancient writers, crith- 

The Pipes in Battle. 115 

gaisge, or " quiverings of valour," came over him. This 
was followed by an overpowering feeling of exhilaration and 
delight, called mir-cath, or " the joyous frenzy of battle." 
It was not a thirst for blood, but an absorbing idea that 
both his own life and fame and his country's good depended 
on his efforts, and a determination to do all that could be 
done by a resolute will and undaunted spirit. The mir-cath 
has been seen in a modified form on several occasions in 
modern warfare, but only when the Highland soldier has a 
chance of charging with the bayonet. Then that shout 
which precedes an onset no foe can withstand is heard, 
and the Highlanders forget themselves and rush forward 
like an irresistible torrent. 

The harp was originally the national musical instrument 
of the Highlands, but its strains were too soft and melting 
for the clash of arms, and the utmost efforts of the harper 
would fail to rouse the vengeful fervour of the Gaelic heroes. 
The pibroch's shrill summons, telling the sad tale of devas- 
tated straths and homeless friends, with notes that had 
often led them to victory aforetime, was needed to gather 
them to the fray ; it drowned with its piercing tones the 
wailings of the bereaved, and called in maddened ardour 
for revenge on the enemy. It was perhaps a descent when 
the pipes had to be substituted for the voice of the bard, 
and it was certainly a descent when the pipes as a domestic 
instrument superseded the soft and soothing harp. But the 
two changes were inevitable, and the first is not so great as 
it seems. The pipes almost spoke to the people, and their 
music was but another language in which their deeds and 
those of their ancestors were being preserved. 

The bards, who preceded the pipers as an inspiring mili- 
tary force, seemed themselves not only susceptible to the 

116 The Highland Bagpipe. 

influence of the mir-cath, but capable of imparting it to 
others. Before the battle they passed from clan to clan, 
giving exhortation and encouragement in wild recitative 
strains, and rousing the feelings of the warriors to the 
highest pitch of frenzy. When the noise of fighting 
drowned their voices, the pipes, after they became general 
as military instruments, kept the enthusiasm alive. Both 
bard and piper helped when the battle was over to celebrate 
the deeds of those who had survived and the honour of the 
brave who had fallen, the piper's part of the work being 
more often the playing of laments for the departed. By 
these means, death was robbed of its terrors, for the honour- 
ing of the dead who died nobly naturally produced a mag- 
nanimous contempt for the last enemy. The pipes, from 
their first introduction, had no rival as an instrument of 
war. That they were used as such in ancient times we have 
historical proof. Among the Highlanders the bagpipe is 
supposed to have superseded the war-song of the bards about 
the beginning of the fifteenth century. We have the tradi- 
tion of the Clan Menzies that it was used at Bannockbum, 
but though we grant that on many occasions 

' ' The Menzies' pipers played so gay, 
They cheered the clan in many a fray," 

as the family chronicler tells us, we can hardly accept the 
evidence of tradition alone, when it is backed up by little 
or nothing from history. The first mention of military 
bagpipe music is given in accounts of the battle of Glen- 
livck, in 1594, but it is not until after 1600 that we find 
pipers mentioned as men of war by reputable historians. 
In 1627, says the Transactions of the Society of Antiquaries 
in Scotland, a certain Alex. Mac Naughton of that ilk was 

The Pipes in Battle. 117 

commissioned by King Charles I. to " levie and transport 
twa hundredthe bowmen " to serve in the war against 
France. On January 15th, 1628, he wrote to the Earl of 
Morton, from Falmouth, where his vessel had been driven 
by stress of weather. In a postscript he said : — 

"MyL. — As for newis from our selfis, our bagg pypperia and 
Marlit Plaidis serwitt us in guid wise in the pursuit of ane man of 
war that hetlie followit us." 

The English of the postscript is, like the spelling, a little 
shaky, and I am not going to explain how it was possible 
to pursue " ane man of war that hetlie followit us," or 
whether the pipers frightened the enemy or, as a cynical 
writer observes, " merely supplied the wind for the sails " 
and helped the ship away. The quotation, however, proves 
conclusively that there were soldiers in these days who wore 
the tartan — " Marlit Plaidis " is decidedly poetic — and had 
bagpipers in their company. " Besides," continues the 
Transactions, " the piper AUester Caddel was followed by a 
boy," his gillie presumably, and there were also " Harrie 
M'Gra, harper, frae Larg," and " another piper." 

In 1641, Lord Lothian, writing from the Scottish Army 
at Newcastle, puts in a word for the pipers : — 

" I cannot out of our armie furnish you with a sober fiddler ; 
there is a fellow here plays exceeding well, but he is intoUerably 
given to drink ; nor have we many of those people. Our armie has 
few or none that carie not armes. We are sadder and graver than 
ordinarie soldiers, only we are well provided of pypers. I have one 
for every company in my regiment, and I think they are as good as 

They were evidently better than fiddlers, anyhow. 
In 1642 there were regular regimental pipers, and it is 
believed that the 21st Royal Scots Fusiliers, then the North 

118 The Highland Bagpipe. 

British Fusiliers, was about the first regiment which had 
them. When the town of Londonderry was invested in 
1689 by James VII., two drums, a piper, and colours were 
allotted to each company of infantry, each troop of horse 
had a trumpet and a standard, and each troop of dragoons 
had two trumpets, two hautbois, and a standard. When 
the figures relating to the strength of the army are analysed, 
it is found that each regiment must have had fourteen 
pipers, fifty-six drums, five trumpets, and fourteen hautbois 
— that is, if the bands were at full strength. 

That pipers were not always confined to the land forces is 
shown by an advertisement in the Edinburgh Courant in 
1708, asking for " any person that plays on the bagpipes 
who might be willing to engage on board a British man-of- 
war." British and Dutch ships are known to have been 
lying in Leith Roads at the time, which accounts for the 
advertisement. A harper is mentioned as being in the navy 
as early as 1660, so music was not a new thing on board a 

Although drummers were used in Highland regiments 
before 1745, the pipers outnumbered them very much, for 
whenever one was found who could play the pipes, the clans 
compelled him to follow them. Prince Charlie is said to 
have had thirty -two, who played before his tent at meal- 
time, and that their instrument was considered a weapon of 
war is proved by the fact that although a James Reid, one 
of the pipers who was taken on the suppression of the 
rebellion, pleaded that he had not carried arms, and was 
not, therefore, a soldier, the Courts decided that the pipe 
was a warlike instrument, and punished the performer just 
as if he had carried a claymore. When, after the battle of 
Prestonpans, the Prince entered Edinburgh, we read that — 

The Pipes in Sattte. 119 

" As he came marching up the street, 
The pipes played loud and clear, 
And a' the folks came running out 
To meet the Chevalier." 

At the time of the rebellion the pipers had come to be 
highly respected members of the clans. Almost as much so 
as the bards were in their day. In 1745 the Mac Leods 
marched into Aberdeenshire and were defeated at Inverurie. 
Mac Crimmon, the great piper from Dunvegan, and master 
of the celebrated Skye " college," was taken prisoner after a 
stout resistance, and the following morning it was found 
that not one of the pipers of the victorious army played 
through the town as usual. When asked the reason of their 
extraordinary conduct, they answered that while the Mac 
Crimmon was in captivity their instruments would not 
sound, and it was only on the release of the prisoner that 
they resumed their duties. The Mac Crimmons were then, 
however, so well known all over the Highlands that the 
action of the other pipers can hardly be considered 

Many and many a time has the efficacy of pipe music in 
rallying men and leading them on to victory been proved. 
At Quebec in April, 1760, when Eraser's regiment were 
retreating in great disorder the general complained to a 
field officer of the behaviour of his corps. " Sir," the officer 
replied, warmly, " you did very wrong in forbidding the 
pipers to play this morning ; nothing encourages the High- 
landers so much in the day of battle, and even now they 
would be of some use." " Then," said the general, " let 
them blow like the devil if that will bring back the men.'' 
The pipers played a favourite martial air, and the High- 
landers, the moment they heard it, re-formed, and there 

120 The Highland Bagpipe. 

was no more disorder. When the regiment raised by Lord 
MacLeod in 1778, called the 73rd or MacLeod's Highlanders, 
was in India, General Sir Eyre Coote thought at first that 
the bagpipe was a " useless relic of the barbarous ages and 
not in any manner calculated to discipline troops." But 
the distinctness with which the shrill sounds made themselves 
heard through the noise of battle and the influence they 
seemed to exercise induced him to change his opinion. At 
Port Novo in 1781, he, with eight thousand men, of which 
the 73rd was the only British regiment, defeated Hyder 
Ali's army of twenty-five battalions of infantry, four hun- 
dred Europeans, from forty-thousand to fifty thousand 
horse, and over one hundred thousand matchlock men, with 
forty-seven cannon. The 73rd was on the right of the first 
line, leading all the attacks, and the general's notice was 
particularly attracted by the pipers, who always blew up the 
most warlike strains when the fire was hottest. This so 
pleased Sir Eyre Coote that he called out — " Well done, 
my brave fellows, you shall have a set of silver pipes for 
this." And he was as good as his word, for he gave the 
men ,£50, and the pipes which this bought had an inscrip- 
tion testifying to the high opinion the general had of the 
pipers. At the battle of Assaye, again, the musicians were 
ordered to lay aside their instruments and attend to the 
wounded. One of the pipers who obeyed this order was 
afterwards reproached by his comrades. Flutes or hautbois, 
they told him, they could well spare, but for the piper, who 
should always be in the heat of the battle, to go to the rear 
with the whistles was a thing unheard of. The unfortunate 
piper was quite humbled, but he soon had an opportunity 
of playing off the stigma, for in the advance at Argaun 
shortly after, he played with such animation that the men 

The Pipes in Battle. ISl 

could hardly be restrained from breaking the line and rush- 
ing to the charge before the time. 

Of a different nature is a story told of the Seaforth High- 
londers. On the 12th of August, 1793, as the grenadiers 
of Captain Gordon's company at Pondicherry were on duty 
in the trenches, exposed to a burning sun and a severe 
cannonade from a fortress near by. Colonel Campbell, field 
officer of the trenches, ordered the piper to play some 
pibrochs. This was considered a strange order to be made 
at such a time, but it was immediately complied with, and, 
says the writer of the chronicles of the regiment, " we were 
a good deal surprised to perceive that the moment the piper 
began, the fire from the enemy slackened, and soon almost 
entirely ceased. The French all got upon the works, and 
seemed more astonished at hearing the bagpipes than we 
with Colonel Campbell's request." It was a new kind of 
warfare, and again justifies the use of the appellation 
« weapon " instead of " instrument " used by the court 
which tried the Jacobite piper in 1746. 

We all know the story of Lucknow, and though we know 
that, as a matter of history, it is entirely discredited, we 
cannot deny its extreme probability, and the intense effect 
the sound of the pipes in the distance would have had on 
the fainting men and women in the Residency. Some- 
thing like the Lucknow story is that of Prince Charlie, 
who, when the clans were slow in gathering to his standard 
at Glenfinnan, retired to a hut and rested, disheartened and 
anxious. When at noon on the 19th of August no appear- 
ance was made he became hopeless, but in the afternoon the 
sound of the pipes made themselves heard, and shortly after 
the clans appeared. This is the moment which the 

122 The Highland Bagpipe. 

authoress of the well-known song, "The March of the 
Cameron Men," has described : — 

" Oh proudly they walk, but each Cameron knows 
He may tread on the heather no more, 
But boldly he follows his chief to the field, 
Where his laurels were gathered before. 

" I hear the pibroch, sounding, sounding, 
Deep o'er the mountain and glen. 
While light springing footsteps are trampling the heath, 
'Tis the march of the Cameron men. " 

A good instance of the power of the pipes to rally men 
is told of the fateful battle of Magersfontein, during the 
present war in South Africa. When, at one stage, it seemed 
as if " retreat " had been sounded, a piper tried to tune his 
pipes, but his lips were too dry. A major handed him his 
own water bottle, and immediately afterwards, " Hey, 
Johnnie Cope " rang out. The men gathered round the 
piper as he stood there playing, marking time with his foot, 
and the tide was turned. The soldiers were sifted back into 
regiments and companies, and something like order was 
evolved out of chaos. 

Foreigners do not understand how a certain kind of music 
can have such a powerful effect on men, and even our friends 
south of the Cheviots have been known to sneer at it, but 
the facts are too stubborn to ding, and they are acknow- 
ledged by men of the highest military experience. Perhaps 
there is no nobler tribute to their power and military 
beauty than that of Lord Byron, himself an Englishman: — 

" And wild and high ' The Cameron's Gathering ' rose, 
The war note of Lochiel, which Albyn's hills 
Have heard, and heard, too, have her Saxon foes : — 

The Pipes in Battle. 123 

How in the noon of night that pibroch thrills, 
Savage and shrill ! But with the breath which fills 

Their mountain pipe, so fill the mountaineers 
With the fierce native daring which instills 

The stirring memory of a thousand years 

And Evan's, Donald's fame rings in each clansman's ears. " 

The Highland soldier has proved on many a hard-fought 
field the inspiring influence of 

" Those thrilling sounds that call the might 
Of old Clan-Alpine to the fight," 

but in all the great battles fought and won by Highlanders 
since 1689 the pipes have not been used in the actual 
charge. There is an impression that the regimental piper 
keeps in front of, or alongside, his men, and actually plays 
them into the enemy's ranks, and this idea has been largely 
fostered by the pictures that have appeared of such inci- 
dents as that of Dargai. As a matter of fact such a 
method is totally impracticable. In a regiment in line 
advancing, the pipe band is formed up in the centre, behind 
the reserves. When a charge is about to take place, the 
word of command, " Prepare to Charge," is given, and every 
soldier knows what this means. When the word, " Prepare 
to Charge," is given, the front rank comes to the charge, 
while the rear rank I'emains at the slope. Meantime the 
line section, or whatever the party may be, steadily ad- 
vances. Simultaneously the pipers strike up the charge in 
marching time, and all ranks anxiously await the command, 
" Charge." When this comes the pipers and drummers in- 
stantly change from marching to double time. With the 
music and the cheers and shouts of the Highlanders, the 
charge is pressed home, being generally made at a distance 

124 'The Highiand Bagpipe. 

of from fifty to sixty yai'ds from the enemy, the piper 
closely following up his regiment, company, or section, 
playing the charge and thus cheering the troops onward. 
All then is confusion and wild excitement, and after that 
the battle is either lost or won. To rally the regiments the 
" assembly " is sounded, preceded by the regimental call, to 
distinguish what regiment should respond. After the melee 
every battalion forms up at lightning speed on their 
markers, and are again under the control of their officers 
for the furtherance of any other movement. Such is the 
position of a pipe band when a charge is made in line. 
There is another way while troops are manoeuvring, and 
when the pipers may be ordered to rejoin their companies. 
Their position then would be behind the centre of their 
companies, with the buglers, at various points. It is then 
quite possible for the piper or pipers to act precisely in the 
same way behind their companies as the combined band 
would do behind the battalion if they were in line. Under 
extraordinary circumstances, where troops are detached out- 
side of military rule, one cannot easily define where the 
piper might be placed — he might be anywhere. We read 
that in former wars, such as the Peninsular, where a breach 
was made by the troops, pipers sometimes got inside the 
breach, and, standing on the ramparts, played their hardest 
to encourage the troops ; but under ordinary circumstances 
the piper's position is behind his party ; and if he is profes- 
sionally unemployed, he occupies himself in attending to 
his fallen comrades or performing any other duty that may 
be assigned to him. It is hardly possible, considering the 
methods of modern warfare, to think of circumstances in 
which a piper should lead a charge in front of his com- 

The Pipes in Battle. 125 

Although we must sweep away this cherished idea and 
consign it to the region of muzzle-loading guns and frontal 
attacks, this does not in the least reduce the military value 
of the instrument. Thei-e is no music half so good for 
marching purposes as that of the pipes and drums. It 
gives the soldiers a quick swinging step, taking them over 
the ground without a drag. This cannot be said of the 
brass or fife band. The pipers carry no cumbrous accoutre- 
ments, and when their bags are full they can keep up the 
music for two or three miles ; in fact, on one occasion in 
India the Black Watch pipers played for over four miles. 
During the Indian Mutiny the marching of the British 
soldier was a wonder to all who knew the climate, the more 
so, as much of it had to be done with a hot sun beating 
down upon the feather bonnets and red coats as their 
wearers toiled across a country of sand, with camels, 
elephants, bullocks, and camp followers by the thousand, 
often marching close upon the column. The swing and go 
of a Highland regiment is something peculiar to itself, and 
is due in great measure to the pipes. It is something born 
of the music, and it has often proved its value in actual 
warfare, where marching wsis conjoined with fighting, as, 
for instance, with the 93rd at Balaclava, where 

" That thin red line of Gaelic rock, 
Just tipped with shining steel, 
Answered with long and steady stride 
Their own loved pipes' appeal." 

126 The Highland Bagpipe. 


The Pipeu as a Hero. 

" Never in battlefield throbbed heart so brave 

As that which beats beneath the Scottish plaid, 
And when the pibroch bids the battle rave 
And level for the charge their arms are laid, 
Where lives the desperate foe that for such onset staid ? " 

One cowardly piper— At Philiphangh — At Bothwell Bridge — At 
Cromdale — The Peninsular War — At Waterloo — Reay Country 
pipers — At Candahar — At Luoknow^ — In America — In Ashanti 
— In the Soudan — In South Africa. 

THE pipers of a regiment are exposed to very much the 
same dangers as are the soldiers, and in all the 
history of British warfare we read of only one 
cowardly piper. This was Raoghull Odhar, a Highlander, 
who, being one day in the exercise of his duty in the battle- 
field along with his clan, was seized with such terror at the 
sight of the enemy, whom he thought too many for his 
party, that he left off playing and began to sing a most 
dolorous song to a lachrymose air. Some stanzas were 
picked up by his comrades, and afterwards when an adult 
was seen crying for some trifling cause he was said to be 
singing " Dun Ronald's tune." Likewise when a High- 
lander threatened vengeance for some boisterous mischief he 
would say, " I will make you sing Dun Ronald's tune." 

The Piper as a Hero. 127 

Where or when the incident which gave rise to the saying 
took place we cannot tell, and so the only story of a 
cowardly piper that we have on record is not very well 

On the other hand, we have numerous instances of the 
bravery of pipers. Away back as far as the battle of Philip- 
haugh we have a duplicate of the Dargai incident, only 
more so. There is a part of the Ettrick opposite the field 
of battle called " The Piper's Pule." Tradition says that a 
piper belonging to Montrose's army planted himself on a 
knowe overhanging this part of the river, during the course 
of the engagement, cheered his companions, who were 
fighting below, with a well-known cavalier tune, the refrain 
of which was : — 

" Whirry, Whigs, awa' man, 
Whirry, Whigs, awa', 
Ye're but a pack o' broay mou's, 
Ye'll dae nae gude at a'," 

until one of Leslie's men sent a shot across the water which 
brought the piper tumbling down the brae and laid him 
snug in the pool which bears his name. Then, again de- 
pending on tradition, at the battle of Bothwell Bridge in 
1679, the piper to Clavers' own troop stood out on the 
brink of the Clyde playing " Awa', Whigs, awa," with great 
glee, but, being struck by a bullet, he rolled down the bank 
in the agonies of death, and always as he rolled over the 
bag, so intent was he on the old party tune, that with 
determined firmness of fingering he made the pipes to yell 
out two or three notes more of it, till at last he plunged into 
the river and was carried peaceably down the stream among 
a great number of Whigs. There is a striking resemblance 

128 The Highlmid BcLgptpe. 

between the two traditions, and possibly they are but 
variations of one, but I give them as I find them. 

Another piper hero of these early days took part in the 
battle at the Haughs of Cromdale, an engagement which 
ended the civil war in Scotland in 1690. On the first day 
of May in that year the Jacobites were unexpectedly 
attacked by the Royalists, and were literally driven across 
Cromdale Hill. In the rout one of the Jacobite pipers 
was badly wounded, but he managed to climb on the top of 
a large boulder on the hillside, and on this elevated perch 
he played tune after tune until he fell off the stone, dead. 
The stone is known to this day as Clach-a-phiohair, or the 
Piper's Stone. 

Coming to times of which we have better historical 
records, we find similar incidents multiplying. The pibroch 
sounded at Waterloo where fire was hottest, at Lucknow it 
was heard above the din of battle ; at Alma, when Sir Colin 
Campbell's voice, clear and sharp as a trumpet, sounded 
" Forward Forty -second," the notes of the bagpipes rose over 
Kourgave Hill, as the veteran rode through the river and up 
the slope. At Arroyo-de-Molinos the pipes wakened and 
frightened the Frenchmen in the grey dawn of a rainy 
morning and scattered a whole brigade to the tune of "Hey, 
Johnnie Cope, are ye waking yet ? " At Puebla Heights, on 
the morning after Vittoria, they animated the Gordons in 
the face of immense odds to keep the position for many 
hours, and at Dargai, in our own day, the pipes played the 
Gordons up the steep slope, although the piper was too 
badly wounded to do more than play. Findlater's gallantry 
has been widely extolled, and there is no desire to detract 
from the merit of his performance, but a very slight study 
of the history of the Highland regiments will show anyone 

.The Piper as a Hero. 129 

that there have been many deeds just as brave, and done, 
too, by pipers of whom nothing whatever has been heard. 

Here are a few good instances of the bravery of pipers in 
the story of the Peninsular War. At the battle of Assaye, 
when the Ross-shire Buffs charged, the pipers stood to their 
posts and kept up their music until they were disabled one 
after another by the fire of the enemy. At Cuidad Rodrigo, 
John Mac Lachlan, a piper of the 74th, was among the first 
to mount the walls. Once there he tuned up and played 
" The Campbells are coming." John was a cool as well as 
a brave man, fOr when, on the ramparts, a shot penetrated 
the bag of his pipes, he calmly sat down where he was and 
repaired the damage, and soon he was up again and playing 
his comrades on to victory. At Vittoria the 92nd stormed 
the town, the band playing all the time amid a storm of 
shot and shell. Napier, in the History of the Peninsular 
War, referring to this, says : " The pipers contributed in no 
small degree to produce the enthusiasm. They headed the 
charge, striking up a favourite war tune composed centuries 
before. Their war-like music inspired their comrades with 
a fury nothing could resist. . . . How gloriously did 
that regiment come forth again to the charge, their colom-s 
flying and their pipes playing as if at review." At Vimiera, 
George Clark, piper to the 71st, was wounded in the leg by 
a musket ball as the regiment was advancing. Sitting down, 
he put his pipes in order, and calling out, " Weel, lads, I 
am sorry I can gae nae farther wi' you, but deil hae my 
saul if ye sail want music," he struck up a favourite air with 
the utmost unconcern, and played until victory was secure. 
This piper afterwards appeared in a competition in the 
Edinburgh Theatre-Royal (Findlator's story was but history 
repeating itself after all), where he was warmly greeted. 

130 The Highland Bagpipe. 

Whether he was successful history sayeth not, but that he 
was a good performer is proved by the fact that he was 
afterwards piper to the Highland Society of London. 
Charles Mackay made one of his prettiest poems on this 
piper's bravery, which, excusing the slip made in speaking 
of people dancing reels to pibroch music, a- slip hardly ex- 
cusable in Charles Mackay, is worth quoting entire : — 

" A Highland piper shot through both his feet, 

Lay on the ground in agonising pain ; 
The cry was raised, ' The Highlanders retreat ; 

They run, they fly, they rally not again ! ' 
The piper heard, and, rising on his arm, 

Clutched to his heart the pipes he loved so well. 
And blew a blast — a dirge-like shrill alarm. 

That quickly changed to the all-jubilant swell 
Of ' Tnllochgorum.' Swift as lightning flash, 

Or fire in stubble, the tumultuous sound 
Thrilled through the clansmen's hearts, and with a dash 

Of unreflecting valour, at one bound 
They turned upon their hot-pursuing foes, 

And faced them with one wild tempestuous cheer 
That almost drowned the music as it rose 

Defiant o'er the field, loud, long, and clear ! 
Scotland was in it, and the days of old 

When, to the well-remembered pibrochs of their sires, 
They danced the exultant reel on hillsides cold. 

Or warmed their hearts with patriotic fires. 
The startled enemy, in sudden dread. 
Staggered and paused, then, pale with terror, fled ; 
The clansmen followed — hurling shout on shout — 
In martial madness on the hopeless rout. 
'Twas but five minutes from the set of sun, 
And ere it sank the victory was won ! 
Glory and honour, all that men can crave. 
Be thine, piper, bravest of the brave ! " 

The Piper as a Hero. 131 

We have several stories of Waterloo which point the 
same moral. One piper was shot in the leg before he got 
properly started with his music, and this so roused his 
Highland blood that, dashing his pipes to the ground, he 
drew his broadsword and fought with the fury of a lion 
until he died from many wounds. A pipe-major of the 
Gordons placed himself on an eminence, amid a shower of 
shot, and proudly sounded the battle charge, and Piper 
Kenneth Mac Kay, a native of Tongue, and one of the 79th 
Cameron Highlanders, specially distinguished himself at 
Quatre Bras a few days earlier. During the formation of 
the regiment, while the brigade was threatened by a body 
of French cavalry, Piper Mac Kay calmly stepped outside 
the bayonets and played Cogadh na Sith with inspiring 
effect, almost right in front of the enemy. The incident is 
best told in a poem by Alice C. Mac Donnell, of Keppoch, 
contributed to the Celtic Monthly of June, 1895 : — 

" As roe-deer reared within the forests, 

At Quatre Bras they bounded o'er, 
Graceful, poised, with scarce an effort, 

The fifteen feet of bank before. 
Then their famous charge was driven 

Home to the advancing force ; 
Back upon the bridge they huddled, 

The troopers of Napoleon's horse. 
Theirs the charge the guns to cover, 

Theirs to hold that dangerous post ; 
Volley upon volley answered 

From the hedge this charging host. 
Side by side they fought untiring, 

Full upon their column drove 
The pressing mass of horsemen, falling 

Back, in vain for order strove. 

132 The Highland- Bagpipe. 

When their shot gave out, retreating 

Step by step in steady line, 
Till their square reformed and bristled, 

tilistening showed the bayonets' shine. 
Wild on high the pipes resounded 

From Mac Kay, who stepped without ; 
' Cogadh na Sith ! ' the soldiers answered, 

With a loud, triumphant shout. 
Wild notes playing, streamers flying. 

Defiance to the foe was thrown ; 
Exposed, undaunted, marched the hero, 

Playing round the square alone." 

There died at Melrose in 1899, a woman of ninety-eight, 
a daughter of the regiment, who heard the guns at Quatre 
Bras and saw a piper play the Highland Brigade past to 
the tune of " Hey, Johnnie Cope," after his legs had been 
cut off below the knee. This can hardly have been 
Mac Kay, but it may well have been one of the same name, 
for at that time there were more pipers from the Reay 
Country in the army than from any other district of Scot- 
land. Skye and Tongue produced more pipers and gave 
more pipers to the army than any other two districts, from 
which it is argued, quite legitimately, that there must have 
been a piping college at Tongue as well as at Dunvegan. 

From the far east, too, we have instances of the bravery 
of pipers. There is living in Glasgow at the present day, 
William Middleton, who was for twenty-one years piper to 
the Gordon Highlanders. At the battle of Candahar, while 
playing to his company, his pipes suddenly stopped. He 
sat down to mend them, and his comrades said he was dead ; 
but " Na, na," said the piper, " I'm worth twa dead men 
yet," and forthwith he got up, and blew away as hard as 
ever. He continued playing, and, when the engagement 

The Piper as a Hero. 133 

was over, it was found that one bullet had gone through 
his pipes, another had knocked the brass off his helmet, 
another gone through his kilt, another knocked a button 
off his coat, another gone through his water-bottle, another 
through his haversack, and another had struck the heel of 
his boot. And he himself escaped unscratched. 

At Lucknow, no sooner had the 93rd forced their way 
through the breach than John Mac Leod, then pipe-major, 
who was right in the front, began to encourage the men by 
vigorously playing his pipes. The more hot and deadly the 
fire became, the more highly strung became the piper's feel- 
ings, and the louder squealed the pipes, John standing the 
while in perfectly exposed positions, in which he must have 
appeared to the enemy like some unearthly visitant. There 
he stood for over two hours, while bayonet and rifle did 
their work. A similar story comes from the American 
War of Independence. The 42nd Highlanders helped to 
storm Fort- Washington, and a piper was one of the first to 
reach the top of the ramparts. Once there he began to 
play the slogan of his clan, which so roused his comrades 
that they rushed the heights, carrying everything before 
them. The brave piper, however, lost his life just as vic- 
tory was assured. Another piper of the 42nd Highlanders 
distinguished himself in a more recent war. With the regi- 
ment at the Gold Coast there was James Wotherspoon, a 
native of Falkirk, and a piper. At the battle of Amoaful, 
in the heat of the action, when brave men were falling on 
every hand, Wotherspoon cheered them on with martial 
music, and afterwards assisted to carry Major William 
Baird, who was mortally wounded, off the field. For this 
act of devotion. Queen Victoria, at Windsor, presented the 
piper with the medal for distinguished conduct in the field. 

134 The Highland Bagpipe. 

In the Ashanti War there was an instance of bravery 
under circumstances more trying than open battle. When 
the Black Watch entered Coomassie, they had to march 
through a dense jungle infested by savages. But they 
formed in procession, and, headed by the pipers, and firing 
at hidden enemies on either side, they stepped — 

" Into the depth of the forest shade 
Into the gloom of the chasm made, 
Into the ambush of deadly night, 
In midst a dashing glare of light. 
Quick in response a volley burst 
With deadly aim, the foemen curst. 
High o'er the din the pipers blew. 
The hardy Scots marched two by two. 
No halt, no pause, the swinging pace 
Lost not one atom's form or grace. " 

And they got into Coomassie, but it must have taken no 
ordinary corn-age to make men play at the head of such a 
column, themselves with no weapons of defence. Firing at 
an unseen foe among the kopjes of the Transvaal was child's 
play to it. 

Recent wars have been equally fruitful in similar inci- 
dents. Piper James Stewart of the Cameron Highlanders, 
who was killed at the battle of the Atbara, was found to 
have seven bullets in his body. He gallantly led the charge, 
playing " The March of the Cameron Men," and during a 
bit of rough and bloody work, he mounted a knoll and 
stood playing the tune until he fell mortally wounded. 
Piper Mac Lellan, of the Highland Light Infantry, kept 
playing his pipes at the battle of Magersfontein, amid a 
hail of bullets, encouraging the scattered Highlanders to 
re-unite in the attack, and he was mentioned by Lord 

The Piper as a Hero, 135 

Methuen in his despatches for bravery in charge of stretcher 
bearers. At the same engagement, Pipe-sergeant James 
Mac Kay of the 91st Highlanders, a native of the Reay 
Counti'y and one of the official pipers to the Clan Mac Kay 
Society, standing in absolutely exposed positions, rallied 
parties of his regiment over and over, earning the admira- 
tion of all ranks. At Elandslaagate, a piper of the Gordon 
Highlanders, Sergeant Kenneth Mac Leod, a native of 
Lewis, continued playing after he had received several 
wounds, and only stopped when a bullet smashed his pipes. 
The pipe-major of the 2nd Seaforth Highlanders, who 
also served in South Africa, is a son of the well-known 
military piper, Ronald Mac Kenzie, now in the service of 
the Duke of Richmond and Gordon at Gordon Castle, 
Fochabers. He was through Magersfontein and all the 
other battles with the Seaforths, and escaped with a scratch 
on the left leg and the loss of his chanter, which was 
smashed into bits by a bullet. More instances might be 
given, but these will suffice. Pipers have done quite as 
much as soldiers, in proportion to their numbers, to falsify 
estimates hke that of the Soudanese women, who, when they 
first saw the kilted regiments of Kitchener's expedition, 
thought they were men who had got into disgrace at home, 
been deprived of their trousers, and degraded to the level 
of women. 

1S6 The Highlayid Bagpipe. 


The Regimental Piper. 

■' The Esk was swollen sae red and sae deep, 
But shouther to shouther the brave lads keep ; 
Twa thousand swam ower to fell English ground, 
And danced themselves dry to the pibroch sound." 

— Lady Nairne. 

Preserving the pipes — Regimental bands — Pay of army pipers — The 
seven pipers of Falkirk — Duties of regimental pipers — The 
meaning of " Retreat " — A story of Napoleon — In a social 
capacity — An army wedding — A military funeral — At the 
oflScers' mess — Awkward incidents — " Bobereohims." 

NOTHING has helped more to preserve the bagpipe as 
our national musical instrument than the fact that 
it has always been used in connection with the 
Highland regiments. On several occasions officers, always 
English, it should be noted, have tried to get the bagpipe 
superseded by instruments more to their own taste, but 
they have always failed. The sentiment in favour of the 
pipes was too much for them, and the arguments were too 
strong to be slighted by the Crown authorities. In one 
case, indeed, a regiment did lose its pipes. The 91st, or 
Argyllshire Highlanders, landed at Dover in April, 1850, 
and were inspected by Major-General G. Brown, C.B.,K.H., 
then Adjutant-General to the Forces. For some reason 

The Regimental Piper. 137 

which has never been explained he ordered the immediate 
abolition of the pipes, which the men clung to as the last 
that was left to remind them of the origin, history, and 
nationality of the corps. This seemed a harsh and uncalled 
for proceeding, and that it was so is proved by the fact that 
the authorities afterwards made ample amends to the regi- 

In the British army there are twenty-two pipe bands, one 
to each battalion of the following regiments : — 

Scots Guards. 

Royal Scots. 

Royal Scots Fusiliers. 



Royal Highlanders. 

Highland Light Infantry. 

Seaforth Highlanders. 

Gordon Higlanders. 

Cameron Highlanders. 

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. 

The number of men allowed to each band as full pipers, 
that is, the number authorised by the War Office, is six — 
one sergeant-piper (formerly pipe-major) and five pipers — 
but each battalion has always ten or twelve men in its pipe 
band, those above the regulation number being acting 
pipers. Only the Highland regiments and the Scots 
Guards are allowed a sergeant in excess of the ordinary 
strength to perform the duties of sergeant-piper. Members 
of the band get the same pay as drummers— Id. per day 
more than ordinary privates— with the opportunity to earn 
" extras " by playing outside at parties, in public parks, or 
in any other way. The sergeant-piper and his five com- 


138 The Highland Bagpipe. 

rades are clothed by Government, and a fund is supported 
by the officers of each battahon, out of which the cost of 
the pipes, both for full and acting pipers ; long hose, buckled 
shoes, etc., and the uniform for the acting pipers is defrayed. 
Captains of companies, however, supply their pipers with 
banners. The pipers are all drilled in the same way as other 
soldiers, their training as pipers only beginning after they 
have served in the ranks for some time. Tuition is given 
free of charge by competent sergeant-pipers, and any lad 
joining a Highland regiment will be taught the pipes 
properly if he chooses. Pipers are generally Highlanders, 
and it is a remarkable fact that in the time between the 
middle of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth 
century, Skye alone furnished five hundred pipers for the 
British Ai-my — an average of ten a year. Regimental pipers 
are, however, quite often Lowlanders, and it is doubtful if 
any Highland town can boast of having had five pipers in 
one regiment, as Falkirk, a Lowland town, can. Robert 
Galbraith, from Falkirk, joined the 42nd in 1854, and 
served through the Crimea, the Indian Mutiny, and the 
fighting which ended at Coomassie. Pipe-major James 
Honeyman, still alive, came through the Mutiny and 
Ashanti Wars, leading his regiment into Coomassie. John 
Honeyman, his brother, was also a piper, and so was their 
father before them. The fifth 42nd piper was James 
Wotherspoon, who joined after the Mutiny and followed his 
colours to the Gold Coast. Besides, two other Falkirk men 
were pipers in the Black Watch — Alexander Mac Intosh 
and George W. Alexander — making a record which can 
hardly be beat by any other town of similar size, Highland 
or Lowland. When, during the Mutiny, the four Highland 
regiments marched from Lucknow, their pipers numbered 

The Regimental Piper. 139 

one hundred and forty all told, quite a respectable number 
of fighting musicians. 

The duties of regimental pipers are too numerous to give 
in detail, but it may be worth while to describe "Reveille" 
and "Tattoo." "Reveille" is generally sounded at early 
morn by the bugler on duty, or sometimes by all the 
buglers followed by the pipers and drummers playing round 
the camp to rouse the troops. No sooner is " Reveille " 
sounded then the camp becomes animated with busy men 
preparing for the routine of the day. The tune is usually 
" Up and waur them a', Willie," " Hey, Johnnie Cope," or 
sometimes "Up in the morning's no for me." As "Reveille" 
begins the day, so " Tattoo " is the signal that another day 
has gone. The guards turn out and stand under arms, 
picquets are mounted and sentries posted, all in undress and 
greatcoats, and gates are closed for the night. Of all cere- 
monies in which a pipe band is engaged, " Tattoo " is the 
most attractive to spectators. Drummers and pipers march 
to the ground in full kilt and feather, and form up in perfect 
silence, save for the curt word of command. The buglers 
form up in front of the pipers, and at the order, " Sound 
off," a shrill blast is sounded by the buglers, who then dis- 
appear. Drums are slung and pipes placed in position. At 
the word of command the tattoo rolls are gone through, 
then the order, " Quick march," is given, and the band steps 
off", taking up the usual rolls as in an ordinary march. They 
march and counter-march the length of the parade ground, 
and come to the halt in the exact position they started 
from. Then the music ceases, and the tattoo rolls are beat 
off as before, after which all are marched back to quarters 
and dismissed. Old Highland tunes are invariably played 
for "Tattoo," " My Faithful Fair One," and the " Cock o' 

140 The Highland Bagpipe. 

the North " being favourites. Other tunes, too, have been 
dedicated by custom for special occasions — as, for instance, 
" Highland Laddie " for the march past, or when troops 
advance in review order ; " The Crusaders' March," for re- 
views and inspections, at mess, tattoo, or parade; "Bannocks 
o' Barley Meal," or " Brose and Butter," for breakfast, 
dinner, or tea, and sometimes for officers' mess ; and " Hey 
Johnnie Cope " as the warning for parade. " The Haughs 
o' Cromdale," as is well known, is always played by the 
Gordons' pipers when the regiment is at the charge, though, 
by some inexplicable slip, it got mixed up with the '' Cock 
o' the North " at Dargai. 

A 'good deal of misunderstanding sometimes crops up 
through the use of the word " retreat " in relation to the 
pipes. A story is told of the great Napoleon which 
illustrates this very forcibly. Having heard from afar the 
skirl of the pipes, the Emperor wished to know more of the 
music, and so when a Highland piper was captured, he sent 
for him that he might hear him play. " Play a Pibroch," 
said Napoleon, and the piper played a pibroch. " Play a 
March," next asked the Emperor, and a march was played. 
Then " Play a Retreat " ; but at this the Highlander looked 
up in surprise. " Play a Retreat ! I have not learned to 
play a Retreat,'' was the reply, and the pipes remained silent. 
The story is improbable on the face of it. First, because it 
is the buglers and not the pipers who sound the retreat ; 
second, because there is no historical record of Napoleon 
having ever captured a piper ; third, because the same story 
has been told of a drummer boy of the Guards who fell into 
the hands of the French ; and fourth, because, in any case, 
the word " retreat " used in this sense does not mean that 
the men are running away from the enemy. It only means 

The Regimental Piper. 141 

" retire," or if in barracks it means that the time when the 
gates are shut for the night has come. There is no doubt, 
however, that the word is not very well chosen, and that on 
account of its significance in other coimections, it might 
with advantage be dispensed with in favour of a better. 

Many stories are told, showing that the regimental pipers 
not only keep up the spirits of the men, but are themselves 
worthy of their position as a social force. At the Cape of 
Good Hope in 1805 the Seaforths suffered excessively from 
the heat. On one of their marches, although the fatigue 
was extreme, during a momentary halt the grenadier com- 
pany requested the pipers to play for them, and they danced 
a Highland reel, to the astonishment of the 59th Regiment, 
which was close in the rear. In the Indian Mutiny, again, 
in a time of imminent peril, " as we," writes the author of 
The Highland Brigade, " approached a big bungalow our 
hearts were cheered by the sound of the bagpipes playing a 
foursome reel. When we were halted and dismissed I went 
into the building, and there were four or five sets dancing 
with all their might." The terrors of the Mutiny did not 
quench their musical ardour — more likely they intensified it. 

In the Gordons and in some other Scottish regiments, 
when a marriage occurs in the ranks, the happy bridegroom 
is forcibly seized by his comrades and placed on a table ele- 
vated on the shoulders of four stout fellows. On the table 
a man ludicrously dressed to represent a woman and per- 
sonate the bride has been placed to await him. Both are 
furnished with a bag, one of soot and the other of flour, and 
they belabour each other unmercifully, while their uproari- 
ous following form up in military order, and march after 
them round the camp to the tune of " Woo'd an' Married 
an' a'," played by one of the regimental pipers. The pro- 

142 The Highland Bagpipe. 

cession is most grotesque, and is headed by a stalwart com- 
rade acting as drum-major, and absurdly dressed in old blan- 
kets, etc., his staff of office being a mop, crowned by a 41b. 
loaf, which he majestically brandishes in a style irresistibly 
comic. The procession ends at the canteen, where the bride- 
groom, as the price of release from his by no means enviable 
position, must treat his merry following in suitable style. 

At a military funeral the band draws up in two ranks 
facing each other on the right flank of the procession, with 
a space of about two paces between the men, and forming a 
lane wide enough to allow of the passing of a gun carriage 
or hearse. As the cortege begins to move the firing party 
first pass through the lane in file, with arms reversed. The 
band follows, closing up in playing order. Next comes the 
body, the following party, and civilians and friends. When 
well clear of the house or hospital, the command " Slow 
march " is given, when the rolls are taken up in slow time. 
After the start one half the side drummers keep up the rolls 
during the first part of the tune, and are relieved in the 
second part by the other half The drums, of course, are 
mufiled. Should the cemetery be some distance off, the 
procession breaks into quick time, in which case the pipers 
play no more until within a reasonable distance from the 
ground, when slow time is again taken up, and the band 
plays till the cortege has passed in. They then cease, and 
follow up, placing themselves in a convenient position near 
the grave. On the first volley being fired, the first bar of 
the " Dead March " is played, on the second two bars, and 
on the third the whole of the first part once through. This 
ends the ceremony, and the band marches out, and forms in 
front of the firing party, stepping off^ with them at quick 
march, playing tunes on the way home, as on ordinary parade. 

The Regimental Pi/per. 143 

In the case of Volunteer funerals, however, where local 
sentiment might be roused by such a custom, the band 
usually marches home in silence. 

There are often striking incidents at military funerals 
which are not pre-arranged. At the battle of Fort-Rohya, 
in India, in April, 1858, General Hope, of Pinkie, and of 
the 93rd Highlanders, was killed. At the funeral his body 
was wrapped in a Highland plaid and accompanied to the 
grave by the pipers of the 42nd, 78th, 79th, and 93rd, 
playing the " Flowers of the Forest." This action, it may 
be added, was the first occasion after the battle of Waterloo 
on which these four regiments met in active service, and the 
incident of General Hope's death and funeral made it all the 
more memorable. 

In military circles, when pipers play round the officers' 
mess, they generally start at some considerable distance out- 
side, usually in an adjoining room or the open air, the 
object of this being that the strains of the instrument may 
be heard as coming from a distance. After finishing inside, 
the performers play to and wind up where they started 
from. The usual procedure may not in strict detail be the 
same in all Highland or Scottish regiments, but it is some- 
thing like the following: — The men assemble at the appointed 
place under their pipe-major, who, on a given order, arranges 
his men and starts the tune (a march), everything being pre- 
arranged. When all is steady he turns to his right or left, 
the others marching in Indian file into the mess-room, round 
which they go two or three times, afterwards forming up 
behind the senior officer's chair, when they change into 
strathspey and reel. When they stop the pipe-major 
receives a glass of " mountain dew," with which he drinks 
the company's health, the toast being usually given in Gaelic. 

144 The Highland Bagpipe. 

After this he starts another march round the table and then 
out. All obstacles, animate or inanimate, must be kept 
out of the leading piper's path. If not he may sometimes 
find himself in an awkward case. He may have stairs to go 
up and come down, corners to turn, doors to pass through 
which are too low for the drones, projecting pegs and all 
sorts of things to negotiate. The following are a few in- 
stances of the difficulties of pipers in such positions : — 

The first is in regards to playing in file, which is generally 
acknowledged to be the most difficult formation in which 
pipers can be placed. This will become apparent when 
notice is taken of the fact that the drones of the player 
immediately in front drown to a considerable degree the 
sound of the player's chanter. It is therefore only by listen- 
ing carefully to the different parts of the tiine, and watching 
the marching swing of the pipers in front, as well as keep- 
ing the regular step, that one can decide whether the per- 
formers are adept players or not, and, as efficient pipers 
know, such performances require long practice and confi- 
dence. Then it sometimes happens that a central piper 
wanders into the wrong part, thus knocking the pipers in 
front and behind completely out. There at once ensues 
a stampede, so to say, no one being able to detect 
who the erring piper is. This is one of the occasions when 
the pipe-major looks ferocious, for, being in front, he is 
powerless to rectify matters, and is compelled to march on 
and listen to the row. The discordant notes will, of course, 
continue unless the defaulters and others who are " put 
out " have confidence enough to stop and catch up the tune 
at its proper place. Failing this, the pipe-major's only 
alternative is to form up his men behind the senior officer's 
chair as quickly as possible, and at once strike into the next 

The Reffiniental Piper. 145 

tune in his programme. Blunders of this sort, it is only 
right to state, are usually committed by nervous men or 
beginners, but seldom through carelessness. Again, when 
pipers are performing this duty, waiters who, in the exercise 
of their own functions, are eager to serve their guests, often 
bump against or unintentionally obstruct the pipe-major. 
In some cases the chanter is knocked out of his hand, thus 
causing a temporary derangement as the pipers swing round 
in their course. Pipers are sometimes called upon to go 
into queer places. For instance, let us take the huts at 
Aldershot and elsewhere. Here the pipers start from the 
outside or from the kitchen, and wend their way round 
corners and through very narrow and low doors, which 
necessitate their marching in a crouching position in order 
to prevent the big drone coming in contact with the top of 
the door. As they enter the mess-room, they are invariably 
obstructed by the inevitable draught-screen, which some 
one has neglected to draw aside at the proper time. 
" Through an obstruction of this kind," writes ■ a pipe- 
major of one of the Highland regiments, " an accident 
happened to myself on the first occasion that I, as a pipe- 
ma:jor, went round the table to play a pibroch in my 
regiment. I started in an adjoining room, and as I 
entered the mess-room door, immediately behind the 
draught-screen, the latch caught the ribbons of the out- 
side drone and pulled the pipes off my shoulder. This 
caused me to make a few ' boberechims,' and I stopped. 
This being my maiden tune as pipe-major in my new regi- 
ment, a sudden suspicion seemed to seize the officers, who 
promptly sent out the mess. sergeant to see and report what 
state I was in. After my explanation, which was regarded 
as satisfactory, I restarted my tune, for the playing of which 
the officers indicated their approval," 

146 TTie HigMand Bagpipe. 


The Piper as a Man of Peace. 

" Dear to the Lowland reaper, 

And plaided mountaineer — 
To the cottage and the castle 

The Scottish pipes are dear — 
Sweet sounds the ancient pibroch 

O'er mountain, loch, and glade ; 
But the sweetest of all music 

The pipes at Lucknow played." 


Clan pipers — Chief's retinue — At weddings — Pipers prohibited — 
In sorrow — At funerals — Queen Victoria's funeral — To lighten 
labour — The harvest dance — The shepherd's pipe — In church 
architecture — In church services — As a call to church — Minis- 
ters and the pipes — Falling into disrepute — " As proud as a 
piper " — Jealousy of the old masters — " As fou as a piper '' — 
An Irish piper. 

THE pipers of old were hereditary pipers, and lived 
from generation to generation in the family of the 
chief who ruled their clan. They were trained 
from childhood to the use of the pipes, and grew 
up as retainers of the family, whose services no chief 
would dare to dispense with. They were often sent 
by their employers to the great masters of Highland 
music for instruction, and when they were old they 

The Piper as a Man of Peace. 147 

acted as mediums through which all that was best in 
Celtic lore and music was passed down to future generations. 
The piper was, in the days of his splendour, a living exhibi- 
tion of his clan's glory and greatness. Every chief had a 
piper. " It's a poor estate," said the piper of Glengarry, in 
1801, to a lady who asked him why he did not work some 
in his leisure time, " that cannot keep the laird and piper 
without working." Not only was the piper not expected to 
work ; he had lands for his support, and was of superior 
rank to the other members of his chiefs retinue or " tail." 
He accompanied his chief everywhere, and with the harper 
— when there were harpers — had a right to appear at all 
public meetings. The " tail " of a chief of the old time was 
I'ather an interesting company. Its composition, according 
to Sir Walter Scott, was as follows : — 

The henchman, or right hand man. 

'Faefilidh or bard. 

The bleadaire or orator, whose duty it was to make harangues to 
the great folks his chief visited. 

The gille-mor or armourer, who carried his sword, target, and gun. 

The gille-casfhliuch, who carried the chief on his back over the 

The gille-comshreang, who led his chief's horse in difficult paths. 

The gille-truisemis, who carried his knapsack. 

The piobair or piper. 

The gille-piohavr or piper's man, who carried the pipes ; with 
probably a dozen lads besides, who were always ready to do the 
bidding of their chief. 

The chief of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries had a 
retinue twice as large as that of the chief of the degenerate 
eighteenth century. Besides those named, he had his 
gentlemen of the house, his harper, his seneschal, his 
treasurer, his standard-bearer, his jester, his body guard, 

148 The Highland Bagpipe. 

his quartermaster, his cup-bearer, and his forester, all with 
clearly defined duties and rights. The offices of piper, 
standard-bearer, harper, cup-bearer, and treasurer descended 
from father to son. These " tails " were indeed so formid- 
able that they were at last prohibited from appearing in 

In 1809, out of all the big retinue, only the piper 
remained. He remains still, not exactly as a clan piper — 
where there are no clans there cannot be clan pipers — but 
as an appendage to families having a Highland lineage, and 
to many that have but the remotest connection with the 
Highlands. His duties are still pretty much what they 
were. He has not now a gille, for the piper of those days 
is not too proud to carry his pipes himself, but the descrip- 
tion written in the early years of the century is still partly 
applicable to pipers at houses where the Highland traditions 
are reverenced : — 

"In a morning when the chief is dressing, he walks backwards 
and forwards close under the window without doors, playing on his 
bagpipe, with a most upright attitude and majestic stride. It is a 
proverb in Scotland, namely, the stately stride of the piper. When 
required he plays at meals, and in the evening to divert the guests 
with music when the. chief has company with him. His gilley holds 
the pipe till he begins, and the moment he has done with the instru- 
ment he disdainfully throws it down upon the ground, as being only 
the passive means of conveying his skill to the ear, and not a proper 
weight for him to carry or bear at other times. But for a contrary 
reason his gilley snatches it up, which is that the pipe may not suffer 
indignity from its neglect." 

The last half of the paragraph is not applicable, and 
never was. One might as well expect a professional 
violinist to throw down his instrument on the stage after 

The Piper as a Man of Peace. 


playing a solo, leaving the fragments for a super to pick 
up. Pipers respect the bagpipe as much as other musicians 
respect their own peculiar instruments, and they were never 
so " daft " as to indulge in the antics described by this 
writer. But then, the writer was an Englishman, and may 
therefore be excused. 

(Highland Dress with Belted Plaid.) 

The piper was a pi'ofessional gentleman, a skilled 
musician, who went to college, and had a seat at the 
table with his chief. As a favoured retainer, he enjoyed 
certain perquisites. When, for instance, an animal was 
slaughtered for the family of the chief, a certain part of the 

150 The Highland Bagpipe. 

carcase was allotted to the piper. When the civil wars 
broke up the clan system, the chief's ceased to keep heredi- 
tary pipers, and the race soon became extinct. Afterwards, 
when a man considered he had enough of this world's goods 
to warrant the expenditure, and felt that he would like to 
hark back a little to the ways of the fathers, he got the 
best piper he could, just as he got any other servant. In 
this way the system of family pipers is perpetuated, and 
will be so as long as the Sovereign and others of high rank 
set the example. 

The pipes took an important part in the enjoyments of 
Highlanders. They were always to the front at weddings or 
where the people were making merry. An old time poet 
puts it plainly, if rather quaintly, when he says : — 

" A braithel where the broth was fat, 
In ancient times a token sure, 
The bridegroom was na reckoned poor ; 
A vast o' fouk a' roun about 
Came to the feast then dined thereout, 
Twa pair o' pipers playing gade 
About the table as they fed." 

Our present day equivalent for this verse is much bettei- 
rhyme, if farther from the truth : — 

" At the wedding of Shon Mac Lean, 
'Twas wet and windy weather, 
Yet through the wind and rain 
Cam twenty pipers together ! 
Erach and Dugald Dhu, 
Sandy of lala, too, 
Bach with his bonnet of blue, 
And efery piper was fou, 
Twenty pipers together.'' 

The Piper as a Man of Peace. 151 

The pipers, however, could not have been very "fou," at 
least until after the wedding, for, 

" The twenty pipers at break of day 
In twenty different bog-holes lay, 
Serenely sleeping on their way 

From the wedding of Shon Mac Lean." 

Had they been totally incapable they could hardly have 
got to twenty different "bog-holes." It is difficult to 

A DANCE — Sketched /rom Nature. iSzg. 

define exactly the meaning of the phrases, " as drunk as a 
piper " and " as fou as a piper," but they seem to have 
generally meant half seas over, not helplessly inebriated. 
The piper, being an important social personage, could 
hardly escape the reproach of being addicted to liquor, 
although there is nothing to show that his class were in 
this respect any worse than the average of the people of 
their day. 

152 The Highland Bagpipe. 

That the piper was a principal character at weddings in 
old times is certain. The wedding morn was ushered in by 
the music of the pipers, who followed the bridegroom and 
his friends on a round of early calls intended to warn the 
guests of their engagements. These joined the party, and 
before the circuit, which sometimes occupied several hours, 
had ended, some hundreds perhaps had gathered. The 
bride made a similar tour round her friends, and thus the 
complete company was collected. After the wedding a pro- 
cession was formed, and with flags flying and pipers playing, 
and all kinds of demonstrations of joy, passed through the 
neighbourhood. Festivities were generally prolonged to a 
late hour, the pipers never ceasing their playing. The 
company danced either outside to the music of the pipes or 
inside to that of the fiddle. The Irish bagpipe was long 
used at festivities in Erin, and at a wedding the hat was 
sent round three times, the first twice for the priest and the 
third time for the piper. The piper did not always, how- 
ever, lead to peace and goodwill at weddings, for at one time 
the ecclesiastical ordinances of Scotland interposed to pro- 
hibit the presence of above " fifteine persons on both sydes " 
at marriage feasts, among whom there were to be " no 
pypers." These ordinances were frequently made, and in 
connection with one it is on record that " still their chief 
delight at marriages was bagpipes, and home they go with 
loud bagpipes and dance upon the green." 

The bagpipe joined in the sorrow as well as the mirth of 
the people. The coronach, a wailing recitation which re- 
capitulated the good deeds of the deceased, came most im- 
mediately after death, and corresponded to the old ecclesi- 
astical dirge and the Irish " keen " of the present day. The 
laments on the pipes were performed after the coronach, and 

The Piper as a Mail of' Peace. 153 

accompanied the progress of the obsequies, a number of 
pipers attending the funeral of any eminent person. The 
coronach and the .lament existed contemporaneously for 
some time, but gradually the coronach died out. The use 
of the pipes continued for many years later, more especially 
in the Lochaber district and also in Aberdeenshire. At a 
funeral in Skye of a notable chief the procession was two 
miles in length, six men walking abreast. Seven pipers 
were in attendance, and, placed at different positions in the 
procession, played the lament all the way from the residence 
of the deceased to the cemetery, and " upwards of three 
hundred imperial gallons of whisky were provided for the 
occasion, with every other necessary refreshment." In these 
days a funeral was a funeral. 

There was a burial in Inverness in the seventeenth cen- 
tury where few besides Highlanders in their usual garb were 
present, and all the way before them a piper played, having 
his drones hung with streamers of crape. In 1737 at the 
funeral of an eminent performer in Ireland his cortege was 
preceded by "eight couple of pipers" playing a funeral 
dirge, and it is alleged that when Lord Lovat was con- 
demned for participating in the rebellion of 1745, he desired 
that his body might be carried to Scotland for burial, say- 
ing " he had once made it a part of his will that all the 
pipers between Johnnie Groat's House and Edinburgh should 
be invited to play at his funeral." Rob Roy's funeral in 
1736 was the last for many years at which a piper occupied 
an official position, although we read that in 1820 the pipes 
were played at the funeral of Sir John Murray Macgregor, 
of Lanrick, and that in Edinburgh in 1835 a Highland 
corps attended the funeral of a sergeant, the piper playing 
" Lochaber no more." In later years, however, the custom 

154 The Highland Bagpipe. 

has been revived, and the piper now frequentlj" accompanies 
military funerals or the funerals of those connected with the 
Highlands. When the then Sirdar entered Khartoum after 
the Battle of Omdurman, one of the first things he did was 
to hold a formal funeral service on the spot where General 
Gordon was murdered, the pipers playing a dirge and the 
Soudanese band playing the hero's favourite hymn, " Abide 
with me." In old times, if the poet Dunbar may be 
believed, the bagpipe was preferred to other forms of 
honouring the dead: — 

" I will na preistis for me sing, 
Na yit na bellis for me ring, 
Bot a bag pipe to play a spryng." 

In connection with funerals it only remains to be added 
that at the magnificent ceremonial in February last (1901), 
when the body of Queen Victoria was conveyed from Osborne 
to Windsor, Her Majesty's two Highland pipers had an 
honourable place in the procession. When the cortege left 
Osborne they played the dirge of the Black. Watch, and 
later on they changed into " The Flowers of the Forest," a 
tune that has been played over many a soldier's grave. It 
was appropriate that the association of the Queen with the 
4)2nd Royal Highlanders should be kept up to the last. In 
1854, when the regiment was in Chobham Camp, Her 
Majesty and the Prince Consort visited them weekly, and 
the Queen was so pleased with the Highlanders that when 
she decided to have a piper, she chose Pipe-major Ross of 
the 42nd, who remained in her service until his death about 
ten years ago. Mr. James C. Campbell, the present royal 
pipe-major, was taken from the same regiment. 

The bagpipe was also used to lighten labour. While the 

The Piper as a Man of Peace. 155 

inhabitants of Skye were engaged in making roads in 1786, 
each party of workers had a piper, and in the North of 
Scotland men engaged in work requiring strength and unity 
of purpose, such as launching a large boat, had a piper to 
help them pull or lift together. In the harvest time a piper 
was often employed to animate the reapers, keeping them 
working in time to the music, like a file of soldiers, he him- 
self following behind the slowest worker. This custom is 
alluded to in Hamilton's elegy on Habbie Simpson, the 
piper of Kilbarchan : — 

" Or wha will cause our shearers shear ? 
Wha will bend up the brags of weir 1 " 

The dance of the kirn or harvest home was always danced 
with peculiar glee by the reapers of the farm where the 
harvest was first finished. On these occasions they danced 
on an eminence in full view of as many other reapers as 
possible, to the music of the Lowland bagpipe, commencing 
the dance with loud shouts of triumph and tossing their 
hooks in the air. The dance was retained for a time by 
Highlanders visiting the South of Scotland as harvesters, 
but it has now been more than a century in disuetude. In 
a poem of great antiquity, called CocMlby's Sow, which 
describes such a dance, we are told that — 

" Davy Doyte of the dale, 
Was thair mad menstrale, 
He blew on a pype he 
Maid of a borit bourtre. " 

Also that- 

" Olarus the lang clype 
Play it on a bag pype." 

156 The Highland Bagpipe. 

In a manuscript of the seventeenth century, a song 
descriptive of shepherd life says — 

" The life of a shepherd is void of all care, 
With his bag and' his bottle he maketh good fare ; 
He hath yon green meadow to walk in at will-a, 
With a pair of fine bagpipes upon a green hill-a ; 
Tringdilla, tringdilla, tring down-adown dilla, 
With a pair of fine bagpipes upon a green hill-a." 

It may sound irreverent to connect the bagpipe with 
religious ordinances, though why one form of musical instru- 
ment should be deemed sacred and another profane is a hard 
question. To the modern Highlander a blast from the 
pipes on Sunday would be considered enough to bring a 
curse on the whole land, but our forefathers were not all so 
strict. They worked references to the pipes into the archi- 
tecture of many of their churches, particularly in England 
and on the Continent. In St. James's Church, Norwich, 
there used to be a window on which a piper was shown with 
a bagpipe with one drone; under a stall in Ripon Cathedral 
there is carved in oak a representation of two hogs dancing 
to a third playing on a bagpipe ; in Beverley Minster, a 
group of pigs is carved in wood, all dancing round a trough 
to the music of one of their number, who plays a bagpipe 
having two drones and one chanter ; among the numerous 
carvings in Westminster Abbey, there is a woodland scene 
representing a group of monkeys along with a bear, the 
latter playing the bagpipe; and in St. John's Church, Ciren- 
cester, a monkey is depicted playing on the bagpipe. Then 
at Rosslyn and in Melrose Abbey, we have the pieces of 
architecture mentioned in a previous chapter.* Perhaps the 

* See pages 37 and 45. 

The Piper as a Man of Peace. 157 

most curious of these semi-ecclesiastical carvings is a repre- 
sentation of an ass playing on a bagpipe, which is graven on 
an ancient tombstone in the Cathedral Church of Hamburg. 
The animal walks on its hind legs, holding the instrument 
between its forelegs, and carved on the stone are the 
words — 

" The vicissitudes of the world compel me, 
Poor ass, to learn the bagpipe." 

Pipers, apparently, were not rich then more than they are 

It is difficult to understand why sculptors should have con- 
nected sacred architecture with animals in the way they did. 
Artists, like poets, have a license, but this hardly accounts 
for their associating the pig, which never was venerated in 
any way, with sacred things. The carvings, however, while 
hardly respectful to the instrument, associate it, if only in 
a sarcastic way, with ecclesiastical affairs, and show that the 
foolish prejudice which considers the pipes profane did not 
always exist. It is possible that the connection between 
the pipes and churches was confined to ecclesiastical carvings, 
but as to that we cannot now speak definitely. The early 
reformers in their reforming zeal practised vandalism, and 
in rooting out the religion they wished to supersede, they 
left us but fragments of an architecture we would now have 
been glad to preserve. The references to the bagpipe in 
churches are so fragmentary it is impossible to draw any 
very reliable inference. 

The pipes have, however, been associated with religious 
services on a good many occasions. The Italian shepherds, 
when visiting Rome to celebrate the Nativity, carry their 
pipes with them, and play to images of the Virgin Mary 

158 The Highland Bagpipe. 

and the infant Messiah, which are placed at the corners of 
the streets. The pipes were used in the services of the 
CathoUc Church in Edinburgh in 1536. In 1556 there was 
a procession in Edinburgh in honour of St. Giles, the 
patron saint of the town. The procession was led by the 
Queen Regent and was attended by bagpipers. When 
James I. came to Scotland in 1617, he did not take the 
organ from Holyrood chapel, when he was clearing out 
every other symptom of idolatry, because " there is some 
aflSnity between it and the bagpipes." " I know a priest," 
says an old English writer, " who, when any of his friends 
should be marryed, would take his back-pype and so fetch 
them to church, playing sweetlye afore them, and then he 
would lay his instrument handsomely upon the aultare till 
he had marryed them, and sayd masse, which thyng being 
done, he would gentylle bring them home agayne with back- 

Then we have Dunbar, in his Testament of Mr. Andro 
Kennedy, throwing some light on the manners and customs 
of the Carrick district of Ayrshire, when he makes a brother 
churchman, with whom he held poetic jousts, desire that no 
priest may sing over his grave : — 

" Bot a bag pipe to play a spryng, 

Bt unum ail wosp ante me, 
In stayd of baneris for to bring, 

Quatuor lagenas ceruisie. 
Witliin the graif to set sic thing, 

In modum crucis juxta me, 
To fle the fendis than hardely sing, 

De terra plasmasti me. " * 

' Scottish Text Society's version. 

The Piper as a Man of Peace. 159 

So the poet knew the sound of the "bag pipe," and thought 
it an instrument fit to " fle the fendis." Here some low- 
landers would, no doubt, be willing to agree with him. 

We have at least one instance, • and that from the far 
north, of the pipes being used to call people to church. In 
that corner of Caithness in which John o' Groat's House is 
situated there lived, more than two hundred years ago, a 
parish minister named Rev. Andrew Houston, or Hogston. 
Mr. Houston somehow could not get his people to attend 
church, and at last he decided to invoke the aid of the pipes. 
Accordingly, each Sabbath morning, a short time previous 
to the hour of service, a piper began at one of the more 
outlying portions of the parish and played his way to the 
church. The plan worked well, for the people, attracted 
by the novelty, followed the music Sabbath after Sabbath, 
and thus the minister gathered together a good congrega- 
tion. This Mr. Houston was the first Protestant minister 
of the parish, and there is a tradition to the effect that not 
only did he use the pipes for the purpose mentioned, but 
that after the close of the service he allowed his congrega- 
tion to have a game at shinty before going home. . There is 
a large headstone to his memory in the kirkyard of his 
parish. It bears a Latin inscription and the date 1620. 

In our own day the most notable instance of the pipes in 
church was at the first commemoration service held in York 
Minster in memory of the Duke of Clarence and Avondale. 
The 1st Royal Scots were stationed in York at the time, 
and three pipers, under the leadership of Pipe-Major 
Matheson — a Golspie man — played selections of Highland 
music inside the Cathedral. The King's Own Scottish Bor- 
derers relieved the Royal Scots, their pipers playing " The 

160 The Highland Bagpipe. 

Flowers of the Forest." Afterwards the pipers of the 
Black Watch played. 

The late Rev. Dr. George Mackay, of the Free Church, 
Inverness, was a man of a humorous disposition, and after 
referring one Sunday in an adverse manner to a proposal 
to introduce instrumental music into the church, said that 
if they (the congregation) were obliged to fall back upon a 
" human instrument " to aid them in the service of praise, 
they would have nothing to do with the organ — it was an 
instrument of foreign manufacture — they would use the 
bagpipe. What was more appropriate than that Highland 
people should use a Highland instrument ? Some time 
later, when the question of instrumental music was being 
discussed at Inverness Free Church Presbytery, the Doctor, 
with a twinkle in his eye, turned to an elder who was a 
member of Presbytery, and who in his younger days was 
known to play the pipes occasionally, and asked him, 
" Could you let us have ' French ' on the bagpipe ? " The 
elder, however, was an austere individual, and, with an 
attempt at a smile, he replied, " Yes, and ' Balerma ' too, 
doctor ; but when I want to sing God's praises, I use my 
own pipe." 

This antipathy towards their national music, showed 
itself very frequently among the " unco guid " of the High- 
lands. Two ministers in the north of Scotland were going 
along a country road in a gig towards a town where the fol- 
lowing day was to be Communion Sunday. While on their 
way they heard the sound of pipe music in a field near a 
roadside cottage. They stopped the gig, and after listening 
intently to the notes of a pibroch, one of the good men 
jumped out, walked up to the piper, told him he was quite 
wrong with the tune, and said that if he (the piper) would 

The Piper as a Man of Peace. 161 

lend him his pipes he would show him how the pibroch 
should be played. The piper, with some astonishment, 
consented, when the minister struck up the tune, and went 
through it in such a masterly manner that the piper was 
fairly overcome with delight, and thanked his reverend 
tutor. During the time the performance was going on the 
other minister sat in the carriage, quite horrified to see and 
hear what his fellow-traveller was about. When the piper 
minister returned to proceed on the journey, the other began 
a sermon on the wickedness of his conduct. The former 
replied that on hearing the piper perform he thought it his 
duty to correct him, as otherwise the false notes would be 
running in his head during the sermon, but now that he had 
played the tune he would think no more about it, and be 
-able to preach a good sermon on the morrow. 

In this connection it is only fair to ministers to add that 
they were generally not nearly so prejudiced as their people, 
especially their elders, were. Elders nearly always pro- 
fessed more religious knowledge than ministers, and were 
•always less tolerant of what did not agree with their own 
opinions. In one Highland parish not quite a hundred 
years ago, a few people set themselves up as judges of what 
was right and wrong, and let the exercise of their powers 
become such that a young man learning to play the pipes 
laid himself open to exclusion from church privileges. 
Happily we are long past that stage now. 

There is no denying, however, that at one time the race 
"fell into disrepute. In CocTcilby's Sow, a poem already 
referred to,* the bagpipe is mentioned as appropriated to 
swine herds, and in 1641 a sarcastic writer tells us, "The 

* See page 155. 

162 The Highland Bagpipe. 

troopers rode from citie to court and from court to country 
with their trumpets before them, which made the people run 
out to see them, as fast as if it had been the bagge-pype 
playing before the Beares." 

Rather a nasty allusion that to the bagpipe and the 
bears. It reminds us of the dancing bear, or the organ and 
the monkey of our own day. Whatever the piper might 
think of himself, people seemed disposed to think the worst 
of him, and innumerable petty oifences were laid to his 
charge. In 1570 three St. Andrews pipers were admonished 
to keep the Sabbath day holy, to attend sermon, and to ab- 
stain from playing on the streets after supper or during the 
night. Playing and dancing on Sunday came so often under 
clerical censure as to show very plainly the general use of 
the instrument on the one hand, and on the other its adop- 
tion in connection with dancing, particularly in the neigh- 
bourhood of Edinburgh. 

In 1574 a great complaint was made by a burgess of 
Stirling to the Privy Council of an assault " by ane namit 
Edmond Broun, ane Highland piper," when bit to the effu- 
sion of blood " by the said pyperis dog." In 1591 and 1593 
George Bennet, piper in the Water of Leith, and James 
Brakenrig, agreed to abstain from playing on the bagpipes 
on Sunday ; in 1595 and 1596 Thomas Cairns, following the 
same vocation there, fell under displeasure for playing and 
dancing on Sunday ; and William Aiken pledged himself 
never to profane the Sabbath day again with the pipes. In 
1598 " Duncan Ure and Johnne Forbes, pyper," were sen- 
tenced to imprisonment, and to be fed on bread and water, 
on confessing that they had sat up all night " playing at the 
dys quhill iiij hours in the morning," when they quarrelled. 
In 1606 Richard Watsone, piper in the Water of Leith, was 

The Piper as a Man of Peace. 163 

threatened with censure, and in 1624 James Clark was 
" fined of xxsh. for having an pyper playing in his house in 
tyme of sermon, vpoun the Lord his Sabbath." " William 
Wallace, pyper," was sentenced by the kirk session of St. 
Cuthbert's " to stand for one day upon the pillar, and there- 
after to remove furth of the parochine, ay an quhill he be 
ane renewit man of his manneris, and to get lief of presby- 
terie to retourne, after they sie amendiraent in his lyf and 
conversatioun," and in Galloway there is still the " great 
well of Larg," of which it is said a piper stole the oiFering, 
but when he was drinking ale, which he intended to pay for 
with the stolen money, the gout seized on him, of which he 
could not be cured but at that well and after he had restored 
the money. 

At length the immoralities of the humble musicians 
became a bye-word, so much so that a slanderous biographer 
of Archbishop Sharpe thought he had blackened his char- 
acter enough when he said, " As for his father, he was a 
piper." There was nothing to be said after that. So late 
as 1860, a traveller in Caithness-shire who visited Brawl 
Castle, one of the county seats, wrote, more let us hope in 
joke than in earnest — " John Gunn, their piper, played ex- 
tremely well, but it was sometimes necessary to station him 
in a distant room, as the skirl was a little too harsh to be 
enjoyed at close quarters, particularly when John made too 
free with whisky, without which, however, it was not easy to 
get John to play at all." 

Gambling, ebriety, nocturnal revels, and gross immor- 
alities, says the author of Musical Memoirs of Scotland, 
accompanied this subordinate species of music, to the mani- 
fest annoyance of the more tranquil part of the community, 
and even then (1849) where frequent in towns, licentiousness 

164 The Highland Bagpipe. 

was seldom far removed from it. Tn 1661 the minister of a 
Scottish parish has left it on record, " he found two women 
of his congregation ' full ' on a week day, and dancing with 
pipers playing to them." Truly a severe indictment. 

From these things it is refreshing to turn to the story of 
William Mac Donald of Badenoch, who played so well, even 
when rivals had given him too much drink, that he always 
got a prize at competitions. His son was piper to the 
Prince of Wales, but owing to religious scruples he resigned 
his situation and burned his pipes. He evidently did not 
think there was anything sacred about the instrument. 

The evil that men do lives after them. So these stories 
derogatory to pipers have been preserved while many equally 
good and reflecting credit on their characters as public men 
have no doubt been buried with their bones. They always 
had a " guid conceit o' themselves," and were apt to think 
they were better than average humanity, so much so that 
" as proud as a piper" passed into a proverb. When the late 
Duke of Edinburgh required a piper he asked the advice of 
the Prince of Wales's piper as to how he should get one. 
The Prince's piper asked the Duke what kind of a piper he 
wanted, whereupon the Duke said " Oh, just a piper like 
yourself, Donald." " Oh, it's easy to get a piper," said 
Donald, " but it's no easy to get a piper like me."' Then 
there was Mac Donel, the famous Irish piper, who lived in 
great style, keeping servants and horses. One day he was 
sent for to play to a large company during dinner, and a 
table and chair were placed for him on the landing outside 
the door, a bottle of claret and a glass on the table and a 
servant waiting behind the chair. Mac Donel appeared, 
took a rapid survey of the preparations, filled his glass, 
stepped to the dining room door, looked full in the midst of 

The Piper as a Man of Peace. 165 

the gathering, said " Mr. Grant your health, and company," 
drank off the dram, threw half-a-crown on the table with 
the remark to the servant, " There, my lad, is two shillings 
for my bottle of wine and a sixpence for yourself," then ran 
out, mounted his horse and galloped off, followed by his 
groom. An almost similar story is told of Ian Doll, the 
Gairloch piper, but in his case the language used was hardly 
so choice. It was of the kind which is best represented 
thus * * * * 

Not only were the old masters proud, they were also 
jealous. When the colleges for training pipers were in Skye, 
the Mac Crimmons had some private " tips " on pipe music 
which they did not give away to their pupils. A girl 
friend, however, learned how some of the secret notes were 
produced, and in private she taught her sweetheart. When 
her nearest relatives learned what she had done, they in- 
stantly cut off her fingers that she might show no more how 
they practised their tunes. Ross, a grand old Breadalbane 
piper, in a mad fit of jealousy, thrust the right hand of his 
boy brother into the fire, and held it there till it became a 
charred lump, to prevent the boy becoming a better piper 
than himself, which seemed likely. Neil Munro's story of 
Red Hand is but a variation of the same theme. Giorsal, 
jealous of her stepson Tearlach's piping being better than 
that of her husband, cuts off Tearlach's hand while he sleeps. 
It is beautifully told, but that is the whole story. 

And they have always been a happy lot who could enjoy 
themselves to the utmost with pipe and music and song and 
dance, and also perhaps with some of the national beverage 
of Scotland, which is still rather unfairly coupled with the 
tartan and the pipes. When the Princess of Thule came 
back to the Lewis, John the Piper was told — " Put down 

166 The Highland Bagpipe, 

your pipes, and tek off your bonnet, and we will have a good 
dram together this night ! And it is Sheila herself will 
pour out the whisky for you, John, and she is a good High- 
land girl, and she knows the piper was nefFer born that 
could be hurt by whisky. And the whisky was never made 
that could hurt a piper.'" This, too, passed into a proverb 
— " As fou as a piper " — but however true it may have been 
in one generation it has nowadays no more than a figura- 
tive meaning. Pipers now are as much in the public eye 
as ever they were, but they are matter-of-fact people, who 
have their livings to make and their characters to uphold. 
They are therefore neither over proud, over jealous, nor over 
jolly. They have fitted themselves into nineteenth century 
circumstances, and do not care how much the public eye is 
upon them. 

The piper as a man of peace has been and still is closely 
concerned with every side of the social life of the Highland 
people, but his name is not writ nearly so large on history's 
page as is that of the piper as a man of war. In Whistle- 
binkie we have verses by Alex. A. Ritchie, which illustrate 
the attachment of the Irish piper to his pipes, and which, 
for lack of a better opening, may be inserted here. They 
are too good to leave out altogether : — 

" Ould Murphy the Piper lay on his deathbed, 
To his only son Tim, the last words he said, 
' My eyes they grow dim, and my bosom grows could. 
But ye'U get all I have, Tim, when I slip my hould, 
Ye'U get all I have, boy, when I slip my hould. 

" ' There's three cows and three pigs, and three acres of land, 
And this house shall be yours, Tim, as long as 'twill stand ; 
All my fortune is threescore bright guineas of gould, 
An ye'U get all I have, Tim, when I slip my hould, 
Ye'll get all I have, Tim, when I slip my hould. 

The Piper as a Man of Peace. 167 

' Go fetch me my pipes, Tim, till I play my last tuue, 
For death is coming, he'll be here very soon ; 
Those pipes I have played on, ne'er let them be sould, 
If you sell all I have, Tim, when I slip my hould. 
If you sell all I have, Tim, when I slip my hould.' 

' Then ould Murphy the Piper, wid the last breath he drew. 
He played on his pipes like an Irishman true, 
He played up the anthem of Green Erin so bould — 
Then calmly he lay down and so slipt his hould ! 
Then gently he lay down and slipt his last hould." 

168 The Highland Bagpipe. 


The Bdegh Pipers op Scotland. 

" The piper cam to our toun, 
To our toun, to our toun ; 
The piper cam to our toun, 

And he play'd bonnilie ; 
He play'd a spring the laird to please, 
A spring brent new frae yont the seas, 
And then he ga'e his bags a squeeze, 

And play'd anither key. 
And wasna he a roguey, a roguey, a roguey ; 
And wasna he a roguey, the piper o' Dundee." 

— Old Scots Song. 

Royal pipers — In France — At the English court— The Edinburgh 
Piper — Dumbarton — Biggar — Wigtown — Glenluce — Dumfries 
— Linlithgow — Aberdeen — Perth — Keith — Dalkeith — Dundee 
— Peebles — A weird story — Falkirk — " Gallowshiels " pipers' 
combat — The Hasties of Jedburgh — Habbie Simson of Kil- 
barchan — Bridgeton — Neil Blane of Lanark — The Piper of 

"Vl LTHOUGH as a clan musician the piper was to a 
A^ large extent a public character, he was quite as 
public in one or two other capacities. There were 
semi-royal pipers, and there were burgh pipers. We have 
not much record of the former, that is, until our own day, 
when the piper is one of the principal personages in the 

170 The Highland Bagpipe. 

Royal retinue — but we have plenty of the latter. In 1505, 
we read, " pipers on drones " shared of the royal bounty of 
James IV. ; and we have various references to pipers in 
connection with Court ceremonials. In France the piper 
was an appendage of the royal household in the seventeenth 
century, and in Ben Jonson's Irish Masque, performed at 
the Court of England in 1613, six men and six boys danced 
to the bagpipe. But there is nothing to show that the 
piper in olden days formed part of the regular following of 
Scottish sovereigns. Pipers were kept by English noble- 
men, but their instrument was not the Highland. It was 
as burgh pipers that they were best known in a public 
capacity, in the Lowlands of Scotland at any rate. Each 
burgh had one or two, and the office, like that of clan piper, 
was in many cases hereditary. The pipers were supported 
out of the public funds along with other minstrels. Here 
is Rev. James MacKenzie's description of the relation of 
the piper to a burgh, given in his History of Scotland: — 

" The folk of the old town are fond of music. We have minstrels 
who hold a life appointment in the service of the burgh ; their in- 
struments are bagpipes, to be sure. Evening and morning and at 
other times needful the pipers march through the town to refresh 
the lieges with 'Broken Bones at Luncarty,' 'Port Lennox,' 
' Jockie and Sandy,' 'St. Johnstone's Hunt's up,' and the like in- 
spiriting strains. The law of the burgh requires that the pipers 
' sail have their daily wages and meat of the neighbours of this guid 
toon circulary, conform to the auld loveable use.' Some of the 
burghers are so lamentably void of taste that they count the music 
dear and grudge the piper his 'reasonable diet circularly.' Some 
even refuse to entertain the piper when it comes to their turn, and 
get fined for their pains." 

In 1487 Edinburgh had three public pipers, and the Town 
Council then ordained that they should get their food day 

The Burgh Pipers of Scotland. l7l 

about from persons of substance, or that such persons should 
pay them money equivalent to threepence per piper. In 
1660, after the magistrates had permitted "John John- 
stone, piper, to accompany the town's drummer throw the 
town morning and evening," they gave him a salary and 
perquisites, but next year, rather capriciously, when he 
applied for a free house during his term of office, they 
resolved that he was not required, and dispensed with his 
services. About 1505 we have records of public pipers in 
Dumbarton, Biggar, Wigton, Glenluce, Dumfries, and else- 
where, and in 1707 we read the piper of Linlithgow was 
convicted of immorality and excommunicated. 

Aberdeen had its piper, and in 1630 the magistrates pro- 
hibited him playing in the streets. The language of their 
prohibition was anything but complimentary. Thus : — 
" The Magistrates discharge the common piper of all going 
through the toun at nycht, or in the morning, in tyme 
coming, with his pype-^— it being an incivill forme to be usit 
within sic a famous burghe, and being often found- fault 
with, als Weill be sundrie nichtbouris of the toune as by 

The Aberdonians were canny people then as now, but it 
is wonderful how their spelling degenerated in the course of 
one sentence. 

Perth had a piper as late as 1831. The piper of the 
Fair City was in the habit of playing through the streets at 
five o'clock in the morning and at seven at night. The 
death of the then town piper about the beginning of the 
century was much regretted, " the music having an effect in 
the morning inexpressibly soothing and delightful." The 
custom of early and late piping was also retained for a long 
time in Keith. 

172 The Highland Bagpipe. 

Old Geordie Syme, the town piper of Dalkeith, was a 
famous piper in his day. The exact period when he 
flourished cannot now be ascertained, and little is known of 
him, even in tradition. The piper of Dalkeith was a retainer 
of the house of Buecleuch, and there was a small salary 
attached to the office, for which in Geordie's time he had to 
attend the family on all particular occasions and make the 
round of the town twice daily — at five a.m. and eight p.m. 
Besides his salary, he had a suit of clothes allowed him re- 
gularly. This consisted of a long yellow coat lined with red, 
red plush breeches, white stockings, and buckles in his shoes. 
Geordie was much taken notice of by the gentry of his time. 
It is not known when he died. His successor in office was 
Jamie Reid, who lived long to enjoy the emoluments of the 
position and about whom there are some interesting local 
traditions. Jamie was succeeded by Robert Lorimer, and 
at his death his son was installed in his office, which he held 
as late as 1837, probably much later. The practice of play- 
ing through the town was discontinued about 1821, the 
custom being considered by the inhabitants a useless relic of 
bygone days. A long sarcastic poem, printed and circulated 
about that time, is believed to have helped greatly to finally 
abolish the practice. 

Dundee got a burgh piper after the Reformation, and his 
mission was to call the people to their work in the mornings. 
" Dressed in the town's livery and colours, he played through 
the burgh every day in the morning at four hours and every 
nicht at aucht hours, a service for which every householder 
was bound to pay him twelve pennies yearly." 

Pipers were, and perhaps are, a dignified race, but few of 
them were so boastful as the piper of Peebles, who, tradition 
says, tried to blow his pipes from Peebles to Lauder, a dis- 

The Burgh Pipers of Scotland. 173 

tance of eighteen miles, in a certain number of blasts. He 
failed in the attempt, but succeeded in blowing himself out 
of breath. The spot where he fell down dead is on the 
boundary of the parish of Heriot, in Midlothian, and is 
still called " The Piper's Grave." This cannot, however, 
have been the Peebles piper who was written of in 1793 by 
William Anderson of Kirriemuir in a long poem which 
appeared in Provincial Poets. After describing in the 
quaint way of eighteenth century writers, the country life of 
these days, 

" Fan wives wi' rocks an' spindles span, 
An' brawest lasses us'd nae lawn — 
Fan stiffen wasna sought, nor blue 
To mutches — fan the sarks were few, 
Some had but ane, some had twa, 
An' money mae had nane ava, 
Fan lasses wi' their rocks set out 
To ane anither night about," 

the author proceeds to tell how a laird near Kinghorn got 
over head and ears in debt, and was at his wit's end to find 
a way out of his troubles. At last one evening, as he was 
wandering alone in the fields, very much dejected, he was 
accosted by a fine-looking sbranger on a black horse, who 
sympathised with him in his difficulties, and, seeming to 
know what they were without being told, offered him 
d^lOjOOO on his simple note of hand. 

" Ye's get it on your single bond. 
As I frae Scotland maun abscond 
To France, or in a woody swing 
For lies a neighbour tald the King — 
An' said I meant to tak' his life, 
To let a gallant get his wife," 

174 The Highland Bagpipe. 

The laird, with little hesitation, accepted the offer, and, 
according to appointment, the stranger called with the 
money " on the chap o' twal " the following night — 

" As muckle goud, and rather mair. 
Than wad out-weigh twal pecks o' bear." 

He had not time to wait till it was counted, but, assuring 
the laird that it was all right, he presented the bond for 
signature. This, however, read that after fifteen years the 
laird should be the stranger's servant. But the laird 
wouldn't have this : — 

" As upright folk abhor mischief — 
As honest men despise a thief — 
As dogs detest a grunting sow, 
So laigh the laird disdained to bow ! " 

And, bursting out with : — 

" Hence, Satan ! to your black abode, 
In name of my Almighty God ! " 

he sent the " stranger " right out somewhere through the 
roof, leaving the money on the table. The supernatural 
powers of Scottish mythology never could stand the name 
of the Deity. 

But the laird had not heard the last of his great enemy. 
He prospered and grew richer and richer until, sixteen years 
after, when, at a feast, he was called out to speak with a 
visitor on horseback. A minute after there was a loud re- 
port, the " stranger " lay dead on the ground, and at the 
laird's feet lay a pistol. The laird was lodged in Edinburgh 
prison on a charge of murder, but on the doctors examining 
the body it was found to have been dead ten days before 
"it" visited the laird, and that there was no mark where a, 

The Burgh Pipers of Scotland. 175 

bullet could have entered. This created a great uproar, 
and the mystery seemed incapable of explanation, until at 
last some Peebles folk came to the capital, and swore that 
the body was that of their piper : — 

" I saw him yerdifc, I can swear — 
Frae his lang hame how came he there ? " 

It was the Peebles piper, better dressed than ever he had 
been in life, and he had died in his bed at home. They 
even identified his " sark " and the pistol. The laird was 
liberated, but he in his heart knew quite well the real ex- 
planation of the mystery : — 

" The laird saw syne it had been Nick 
Contriv'd an' carried on the trick. 
He pu'd the piper frae the moold 
That was in Peebles on him shool'd ; 
An' brought him to the braithel, where 
He left him dead wi' sic a rair, 
That folk wad sworn they saw him shot 
That very instant on the spot. 
Auld Horny thought to gar him liowd 
Upo' the gallows, for the gowd 
He gat lang syne, an' wadna set 
His signature to show the debt. 
But in his drift the Devil fail'd — 
The second time the laird prevail'd — 
Liv'd lang at hame, in wealth an' ease, 
An' dy'd at last of nae disease, 
But mere auld age — Renown'd his race 
Unto this day possess his place." 

Why the poet should make the Evil One bring the body 
of a piper from Peebles to Kinghorn to serve his evil ends is 
a bit strange; and also how the Devil had but the two 

176 The Highland Bagpipe. 

plans for encompassing the ruin of the laird. However, the 
poet's license, especially when coupled with the supernatural, 
no doubt accounts for a great deal. 

Peebles seems to have had more than its share of pipers. 
James Ritchie, who flourished at the beginning of the 
eighteenth century, as piper to the Corporation of the town, 
was told one day by his wife that the flood in the Tweed 
had carried away their family cow, the fruit of years of 
piping. " Weel, weel," said the piper, with manly calm, 
" deil ma care after a\ It cam' wi' the win', let it gang wi' 
the water." Which is all the record we have of James. 

Pipers were, perhaps still are, a philosophic race, and 
their music was always their first thought. The town piper 
of Falkirk was sentenced to death for horse-stealing, and on 
the night before his execution he obtained, as a special in- 
dulgence, the company of some of his brother pipers. As 
the liquor was abundant and their instruments in tune, the 
fun and music grew fast and furious. The execution was to 
be at eight o'clock, and the poor piper was recalled to a 
sense of his situation by the morning light dawning on his 
window. Suddenly silencing his pipes, he exclaimed, " Oh, 
but this wearifu' hanging rings in my lug like a new tune," 
and went out to his fate. 

The piper of " Gallowshiels " is known to posterity 
principally by a poem entitled The Maid of Gallowshiels, 
in which the piper of the town is celebrated. The author 
was Hamilton of Bangour, and the poem tells of a contest 
between the piper and the fiddler for the love of the Maid 
of Gallowshiels. In the first book the fiddler challenges the 
piper to a trial of musical skill, and proposes that the maid 
herself shall be the umpire : — 

The Burgh Pipers of Scotland. 177 

" ' Sole in her breast the fav'rite youth shall reign 
Whose hand shall wake the sweetest warbled strain, 
And if to mc the ill-fated piper yield, 
As sure I trust this well-contested field, 
High in the sacred dome his pipes I'll raise, 
The trophy of my fame in after days ; 
That all may know as they the pipes survey 
The fiddler's deed and this the signal day. 
But if the Fates, his wishes to fulfil. 
Shall give the triumph to his happier skill, 
My fiddle his, to him be praises paid, 
And join with those the long-contested maid.' 
All Gallowshiels the daring challenge heard, 
Full blank they stood, and for their piper fear'd ; 
Fearless alone, he rose in open view. 
And in the midst his sounding bagpipe threw." 

Then the poem tells the history of the competitions, the 
piper deducing his origin from Colin of Gallowshiels, who 
bore the identical bagpipe at the battle of Harlaw with 
which he himself was resolved to maintain the glory of 
the piper race. The second book commences with the 
following exquisite description of the instrument : — 

" Now in his artful hand the bagpipe held, 
Elate the piper wide surveys the field ; 
O'er all he throws his quick, discerning eyes. 
And views their hopes and fears alternate rise. 
Old Glenderule, in Gallowshiels long fam'd 
For works of skill, the perfect wonder fram'd ; 
His shining steel first lop'd with dex'trous toil, 
From a tall spreading elm, the branchy spoil. 
The clouded wood he next divides in twain, 
And smooths them equal to an oval plane. 
Six leather folds in still connected rows. 
To either plank conformed, the sides compose ; 
The wimble perforates the base with care. 

178 The Highland Bagpipe. 

A destined passage op'ning to the air ; 
But once inclos'd within the narrow space, 
The opposing valve forbids the backward race. 
Fast to the swelling bag, two reeds combin'd 
Receive the blasts of the melodious wind. 
Round from the turning loom, with skill divine, 
Embossed, the joints in silver circles shine ; 
In secret prison pent, the accents lie 
Until his arm the lab'ring artist ply ; 
• Then, duteous, they forsake their dark abode. 
Fellows no more, and wing a separate road. 
These upwards thro' the narrow channel glide, 
In ways unseen, a solemn murmuring tide ; 
Those through the narrow path their journey bend 
Of sweeter sort, and to the earth descend. 
O'er the small pipe, at equal distance, lie 
Eight shining holes, o'er which his fingers fly. 
From side to side the aerial spirit bounds ; 
The flying fingers form the passing sounds. 
That, issuing gently through the polished door. 
Mix with the common air and charm no more. " 

The piper confounded his opponent with the dexterity of 
his performance, and the fiddler gave up the contest. The 
maid, however, with the proverbial fickleness of womankind, 
gave the preference to the loser, and went away with him, 
leaving the piper lamenting his misfortunes. 

Sir Walter Scott took a considerable interest in the Border 
pipers, and in his introduction to Border Minstrelsy says: — 

" It is certain that till a very late date, the pipers, of whom there 
was one attached to each Border town of note, and whose ofiSoe was 
often hereditary, were the great depository of oral, and particularly 
poetical tradition. About springtime, and after harvest it was the 
custom of these musicians to make a progress through a particular 
district of the country. The music and tale repaid their lodging and 
they were usually gratified with a donation of seed corn. This order 

The Burgh Pipers of Scotland. 179 

of minstrels is alluded to in the comic song of ' Maggie Lauder,' who 
thus addresses a piper — 

' Live ye upo' the Border ? ' 

By means of these men, much traditional poetry was preserved which 
must otherwise have perished." 

In another place he says : — 

"These town pipers, an institution of great antiquity upon the 
Borders, were certainly the last remains of the minstrel race. Robin 
Hastie, town piper of Jedburgh, perhaps the last of the order, died 
nine or ten years ago [this was written about 1802] ; his family was 
supposed to have held the office for about three centuries. Old age 
had rendered Robin a wretched performer, but he knew several old 
songs and tunes which have probably died with hira. The town 
pipers received a livery and salary from the community to which 
they belonged, and in some burghs they had a small allotment of 
land called ' the Piper's Oroft.'" 

One of the statutes passed by the Town Council of Jed- 
burgh was to the following effect : — 

" The swasher (town drummer) and piper to go duly round at four 
in the morning and eight at night under the penalty of forfeiting 
their wages, and eight days' imprisonment." 

That the drummer and piper attended to their duties is 
shown by an extract from The Autobiogra/pky of a Scottish 
Borderer. The writer of the extract was a Jedburgh lady, 
who died in 1846, and very probably either saw or heard of 
a procession such as she describes : — 

" The bells rung a merry peal and parties paraded the streets, pre- 
ceded by the town piper, with favours in their hats.'' 

180 The Highland Bagpipe. 

And, continuing, in a bit of glowing dialogue : — 

" ' Walk in, gentlemen, and partake of the cup of joy in my puir 
d walling, 'quoth Kitty Rutherford as they came down the Burn Wynd, 
' the bairns that are unborn will rise up and call ye blessed for this 
day's wark. Cum in, Watty Boyd, cum in, Rob Haatie, to the 
kitchen,' " etc. 

Watty Boyd and Rob Hastie were respectively town 
drummer and town piper of Jedburgh. 

The " Piper's House " in Jedburgh was No. 1 Duck Row, 
at the foot of the Canongate, and the fact that it was 
always known by this name goes to show that it was the 
house in which the town pipers resided. The Robin Hastie 
referred to by Sir Walter Scott is supposed to have occupied, 
the house, which was altered in 1896 in order to meet 
modern requirements. 

The instrument with which, according to tradition, one 
of the Jedburgh pipers, John Hastie by name, played at 
Flodden, existed till very lately, perhaps still exists, in the 
keeping of some antiquarian. That burgh pipers were, on 
the Borders, where they rivalled in fame those of the High- 
lands, greatly respected, is shown by the Elegy on John 
Hasty, an excellent dirge which elucidates much of the 
manners of the Border pipers. The name of the author is 
unknown, but as the piece was out of print before 1730, the 
piper must have been dead before that time : — 

" O death ! thou wreck of young and auld, 
How slie, and O how dreadfu' bald ! 
Thou came unlooked for, nor anes tald 

What was the crime ; 
But Hastie at the mouth turned cald 
Just at his prime. 

The Burgh Pipers of Scotland. 181 

' We mourn the loss o' mensefu' John, 
Yet greet in vain since he is gone ; 
A blyther lad ne'er buir a drone, 

Nor touched a lill ; 
Nor pipe inspir'd wi' sweeter tone, 

Or better skill. 

" Not Orpheus auld, with lyric sound, 
Wha in a ring gard stanes dance round, 
Was ever half so much renown'd 

For jig and solo — 
Now he lies dum aneath the ground 

An' we maun follow. 

" At brydels, whan his face we saw, 
Lads, lasses, bridegroom, bride and a' 
Smiling, cry'd, Johnie come awa', 

A welcome guest ; 
The enchanting chanter out he'd draw — 
His pleas'd us beat. 

" The spring that ilk ane lik'd he kend ; 
Auld wives at sixty years wad stend ; 
New pith his pipes their limbs did lend. 

Bewitching reed ! 
'Las that his winsome sell sou'd bend 
Sae soon his head. 

" When bagpipes newfangled lugs had tir'd, 
They'd sneer ; then he, like ane inspir'd, 
We's fiddle their faggin' spirits fir'd, 

Or e'er they wist ; 
Gi' every taste what they desir'd. 

He never mist. 

182 The Highland Bagpipe. 

" Then with new keenness wad they caper, 
He sliely smudg'd to see them vaper ; 
And, if some glakit girl shon'd snapper. 

He'd gi' a wink, 
Fie lads, quoth he, had aft", ne'er stap her. 

She wants a drink. 

" If a young swankie, wi' his joe, 
In some dark nook play'd bogle-bo, 
John shook his head, and said, why no ; 

Can flesh and blood 
Stand pipe and dance and never show 

Their metal good. 

" Not country squire, nor lord, nor laird. 
But for John Hasty had regard ; 
With minstrels mean he ne'er wad herd ; 

Nor fash his head ; 
Now he's received his last reward — 

Poor man he's dead. 

" He hated a' your sneaking gates. 
To play for bear, for pease, or ates ; 
His saul aspir'd to higher fates, 

O mensefu' John ! 
Our tears come rapping down in spates. 

Since thou art gone. 

" Whan other pipers steal'd away. 
He gently down his join wad lay : 
Nor hardly wad tak' hire for play. 

Sic was his menae ! 
We rair aloud the ruefu' day 

That took him hence. 

The Burgh Pipers oj Scotland. 183 

" John, whan he play'd ne'er threw his face, 
Like a' the girning piper race ; 
But set it aff wi' sic a grace, 

That pleas'd us a' ; 
Now dull and drierie is our case 

Since John's awa'. 

Ilk tune, mair serious or mair gay. 

To humour he had sic a way ; 

He'd look precise, and smile and play. 

As suited best ; 
But Death has laid him in the clay — 

Well may he rest. 

■ A fiddle spring he'd let us hear, 
I think they ca'd it " Nidge-nod-near," 
He'd gi' a punk, and look sae queer, 

Without a joke, 
You'd swore he spoke words plain and clear, 

At ilka stroke. 

" It did ane good to hear his tale. 
O'er a punch bowl, or pint o' ale ; 
Nae company e'er green'd to skaill. 

If John was by ; 
Alas ! that sic a man was frail, 

And born to die. 

" But we his mem'ry dear shall mind, 
While billows rair, or blaws the wind ; 
To tak' him hence Death was no kind — 

O dismal feed ! 
We'll never sic anither find, 

Since Johnie's dead. 

184 The Highland Bagpipe. 

" Minstrels of merit, ilk ana come, 
Sough mournfu' notes o'er Johnie's tomb ; 
Through fields of air applaud him home — 

I hope he's weel ; 
His worth, nae doubt, has sav'dJiim from 

The muckle de'il. 

" Here lies dear John, whase pipe and drone. 
And fiddle aft has made us glad ; 
Whase cheerfu' face our feasts did grace — 
A sweet and merry lad." 

The Border pipers were supposed by their countrymen to 
excel in musical skill and graceful execution those of the 
Highlands, and they commanded a higher degree of respect 
than wandering musicians. They traversed the country at 
particular seasons, chiefly in spring, for the purpose of col- 
lecting seed corn — John Hastie apparently was too dignified 
for this, as witness the reference to playing " for bear, for 
pease, or ates " — and they were the last remains of the min- 
strelsy of the Borders. "Like a' the girning piper race " 
shows that the pipe then commonly used in Jedburgh was 
the Lowland, as that inflated with the mouth prevented 
" girning." Either John played the latter, or he had such 
command of his features that he did not allow his music to 
deprive him of his pleasant looks. 

The village of Kilbarchan, too, had its piper. He 
was a notable person in his day, and also proved himself 
worthy of the attention of the poet. It was the habit in 
Kilbarchan for the piper to play a march called "The 
Maiden Trace " before a bride as previous to her marriage 
she walked with her maidens three bimes round the church. 

The Burgh Pipers of Scotland. 185 

" Trixie," in the following epitaph, which was first printed 
in 1706, refers to a then popular song : — 

" The Epitaph of Habbie Simson 

Who on his drone bore bony flags 
He made his cheeks as red as Crimson 
And babbed when, he blew the Bags. 

" Kilbarohan now may say, alas ! 
For she hath lost her Game and Grace 
Both Trixie and the Maiden Trace 

But what remead ? 
For no man can supply his place 

Hab Simson's dead. 

" Now who shall play, the day it daws ? 
Or hunt up, when the Cook he craws 1 
Or who can for the Kirk — town — cause, 

Stand us in stead 1 
On Bagpipes (now) no Body blaws 
Fen Habbie's dead. 

" Or wha will cause our Shearers shear ? 
Wha will bend up the Brags of Weir 
Bring in the Bells or good play meir 

In time of need ? 
Hab Simson could, what needs you speer 1 

But (now) he's dead. 

" So kindly to his Neighbours neast, 
At Beltan and Saint Barchan's feast 
He blew and then held up his Breast 

As he were weid 
But now we need not him arrest 

For Habbie's dead. 

186 The Highland Bagpipe. 

" At Fairs he play'd before the Spear-men 
All gaily graithed in their Gear Men, 
Steell Bonnets, Jacks, and Swords so clear then 

Like any Bead, 
Now wha shall play before such Weir-men 

Fen Habbie's dead 1 

' At Clarkplays when he wont to come ; 
His Pipe played trimly to the Drum 
Like Bikes of Bees he gart it Bum 

And tun'd his Reed. 
Now all our Pipers may sing dumb 

Fen Habbie's dead. 

' And at Horse Races many a day, 
Before the Black, the Brown, the Gray 
He gart his Pipe when he did play, 

Baith Skirl and Skreed, 
Now all such Pastimes quite away. 

Fen Habbie's dead. 

" He counted was a weil'd Wight-man 
And fiercely at Foot-ball he ran ; 
At every Game the Gree he wan 

For Pith and Speed 
The like of Habbie was na than, 

But now he's dead. 

" And than besides his valiant Acts 
At Bridals he wan many Placks, 
He bobbed ay behind Fo'ks backs, 

And shook his Head ; 
Now we want many merry Cracks, 

Fen Habbie's dead. 

The Burgh Pipers qf Scotland. 187" 

' He was Conveyer of the Bride 
With Kittook hinging at his side ; 
About the Kirk he thought a Pride 

The Ring to lead. 
But now we may gae but a Guide, 

Fen Habbie's dead. 

" So well's he keeped his decorum 
And all the Stots of Whip-meg-morum, 
He slew a Man, and wae's me for him, 

And bure the Fead ! 
But yet the Man wan hame before him, 

And was not dead ! 

" Ay whan he play'd, the Lasses Leugh, 
To see him Teethless Auld and teugh 
He wan his Pipes beside Boroheugh 

Withoutten dread ; 
Which after wan hiin Gear enough. 

But now he's dead. 

" Ay whan he play'd the Gaitlings gedder'd. 
And whan he spake the Carl bledder'd ; 
On Sabbath days his Cap was fedder'd, 

A seemly Weid. 
In the Kirk-yeard his Mare stood tedder'd 

Where he lies dead. 

" Alas ! for him my Heart is sair, 
For of his Springs I gat a skair. 
At every Play, Race, Feast, and Fair 

But Guile or Greed 
We need not look for Pyping mair. 

Fen Habbie's dead. 

188 The Highland Bagpvpe. 

Besides those mentioned, there were other notable per- 
formers, who might, by a slight stretch of language, be 
called burgh pipers. There was for instance the Piper of 
Bridgeton, William Gunn, who published a book of pipe 
music. He died in 1876 at the age of seventy-eight years. 
He was well known in the east-end of Glasgow, and was 
engaged by the inhabitants of Bridgeton to play through 
their streets in the early morning, and thus usher in the 
new day. This was, of course, before Bridgeton was 
absorbed by the big city, and when it had some social exis- 
tence of its own. Gunn was piper to the Glasgow Gaelic 
Club for a time, and kept a school for pipers. The register 
of this school, which was kept with great care, would be an 
interesting document if it could be got, for among his 
pupils were many who became well-known pipers. Then 
there was also Neil Blane, the worthy town piper of Lanark, 
so well described by Scott in Old Mortality. Neil, when 
introduced to the reader, is " mounted on his white 
Galloway, armed with his dirk and broadsword, and bearing 
a chanter, streaming with as many ribbons as • would deck 
out six country belles for a fair or preaching." He could 
not very well have ribbons streaming from his " chanter," 
but let that pass. It is one of these liberties that Scott 
sometimes takes in matters of detail. Neil was town-piper 

of (why is the town not named directly ?), and had all 

the emoluments of his office — the Piper's Croft, a field of an 
acre in extent, five merks and a new livery coat of the 
town's colours yearly, some hopes of a dollar upon the day 
of the election of magistrates, and the privilege of paying 
at all the respectable houses in the neighbourhood a visit at 
spring-time to rejoice their hearts with his music, and to 
beg from each a modicum of seed corn. Besides, he kept 

The Burgh Pipers of Scotland. 189 

the principal change-house in the burgh, was a good- 
humoured, shrewd, selfish sort of fellow, indifferent alike to 
the disputes about Church and State, and anxious only to 
secure the goodwill of customers. His advice to " Jenny " 
as to how the change-house should be conducted makes 
amusing reading, and illustrates the character very forcibly. 

Neil, however, must have been a creature of the novelist's 
imagination, for there is no trace of him in the burgh 
records or in local traditions. 

" The Piper of Northumberland " was hardly a Scots- 
man, but he was so closely associated with the Borderland 
that a reference to his exploits may not be out of place. 
His name was James Allan, and there is an old booklet 
which tells at considerable length of " his parentage, educa- 
tion, extraordinary adventures, and exploits, his numerous 
enlistings, and wonderful escapes : with a brief narrative of 
his last confinement and death in Durham Jail, which 
happened in 1810." Jemmy Allan, " bhe celebrated North- 
umberland Piper," was a true-born gipsy, born of gipsy 
parents in the west of Northumberland in 1734. His father 
was a piper, and he also developed an inclination for the 
pipes. Besides, he was a first-class athlete, as hardy as the 
ordinary gipsy, handsome, daring, cunning, resourceful, un- 
truthful, dishonest, and everything that could be called 
derogatory to the moral character of a man. He attained 
to great fame as a piper, being installed among the privi- 
leged class of minstrels, and allowed to join the "Faa" 
gang, over which " Will Faa " held sovereignty for many 
years. At length his fame reached the Duchess of North- 
umberland, into whose good graces, by a rather mean sub- 
terfuge, Jemmy ingratiated himself, and afterwards ranked 
as one of her musicians. But his habits of dissipation were 

190 The Highland Bagpipe. 

too much for polite society, and he was dismissed. During 
his after wanderings he married several times, had " amours " 
many, enlisted and deserted immediately afterwards times 
without number, always taking care to secure the bounty 
money, swindled at cards and billiards wherever he 
went, charmed village society with his music until the people 
were off their guard, and finished up by cheating one and 
all, " borrowed " horses for getting across the country con- 
veniently, had as many marvellous escapes as could be 
crammed into the lifetime of one man, tried most of the 
English towns, and made them too hot to live in, took a 
turn of the Scottish Border towns, with the same result, and 
finally got imprisoned for life for horse-stealing. He died 
in the House of Correction in Durham in 1810, just before 
the arrival of a pardon, which had been obtained by the 
exercise of some strong influence. The following verses, 
which, somehow, have the ring of Habhie SimsorCs Epitaph, 
conclude the book : — 

' All ye whom Music's charms inspire 
Who skilful minstrels do admire, 
All ye whom bagpipe lilts can fire 

'Tween Wear and Tweed, 
Come, strike with me, the mournful lyre, 

For ALLAN'S dead. 

" No more where Coquet's stream doth glide 
Shall we view JEMMY in his pride, 
With bagpipe buckled to his side, 

And nymphs and swains 
In groups collect, at even-tide, 

To hear his strains. 

The Burgh Pipers of Scotland. 191 

" When elbow moved, and bellows blew, 
On green or floor the dancers flew. 
In many turns ran through and through 

With cap'ring canter, 
And aye their nimble feet beat true 

To his sweet chanter." 

Among Border pipers, it may be added, the perfection of 
the art was supposed to consist of being able to sing, dance, 
and play — the Lowland pipe, of course — at the same time, 
and when the race became extinct there was lost with them 
many ancient melodies. 

Of the burgh pipers of Scotland there is not one left. 
The nearest approach to a burgh piper is perhaps the 
town's officer of Leith, who on the occasion of the opening 
of a new bandstand in 1899 was presented with a set of 

192 The Highland Bagpipe. 


From the Seat of the Scornee. 

" Then bagpipes of the loudest drones, 
With snuifling broken- winded tones, 
Whose blasts of air, in pocket shut 
Sound filthier than from the gut. 
And make a viler noise than swine, 
In windy weather when they whine." 

— Hudibras. 

Poking fun at the pipes — English caricature — Mixed metaphor— 
Ohurchism and pipes — Fifteenth century satire — A biographical 
sneer — Thackeray — Bitter English writers — Testimony of a Jew 
— Home sarcasm — The bards — Joanna Baillie — A Frenchman's 
opinion — William Black — Ignorance breaking its shina — Im- 
ported sportsmen — The duty of Highlanders. 

THERE is a curious tendency, except in truly Highland 
circles, to poke fun at the pipes. This tendency is 
very noticeable in the domain of English comic 
journalism, the more or less comic papers hailing from the 
metropolis finding in Scottish people and Scottish customs 
an inexhaustible field of humour. They never tire of joking 
about the strictness of our religious beliefs, our supposed 
slowness at perceiving a joke, our relations with visitors from 
the south, our alleged parsimony, our national dress, and our 
national music ; and they never fail to depict us as on every 
occasion wearing the kilt, carrying the pipes, and hiding 

From the Seat of the Scorner. 193 

away a bottle of whisky. Sydney Smith once declared that 
one might as well try to get music out of an iron foundry as 
out of the pipes, and Leigh Hunt's idea of martyrdom was 
to be tied to a post within a hundred yards of a stout-lunged 
piper. Some cynics have said that the walls of Jericho fell 
at the blast of the bagpipe, and it 
has even been contended that the 
important part played by the in- 
strument in many glorious victories 
achieved by our armies was simply 
due to the fact that the enemy had 
only two courses open — either to flee 
or to remain and lose all desire for 
existence. However, as all these 
things amuse our southern neigh- 
THE SPIRIT OF THE bours and do not iniure us, we do 

PIPES"* . ■' ' 

not complain. 
Our national music has always lent itself to the caricature 
of the alleged humourist south of the Border. Thus a writer 
of perhaps two centuries ago : — 

" North-west of a line from Greenock by Perth to Inverness is the 
land of the Gael — of the semi-barbarous instrument the bagpipe, of 
wild pibroch tunes, or rude melodies, very little known and still less 
admired, and of a species of song which has rarely been considered 
worth the trouble of translation. " 

English writers who attend northern gatherings feel them- 
selves in duty bound to be partly amused and partly terrified 

* Above the door of Dunderave, a ruined castle near Inveraray, 
there used to be a figure playing upon its nose. This suggested to 
J. F. Campbell, of Islay, the above design of "The Spirit of the 

194 The Highland Bagpipe. 

at the din of the pipes, and they often express the greatest 
wonder that our civilised ears can find pleasure in it. In the 
same way they used to look on our religion with contempt, 
and ridicule it on every opportunity. " Suffer Presbytery 
and bagpipes to flourish beyond Berwick " exclaims one in 
his wrath. The two seemed to be equally despicable. 
Butler, in putting this contempt into rhyme, works himself 
into a fine frenzy of mixed metaphor ; — 

" Whate'er men speak by this new light. 
Still they are sure to be i' the right ; 
'Tis a dark lanthorn of the spirit, 
Which none can see but those who hear it. 

This light inspires and shines upon 
The house of saint like bagpipe drone." 

How men can speak by light, how this light can be a 
lanthorn, how men can hear light, or how a bagpipe drone 
can shine upon a house, he does not stop to explain, but 
proceeds : — 

" See Phoebus or some friendly muse 
Unto small poets songs infuse, 
Which they at second hand rehearse. 
Through reed or bagpipe, verse for verse." 

Needham, another Englishman, writing in 1648, after 
calling a typical Presbyterian such names as "a sainted 
Salamander that lives in the flames of zeal," "an apocryphal 
piece of university mummery," " a holy picklock," " a gun- 
powder politician," " a divine squib-crack," "a pious pulpit- 
puffer," and " a deadly spit-fire," winds up with — ■ 

From the Seat of the Scorner. 195 

" The Scotch bagpipes, the pulpit drums, 
And priests sound high and big, 
Once more a Cause and Covenant comes 
To show 's a Scottish jig." 

And yet another seems to think the Separatists, a Scottish 
reUgious sect of the 17th century, would have been better at 
the bagpipe than at singing. They had, he thought, 
" need of somewhat as a bagpipe, or something never used 
by Antichrist, to tune them ; singing in their own conven- 
ticles like hogs against raine.'" 

A satirical writer of 1659, when he wished to be specially 
cynical, proposed that two illustrious persons should be 
married, and that " the banquetting house should be pre- 
pared forthwith, with a pair of bagpipes and a North 
Country jig to entertain the nobles that shall attend 
the nuptials." There was apparently nothing to be said 
after that. 

In a political satire of the same year, Sir Archibald 
Johnstone, a prominent person of that time, is thus ad- 
dressed : — " Pure Sir Archibald Johnstone, wea is me for 
thee, for thou hadst thought to be a muckle laddy, but now 
the peeper of Kilbarchan wiU laugh thee to scorne." He 
could get no lower than to be laughed at by the piper. 

A sneering biographer of Archbishop Sharpe, speaking of 
the prelate's grandfather's pipes, says : — " If the pipe and 
bags be yet in the prelate's possession, it is like he may have 
use for them, to gift them to some landwart church, to save 
the expense of a pair of organs, which may be well enough 
for our rude people, who can sing to the one as weU as to 
the other ; and if instrumental music be juris divini, as the 
prelates assert, it cannot be thought that any people should 

196 The Highland Bagpipe. 

be so phanatick as to admit the organs in divine service and 
refuse the pipes." 

The Earl of Northampton, a contemporary of Shake- 
speare, concludes a treatise against alleged prophecy with 
the remark that " oracles are most like baggepypes and 
showmen, that sound no longer than they are puffed up 
with winde and played upon with cunning." 

Thackeray, in The Irish Sketch Book, says, " Anything 
more lugubrious than the drone of the pipe, or the jig 
danced to it, or the countenances of the dancers and 
musicians, I never saw. Round each set of dancers the 
people formed a ring, in which the figurantes and coryphees 
went through their operations." 

Thomas Kirke, the Englishman who wrote A Modern 
Account of Scotland, in 1679, said — " Musick they (the 
Highlanders) have, but not the harmony of the sphears, but 
loud terrene noises, like the bellowing of beasts ; the loud 
bagpipe is their delight ; stringed instruments are too soft 
to penetrate the organs of their ears, that are only pleased 
with sounds of substance." 

Dr. Mac Culloch, already quoted,* who travelled Scotland 
in 1824, calls the bagpipe as vile a contrivance as can be 
imagined, and describes in graphic language all its alleged 
defects, and the sad result of listening to its music : — 

"It is harsh, imperfect, and untunable. It is not wonderful if 
the responsive vibrations of the piper's tympanum are not very 
accurate, nor the musical organ of his brain peculiarly sensitive to 
sweet sounds after the daily induration which they must have un- 
dergone from such outrageous and unceasing inroads on their sensi- 
bility. The auricular wave is probably hardened as effectually as if 
it had been immersed in a tan pit. So much the better for them, 

* See Page 80. 

From the Seat of the Scorner. 197 

but it is not easy to describe the subsidence of feeling the general 
deliquium, as physicians have it, which such worthless auditors as we 
are experience when an act of this music closes. It cannot be much 
unlike what the Mickmak or Dog-ribbed Indian feela, when his teeth 
have all been drawn. ... As a vocal accompaniment this in- 
strument is plainly inappropriate, unless it were to accompany a 
concert of tigers and cats. Nevertheless it is used for reels, and 
with bad enough success, if the ears are to be consulted. As a mov- 
ing force, however, it answers its purpose very effectively. There 
are very few dancing airs that lie within its compass. . . . Six 
inches of Neil Gow's horse hair would have beaten all the bagpipes 
that ever were blown. . . . The variations were considerably 
more abominable than the ground, musically speaking, but they are 
the best tests of the artist's merit, as all that merit lies in difficult 
and rapid execution. Any man can blow the charge, but when it 
comes to action it is he who has the strongest fingers and the worst 
taste who will carry the day. Yet there are rules for all this cutting 
of notes as it is called. The term is not ill-chosen, as the ground is 
literally cut into tatters by a re-iteration of the most clumsy, com- 
mon-place and tasteless flourishes, offensive in themselves, but still 
more so by their excess, since every note is so encumbered that 
whatever air might have existed is totally swallowed up in the 
general confusion." 

Mac Culloch, however, admits in another place, the merits 
of the bagpipe as an out-door instrument, and an instru- 
ment of war especially. 

Carr, another Englishman, who wrote in 1809, had not a 
good word to say of the pipes : — 

" Whilst refinement is rapidly spreading over Scotland, it is to be 
lamented that anyone should prevent the barbarous music of the 
country from yielding to instruments more agreeable to the ear. 
The bagpipe is among the few remaining barbarisms in Scotland. 
. . . It is a sorry instrument, capable of little more than making 
an intolerable noise. Every person of taste and feeling must regret 
the decline of the harp and be shocked at its having been succeeded 
by the bag-pipe. ... I shall never forget a playing competition 

198 The Highland Bagpipe. 

in Edinburgh at which I was present. As soon as the prize judges 
were seated the folding doors opened. A Highland piper entered in 
full tartan array, and began to press from the bag of his pipes, which 
were decorated with long pieces of riband, sounds so loud and 
horrible that to my imagination they were comparable only to those 
of the eternally tormented. In this manner he strutted up and 
down with the most stately march, and occasionally enraptured his 
audience, who expressed the influence of his instrument by loud and 
continued plaudits. For my part, so wretclied is the instrument to 
my ears that I could not discover any diflFerence in regard to expres- 
sion between ' The Gathering of the Mac Donalds ' and ' Aber- 
crombie's Lament," each sound being to me equally depressive, 
discordant, and horrible. . • . I believe that it might have 
been three hours that common politeness compelled me to endure 
the distraction of this trial of skUl, and I left the room with nearly 
the same sensations with which I should have quitted a belfry on a 
royal birthday. . . . One of these barbarous musicians, 
attempting in a fit of enthusiasm to pipe over eighteen miles of 
ground, blew the breath out of his body. It would have been well 
if he had been the last of his race. " 

In conclusion he addresses " Lines to the Caledonian 
Harp," and in passing gives a final kick to the bagpipe — 

" No Highland echo knows thee now ; 
A savage has usurped thy place, 
Once filled by thee with every grace — 
Th' inflated pipe, with swinish drone. 
Calls forth applauses once thine own." 

We have also the testimony of a Jew, who was compelled, 
by the heavy hand of misfortune, to wander in the High- 
lands, and in 1828 formed his impressions into a book which 
he called The Jew Exile. He praises the people for their 
hospitality, but alas ! for their music. When leaving the 
village of Strathglass he says he was, in compliment, pre- 
ceded by a young piper in real Highland style : — 

From the Seat of the Scarner. 199 

"My young Highlander played me on the road five miles, and I 
would gladly have sunk the portable screech-owl appendage. A 
man had better have a poll-parrot chained to his ear or be doomed 
to listen to a concert of files and saw teeth in a saw manufactory, 
than be obliged to listen to such music. If, ' Sir Harry,' has any 
musical instrument, it will be the great Highland bagpipe. What 
a hideous yell it makes ! . . . that grunting, howling, yelling, 
screaming, screaking pig of a bag or portable screech-owl. It 
seems to hook its tedrnm threthrum crotchets and quavers upon 
your nerves, and tears them to tatters, like the ' devil machine ' in 
a cotton manufactory. I would speak with the same deference of 
the music of a country, as I would of its superstitions ; but what 
can a man do when his very soul is twisted out of its socket. . . . 
To think that this squealing pig in a poke should be the great lever 
of a people's passions. It would not let a man die quietly, but 
would almost wake the dead." 

Even in the Highlands there seems to have been a ten- 
dency to joke at the expense of the pipes. A well-known 
proverb is said to have originated in this wise. The fox 
being hungry, found a bagpipe, and proceeded to eat the 
bag. There was still a remnant of breath in it, and when 
the fox bit it the drone gave a squeal. The fox was sur- 
prised, but not frightened, for he only said — " There's meat 
and music here," and went on with his meal. His remark 
has gone down to posterity as a proverb. 

The bards, whom the pipes supplanted when they sup- 
planted the harp, did not welcome the instrument, and 
satirised it in many of their poems. Duncan Ban Mac 
Intyre, the bard of Glenorchy, in the poem Aoir Uisdein 
Phiobair, abused it with sledge-hammer power ; but his abuse 
was coarse, and contained little genuine humour. John 
Mac Codrum, the Hebridean bard, did better in Di-Moladh 
Piob DhoviKuill Bhain, one of the most laughable things he 
wrote. The history of Donald Bain's bagpipe he traced in 

200 The Highland Bagpipe. 

an imaginative way through all its vicissitudes, from the 
days of Tubal Cain, through the disaster of the Deluge, and 
its damaging treatment by incompetent pipers. He com- 
pared the strains to some of the most discordant sounds in 
nature, spoke of it as a trump whose horrid music might 
rouse every Judas that ever lived, and used a multiplicity 
of illustrations to show its want of melody. 

This spirit of cynicism was not' confined altogether to the 
Gaelic bards. In The Family Legend, written by the dis- 
tinguished poetess Joanna Baillie, there is introduced a short 
argument between the Duke of Argyll's piper and "Dugald," 
another of the characters. The piper has been playing in 
a small ante-room leading to the Duke's apartment, when 
Dugald enters : — 

Dugald. — Now pray thee, piper, cease ! That stunning din, 
Might do good service by the ears to set 
Two angry clans ; but for a morning's rouse, 
Here at an old man's door, it does, good sooth, 
Exceed all reasonable use. The Earl 
Has passed a sleepless night ; I pray thee now 
Give o'er and spare thy pains. 

Piper. — And spare my pains, says't thou — I'll do mine office 
As long as breath within my body is. 

DugaM. — Then mercy on us all I If wind thou mean'st. 
There is within that sturdy trunk of thine, 
Old as it is, a still exhaustless store. 
A Lapland witch's bag could scarcely match it. 
Thou could'st, I doubt not, belly out the sails 
Of a three-masted vessel with thy mouth ; 
But be thy mercy equal to thy might, 
I pray thee now give o'er, in faith the Earl 
Has passed a sleepless night. 

Prom the Seat of the Scorner. 201 

Piper. — Think'st thou I'm a Lowland day-hired minstrel, 
To stop or play at bidding. Is Argyll 
The lord and chieftain of our ancient clan, 
More certainly than I to him as such, 
The high hereditary piper am 1 
A sleepless night, forsooth ! He's slept full oft 
On the hard heath, with fifty harnessed steeds 
Champing their fodder round him — soundly too. 
I'll do mine office, loun, chafe as thou wilt. 

And so on for a few more stanzas, till Argyll himself 
appears and puts an end to the discussion. But, after all, 
it is mostly non-Scotsmen who sneer at the pipes. They 
often understand as little of Scottish sentiment or Scottish 
music as did the Frenchman, who, after hearing " Tarn o' 
Shanter " recited, said it was " a story of how the devil came 
out of an old church and stole the tail from the horse of a 
farmer called Tam because he had played the pipes in the 
churchyard. I have heard," he added, " play your pipes 
Scottish, and I would like well that some person would 
steal away all the pipes in Scotland." Even our own 
William Black, the most inoffensive and delightful of latter- 
day writers, cannot resist the temptation to joke at the 
expense of the bagpipes. "Sermons," he says, "are like 
Scottish bagpipes. They sound very well when one doesn't 
hear them." William Black, however, rarely if ever 
sneers, and this is very mild indeed, compared with what 
some other writers have thrown at the instrument. 

The subject of Scottish national music is one against 
which ignorance is always breaking its shins. In a recent 
English novel, for instance, a Highlander is represented as 
sitting by the roadside singing a Jacobite song and accom- 
panying himself on the bagpipe, while one of the most 
reputable of London afternoon papers gravely remarked 

202 The Highland Bagpipe. 

when referring to the letting of Inveraray Castle, after the 
death of the eighth Duke of Argyll — " Ichabod is the 
watchword for the Highlands and Islands, and the pibroch 
may skirl the lament with better cause than if half the 
clan had fallen before the claymores of an alien tartan." 
These are extreme cases, no doubt, but they are only two 
out of many. It is, of course, vain to expect Scottish feel- 
ings from non-Scottish people, and the over-running of our 
land by imported sportsmen does not improve matters a 

"Cockneys, Frenchmen, swells, and tourists, 
Motley-garbed and garish crew ; 
Belted pouches, knickerbockers, 
Siken hose and patent shoe." 

Although these people may cease their scoffing and make 
themselves as Highland as anyone can be whom nature has 
not made Highland, their affection for the music and their 
professions of goodwill are not likely to help to preserve it. 
It is for real Highlanders to keep alive their own music and 
show scorners that it is not going to die the death, but live 
while there are Highlands and a Highland people. If, on 
the other hand, they are playing the lament for a perishing 
race and a dying language, it is not much wonder if neigh- 
bours chime in with an emphatic Amen. Better far is the 
spirit of Alexander Fisher, a Glasgow poet, who wrote for 
WhistlebinMe : — 

"You'll may spoke o' ta little, you'll may prag o' ta flute, 
An' ta clafer o' pynas, pass trums, clairnet an' lute. 
Put ta far pestest music you'll may heard, or will fan, 
Is ta kreat Hielan' pagpipe, ta kran Hielan' pagpipe, ta prite o' ta 

Prom the Seat of the Scorner. 203 

O ! tere is no one can knew all her feelin', her thought, 
Whan ta soon o' ta pibroch will langsyne to her prought, 
An' her mint whirl ronnt apout wi'ta pleasure once fan, 
When she hears ta kreat pagpipes, ta kran, etc. 

Whan ta clans all pe kather't, an' all rety for fought, 
To ta soon o' ta fittle, woult tey march tid ye'll thought ? 
No not a foot woult tey went, not a claymore pe drawn, 
Till tey heard ta kreat pagpipe, to kran, etc. 

Whan ta funeral is passin' slow, slow, through ta klen, 
Ta hearts all soft wi' ouskie what prings tears from ta men ! 
'Tis ta Coronach's loot wail soonin' solemn an' kran, 
From to kreat Hielan' pagpipe, ta kran Hielan', etc. 

Whan ta wattin tauks place, O ! what shoy, frolic an' fun, 
An' ta peoples all meetit, an' ta proose has been run, 
Tere's no music for dancin', has yet ever been fan. 
Like ta kreat Hielan' pagpipe, ta kran Hielan', etc. 

O, tat she hat worts to tolt all here lofe an' telight 

She has in ta pagpipes, twoult teuk long, long years to write. 

Put she'll shust teuk a trap pefore her task sh'U pegan, 

So here's ta pagpipe, ta kran Hielan' pagpipe, ta prite o' ta Ian'. 


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The Humour of the Pipes. 205 


The Humour of the Pipes. 

" Wha wadna be in love 

Wi' bonnie Maggie Lauder 1 
A piper met her gaun to Fife 

And spiered what was't they ca'd her ; 
Rioht scornfully she answered him, 

' Begone, you hallan shaker : 
Jog on your gate, yon bladder skate, 
My name is Maggie Lauder.' " 

— Old Scots Song. 

Punch's joke — King Charles's heads — An amusing competition — A 
Highlander's Irishism — Wedding experiences — A piper's fall — A 
resonrcefnl piper — A Cameron piper and his officer — "Lochaber 
no more " — An elephant's objection — Embarked in a tub — 
Glasgow street scene — Bad player's strategy — What the wind 
did— A new kind of tripe — A Pasha and a piper — A Gordon 
nei'vons — A jealous piper — Dougal MacDougal's downfall. 

'7M PART from the wilfully sarcastic humour exemplified 
A^l in the previous chapter, there clings round the pipes 
a host of innocently laughable stories. Punch, the 
recognised pioneer of comic journalism, and always the ablest 
of that class of papers, has in its day had a number of jokes 
about the pipes, and, to do the writers and artists justice, 
they have always been enjoyable, even to the perfervid Scot, 
and not of the kind which does more to show the ignorance 

206 The Highland Bagpipe. 

of the inventors than create a laugh. PuncKs humour is 
broad, but hardly ever offensive, and the picture by Charles 
Keene, reproduced on another page, may be taken as a 
fair sample. The drawing, which appeared on January 21st, 
1871, shows the best art of the caricaturist wedded to the 
broadest and yet the most enjoyable humour. Charles 
Keene, by the way, was himself a performer on the pipes, 
which he studied thoroughly. On one occasion he was some 
distance from home seeing a sick friend, and, writing 
afterwards to London, he said : " My only solace was skirling 
away for an hour on the lonely beach, and I generally chose 
the most melancholy pibroch I could think of." So he can 
hardly be accused of endeavouring to joke at the expense of 
the instrument. 

After Punch I must be permitted to work off several 
stories which have been King Charles's Heads unto me 
since I began to compile this volume. They persisted in 
cropping up, now in some book which I was consulting, then 
in a newspaper, and next in conversation with acquaintances. 
I know all their variations so well now that I recognise 
them a long way off, and generally manage to avoid them. 
Four are particularly determined in keeping themselves to 
the front : — 

A wandered Celt found himself laid up in an hospital in 
America with a disease which fairly puzzled the physicians. 
They did not know what to do with their patient, for he 
seemed to be sinking into the grave for no reason whatever. 
They held a consultation, and decided as a last resource to 
try music, preferably bagpipe music, as the patient was a 
Scotsman. So every night for a fortnight a piper played 
in the lobbies of the hospital, and gradually the Celt began 
to revive. At the fortnight's end he was well enough to be 

The Humour of the Pipes. 207 

discharged, but — ^and this was the worst feature of the case 
— all the other patients had died. 

Once, I remember, that story hailed from the Crimea and 
referred to a dying soldier of Sir Colin Campbell's, who was 
cured by the pipes in one hour. The music was, however, 
the death of forty-one of his comrades. The exact number 
killed varies from time to time, but that is a small matter. 
The incident is always the same. The last occasion on 
which it crossed my path was in the spring of 1900, when it 
appeared in the " London Letter " of a Glasgow evening 
paper, to which it had been telegraphed the same morning 
from the " City Notes " of one of the leading London 
dailies, each of the journalists concerned treating it as a 
great discovery in the field of humour. And I had been 
doing all I could to keep out of its way for about a year 

The next also shows the wonderful powers of pipe music. 
Music, apparently, hath charms to soothe the savage heast. 
A Scotsman, a piper of course, lost his way on an American 
prairie, and was overtaken by a bear. To appease the 
brute Sandy threw it his modest lunch, the only food he had 
to keep him alive until he found shelter. But Bruin was 
not satisfied, and threatened to dine off Sandy himself, 
whereupon the piper thought he would play a farewell 
lament before quitting the world. So he struck up " Loch- 
aber no more." No sooner, however, did the big drone give 
its first squeal than the bear stood stock still, then turned 
and fled precipitously. Then Sandy exclaimed — 

" If she had known she was so fond of ta music, she could 
have had ta pipes before ta supper." 

On its last round that story had reached Siberia, and the 
Celt, who was hungry, was pursued by a pack of wolves. 

208 The Highland, Bagpipe. 

who " fled with hideous howls " when the slogan of the clan 
was heard. 

The next illustrates the Highlander's propensity towards 
whisky drinking, and it rarely varies to any great extent. 
A Highland laird, being unable to maintain a permanent 
piper, employed a local musician occasionally when he had 
a party. Donald was once overlooked as to his usual dram 
before commencing to play, and in revenge he gave very bad 
music, which caused the laird to remonstrate with him and 
ask the cause. " It's the bag," said Donald ; " she pe ferry, 
ferry hard." " And what will soften it ? " asked his em- 
ployer. " Och, just whusky." Accordingly the butler was 
sent for a tumblerful of the specific, which Donald quickly 
drank. " You rascal," said the laird, " did you not say it 
was for the bagpipes ? " " Och, yess, yess," said Donald ; 
" but she will pe a ferry peculiar pipes this. She aye liJces 
it blamed in.'''' 

The piper's story associated with " Boyne Water " is the 
fourth. The name and the regiment vary, but the story is 
always the same : — 

Sandy Mac-something or other — the surname has not 
come down to posterity — was an old piper in the 92nd, and 
when his detachment was located in Ireland an order was 
given that " Boyne Water " was not to be played. The 
colonel probably did not wish to hurt the feelings of any of 
his neighbours. "Boyne Water," however, was Sandy's 
favourite tune, and to the surprise of the colonel, the first 
time the company marched out after the prohibitory order 
had been issued, Sandy struck up the forbidden air. " What 
do you mean 'f " cried the officer. " Do you not know that 
you are not allowed to play ' Boyne Water ? ' " " It'll no 
pe ' Boyne Water ' at all," replied Sandy. " It'll pe quite 

The Humour of the Pipes. 209 

another tune, but to the same air." But Sandy had to stop 
playing it all the same. 

An amusing description is given by a writer who travelled 
in the Highlands about seventy years ago, of a competition 
which he witnessed between two pipers in Tongue. There 
was a certain John Mac Donald who had blown before the 
Emperor of China, having accompanied an embassy to that 
country, and a Donald Abroch, who traced his descent from 
some of the hereditary pipers. Both had gained prizes in 
public, and they were natural rivals : — 

" The drone of Donald's pipes streamed witli bonny flags of red 
and blue, while he made his cheeks as red as crimson, and bobbed 
around as he blew. Meantime the banner of defiance hoisted on his 
antagonist's spirit-stirring engine floated on the troubled air in the 
radiant yellow of the Celestial Empire. As etiquette demanded that 
each should be heard in turn, the Imperial piper, having the pre- 
ference, as of divine right, put forth all his energy on the advent of 
his rival, as the cock crows a louder defiance should some neighbour 
chanticleer intrude on his hereditary domain. But John was now 
seventy, nor had his wind much improved by the quantity of mon- 
soon which ho had swallowed in the Indian seas. His breeze being 
blown, Donald, who knew the weak point in his rival's lungs, now 
raised a blast so loud and dread that it reminded one of the roaring 
of the lion of Rabbi Johosuah Ben Hananiah, at the sound of whose 
voice all the people's teeth dropped out of their heads. John turned 
yellow with despair, as the Imperial ribbons, and thus ended the first 


" It was not for us to decide between rival pibrochs or rival pipers, 
but by the aid of some judicious applause and more acceptable 
whisky a sort of amicable armistice was produced till the next act 
should begin. It was now necessary that they should play together 
a duet, composed of different pibrochs in different keys, in which it 
was the business of each to outscream his neighbour by the united 
force of lungs and elbows. The north side of the room was in pos- 
session of the Emperor's piper, and he of our clan drew up his force 

210 The Highland Bagpipe. 

on the south ; each strutting and bellowing till, like rival bullfinches, 
they were ready to burst their lungs and bag, each playing his own 
tune in harmonious dissonance ; and both as they crossed each other 
at every turn, looking the defiance they would have breathed had 
their wind not been otherwise employed. The chanters screamed, 
the drones grunted, and as the battle raged with increasing fury, 
Donald's wind seemed ready to burst its cerements, while the steam 
of the whisky distilling through the bag dropped as from the nozzle 
of a worm-pipe. Poor John was now nearly blown, but as we were 
unwilling that he should puff out for our amusement the last of that 
breath which he had with so much diflSculty brought all the way 
from Pekin, we determined that enough had been done for honour, 
and put an end to the concert according to the rules of bucolic con- 
test, by allowing equal praise and equal prizes to each swain. That 
they had both played fort hein could not be doubted, still less 
according to the French pun that they had played beinfort." 

Pipers, when playing in public, often get into awkward 
positions. During the performance of the well-known 
Julien Army Quadrilles, in connection with which local 
bands represent England, Scotland, and Ireland — the chief 
performing band being the orchestra — the pipes were once 
put into a cellar in the lower part of the building and the 
door closed. Here, on a given signal, they struck up " The 
Campbells are coming.'" Thereupon the doors gradually 
opened, and the pipers marched up from the lower regions 
and through the vast hall, which was crowded. On their 
approach the cheering was so vociferous that it was impossible 
to hear the sound of the pipes, and it was only by carefully 
watching the parts of the tune, the step, and the swing of 
the leading piper (who was endeavouring to reach the plat- 
form on which the orchestra was seated) that they were able 
to play in unison. Having ascended the platform, they 
placed themselves in a conspicuous position, and when they 
stopped playing, the well-known imitation fierce battle, for 

The Humour of the Pipes. 211 

which these quadrilles are famous, began. While rehearsing 
this performance, it should be added, the door of the lower 
apai-tments had been accidentally left open, so that the 
sounds were distinctly and loudly heard by the bandmaster, 
who was a German. With lightning rapidity he came 
tearing downstairs in a furious rage, exclaiming in wild 
tones — '' Mein Got, fat is this. You may be as well up on 
de stage. Why is de door not closed according to my in- 
structions .? " Being thus interrogated, the pipe-major 
appealed to piper Dougal Mac Donald, who was the last 
to enter, and who should have closed the door. 

" Why did you not shut the door when you came in, 
Dougal ? " he asked. 

Dougal's reply, which was characteristic of the man, 
was — 

" Ach man ! What did I know .? The door wasn't shut 
when I opened it." 

After this matters went on all right and to the satisfac- 
tion of the bandmaster. 

On another occasion, when taking part in these quadrilles, 
the same band had to cross a plank arrangement erected 
above the heads of the audience before they could get to the 
platform. To get there under such circumstances required 
tact, in addition to a good nerve. 

To relate another awkward experience : — A piper was on 
one occasion ordered to play at a wedding near Glas- 
gow, at which his colonel was one of the guests. The 
object was to take the company by surprise. The piper 
therefore went there secretly. He had three and a half 
miles to walk, as the 'bus which plied to and fro at that 
time (twenty years ago) was full of ladies. The day being 
exceptionally wet, he got drenched. The first incident took 

212 The Highland Bagpipe. 

place shortly after leaving the barracks in the Gallowgate, 
where a fairly well dressed but drunken woman unceremoni- 
ously slipped her arm inside his and said — " I am going 
where you are going." She vowed she knew him and all 
the pipers, as well as all the officers, and the colonel in par- 
ticular — in fact, she knew the whole regiment. While 
making these declarations she clung tenaciously to the 
piper, and nothing would shake her ofF. A motley crowd 
gathered round them, and, to make matters worse, no 
policeman was in sight. A gentleman, however, oppor- 
tunely came to the rescue, and extricated the piper from his 
predicament by inviting him into a shop and letting him 
out by a side door into another street. In due course the 
piper amved at the mansion house where he was to play. 
He first made for the kitchen, in order to be out of the way 
and to have his clothes and appointments dried and re- 
plenished. Here he was accosted by a head official, a 
woman, who wished to know what he was doing there and 
what he wanted. The piper replied that he was sent there. 

" Who sent you, and what for ? "" she asked. 

He replied—" Colonel ." 

" And who is he ? " she next asked. 

" He is my colonel." 

" Well," she replied, snappishly, " I don't know him, and 
never heard anything about you." 

The piper, however, entered the kitchen, and made for 
the fire. It so happened that the head cook — a stout, 
portly, goodruatured woman — was a native of Tobermory. 
She took the drenched man in hand, and when she discovered 
that he could speak Gaelic, they became the best of friends. 
He got himself so much into her favour that she under- 
took to dry his coat and polish all his accoutrements. In 

The Humour of the Pipes. 213 

course of time he got biiglitened up and ready for any 
call. He had to ignore all the time the repelling looks and 
nasty hints of the head official referred to, who would have 
nothing to do with him, and whose dignity was evidently 
hurt at his presence there without her being consulted. 
At two in the morning he was sent for by the mistress of 
the house — a fine specimen of the old Scottish lady — who led 
him to a door which communicated with the ball-room, 
and, without more ado, she gave him the following instruc- 
tions : — 

" You'll just blow up your bags and you will play in 
there " — pointing to the door — " and John will show you 
where to go to." 

The piper struck up the " Cock of the North" very sud- 
denly, to the surprise of everyone. When he entered the 
room he nearly fell, the floor was so smooth. Next, his big 
drone touched the chandeliers, under which were standing 
three or four ladies with the usual long trains to their 
dresses. He naturally became somewhat embarrassed, for 
he had to watch his tune, to watch his feet, to watch the 
chandelier, as well as to avoid the ladies' dresses, and at the 
same time to watch " John," who ultimately led him into 
the recesses of a window, where he played the " Highland 
Scottische " and " Reel of Tulloch." This done, it was part 
of his programme to play "The Campbells are coming," 
and make his exit by the door through which he entered. 
There were, unfortunately for him, too many doors, and, as 
" John " had left, he was again perplexed. He, however, 
made for, as he thought, the proper door, under the same 
difficulties as he experienced on his entrance ; but, instead 
of getting out, he was landed in a pantry where there were 
two young women busily engaged cutting up sandwiches. 

2l4 The Highland Bagpipe. 

Here he was kept prisoner for about half an hour. Any 
pipers who have had the same experience will admit that it 
requires no little confidence and caution to discharge satis- 
factorily such duties under similar circumstances. 

There is a story told of another piper, which does not 

terminate quite so happily. Piper Hugh Mac L was 

engaged to play at an Irish wedding. Now, Irish people 
are generally very kind, and on such occasions are possessed 
of a good supply of " the mercies." The room in which the 
wedding was held was rather small for dancing pm-poses, 
considering the number of guests. They therefore placed a 
table in the corner of the room, on the top of it a chair, 
and on the top of that a small flat stool, on which sat the 
piper. Here he blew with might and main till three o'clock 
in the morning, when down fell piper, pipes, and all on the 
floor. There were, luckily, no bones broken. Legs were 
broken, but they were wooden ones. After this somewhat 
amusing catastrophe the music ceased for the night. 

Pipers were a resourceful race, if the following story is to 
be considered a typical one. A well-known piper, whose 
name is withheld because some of his people are still with 
us, was very often hard put to it for money, and many and 
various were the means he took to raise the wind. One 
day, more than usually dead-broke, he found an old 
mahogany leg of a table lying at the Clydeside, near Glas- 
gow Green. He picked it up, and going to a joiner's shop 
in the Briggate, he hired a turning lathe for an hour or 
two. Being an expert maker as well as player, he soon had 
an imitation set of drones and a chanter turned out of the 
mahogany. Then he got a piece of old skin and made a 
bag which would not have kept in small stones, not to speak 
of wind, and by means of borrowing pence from acquaint- 

The Humour of the Pipes. ^15 

ances, he raised some green velvet and ribbons. After he 
had carefully covered and adorned his " pipes," he bored 
holes about an inch down the " drones," stained the " virls" 
black, and gravely offered the lot to a pawnbroker. He, 
poor man, did not know much about pipes, for he gave the 
piper Ji\ on them. Then the dead-broke man repaid all his 
loans and went off a richer man by some seventeen or eigh- 
teen shillings. What the pawnbroker said when he 
attempted to sell the " pipes " has not come down to pos- 

The best of the bagpipe stories, however, come from 
the regimental piper. Army pipers were, and perhaps 
still are, treated a little more leniently than their fellows. 
A piper of the 79th Cameron Highlanders was brought 
before the officer in command for being drunk. The officer 
was a bit of a wag, and on the delinquent being marched in 
he, looking very severe, said, " Are you the piper that 
played before Moses ? " " Yes, sir," said the piper, taking 
advantage of the familiarity. The officer was a bit non- 
plussed, and shouted, " Get out of here, you scoundrel, and 
never come before me again." A day or so after the piper 
was again brought up for being drunk, and the officer, 
annoyed at seeing him back so soon, said, " I don't wish to 
pnnish you, but if you continue coming before me I must 
treat you like any other delinquent." Quoting from the 
defaulters' sheet, he continued, " Drunk, drunk, drunk ; 
why, sir, you're always drunk. Look here, just put your- 
self in my position and see what you would do." On the 
officer vacating the chair the piper, nothing daunted, took 
his place, and proceeding to scan his own defaulter sheet, 
said in grave tones, " Drunk, drunk, drunk. Why sir, 
you're always drunk ; I'll give you seven days' cells and 

216 The Highland Bagpipe. 

twenty-eight days confined to barracks." The officer was 
too amazed at the piper''s impudence to do more than shout 
at the top of his voice — ^" Sergeant-major, take this man out 
of here," and as we have no record of any future infliction 
of punishment, we may infer that the piper's game of bluffs 
succeeded in getting him off^ scathless. 

Another story of a piper who " took more than was good 
for him " is associated with " Lochaber no more." It was 
the duty of a piper of the 93rd Argyll and Sutherland 
Highlanders to play the officers' mess. Feeling somewhat 
unsteady, he chose " Lochaber no more "" as being an easy 
tune and suited for hiding his condition. His eccentric 
performance, however, did not escape the colonel, who was 
in quarters close by dressing for dinner, and, in passing to 
the mess room he called out " Piper Mac Donald." " Yes, 
sir,'' replied the piper, approaching the colonel with his 
best salute and under the impression that he was to be com- 
plimented for serenading the commanding officer by his 
rendering of such a beautiful air. " What tune was that 
you played ? " growled the colonel. " Hie ! ' Lochubu no 
more,' sir." " Then," said the colonel severely, " you'll be 
piper no more, sir," and Piper Mac Donald forthwith re- 
turned to the ranks. 

It is a well-known fact that pipers in Highland regiments 
are posted to companies, and follow them wherever they go. 
On one occasion a company of the Gordons were marching 
from a place called JuUunder to Fort Kangra, situated on 
one of the lower ranges of the Himalayas. Accompanying 
them was an elephant, on which were placed sick and ex- 
hausted men. After a few days' march they were deprived 
of music on account of the piper's feet becoming blistered, 
and he was relegated to the back of the elephant. On the 

'The Humour of ike Pipes. SIT* 

last day's march, before entering their new station, some 
one suggested that in order to brighten them up the piper 
might be requested to play on the elephant's back at the 
head of the company. To this the officer assented, and 
accordingly the piper was handed his pipes. When he 
began to tune them up it was evident that the elephant had 
no appreciation of such sounds, for he shook his head, 
flapped his big ears menacingly, raised his trunk, with which 
he embraced the piper round the waist, and violently threw 
him and his pipes into a ditch as a mark of his disapproval 
of such music. 

A camp of exercise some three miles out of Delhi was 
visited at night by a terrible storm of rain and wind. Tents 
■were blown over, and much wreckage and damage done. The 
pipe-major and drum-major, who, of course', were both staff- 
sergeants, occupied a small tent by themselves, situated in a 
hollow. Towards morning, just as daylight appeared, it 
was observed from the sergeants' mess that the pipe-major 
had got all his valuables — silver, pipes, banner, dirk, 
sporran, etc. — placed in a tub in which he himself was 
sitting. All round outside his tent, for a considerable dis- 
tance, was a sea of water, so hard had it rained during the 
night. Being very anxious to save his valuables, uniform, 
and appointments he embarked in the tub and paddled 
shorewards, and while doing so his comrades began to shout 
and jeer at him. This roused the pipe-major's temper to 
boiling pitch, and caused him to become rather unsteady in 
his precarious craft. Veering a little too much to one side, 
over it went, and piper and cargo were thrown into the 
water, to the evident delight of his comrades. 

The playing of the Lords of Session from the hotel to the 
Court House in Glasgow was an old custom. After having 

218 Tlie Highland Bagpipe. 

performed this duty, the captain usually marched the band 
and escort to Gallowgate Barracks by way of Saltmarket, 
which was at one time a very rough locality. While play- 
ing through the street, the pipe-major of a gallant corps 
suddenly found himself in a very unpleasant fix. A de- 
crepit, drunken fish-wife pounced upon him, lovingly caught 
him round the neck, and insisted on hugging and kissing 
him. To make things worse the band kept marching on 
through the large crowd, and no amount of struggling and 
swearing would make this enthusiastic follower relinquish 
her hold of the pipe-major. At last by a supreme effort 
he managed to extricate himself from her dirty clutches. 
It is needless to say that the escort and pipers enjoyed a fine 
laugh at the pipe-major's predicament. 

To show how 'good may sometimes come of evil, one of 
our gallant pipers, who had evidently been enjoying himself 
rather freely the night before, on returning to barracks 
found himself detailed for the duties of orderly piper, the 
first of which is to play the men's breakfast pipes. The 
piper's condition not being what it might have been, and 
the morning being cold and raw, he was not making a very 
good tune. This attracted the notice of the orderly officer, 
who belonged to the piper's company, and forthwith he had 
the piper brought before him and rebuked for his bad play- 
ing. The piper, quick as thought, ingeniously turned 
matters into quite a different channel by putting all the 
blame on his chanter. He impudently pointed out to the 
young officer the lowest hole, which is the largest on the 

" Just look at the size of that hole, sir," said he. " It is 
far too large, sir, and while I was birling with my little 

The Humour of the Pipes. 219 

finger it went into the hole, sir, and when I was getting it 
out it caused that nasty screeching, sir." 

" Oh," replied the officer, " is that the cause of it ? UTien 
you require a new chanter." 

" Yes, very badly, sir," replied the piper. 

The officer, being a man of means, said, " Very well, I 
will give you a present of one." 

This is obviously a case where the piper gulled the young 
officer into presenting him with a new chanter, whereas he 
should have been severely reprimanded for his unfitness to 
perform his duty. 

A novel accident once happened to the pipers of the 
Cameronians while playing in the Botanic Gardens in Glas- 
gow. At that time they wore a Tam o' Shanter or blue 
bonnet, slightly cocked to one side. The day was stormy, 
and the wind came in gusts. Eight of the pipers were 
marching jauntily along in line when a gust of wind 
suddenly came and blew off the eight Tam o' Shanters, as if 
by word of command, starting with the pipe-major, who was 
on the right. The scramble for bonnets which followed 
can be more easily imagined than described. 

Piper Donald Menzies, of the Breadalbane Fencibles, was 
one of the resourceful kind. The men were in the habit of 
receiving money in place of a certain quantity of rations, 
and on one occasion instead of buying food in the usual way 
many of them bought whisky. This came to the colonel's 
ears, and he at once ordered the adjutant to go round at a 
certain hour and report to him what the men were cooking 
for dinner. The order got wind and the Fencibles were on 
the alert. When the adjutant came to where Piper Menzies 
was doing his cooking he asked " What have you got here, 
Donald V " Tripe, sir," said Donald. « Tripe," said the 

S20 The Highland Bagpipe. 

adjutant, " now just let me see," and he lifted the lid off 
the pot. "Well, Donald," he said, walking away aiid 
smiling, " I never saw tripe before with buttons and holes 
in it." Donald had cut up a pair of white moleskin 
trousers and put pieces of them into the pot to make believe 
he was to have a dinner. 

Shortly after the occupation of Cairo by the British 
troops, the late Nubar Pasha took a prodigious fancy to the 
music of the Black Watch, and had the idea of having a 
servant taught the use of the bagpipes. Nubar despatched 
a French friend, who spoke English, to interview a piper on 
the subject. Donald replied — " Weel, he micht learn or he 
micht no\ But, let me tell you, it needs wind an' mickle 
strength to fill the bag o' the "pipes an' keep blawin'. Sae 
if yin o' thae Egyptian chaps took the job on he'd need to 
be bandaged a' ow're like yin o' thae old mummies, or may- 
be he'd burst himsel' ! " This conversation was reported to 
Nubar, who took the remarks seriously. So he gave up the 
idea of having a piper attached to his household, as the use 
of the bagpipe was attended with the prospect of such 
danger to the performer. 

Soldiers are not nervous men as a rule, but a pipe-major 
of the Gordons was. While the regiment was being in- 
spected, he noticed while standing behind the band that the 
colonel's helmet was reversed. The officer seemed perturbed 
about something, strutting backward and forward, every 
now and then digging his sword into the ground. This 
made the pipe-major, who was anxious to call the colonel's 
attention to the mistake in connection with his headgear, 
more nervous than before. At last by a supreme effisrt he 
mustered up courage, and stepping out of the ranks he 
approached the colonel, and after saluting said, " I beg your 

The Humour of the. Pipes. 221 

pardon, sir, but your helmet is upside down, sir." " What !'' 
roared the officer, evidently thinking the man had become 
insane. The pipe-major became more nervous than ever, 
and stammered but, " I beg your pardon, sir, but I mean to 
say, sir, that your helmet is outside in, sir." " The devil it 
is, "sir," roared the colonel, and the pipe-major as a last 
resource got out, " Well, I mean to say, sir, that your 
hat is backside foremost, sir." The colonel instantly calmed 
down, and took the incident in good part, put his " hat " 
right and thanked the pipe-major, who did not forget his 
nervousness or his mistakes for many days. 

Yet another instance of how the piper made free with his 
superiors. A Highland officer having in obedience to orders 
added a drum to his pipe band, a spirit of jealousy soon 
afterwards arose between the piper and the drummer respect- 
ing their title to precedence. This gradually increased until 
it became personal animosity. At length the subject of the 
quarrel was submitted to the officer, who decided in favour 
of the drummer, whereupon the piper exclaimed, " Ads 
wunds, sir (whatever that may mean), and shall a little 
I'ascal that beats upon a sheep's skin tak' the right hand of 
me that am a musician ? " A musician, no less ! 

The last item to be given under this heading is meant to 
illustrate the high opinion Highlanders have of the pipes, 
but I do not vouch for its authenticity. It is from a book 
of Scottish Life and Character : — 

" Dovigal MacDougal, he left his native fastnesses for the great 
city of Glasgow, where he joined the police, as many a better man 
has done since. But Dougal was not content with being a police- 
man, he must needs join the police band. By-and-by another native 
of the fastnesses came to Glasgow, and meeting Dougal, he said— 

The Highland Bagpipe, 

' And wad it be true Tougal that her is a member of the polia 
prass pand 1 ' 

" ' Yus, Alastair, her was.' 

" 'And what instrument was she play, Tougal ? ' 

'"Ta trombone.' 

" Ta trombone ! Her as draws and draws and plaws and 
plaws 1 Och, Tougal, wad she tempt Providence by leaving ta pipes 
for that ? ' " 

After which we had better adjourn. 

Demoniac Pipes and Pipers. 


Demoniac Pipes and Pipers. 

" A winnock bunker in the east, 
There sat Auld Nick in shape o' beast ; 
A towzie tyke, black, grim, and large. 
To gi'e them music was his charge ; 
He screw'd the pipes and gart them skirl, 
Till roof and rafters a' did dirl." 

— Bums. 

Tam o' Shanter — The Devil's favourite instrument — " Sorcerers " 
burned — A bard's satire — Glasgow Cathedral story — A Hebri- 
dean Tam o' Shanter — Continental ideas — Reformation zeal — 
Ghostly pipers — A "changeling piper" — The Lost Pibroch — 
The Chisholm "enchanted pipes" — The Black Chanter of Clan 

IT was not at all a new idea that of Bums, when he repre- 
sented the arch-enemj of mankind playing the pipes to 
the revellers in Alloway's " auld haunted kirk." The 
ancients had it, and the sylvan divinity Pan, who can be 
identified with the Satan of Scottish superstition, is said to 
have appeared as a performer on the bagpipe. A flute with 
seven reeds was his favourite instrument, and this may be 
identified with the bagpipe of tradition. Popular behef in 
the seventeenth century labelled the pipes as the Devil's 
favourite musical instrument. In 1679 some unhappy 

S24 The Highland Bagpipe. 

women were burned at Bo'ness for sorcery, and they were 
accused, among other things, " of meeting Satan and other 
witches at the cross of Murestane, above Kinneil, where they 
all danced, and the Devil acted as piper." Satan is also 
alleged to have acted in the same capacity in the guise of a 
rough, tawny dog ata dance on the Pentland Hills. Mac 
Mhurich, the bard of Clan Ranald, composed a Gaelic satire 
on national music, in which the " coronach of women " and 
pioh gleadhair, the pipe of clamour, are called " the two ear 
sweethearts of the black fiend — a noise fit to rouse the 
imps," and there is a story connected with Glasgow Cathe- 
dral which shows further the prevalence of the idea. The 
gravestones round the Cathedral lie so close that one cannot 
walk across the ground without treading on them. This, 
however, has not always been able to prevent resurrections, 
as would appear from the legend. Somewhere about the 
year 1700 a citizen one morning threw the whole town into 
a state of inexpressible horror and consternation by giving 
out that in passing at midnight through the kirkyard he 
saw a neighbour of his own, lately buried, rise out of his 
grave and dance a jig with the devil, who played the air of 
"Whistle ower the lave o't" on the bagpipe. The civic 
dignitaries and ministers were so scandalised at the intelli- 
gence that they sent the town drummer through the streets 
next morning forbidding any to whistle, sing or play the 
infernal tune in question. 

A story curiously like that of Tarn o' Shanter, but of a 
much more pleasant nature^ at least for the human par- 
ticipatoi-, comes from the Hebrides — the particular isle is 
not stated. A gentleman innkeeper, who was taught by 
Angus Mac Kay, the late Queen's piper, and could play the 
pipes as well as the viohn, was sadly addicted to the drink- 

Demoniac Pipes and Pipers. 


ing habit, and had frequent fits of delirium tremens, in which 
he had extraordinary experiences. Once when he had been 
indulging with his usual prodigality, the result found him 
in a large hall, laid out for dancing, and with a band of per- 
formers dressed in blue. The chief of the blue imps stood 
as if in front of the orchesti'a, grinning, capering, and ges- 
ticulating in the most fantastic manner. In the course of 
time, however, he became more amiable, 
and, drawing up his tail over his shoul- 
der, he fingered it as if it were the 
chanter of the pipes, and there poured 
out a most inspiriting jig, the force of 
which neither demon nor man could 
resist, and the performance rivalled that 
in AUoway's "auld haunted kirk." But, 
and this is where Tam o' Shanter failed 
and the innkeeper succeeded, " mine 
host'' remembered the tune after his 
recovery, and played it, and the last 
teller of the story says he ""heard it 
played by another party who had 
learned it from him." But, unfor- 
tunately, he was too lazy to make a 
THE DANCE OF DEATH copy, SO the " Lost Jig" weut the way 
Prom a Woodcut of the of the " Lost Pibroch," and is now un- 

Time of Henry VIII. ^nOWU to the WOrld. 

That the idea of a demoniac piper is not peculiar to 
Scotland, is shown by the sculpture executed by the cele- 
brated German artist, Durer, which represents the Devil 
playing on the pipes ; by an engraving of a pageant at 
Antwerp in the sixteenth century, where a similar figure 
occurs, and by various Continental stories and pictures. The 

-«»5i*pv5«i ■-- 

226 The Highland Bagpipe. 

pipes were, it should be added, far more often associated with 
religious matters than with demoniacal. The figure on the 
"apprentice pillar"" in Rosslyn Chapel is that of a cherub 
playing on a Highland bagpipe, and, as has been shown in a 
previous article, there are many indications in ecclesiastical 
architecture and in ecclesiastical history that the pipes were 
not altogether banned from associating with the good. 
After the Reformation, it is true, they were held to be the 
DeviFs instruments, and between 1570 and 1624 pipers were 
severely persecuted ; but the zeal of the reformers, while 
always praiseworthy, often outran their discretion, and in 
their condemnation of instrumental music they included all 
minstrels. They vested supernatural powers in things which 
we now look upon as ordinary. The miseries of the Civil 
War were foretold by the appearance of a monster in the 
River Don, the disappearance of gulls from the lakes near 
Aberdeen, the loud tucking of drums in Mar, and in a sea- 
man's house at Peterhead, where trumpets and bagpipes and 
tolling of bells gave additional horror to the sound. 

The ghostly piper of Highland mythology was often seen 
mounted on a big black horse, while multitudes of voices 
sang round him, sometimes in light clothing and with long 
white staffs in their hands. In one instance — it comes from 
Dairy, in Ayrshire — " the sound of voices was terrible, and 
all struck in at the chorus. The tunes seemed to part and 
make way for the rider to get out, but, no, they closed 
again." One such piper frequented the wild passes of 
Drumouchter, about the highest and most dreary part of 
the hills now crossed by the Highland Railway. At the 
hour of gloaming passers-by could hear the melancholy 
wailing of the pipes, but they never could tell from whence 
it came. Prince Charles Edward Stuart is alleged to have 

Demoniac Pipes and Pipers. 227 

fought there a band of English cavalry, when on his retreat 
from Derby in 1745, and though his men won, the piper, if 
he was Prince Charlie's piper, seems to have considered the 
incident a matter of perpetual mourning. Other sights and 
spectres, as of people engaged in mortal combat, are said to 
have been seen near the place. 

In a North Highland story, a " changeling " plays the 
pipes. A tailor went to a farmhouse to work, and just as 
he was going in, somebody put into his hands a child of a 
month old, which a little lady dressed in green seemed to be 
waiting to receive. The tailor ran home and gave the child 
to his wife. When he got back to the farmhouse, he found 
the farmer's child crying and disturbing everybody. It was 
a fairy changeling which the nurse had taken in, meaning to 
give the farmer's own child to the fairy in exchange, but 
nobody knew this but the tailor. When they were all gone 
out, he began to talk to the child. " Hae ye your pipes ? " 
said the tailor. "They're below my head," said the 
changeling. " Play me a spring," said the tailor. Out 
sprang the little man and played the bagpipe round the 
room. Then there was a noise outside, and the elf said, 
" It's my folk wanting me," and away he went up the 
chimney, and then they fetched back the farmer's own child 
from the tailor's house. 

Apart from their connection with supernatural beings or 
supernatural agencies, the pipes have at various times in the 
history of Scotland been credited with supernatural power. 
The " Lost Pibroch " itself is an echo, but a magnificently 
worded echo, of the old connection between the pipes and 
the supernatural. In it we have something like a modern 
literary ciu-iosity, a Highland story written in the true 
Highland ring and spirit, and yet as splendid an intellectual 

228 ■ The Highland Bagpipe. 

treat to a non-Highland reader as he can get anywhere in 
the King's English. It exaggerates the power of the pipes, 
but it is an exaggeration that is fully in unison with the 
nature of the people, and it is the gem of all the stories of 
pipers and the supernatural. " Then here's another for 
fortune," said Paruig Dall, and he went through the woods 
with Jiis pipes under his oxter, to follow those whom his 
notes had already set awandering. 

The Chisholm preserves, or at least did at one time pre- 
serve a relic believed to be of great antiquity. It is a 
chanter which is supposed to have a peculiar faculty of in- 
dicating the death of the chief by spontaneously bursting, 
and after each fracture it is carefully repaired by a silver 
fillet, which is an improvement on the original method of 
mending with a leathern throng. The family piper, when 
from home at a wedding, heard his chanter crack, and at 
once started up, saying he must return, for The Chisholm 
was dead. And he was. 

But the most famous of all such articles is "The Black 
Chanter of Clan Chattan." This is a relic of the fight be- 
tween the Clan Quhele and the Clan Yha on the North 
Inch of Perth in 1396. It is made of lignum vitce, and, 
according to tradition is endued. with magical powers. 
About the end of the battle, so the tradition goes, an aerial 
minstrel was seen hovering over the heads of the Clan 
Chattan, who, after playing a few wild notes on his pipes, 
let them drop to the ground. Being made of glass, they all 
broke except the chanter, which was made of wood. The 
Clan Chattan piper secured the chanter, and, though mor- 
tally wounded, he continued playing the pibroch of his clan 
until death silenced him. Some tradition? say the original 
chanter was made of crystal, and, being broken by the fall, 

Demoniac Pipes and Pipers. 229 

that now existing was made in exact fac-simile, others that 
the cracks now seen were those the chanter received on 
falling to the ground. In any case, the possession of this 
particular chanter was ever after looked on as ensuring suc- 
cess, not only to the Mac Phersons, but to any one to whom 
it happened to be lent. The Grants of Strathspey once 
received an insult, through the cowardice of some unworthy 
members of their clan, and in their dejection they borrowed 
the Black Chanter, the war notes of which' roused their 
drooping energies and stimulated them to such vigour that 
it became a proverb from that time, " No one ever saw the 
back of a Grant." The Grants of Glenmoriston afterwards 
received it, and they restored it to the Mac Phersons about 
1855. It is still carefully preserved at Cluny Castle, and 
some entertain the belief that on its preservation depends 
the property of the house of Cluny. 

The Black Chanter seems to have kept its magic power, 
for, during all the troubles of the '45, Cluny Mac Pherson 
accompanied Prince Charlie in his victories and helped him 
much by his own and his followers' bravery. But when the 
final blow was given to the fortunes of Charles Edward at 
Drummossie Moor, the Mac Phersons were not there, and it 
is said that before the battle an old witch told the Duke of 
Cumberland that if he waited until the green banner and 
the Black Chanter came up he would be defeated. The 
battle was over before Cluny arrived, for he was met by the 
fugitives when on his way from Badenoch to join the Prince. 
The Macintoshes, who claim that their chief is the chief of 
the Clan Mac Pherson, were at CuUoden and in the thickest 
of the fight, but they had not the Black Chanter, and so 
they, too, shared in the defeat. It is certainly curious that 
no battle at which the Mac Phersons were present with the 

230 The Highland Bagpipe. 

green banner of the clan, the Black Chanter, and the chief 
at their head, was lost. We do not, of course, believe in this 
phase of the supernatural nowadays, and it has been 
irreverently asserted that this particular chanterwill not play, 
that a piper of Cluny's who was in the service of the chief 
for seven years testified to this, and that it is nothing more 
nor less than a chanter that has been spoiled in the making. 
We do not contend that it really had supernatural powers 
— the probability is all the other way — but when the clan 
believed it had, that, by inspiring them with confidence, 
perhaps served the same purpose. Many clans and peoples 
find inspiration in that which to the sceptical and hyper- 
critical is but a fetish, and though we may smile at old- 
time stories of the supernatural, we should remember that 
those things were not smiling matter to the people of those 
days, and that the people who live as long after us as we live 
after those who believed in fairies and other uncanny things 
are almost sure to find much more to laugh at in our practice 
and beliefs than we find in the practice and beliefs of our 
ancestors. Meantime, let us close with a piece as grand as 
ever was written in any language, dedicated to CuUoden 
and the Black Chanter of Chattan by Mrs. Ogilvie — re- 
membering that the past deserves our respect, not only 
for the brave people it produced, but also for the legacy 
of enjoyable song and poetry and tradition it has handed 
down to us — 

" Black Chanter of Chattan now hushed and exhausted, 
Thy music was lost with the power of the Gael ; 
The dread inspiration Mac Pherson had boasted 
For ever expired in Drummossie's sad wail. 

Demoniac Pipes and Pipers. 231 

" On old St. Johnstone's dark meadow of slaughter 
Thy cadences buried the piper's last breath ; 
The vanquished escaped amid Tay's rolling water, 
The conqueror's pibroch was silenced by death. 

"That piper is nameless, and lost in like manner 
The tribes are forgotten of mighty Olan Quhele ; 
While Chattan that bears the hill-cat on his banner, 
No time can extinguish, no ruin assail. 

"From the hand of a cloud-cleaving bard thou wert given 
To lips that embraced thee till nerveless and dead ; 
Since then never idly Mac Pherson hath striven, 
Nor trust in his fortune been shaken by dread. 

"0 mouth-piece of conquest ! who heard thee and trembled? 
Who followed thy call, and despaired of the fight 1 
Availed not that foemen before thee dissembled, 
For quenched was their ardour and nerveless their might. 

"The blast of thy pibroch, the plaint of thy streamer, 
Lent hope to each spirit and strength to each arm ; 
While the Saxon confronting was scared like the dreamer 
Whose sleep is of perU, of grief, and alarm. 

" Led on by thy promise, what chieftain e'er sallied 

Nor proved in the venture how just was thy vaunt ? 
At the spell of thy summons exultingly rallied 
The faltering pulse of dispirited Grant. 

" Forerunner of victory ! Why didst thou tarry ? 

Thy voice on Drummossie an empire had changed ; 
We then had not seen our last eEforts miscarry. 
The Stuart had triumphed, the Gael been avenged . 

232 The Highland Bagpipe. 

"Ah, fatal Druramossie — sad field of the flying ! 
The Gathering sank in tlie hopeless Lament ; 
What pibroch could stanch the wide wounds of the dying ? 
What magic rekindle the fire that was spent ? 

"Proud music, by shame or dishonour ne'er daunted, 
By murmur of orphan, by widowed despair. 
The fall of thy country thy spell disenchanted. 
With the last of the Stuarts it vanished in air ! 

' Yet rouse thee from slumber, Black Chanter of Chattan, 
Send forth a strong blast of defiance once more ; 
On the flesh of thy children the vulture doth fatten, 
And sodden with blood are the sands of Lahore. 

' As fierce as the tiger that prowls in their forest, 
Those sons of the Orient leap to the plain ; 
But the blade striketh vainly wherever thou wanest, 
Black Chanter of Chattan bestir thee again ! " 

Pipers and Fairies. 23B 



" The green hill cleaves, and forth with a bound 

Comes elf and elfin steed ; 
The moon dives down in a golden cloud, 

The stars grow dim with dread ; 
But a light is running along the earth, 

So of heaven's they have no need. 
O'er moor and moss with a shout they pass, 

And the word is spur and speed — 
But the fire maun burn, and I maun quake. 

And the hour is gone that will never come back." 

— Allan Cunningham. 

In fairies' hillocks — Stories with a common origin— Sutherlandshire 
version — Away for a year — Harris piper and the fairies — Seven 
years away — Fairies helping pipers — Helping the Mac Crimmons 
— A boy piper — How the music went from Islay to Skye — Faust- 
like bargains — A Caithness story — A fairy piper. 

PIPERS with a leaning towards the uncanny dealt 
largely with fairies, and in West Highland myth- 
ology piping is said to have been heard in fairies'' 
hillocks. " I know two sisters," says a boy in a story of 
Skye — "one of them is a little deaf — and they heard a 
sound in a hill, and they followed the sound, and did they 
not sit and listen to the piping till they were seven times 
tired.? There is no question about that." We do not 


234 The Highland Bagpipe. 

believe in those things now. Our forefathers did, however, 
and there seems to have been an idea that pipers were 
special favourites of the little harmless green-coated ones. 
It is, indeed, their association with fairies that provides the 
most interesting of all the stories about pipers. There are 
ever so many stories of their adventures in the fairies' 
mounds and caves, and, like other classes of Celtic tales, 
they all run in one groove though they are located as far 
distant as Scotland is long. Like the story of Faust, where 
a man sells his soul for a period of worldly pleasure, so the 
story of the piper who goes to the fairies for a while, and 
sometimes comes back again, permeates all the literature of 
its class. It turns up all over Scotland, it has been heard 
often in Ireland, and even in the Scilly Isles it is known. It 
does not require much ingenuity to show that those legends 
have all been derived from one original story. The same 
remark, however, applies to the legendary lore of the entire 
Celtic race — Scottish, Irish and Continental. Divested of 
" trimmings " added by the passing of ages and the differ- 
ence in circumstances, Celtic stories are found to have so 
much in common as to create strong presumptive evidence 
that the race must some time or other have lived together, 
a united people, a mighty scattering taking place afterwards, 
during which the Celts spread themselves over the world, 
carrying their folk-lore with them. That is one theory 
regarding the race, and this singular fact about its traditions 
is one of the strongest arguments in its favour. 

Perhaps the most concise version of the fairy story comes 
from Sutherlandshire. A man whose wife had just been 
delivered of her first-born set off with a friend to the village 
of Lairg to have the child's birth entered in the session 
books, and to buy a cask of whisky for the christening. As 

Pipers and Fairies. 235 

they returned, weary with the day's walk, they sat down to 
rest at the foot of the hill of Durcha, on the estate of Rose- 
hall, near a large hole, from which they were ere long 
astonished to hear the sounds of piping and dancing. The 
father, feeling very curious, entered the cavern, went in a 
few steps, and disappeared. The other man waited for a 
while, but had to go home without his friend. After a 
week or two had passed, and the christening was over, and 
still there was no sign of the father's return, the friend was 
accused of murder. He denied the charge again and again, 
and repeated the tale of how the child's father had dis- 
appeared into the cavern. At last he asked for a year and 
a day in which to clear himself of the charge. He repaired 
often at dusk to the fatal spot and called for his friend, and 
prayed, but the time allowed him was all spent except one 
day, and nothing had happened. In the gloaming of that 
day, as he sat by the hillside, he saw what seemed to be his 
friend's shadow pass into the opening. He followed it, 
and, passing inside, heard tunes on the pipes, and saw the 
missing man tripping merrily with the fairies. He caught 
him by the sleeve and pulled him out. "Bless me, Sandy!" 
cried the father, " why could you not let me finish my reel." 
" Bless me ! " replied Sandy, " have you not had enough of 
reeling this last twelvemonth ? " " Last twelvemonth ! " 
cried the other in amazement, nor would he believe the 
truth concerning himself till he found his wife sitting by the 
door with a year-old child in her arms. The time passed 
quickly in the company of the good people. 

Here, again, is perhaps the best of the long stories of 
pipers and fairies. It is from the Celtic Magazine, so ably 
conducted by the late Alexander Mac Kenzie : — 

236 The Highland Bagpipe. 

"Jamie Gow, a celebrated piper of many, many years ago, lived 
at Niskisher, in Harris. He had a croft, but neglected it for the 
pipes, which brought him his livelihood. His home was five miles 
from a famous fairy knoll, in which thousands of fairies were. Till 
Jamie's time no one ever found the entrance. It was said that if a 
piper played a certain tune three times round the base of the knoll, 
going against the sun, he would discover the door, but this no hero 
of the chanter had previously attempted. 

" Among a number of drouthy neighbours one day a debate got 
up as to the nature of the inside of the knoll. Jamie Gow declared 
that he would for a gallon of brandy play round the knoll in the 
proper way, and if he found the door he would enter and play the 
fairies a tune better than anything they had ever danced to. A 
score of voices cried " done," and the bargain was made. About 
noon on the following day Jamie, after partaking of something to 
keep his courage up, proceeded to Tom-na-Sithichean, the Fairy 
Knoll. He was accompanied by scores of people, some cheering, 
some discouraging him. On reaching the knoll he emptied other 
two "coggies," took up his position, and began to play. As soon 
as the first skirl of his pipes was heard all the people fled to the top 
of an adjoining hill to wait the result. With a slow but steady step 
Jamie marched round the Tom. Twice he completed his journey 
without mishap, and he had almost finished the third round. But 
when within two or three paces of the end he was seen to stand for 
a moment and then disappear. There was an opening in the side of 
the hill, which admitted him to a long dark passage, so rugged and 
uneven as to make it most inconvenient for a piper to keep march- 
ing and playing a particular tnne, as Jamie was. The air, too, was 
chilly and disagreeable, drops of water continually trickling down 
the cold damp sides of the passage. Jamie, however, marched on 
fearlessly, and strange to say the farther he went the lighter grew 
his step and the livelier his tune. By and by the long passage be- 
came illuminated with a faint light, by which he saw that the roof 
and sides were very thickly covered with short and starry pendants, 
which shone white and radiant, like marble. Forward still, till he 
reached a door which opeiied of its own accord and led into a cham- 
ber of indescribable splendour. The floor seemed of solid 

Pipers and Fairies. 237 

silver, the walls of pure gold, and the furniture most costly. 
Around the table sat hundreds of lovely women and smiling men, 
all perfect in- form and clothed in spotless green, brilliant and rich 
beyond description. They had apparently finished a sumptuous 
dinner, and were now quaffing the purple juice of the grape out of 
diamond-mounted cups of exquisite beauty. 

" At the sight of such splendour, the piper for a moment was 
amazed, the drones fell powerless on his arm, for he stood with 
open month, ceasing to blow his bag. Noticing this, one of the 
green gentlemen rose from his seat, and, smiling coyly, handed him 
a cup of wine to drink, which Jamie loved too dearly to refuse. 
So, taking the profi"ered cup, with thanks, he said — ' I am a piper to 
ray trade. I have travelled and played from one end of the island 
to the other, but such a pretty place and such lovely people I never 
saw.' And he quafied the cup at one draught. 

" The gentleman in green then asked if he would favour the com- 
pany with a tune called ' The Fairy Dance,' at which they knew he 
excelled all other performers. Nothing pleased Jamie better than 
a little pufl:ng — this, probably, the inhabitants of the knoll knew — 
and he replied lustily, ' And, by my faith, I will, and I will play it 
as true as ever any piper played a tune.' In a moment the vast 
assembly was on its feet, swinging from side to side in a long country 
dance. Nothing that Jamie had ever seen compared to the graceful 
manner in which both ladies and gentlemen performed their evolu- 
tions, and this encouraged him to blow with might and main and 
stamp hastily with both feet, as if inspired, like the other 

" Meanwhile the people who had accompanied Jamie surrounded 
the knoll in search of him. They saw the spot where he dis- 
appeared, and some asserted that they saw the door itself, but when 
they came near the place there was no door. They continued the 
search for weeks, looking and listening in the hope of hearing the 
well-known notes of his chanter, but without success. Years passed, 
and Jamie did not return. The story of his disappearance at the 
knoll had spread far and wide, and his fate was the subject of con- 
versation at many gatherings throughout the Western Isles. But 
though he was sadly missed at the balls and weddings, no one missed 

238 The Highland Bagpipe. 

or pined for Jamie like his widowed mother and his sweetheart, 
Mairi Nighean Gilleam, to whom he was to have been married 
shortly after he left on his rash journey round the knoll. 

" For several years Jamie continued to play ' The Fairy Dance,' 
and the dancers seemed as fresh as when he began. At long last 
the piper, wearied almost out of breath, cried 'May God bless you, 
friends ! my breath is almost gone.' The mention of the Great 
Name produced a revolution. In a moment all lights were out, the 
beautifully clad assemblage and the gorgeous hall immediately dis- 
appeared, and Jamie found himself standing on the top of Tomna- 
hurioh, at Inverness. Until he inquired at a cottage in the vicinity 
he was entirely ignorant of his surroundings, but as soon as he 
found out where he was he made direct for Harris, reaching there 
after a journey of six weeks. 

"Jamie was seven years with the fairies. When he got back to 
Harris he found his cottage deserted, for his mother had died a year 
before. No one in the place recognised him, he was so changed. 
His beard reached to his girdle, his cheeks were bulged out to a 
prodigious size by the continual blowing of his pipes, and his mouth 
was twice its original proportions. Mairi Nighean Uilleam knew 
him by his voice, and a few weeks after they became man and wife. 
Jamie never again visited Tom-iM-SitMchean." 

I should think not. He had had quite enough of the 
fairies. They, however, seem to have had a soft side to 
pipers, at least we often read of them helping the musicians 
with their music. The first story which illustrates this 
comes from one of the Inner Hebrides, and is given in J. F. 
Campbell's Tales of the West Highlands, the actual words 
of the narrator being used. It was told in a houseful of 
people, all of whom seemed to believe it : — 

" There was a piper in this island and he had three sons. The 
two eldest learned the pipes, and they were coming on famously, 
but the youngest could not learn at all. At last, one day, he was 
going about in the evening very sorrowfully, when he saw hruth, a 
fairy hillock, laid open. (There was one close to the house, which 

Pipers and Fairies. 

was exactly like the rest of its class. It was afterwards levelled and 
human bones were found in it.) He went up to the door and stuck 
his knife into it, because he had heard from old people that if he did 
that the slaugh could not shut the door. Well, the fairies were very 
angry, and asked him what he wanted, but he was not a bit afraid. 
He told them he could not play the pipes a bit, and asked them to 
help him. They gave him feadan duhh, a black chanter, but he 
said ; ' That's no use to me for 1 don't know how to play it.' 

" Then they came about him and showed him how to move his 
fingers ; that he was to lift that one and lay down that, and when 
he had been with them a while he thanked them and took out his 
knife and went away, and the hruth closed after him. 

"Now, that man became one of the most famous pipers, and his 
people were alive until very lately. I am sure you all know that." 

Chorus — " Oh yes, yes indeed. It is certain that there were such 
people whether they are now or not." 

If all tales be true, the fairies had something to do with 
the eminent genius of the Mac Crimmons themselves. Once 
upon a time, to use the proper phrase, there was a great 
gathering of the clans at Dunvegan Castle. Mac Leod was 
entertaining the chiefs, and each chief was accompanied by 
his piper. The chiefs were great and the pipers were great, 
and somehow it was agreed that there should be a trial of 
skill among the musicians present — twelve in all. Mac liCod 
himself directed the proceedings, and one by one the great 
instrumentalists stepped into the hall and made the rafters 
dirl with their well-known strains. But Mac Leod became 
anxious as he noticed that there was no sign of his own 
piper, the old piper who had served him so long. He sent 
a boy to search, and the boy returned with the sad news — 
the piper was hopelessly drunk. The brow of MacLeod 
grew dark with anger, for he was not to be humbled in his 
own household and in the presence of his guests. The tenth 
piper was tuning up — there was but another, and then his 

240 The Highland Bagpipe. 

disgrace would be public property. In the desperation 
of despair Mac Leod seized the boy by the hand and 
whispered : " You are the twelfth piper, remember your 
chief's words." The boy, Mac Crimmon by name, left the 
hall, while the feasting and fun went on as merrily as ever, 
and lay down on the hillside and bemoaned his fate. But 
his good fairy was not far away. She came right out of the 
ground, as pretty a little fairy as ever helped poor mortal in 
desperate plight. She knew his trouble, and did not waste 
words, but gave the distracted boy a curiously-shaped 
whistle, and bade him play on it. The youngster would do 
anything to oblige the kind lady, so he blew on the whistle, 
and lo ! the hills and the rocks re-echoed with the finest 
music ever heard in Skye. The good fairy disappeared, and 
the boy ran back to the castle, where the eleventh piper 
was playing the last notes of his pibroch. The chiefs and 
the pipers laughed to see the boy step it out into the centre 
of the assembled company, but their scorn was turned to 
admiration as compositions played in faultless and brilliant 
manner poured from the boy's " pipes." Thenceforth Mac 
Crimmon was prince of pipers, and we do not read that ever 
the good fairy came back to claim any recompense for what 
she had done ; neither have we any explanation of why she 
gave him a whistle (? a chanter) and not a set of pipes 
right off". 

Another story of the Mac Crimmons, but one that has 
not many points of resemblance to the other, is told by 
Lord Archibald Campbell in Records of Argyll. It is 
from the lips of Hector Mac Lean, of Islay, and tells of 
how, when Mac Donald of the Isles resided in the palace on 
Finlagan Isle, in Loch Finlagan, he had a ploughman who, 
from his large stature, was called the Big Ploughman. This 

Pipers and Fairies. 241 

ploughman was out one day at his work, and he had a boy 
with him driving the horses, as was the custom in those 
times. The Big Ploughman was seized with hunger, and he 
said to the boy : 

" My good fellow, were it to be got in the ordinary way, 
or magically, I would take food in the meantime, were I to 
have it." 

After he had said these words, he and the boy took 
another turn with the team, till they came to the side of 
Knockshainta. There was an old grey-haired man by the 
side of the hill, who had a table covered with all manner of 
eatables. He asked them to come and partake of what was 
on the table. The ploughman went, but the boy was 
frightened, and would not go. After the ploughman had 
eaten enough, the old man gave him a chanter to play. 
When he put his fingers to it, he, who had never played 
before, played as well as any piper that ever was in the island 
of Islay. A day or two after, Mac Donald heard, in his 
palace on Island Finlagan, the Big Ploughman playing the 
Black Chanter. He inquired who it was, and they told 
him it was the Big Ploughman. When he heard how well 
the ploughman played there was nothing for it but to get 
for him the bagpipe of the three drones, and he was Mac 
Donald's piper as long as he lived. 

Mac Donald went on a trip to the Isle of Skye. He took 
with him from thence a young man of the name of Mac 
Crimmon, who was fond of music, and was doing a little at 
it. He went to the Big Ploughman to learn more music 
from him than he had already. Mac Crimmon and the 
ploughman's daughter began courting and in consequence of 
the fancy that the girl took to Mac Crimmon — believing 
that he would marry her — she took the Black Chanter un- 

24-2 The Highland Bagpipe. 

known to her father out of the chest, and gave it to Mac 
Crimmon to try it. When Mac Crimmon tried it he could 
play as well as the Big Ploughman himself. The girl asked 
the chanter back, but he entreated her to let him have it for 
a few days until he should practise a little further on it. A 
short time after Mac Donald of the Isles went off to Skye, 
and Mac Crimmon went with him. He did not return 
the chanter, neither did he come back to marry the Big 
Ploughman's daughter. The people of Islay say it was in 
this way that the music went from Islay to the Isle of Skye. 

" The Powers " were not always so unselfishly inclined as 
the stories already given make them appear. They often 
drove a Faust-like bargain with the piper. They did with 
Peter Waters, a Caithness lad, who, when driving home his 
cattle one day over the common in the parish of Olrig, 
stopped to quench his thirst at a spring which flowed from 
the side of a well-known fairies' hillock called Sysa. Peter 
was tired, the spot was quiet, and the air invited him to 
slumber. So he slept till near sunset, when he was awakened 
by a gentle shake of the shoulder. Starting up, he saw a 
most beautiful lady, dressed in green, with golden ringlets, 
blue eyes, and the sweetest countenance in the world, stand- 
ing beside him. Peter was shy, and his first impulse was to 
run away, but the lady looked at him and he couldn't. 

" Don't be afraid of me, Peter," she said, with one of her 
most captivating smiles, and with a voice soft and clear as a 
silver bell. " I feel a great interest in you, and I am come 
to make a man of you." 

" I am much obliged to you, indeed," stammered Peter. 
" The greatest nobleman in the land might be proud of your 
fair hand, but I have no desire to enter into the silken cord ; 
and, besides, I would require to be better acquainted with 

Pipers and Fairies. 243 

you before I took such a step. People commonly court a 
little before they marry." 

The lady laughed. 

" You mistake me altogether," said she. " Though you 
appear a very nice young man, I make no offer of my hand. 
What I mean is that I will put you in the way of rising in 
the world and making your fortune. Here are two things 
— a, Book and a pipe. Make your choice of the one or the 
other. If you take the Book you will become the most 
popular preacher in the north, and if you take the pipe you 
will be the best piper in Scotland. I shall give you five 
minutes to consider," and she took from her bosom a golden 
time-piece about the size of a sovereign. 

The book was a splendidly bound Bible, richly embossed 
with gold, and with a golden clasp ; the pipe a beautiful 
instrument, with a green silk bag of gold and silver tissue, 
and superbly finished with a number of silver keys. Peter 
gazed in admiration on the articles, and was greatly puzzled. 
It would be a grand thing, he thought, to be a popular 
preacher, to have a manse and glebe, and be fit company 
for the laird and his lady. But he was an enthusiast for 
music, and he should like above all things to be able to play 
the bagpipe. So he said — 

" Since you are so kind, I think I will choose the pipe ; 
but as I have never fingered a chanter in my life, I fear it 
will be a long time before I learn to play such a difficult 

" No fear of that," said the lady. " Blow up, and you'll 
find that the pipe of its own accord will discourse the most 
eloquent music." 

Peter did as he was desired, and lo ! he played " Maggie 
Lauder" in splendid style — so splendidly that the cattle 

244 The Highland Bagpipe. 

near by began capering about in the most extraordinary 

" This is perfectly wonderful," he said. " There must 
surely be some glamour about this instrument." 

He thanked the lady, and was about to take his depar- 
ture, when she stopped him with — ■ 

" Stop a minute. There is a condition attached to the 
gift. This day seven years, at the very same hour in the 
evening, you must meet me by moonlight at the Well of 
Sysa. Swear by its enchanted spring that you will do so." 

Peter was elated over his new acquisition, and rashly 
swore as she desired. Then he went home to his father's 
farm, the " Windy Ha'." With an air of triumph he pro- 
duced his pipes, which excited much curiosity, and were 
greatly admired. But when he told how he came by them, 
the old people were fearful. 

" It's no canny, Peter," said his father, shaking his head, 
" and I would advise you to have nothing to do with it." 

" The Best protect us ! " exclaimed his mother, " my bairn 
is lost. He must have got it from none other than the 
Queen of the Fairies." 

" Nonsense," said Peter ; " it was not the Queen of the 
Fairies, but a real lady — and a kind and beautiful lady she 
was — that gave me the pipes." 

" But of what use can they be to you," said his father, 
" when you canna play them ? " 

" rU let you see that," Peter replied, and, putting the 
wind pipe to his mouth, he played the " Fairy Dance" in a 
style that electrified the household. The whole family, 
including the grandmother, ninety years of age, started to 
their feet, and danced heartily, overturning stools and scat- 
tering the fire, which was in the middle of the floor, with 

Pipers and Fairies. 245 

their fantastic movements. The piper played as if he would 
never stop. 

At length his father, panting for breath and with the 
perspiration running down his cheeks, cried out, "For 
mercy's sake, Peter, gie ower, or you'll be the death o' me 
and yer mither, as well as poor old grannie." 

" I think," said Peter, laying aside his pipes, " I think 
you'll no longer say that I cannot play," and from that time 
his fame as a piper spread rapidly, and he was sent for to 
perform at weddings and merrymakings all over the country, 
till he realised a small fortune. But the seven years soon 
rolled away, and the afternoon arrived when he must keep 
his appointment with the donor of the pipes. Rover, the 
house dog, attempted to follow him, and when he was sent 
back he gazed after his master as far as he could see him, 
and then howled long and piteously. The evening was just 
such another as that seven years before, and the hillock of 
Sysa seemed, in the yellow radiance of the setting sun, to 
glow with unearthly splendour. Peter went, but he never 
returned, and the general belief was that he was carried 
away to Fairyland. At any rate, he was never again seen 
at Windy Ha'. 

Not only did the fairies take an interest in pipers, but 
they played the pipes themselves. In one case where, after 
a deal of trouble, a young man, Charlie Mac Lean by name, 
got nearly to the Fairies' Palace in search of his beautiful 
young wife, who had been stolen to nurse the young prince 
of the fairies, he was met by a withered " atomy " of a man, 
finely dressed, with a cocked hat on his head and a magnifi- 
cent set of pipes under his arm. 

" A happy May eve to you, Charlie Mac Lean," said the 
little man, coming up with a dignified bow. 

246 The Highland Bagpipe. 

" The same to you, sir, and many," Charlie replied. "May 
I ask where this road leads ? " 

" Why, you goose, don't you know ? It leads to the 
Fairies' Palace. Don't you be trying your tricks on 
travellers, my fine fellow. However, come on. I'll lead 
the way, no matter who plays the pipes." 

With that he tuned up his pipes and marched along, 
Charlie following. " What tune do you like ? " said he, 
turning round suddenly. 

" Oh ! Cailleach Liath Rarsair^'' answered Charlie, 
scarcely knowing what he said. 

" It's a capital tune," said the " atomy," and immediately 
striking it up, he played with such life and spirit that 
Charlie felt able to fight the whole fairy court for his wife. 

" Now," said the little piper, as he finished the tune, " I 
haven't time to play more, else I'd give you the prettiest 
pibroch ever was battered through a chanter. I must be 
going. Look up, there is the palace before your eyes. One 
you know bade me tell you to stand in the porch till the 
company comes out to the green. Your wife will be among 
them. A word to a sensible man is enough. You have 
the purse of dust in your pocket : (Charlie had got this 
from a ' wise man' before setting out on the journey) ; use 
it, I say, use it, whenever you see your wife." With that 
he struck up " Charlie is my darling," and marched back 
the way he had come. 

Charlie got his wife all right, by following the advice of 
the " wise man " and the " atomy," but that part of the 
story has nought to do with pipers. 



Pipers in Enchanted Caves. 247 


Pipers in Enchanted Caves. 

" The Banshee's wild voice sings the death dirge before me, 
The pall of the dead for a mantle hangs o'er me ; 
But my heart shall not flag and my nerve shall not shiver, 
Though devoted I go — to return again never ! " 


Allied to fairy stories — Venturesome pipers — The Skye cave — The 
Mull version — The Argyllshire — The Ghostly piper of Dun- 
derave — " Wandering Willie\ Tale" — A Sutherlandshire cave 
— A Caithness story — Underground passages. 

THE story of a piper endeavouring to explore a 
mysterious cave is so closely allied to the class dealt 
with in last chapter, that all might quite fairly have 
been included under one heading. The only difference often 
is that in the one case the piper enters a cave opening out 
to the sea, whereas in the other he enters a knoll, which 
may be any distance inland. There are always fairies in 
the knoll, but in the majority of cases there are none in the 
cave. Their place is taken by wild beasts, who take the 
life of the venturesome explorer. The piper generally has 
a dog with him when he enters the cave, and the dog 
always returns, though the last that is heard of his master 
is the sad wail of his pipes playing a lament for his own 
terrible fate. 

248 The Highland Bagpipe. 

" Oh, that I had three hands — two for the pipes and one 
for the sword," is recorded as the tune played by a piper 
who entered a cavern and could not get out again. The 
incident is located in several places — in Skye, in Mull, and 
at a cave eight miles up the river Nevis, in Inverness-shire. 
The Mull cave reached, it was believed, right across the 
island, and it was inhabited by wolves and other wild 
animals. The Skye cave was called Uavih an Oir, the Cave 
of Gold, and was situated about four miles from Dunvegan, 
the other end opening out at Monkstad on Loch Snizort. 
It, too, had wild animals for inhabitants. The inside of 
the cave in most cases consisted of many confusing offshoots 
leading in different directions, the want of knowledge of 
which prevented the people of the neighbouring districts 
from exploring it. However, on one occasion a piper (the 
Skye version makes him a Mac Crimmon) accompanied by a 
member of the Clan Mac Leod (also the Skye version) made 
bold to enter the cave. A crowd gathered outside to wait 
for the result. The piper, who of course had his pipes, went 
first, playing his best. After a considerable time had elapsed, 
the waiting people began to feel anxious as to their safety. 
But by and by MacLeod returned. He could give no 
account of Mac Crimmon except that he had lost him in the 
labyrinths of the cave. He considered himself extremely 
fortunate in finding his way out. Their torches had been 
extinguished by the dim and foul atmosphere. Just when 
Mac Leod was telling his story the wailing notes of Mac 
Crimmon's pipes were heard issuing from the cave. All 
listened, and as they listened the pipes spoke, and the notes 
that came out of the darkness represented : — 

" 1 will return, I will return, I will return no more ; 
MacLeod may return, but Mao Crimmon shall never." 

Pipers in Enchanted Caves. 249 

And also : — 

" The she wolf, the she wolf, the she wolf follows me ; 
Oh for three hands ; two for the pipes and one for the sword." 

And so on the wailing notes continued, the piper bewailing 
his fate in that he could not stop his playing for an instant, 
because if he did this the wolf would attack him. So long as 
he played he was safe. Ultimately he began to' speak of 
how long his strength would last, sometimes coming near to 
the mouth of the cave, but anon wandering away again into 
its recesses till the music was scarcely audible. This went 
on all that day and night, but in the early morning the 
listeners heard the music cease, and they knew that exhaus- 
tion had overtaken the piper, and that the wolf had 

This is the story as I had it from an old lady still living 
in Glenquoich, Inverness-shire. Another version has it 
that this Mac Crimmon had twelve other men with him, 
that none of them ever returned, having been met by an 
uile bheisd or monster, and devoured. The last despairing 
notes of the piper were heard by a person sitting at Tobar 
Tulach in the neighbourhood, who listened to the lament 
as it came up from the bottom of a well. 

The Mull story is told of two of a wedding party who 
entered the cave and never came out, and also of twelve 
men of the Clan Mac Kinnon, who, headed by a piper, 
attempted to explore the cave. In the latter case another 
party walked along the top keeping pace with the music 
below. When the party who travelled in the cave arrived 
at the end, the fact was to be signalled to those outside by 
a certain bar of music, and they were to mark the spot to 
indicate the termination of the cave. After the explorers 


250 The Highla-nd Bagpipe. 

had travelled some distance they encountered a fairy 
woman, who attacked the band and slew them one by one. 
She was, however, so charmed with the music of the pipes 
that she offered no injury to the person who played them. 
The poor piper made the best of his way back to the mouth 
of the cave followed by the fairy, she meanwhile informing 
him that if he ceased playing before he saw the light of 
day he too would be killed. He staggered along in the 
dark, bravely playing out his life breath, but at last, in 
spite of his struggles, the music ceased. The charm was 
then broken and the piper shared the fate of his comrades. 
Those outside knew that something had happened and with 
drawn swords rushed into hhe cave. They found the dead 
piper and his comrades. The last notes he played, says the 
tradition, were : — 

" Alas ! that I had not three hands — 
Two for the pipes and one for the sword." 

This identifies the story as just a variation of the others, 
though how it comes to be located in so many different 
places it is difficult to explain. In connection with the 
Mac Kinnon exploring adventure, it may be added, the 
tradition further tells of how a dog accompanied the party, 
and emerged from the cave at some other place, but bereft 
of his hair. He had been in a death struggle with some 
monster inside and had escaped. 

The dog, the same dog presumably, went into an Argyll- 
shire cave with a piper. There are imany large caves on 
the Kintyre coast, one of the biggest being at Keill. This 
cave was long the resort of smugglers, and was said to 
possess a subterranean passage extending six miles from the 
mouth of the cave to the hill of Kilellan. It was haunted, 

Pipers in Enchanted Caves. 25l 

and whosoever would penetrate beyond a certain distance 
would never again be heard of (a very convenient tradition 
for stnugglers). A piper, however, made up his mind to 
explore its inmost recesses, and, accompanied by his dog, a 
little terrier, he set out on the expedition, while his friends 
watched and listened at the cavern's mouth. The piper 
went in boldly, blowing his pipes till the cave resounded. 
His friends heard his music becoming gradually fainter and 
fainter until all at once, when, as they supposed, he had 
passed the fatal boundary, his pipes were heard to give an 
unearthly and tremendous skirl, while an eildrich laugh re- 
echoed through the cave. The terrier shortly after came 
running out, but without his skin. In process of time he 
obtained a fresh skin, but he never tried to bark after that 
adventure. As for the piper, his fate was purely a matter 
of conjecture, but he is supposed to have stumbled in the 
subterranean passage, for about five miles from the cavern's 
mouth there was a farm house, and undernpath its hearth- 
stone the piper was, in after years, often heard playing 
his favourite tune, and occasionally stopping to ejaculate — 

" I doubt, I doubt 
I'll ne'er get out.'' 

Then there is the tale of the ghostly piper of Dunderave. 
At certain times his music was heard issuing from a cavern 
which faced the sea, and into the recesses of which the 
waves swept. On winter nights the sounds that came from 
that cavern were wild and unaccountable, and often the 
fishermen in the vicinity were startled by fierce, blood- 
curdling yells, especially in the early morning. When the 
tide went out the children of the village, unaware of its 
terrible mystery, strayed near the yawning cavern, and 

252 The Highland Bagpipd. 

occasionally sad hearts were made by the disappearance of 
the little ones who wandered too far in. The legend of 
Dunderave was that the seventh son of the seventh 
son of a Mac Gi'egor, who would play the gathering 
of his clan in the cavern, would scatter for ever the evil 
spirits who frequented it. A piper, who thought he had 
the necessary qualifications, was got, and he had the courage 
to play in the cavern of Dunderave. Whether he played 
the gathering of his clan satisfactorily or not could never 
be known, but certainly he never came out of the cave, the 
mouth of which fell in after him, blocking up the cavern 
for ever. No more children were lost, but ever after there 
could be heard by anyone standing over the cavern, the 
faint music of Mac Gregor's pipes. 

Wandering Willie's tale in Redgauntlet is much too long 
to quote entire. In it Steenie the Piper, who has paid his 
rent to the dead Sir Robert Redgauntlet, is threatened 
with eviction by the next laird because he has not a receipt, 
and when riding home through the darkness in great per- 
plexity of mind, is accosted by a stranger, who guides him 
to an unearthly place, where he finds Sir Robert and many 
people whom he knew were dead gathered round the festal 
board. He demands his receipt from Sir Robert, but the 
laird, or rather " the something that was like him," asks 
him to play up " Weel Hoddled, Luckie," a tune he had 
learned from a warlock, that heard it when they were wor- 
shipping Satan at their meetings, and which he never 
played willingly. Now he grew cauld at the name of it, 
and said, for excuse, he hadna his pipes wi' him : — 

" ' Mac Calluin, ye limb of Beelzebub,' said the fearfu' Sir Robert, 
' bring Steenie pipes that I am keeping for him.' 
" Mao Calluin brought a pair of pipes that might have served the 

Pipers in Enchanted Caves. 253 

piper of Donald of the Isles. But he gave my gudesire a nudge as 
he offered them ; and, looking secretly and closely, Steenie saw that 
the chanter was of steel, and heated to a white heat, so he had fair 
■warning not to trust his fingers with it. So he excused himself 
again, and said he was faint and frightened and had not wind 
aneugh to fill the bag. 

" ' Then ye maun eat and drink, Steenie,' said the figure, ' for we 
do little else here, and its ill speaking between a fu' man and a 

" But Steenie was not to be cajoled or threatened into any more 
transactions with the ghostly crew than he could help, so he spoke 
up like a man, and said he came neither to eat or drink or make 
minstrelsy, but simply for his receipt, which in a rage ' the appear- 
ance ' gave him. Then, when Sir Robert stipulated that the piper 
should return after a twelvemonth to pay homage, Steenie's tongue 
loosened yet more, and he exclaimed : — 

" ' I refer mysel' to God's pleasure and not to yours.' " 

Whereupon, as in all other tales of the kind, at the men- 
tion of the sacred Name, " all was dark around him, and he 
sunk on the earth with such a sudden shock that he lost 
both breath and sense." When he came round he was lying 
in the kailyard of Redgauntlet, and he would have thought 
the whole experience but a dream, only he had the receipt 
in his hand fairly written and signed by the auld laird, and 
dated " From my appointed place, this twenty-fifth day of 
November," the previous day, in fact. This he carried to 
the new laird, who accepted it as evidence of the rent 
having been paid, but made Steenie swear never to divulge 
his adventure. 

Away up in the north, too, we come across stories con- 
nected with caves into which pipers went. At Durness, in 
Sutherlandshire, a piper went into a cave and never returned. 
According to the version current in the locality, the Devil 
himself got hold of the venturesome explorer and kept him. 

254 The Highland Bagpipe. 

Prom Caithness we get something better. A piper, in a 
spirit of braggadocia, as is often the case in these stories, 
entered a cave near Dunnet Head. Jock was " a stout, 
long-winded chap,'" 

" Who was a piper to his trade, 
And by his trusty chanter earned his bread," 

and the fairies had often heard him play and wished to get 
him to take the place of their own piper, who had died. 
Though they were immortal themselves, they had not a 
piper of their own race, and when they got one from among 
mankind they could not make him immortal. Jock lived 
near a famous cave called Puddingoe, the inmost recesses of 
which no man had ever- explored, and one day he laid a 
wager that he would play up Puddingoe and see how far it 

" ' For,' added Jock, ' though Nick's a roguish elf, 
I canna think he'd harm a hair o' me, 
For he is just a piper like myself, 

And dearly loves, I'm told, a funny spree — 
Nae doot then he would treat me as a brither. 
And we would play a merry jig together." 

Then he " quaffed a cog of prime home-brewed " and hied 
him to the cave, and entered, screwing up his drones and 
beginning a lively march that startled the wild pigeons 
from their ledges and echoed among the recesses of the 
walls. Farther and farther he went, past the dripping sides 
of cold, damp stone and through the dark, chilly air till at 
last, strange to say, the dai'kness was dispelled and the cave 
became illuminated with a light like that of the moon. 
Jock was, he reckoned, about two miles underground when 
all at once he came to a door, which opened of its own 

Pipers in Enchanted Caves. 255 

accord and admitted him into a chamber of exceeding 
beauty. The floor was inlaid with silver, the walls seemed 
burnished gold, and a jovial party of ladies and gentlemen 
banquetted at a splendidly spread table. The piper stood 
amazed for a moment, until one of the company handed 
him a glass of wine. 

'■ ' I am a piper to my trade,' cried Jock, 
Am I upon the earth, or where am I ? 
I never saw before such beauteous folk, 

Or such a chamber with my naked eye ; 
Here's a' yir healths,' and saying this he quaffed 
The brimming cup and smacked his lips and laughed." 

Then, of course, the fairies asked him to play, which Jock 
did, and the party danced, sind danced, and danced, until 
Jock cried — 

" Lord save's, ohon ! 
Have mercy on my soul, my breath is gone." 

This had the inevitable result. The lights went out with a 
fiery hissing sound, the party vanished, as well as the gor- 
geous hall, and when Jock again came to himself he found 
that he was on the top of an elf-haunted knowe in the 
vicinity. He had been a year and a day away from home, 
his friends had given him up as dead, and his features were 
so changed that they did not recognise him when he re- 
turned. With the long spell of blowing his mouth was 
distended, which also helped to disguise him. But he made 
himself known, and was duly received by his friends and his 
sweetheart, and he married shortly after. But, as J. T. 
Calder, the historian of Caithness, who tells the legend in 
rhyme, says — 

" Never after was he seen to enter 
The enchanted cave in quest of fresh adventure." 

256 The Highland Bagpipe. 

A slight variation of the cave stories are the stories of un- 
derground passages. There is, for instance, the passage that 
is supposed to exist between Edinburgh Castle and Holy- 
rood Palace. The piper went in at the Castle end, intend- 
ing to play all the way to Holyrood. His pipes were heard 
as far as the Tron Church, but then the music ceased. It 
did not start again, and the piper was never more heard of. 

A similar legend is referred to by Hugh Mac Donald in 
his ramble, Rutherglen and CathJcin. It is to the effect 
that Glasgow Cathedral was built by the " wee pechs 
(Picts) who had their domicile in Rutherglen." Instead, 
however, of making their journeys overland, they dug an 
underground passage, through which they came and went. 
Even in Mac Donald's youth, those who doubted this story 
were silenced and awed by the solemn assurance that a 
Highland piper, to put down the sceptics, had volunteered 
to explore the dark road. He was accompanied by his dog, 
and he entered playing a cheery tune, as if confident of a 
successful result. But " he was never seen or heard tell o' 
again." Only the sound of his pipes was heard as he passed 
underneath Dalmarnock, playing in a mournful key, which 
suggested the words, " I doot, I doot, I'll ne'er get oot." 
Another version tells, however, that his poor dog returned, 
but without its skin. According to a Glasgow ballad, it 
was a dominie who ventured to explore the secret path. 
He encountered the Deil and other " friends," who blew 
him up through the waters of the Clyde, and the point at 
which he emerged is known to this day as " The Dominie's 

The Hereditary Pipers. 257 


The Hereditary Pipers. 

" 'Tis wonderful, 
That an invisible instinct should frame them, 
To loyalty unlearned ; honour untaught ; 
Civility not seen from others ; valour 
That wildly grows in them, but yields a crop 
As if it had been sowed." 

— Shakespeare. 

Hereditary in two senses — When they ceased — The MacCrimmons 
— A traditional genealogy — A Mac Gregor tradition — The Mac 
Crimmon College — Dr. Johnson — College broken up — An Irish 
college — Its system — A MacCrimmon's escapades — Respect for 
the Mac Orimmons — The Rout of Moy — The last of the race — 
How they excelled — The Mac Arthurs — The Maclntyres — The 
Mac Kays — The Rankins — The Campbells — The Mac Gregors. 

THE hereditary pipers vi^ere hereditary in at least two 
senses. They were hereditary because son followed 
father, generation after generation, in the service of 
one chief, no one disputing their claim to the succession. 
But they were also hereditary in the sense that their talents 
were not self-acquired. They came of a race of pipers, and 
piping to them was hereditary. Seven generations of pipers 
for ancestors and seven years of personal training were con- 
sidered necessary to produce the true hereditary piper. It 
is this to which Neil Munro alludes when he says — " To the 

258 The Highland Bagpipe. 

make of a piper go seven years of his own learning and 
seven generations before." 

The hereditary pipers were second only to the chiefs of 
the various clans, and their fame has come down through 
the years with wonderful persistence. The chiefs were 
proud of their pipers and treated them as gentlemen. The 
pipers, on their part, were proud of their chiefs, and would 
do anything for them. Hereditary pipers existed until the 
passing of the Heritable Jurisdiction Abolition Act of 1747, 
which, by abolishing clanship, made the possession of a 
retinue by a chief an offence against the civil law. The 
chiefs then deprived their pipers of the lands they had for- 
merly held by virtue of their office, and by that act degraded 
them to the level of ordinary musicians. And, with the 
absence of a sure position, the enthusiasm for pipe music 
dwindled, succeeding generations failed to attain to the 
high level of their forebears, and the hereditary pipers were 
merged in the general race of Highland musicians. 

The greatest of the hereditary pipers were 


pipers to Mac Leod of Dunvegan. There is nothing to 
show how or where the race originated. Some traditions 
state that the first MacCrimmon came from Cremona 
in Italy, and was named Donald. He settled in Glenelg, 
and had a son named Iain Odhar, who, about 1600, 
became the first piper to the family of Mac Leod. This 
traditional genealogical tree, supplied originally by a man 
who had seen t^e wife of him who, according to the tradi- 
tion, was the last of the Mac Crimmon pipers to Mac Leod 
of MacLeod, shows that a direct descent from this Iain 
Odhar was :— 


(From Mac l0n's Clans.) 

260 The Highland Bagpipe. 

Malcolm, married with issue : — 

1. John, who succeeded him as piper. 

2. Donald (Roy), D.S.P. 

3. Rachel, who married in Glendale. 

4. A daughter who died unmarried. 

.John (Dulh) married first a MacAakill, with issue : — 

1. Donald, D.S.P., a Captain in the Army. 

2. Peter, D.S.P., a Captain in the Army, and considered 

one of the strongest men of his day. Emigrated to 
Cape Coast Castle. 

3. Malcolm, married in Ardroasan, with several sons. 

4. Elizabeth, married a cooper of the name of MacKinnon, 

in Islay. Had two daughters — (a) Mary Ann, married 
Malcolm MacLeod, Shipmaster, Lochmaddy, with 
issue ; (b) Effle, married Ohisholm, Tacksman, of 
Gairnish, South Uist, with issue. 

5. Janet, married a Ferguson, in America, with issue, an 

only daughter, who resided in Greenock. 

6. Fli)ra, who married Mac Donald, Tacksman, of Pein-a- 

Daorir, South Uist, factor for South Uist. 

7. Marion, married, with issue. 

8. Catherine, married with issue. 

John, married secondly Ann Campbell, with issue : — 

9. Duncan, married a Mac Queen, with issue — (a) John, 

who went to New Zealand ; (fc) Donald, who married 
a MacLeod, went to America, and had a family. 

10. Peter, married Ann Mac Donald from Trotternish, with 

issue, one daughter. Married secondly Margaret 
Morrison, by whom he had three daughters. 

11. John, died unmarried, but left an illegitimate son named 

John, who married a daughter of Neil Mac Sween, 
mason, Roag. 

12. Euphemia, married Malcolm Nicholson, with issue — 

(a) Hector, died without issue ; (h) John, married with 
issue ; (c) Murdo, who married a daughter of Jamea 

The Hereditary Pipers. 261 

Wood ; {d) John, married Janet, daughter of John 
Ban Mao Leod, Liista, with issue ; (e) Donald, married 
a Mac Nab, with issue ; (/) Catherine, unmarried ; 
{g) Ann, married Miirdo Mao Innes, Roag, without 
issue ; {h) Marion, married Norman Mac Askill, tenant, 
UUiuish, with issue ; (i) EfEe, married Samuel Thor- 
burn, Holraisdale, with issue. 

According to this genealogy, which however does not 
profess to be complete, the line of hereditary MacCrimmon 
pipers was very short indeed, consisting of only Iain Odhar, 
Malcolm, John, and John (DubhJ. That this is not the 
complete line is undoubted, for we have historical proof that 
there were other Mac Crimmons pipers to Mac Leod. As 
a matter of fact, one of the family living in Alexandria, 
Dumbartonshire, as late as 1898, writes as follows : — 

"My uncle, Donald MacCrimmon, was the last piper of the Mac 
Crimmons that was in the Castle, and he died over fifty years ago. 
My father also, Norman Mac Crimmon, was a pibroch player, and 
was taught by Captain Mac Leod of Gesto, who is now dead fifty- 
four years. Both were born at Lowerkill, Glendale. My great 
grandfather, Donald Donn, was brother to Donald B&n, who com- 
posed ' Mac Orimmon's Lament,' and was with the MacLeod High- 
landers near Moy Hall, the residence of Lady Mac Intosh, recon- 
noitering Prince Charlie." 

Some stories — they are only stories — assert that the Mac 
Crimmons were originally Mac Gregors. The Mac Gregors, 
it is pointed out, had an academy for the teaching of pipe 
music in Lochaber many centuries ago, and the Mac Gregor 
music, such as the " Reel of Tulloch " (that this is a Mac 
Gregor tune is a matter of debate, however) is the merriest 
and also the saddest in the Highlands. Rob Roy's deathbed 
tune is said to have simply been " We Return no More," ia 
other words, " Mac Crimmon's Lament," and his piper was 

262 The Highland Bagpipe. 

himself a Mac Crimnion, who, under the mournful circum- 
stances, recalled the traditional strain. There is certainly 
a great deal that is probable in this, but that is the most 
that can be said about it. 

The best, and what, on the face of it, is the most reliable 
story of the Mac Crimmons is that given by Angus Mac Kay 
in his book of pipe music* It is beyond doubt that high 
musical talent as well as high moral principle and personal 
bravery descended from father to son during many genera- 
tions in the family of the Mac Crimmons. They became so 
famous that pupils were sent to them from many parts of 
the Highlands, and one of the best certificates a piper could 
possess was his having studied under the Mac Crimmons. 
Finding the number of their pupils increasing daily, they at 
length opened a regular school or college on the farm of 
Boreraig, about eight miles south-west of Dunvegan Castle, 
but separated from it by Loch Follart. Here seven years' 
study was prescribed for each scholar, regular lessons were 
given out, and certain periods were fixed on for receiving 
instruction. The tuition was carried on as systematically as 
in any of our northern schools, and the names of some of 
the caves and knolls in the vicinity still indicate the places 
where the scholars used to practise respectively the chanter, 
the small pipe and the large bagpipe, before playing in the 
presence of the master. This school was not entirely 
extinct in 1779, for Dr. Johnson, who was at Dunvegan in 
that year, alludes to it and says his dinner " was exhilarated 
by the bagpipes at Armadale and Dunvegan." The school 
proper was the "ben" end of the dwelling-house, which 
seems to have been about seventy feet in length and two 

* See page 109. 

The Hereditary Pipers. £63 

storeys in height. In actual practice, however, the room 
was little used. The " professors " preferred the open 
hillside, a small hollow near the house, or a cave in the 
neighbourhood, which came to be known as the Pipers' 
Cave. Near the Pipers' Cave is another known as the 
Pigeons' Cave, which is about a mile in length. To it, 
tradition asserts, the daughters of the MacCrimmons were 
wont to' slip with a favourite set of pipes, for they too were 
musically inclined, and so proficient did some of them 
become, an ancient chronicler tells us, that they were able 
to superintend the class work in the absence of their fathers. 

The speciality of the Mac Crimmons was the pibroch, and 
many students studied with them for years so as to become 
proficient in this one branch of pipe music — a branch which 
is, in the estimation of most pipers, far superior to reels and 
strathspeys. They held the farm of Boreraig rent free until 
the time came when all the hereditary pipers were either 
dispossessed of their lands or asked to pay rent for them. 
The proud Mac Crimmons declined to pay rent, broke up 
the college, and from that day ceased to exist as a family for 
the cultivation of pipe music. Their farm was afterwards 
let to eighteen different tenants, and drew over £\00 a year 
in rent, so they must have been treated with considerable 
liberality by their chiefs. 

No tradition exists, says Mac Kay, relating to the time 
when the Mac Crimmons became professional pipers to the 
MacLeods, but neither is their trace of any others holding the 
office. The first of whom there is any account is Iain OdJiar 
or Dun-coloured John, who lived about 1600, but it is 
evident from their compositions that the family must have 
been established long before that date. They were a minor 
sept, and they are supposed to have derived their name from 

264 The Highland Bagpipe. 

the fact that the first performer studied at Cremona. After 
Iain Odhar came his son, Donull M6r, or Big Donald, who 
became a great pibroch player, and getting into the good 
graces of Mac Leod, got special opportunities for learning. 
He was sent to a college in Ireland, which is said to have 
been started there by a celebrated Scottish piper, and he 
learned all there was to learn. 

The system of this Irish school permitted one pupil only 
to be in the presence of the master at a time, but Donull 
Mor, in his anxiety to learn, hid himself in a corner, where 
he could hear all the other students — there were twenty-four 
— at their lessons. He required only to hear a tune once to 
remember it completely, so he very soon exhausted the 
repertory of the master. When he came back to Skye, 
Mac Leod was delighted with the progress he had made. 
But the piper was not destined to remain at peace long. He 
had a brother who, because of a squint in one of his eyes, 
was known as Padruig Coag, or Squinting Peter, and this 
brother quarrelled with a foster brother of his own, a native 
of Kintail, who afterwards treacherously killed him. Big 
Donald swore vengeance, and going up to his chief's room 
threw his pipes on the bed. Mac Leod asking what was 
wrong, Donald told his story, and demanded that his chief 
should avenge his clansman. Mac Leod promised to see 
justice done within a year, and Donald took his leave. The 
chief, however, had no intention of executing vengeance on 
the Kintail man ; he only wished to give Donald's anger 
time to cool. But he did not know his man, for at the end 
of the year Donald, without giving a hint to anyone, set out 
in pursuit of his brother's murderer. He found that he was 
in Kintail, but in hiding, and as the people of the village 
declined to give him up, the wrath of Donald M6r Mac 

The Hereditary Pipers. ^65 

Crimmon broke all bounds. He set fire to eighteen of their 
houses, a trick which cost several lives. It was then his turn 
to go into hidingj which he did in Lord Reay's country. 
The Lord of Kintail offered a big reward for his arresb, but 
he was not caught, though he was known to be wandering 
among the hills. His principal place of concealment was in 
a shepherd's house, where a bed was specially made for him 
in the wall. At last Kintail came to know of this haunt of 
Mac Crimmon's, and sent his son with a dozen men to seize 
him. Donald Mor was in the house when the shepherd's 
wife saw the party coming, and he betook himself to bed. 
The woman then made a big fire in the centre of the floor, 
where fires were always made in those days, and when the 
avenger of blood came with his men she welcomed them 
effusively, and, making them sit round the fire, she hung 
their plaids on a rope between them and Mac Crimmon's bed. 
Then the fugitive slipped out behind and was free, profiting 
as other and more notable men have done bya woman's astute- 
ness. When the pursuers had searched the house and found 
nothing, the shepherd's wife entertained them hospitably 
and kept them for the night. When they had gone to rest 
Mac Crimmon came in and, gathering all their arms while 
they slept soundly, he placed the weapons all over their 
leader and retired. When morning broke, Mac Kenzie of 
Kintail immediately realized what had taken place, and 
was astonished at the generosity of Big Donald. "If 
Donald Mor Mac Crimmon is alive," he said, " it was he 
that did this, and it was as easy for him to take my life as 
to do so." When they went outside they saw Mac Crim- 
mon on the other side of a stream, and when his men 
essayed to ford the stream and seize him, Mac Kenzie threat- 
ened to shoot the first who touched the piper, and swore to 


^66 The Highland Bagpipe. 

Mac Crimmoii that if he would cross the river he would not 
be injured. After all the men had been sworn to the same 
purpose, Mac Crimmon did cross, and in consideration of 
his nobility in sparing his life during the night, Mac Kenzie 
took the piper home with him, and by dint of special 
pleading managed to obtain for him the forgiveness of Lord 
Kintail. Then Donald M6r returned to his allegiance at 
Dunvegan, where he remained ever after — a great piper. 
It was after his day that the Mac Crimmons were univer- 
sally acknowledged to be the best pipers in Scotland, so 
much so that no piper was considered perfect unless he had 
studied for some time under them. 

Donald M6r Mac Crimmon was succeeded by his son 
Patrick Mor. This Patrick had eight sons, seven of whom 
died within twelve months. On this great bereavement he 
composed a tune called Cumha no Cloinne, or "The Lament 
for the Children." In 1745 Mac Leod's piper was Donald 
Ban Mac Crimmon, the composer of " Mac Crimmon"'s 
Lament." Mac Leod was opposed to Prince Charlie, and 
when he was defeated at Inverurie by Lord Louis Gordon, 
Donald Ban was taken prisoner. On this occasion a strik- 
ing mark of respect was paid to Mac Crimmon by his 
brother pipers in Lord Louis Gordon's following. The 
morning after the battle they did not play as usual, and on 
inquiry it was found that they were silent because Mac 
Crimmon was a prisoner. He was immediately set at 
liberty, but was killed shortly after at " The Rout of Moy," 
a rather tragic incident in Highland Jacobite History. It 
was before leaving on the expedition in which he met 
his death that Donald Ban composed " Mac Crimmon's 
Lament," under the presentiment that he would never 
see Dunvegan again. On. the night of the Rout of Moy, 

The tieredttary Pipers. 261" 

it was said, a second-sight man saw the body of Mac 
Crimmon shrunken to the proportions of a child, a sure 
sign of impending death. Donald Ban was said to excel 
most of his race by the beauty and neatness with which he 
noted on paper the tunes he played and composed. 

How the race became extinct — if it is extinct — cannot be 
determined. John Diibh Mac Crimmon was the last who 
held the hereditary office, and of him it is related that 
about 1795 he determined, probably because of the changed 
circumstances, to emigrate to America, that he actually 
went as far as Greenock, but that there his love for the 
misty island became too much for him, and he went back 
to Skye. But he was not then piper to MacLeod, and 
he spent the rest of his life in retirement. When he be- 
came too infirm to play the pipes, he would sit outside and 
run over the notes on his walking stick. He lived to the 
age of 91, dying in 1822, and was buried with his fathers 
in the kirkyard at Durinish. Music of the Highland Clans, 
written in 1862, states that the last of this noble race of 
minstrels was a blind and venerable old gentleman then 
living at Gourock; but Logan's Scottish Gael, written in 
1831, says a Captain Mac Crimmon " died lately in Kent at 
an advanced age, and the descendant of these celebrated 
pipers is now a respectable farmer in Kent." The author of 
Musical Memoirs of Scotland (1849) says the Mac Crimmons 
ended in a woman then keeping school in Skye, who could 
go through all the intricacies of the pibroch on the family 
instrument. There is said to have been a piper of the name 
in Glasgow about 1872, who claimed to be a direct descen- 
dant of the Mac Crimmons. He was an old man then, and 
all trace of him is now lost. If he is dead, which is highly 
probable, it is almost certain, that although the race as 


The Hereditary Pipers. 269 

dimmed. So MacCrimmon generally found some excuse 
for sending Mae Arthur away to some distance when he 
wished to play these tunes. One day his master had a 
visitor who desired to hear one of the highly-prized melodies, 
and in order to get the boy Mac Arthur out of the way Mac 
Crimmon sent him a message to a neighbouring township 
some miles distant. But the boy, suspecting the plot, 
lingered about the door until he heard the tunes, and then 
rushed off on his message. Afterwards in a secluded spot 
he practised the airs until he became perfect. But 
Mac Crimmon one day suddenly heard a tune which he 
thought he alone could play, and angrily approaching the 
performer, whom he found to be his pupil, he said : — " You 
young rascal, where have you picked up that piece of 
music ? " " I picked it up in the back door that day you 
entertained your friend to it," said Mac Arthur, assuming 
the utmost indifference ; " and," he continued, " I shall lose 
no more time than the boat shall take on her voyage to 
Mull in telling my master that you are not giving me the 
full benefit of your talents, for which you were amply paid 
by my benefactor." Old Mac Crimmon felt somewhat 
alarmed at the cool indifference with which his pupil 
addressed him, and, knowing what would result from the 
matter being made known to his influential patron, he very 
discreetly confessed his guilt, and promised his clever pupil 
better attention in the future. Pupil and tutor seem to 
have got on very well after this incident, and when, in the 
course of a year or two, Mac Arthur quitted the Mac 
Crimmon College, he was ranked among the foremost pipers 
of his day. 

■ Mac Donald granted the Mac Arthurs a perpetual gift 
of the farm of Peingowen, near the castle of Duntulm. 

270 The Highland Bagpipe. 

Like the Mac Crimmons, they kept a " college." Their 
establishment, which was at Ulva near Mull, was divided 
into four apartments, one for their own use, one for 
receiving strangers, one for the cattle, and 6ne for the 
use of the students while practising. Charles Mac 
Arthur, the best known of the race, received his edu- 
cation from Patrick Og Mac Crimmon, staying at Dun- 
vegan Castle for this purpose for eleven years. He 
taught a nephew, who afterwards settled in Edinburgh, be- 
came piper to the Highland Society of Scotland, and was 
known in the capital as " Professor " Mac Arthur. At a 
competition in 1783, he performed, we are told, " with 
great approbation," receiving a splendid set of pipes speci- 
ally made for him, and a number of the then leading pipers 
subscribed to a testimonial to his merits. It was also agreed 
to support a plan of his for a college to instruct those whose 
services might be useful in Highland regiments, but of this 
nothing more was heard. The last of the Mac Donalds' 
hereditary pipers was another nephew of the great Charles 
Mac Arthur, who died in London. He was piper to the 
Highland Society of London, and composed many pieces of 
considerable merit. Like the Mac Crimmons, the Mac 
Arthurs noted their music by a system of their own, and 
they made large collections of pibrochs. 

The Archibald Mac Arthur, of whom a sketch is given 
on another page, was a native of Mull, and was acknowledged 
to be well skilled in bagpipe music, having been taught 
by a Mac Crimmon. In 1810, the date of the print, he en- 
tered for the annual competition at Edinburgh, but failing 
to carry off the first prize, he refused to accept the second, 
thereby debarring himself from again appearing on a similar 
occasion, When the King visited Edinburgh in 1822, this 

The Hereditary Pipers. 271 

Mac Arthur followed in the train of his chief, from whom 
he held a cottage with a small portion of land. That part of 
the island of Staffa on which this croft was situated was sold, 
but Mac Arthur, though no longer employed in his former 
capacity, was allowed by the new proprietor to remain in 
his old home. Angus Mac Kay, it should be added, tells of 
a John Mac Arthur, who, in 1806, obtained second place in 
the Edinburgh competition, but declined to accept the 
prize. Probably there was but one such incident although 
name and date are mistaken in one case or the other. 


were hereditary pipers to Menzies of Menzies. The 
Menzies' lived in Rannoch, and the first Mac Intyre of 
whom we hear was Donald Mor, who is said to have 
returned from the Isles about 1638, having apparently 
been at Skye receiving the finishing touches to his musical 
education. His son, John Mac Intyre also studied at Dun- 
vegan. Donald Ban, his son, succeeded him as piper to 
the chief, Sir Robert the Menzies, third Bart. When he 
died his son Robert, who should have succeeded him, was 
piper to the chief of Clan Ranald, and although, being the 
eldest son, he inherited the pipes which, according to tradi- 
tion, were played at Bannockburn, he did not take up his 
father's office. Ultimately he went to America, leaving the 
old pipes with the Mac Donalds of Loch Moidart. John 
Mac Intyre, his only brother, lived in the Menzies country, 
but cannot have been a piper, for he does not seem to have 
filled the office either. He died about 1834, and men of 
other names were afterwards pipers to the Menzies. Des- 
cendants of the Mac Intyres were living near Loch Rannoch 

272 The Highland Bagpipe. 

about the middle of the last century, and some are pro- 
bably there to this day. 


were pipers to the Mac Kenzies of Gairloch, and one of them 
at least was accounted second only to the Mac Crimmons. 
The family came originally from Sutherlandshire, and began 
with Rorie, or Ruaraidh Mac Kay, who about 1592 found it 
advisable to leave his native place. As a boy he was 
appointed piper to the laird of Mac Kay, and on one occa- 
sion he accompanied his master to Meikle Ferry with John 
Roy MacKenzie of Gairloch, who had been on a visit to the 
Mac Kay Country. At the ferry the servant of another 
gentleman, who was also about to cross, tried to retain the 
boat, and Mac Kay, then a lad of seventeen, in hot-headed- 
ness drew his dirk and cut off the servant's hand. There- 
upon his master said he could not keep him in his employ- 
ment. Mac Kenzie at once gave the piper an invitation to 
come with him, and the matter was arranged on the spot. 
Rorie ever after was a Gairloch man, but beyond the story 
of how he came to the district, little of his personal history 
is known. In his duties as piper he was frequently assisted 
by his brother, Donald Mor Mac Kay, who, however, 
returned to the Reay Country before his death. Rorie was 
piper in succession to four chiefs of Gairloch. He died in 
1689 at an extreme old age, leaving one son. Him he 
sent to Dunvegan to be trained by Patrick Og Mac 
Crimmon, and when he left, after seven years' study, it 
was acknowledged that he had no equal except his master. 
This piper. Am Piobaire Dall, Iain Doll, or, in plain 
English, John Mac Kay, was the most famous of the Gair- 
loch pipers. He was an enthusiast in his profession, and 

The Hereditary Pipers. 273 

composed twenty-four pibrochs, besides a number of strath- 
speys and reels. He was well read, though blind, and knew 
the histories of Ireland, France, Greece, and Scandinavia, 
while none excelled him in knowledge of Ossianic poetry and 
legendary lore. When he became advanced in years he was 
superannuated, and passed his time in making excursions 
into the Reay country and Skye, visiting at gentlemen's 
houses, to which he was always welcome. He died in 1854, 
at the age of ninety-eight, and was succeeded by his son 
Angus, who in his turn was succeeded by his son John 
Mac Kay. The four members of the family were pipers in 
succession to eight chiefs of Kintail, the succession in each 
case being from father to son. The Mac Kays, as has been 
said, came originally from the JReay Country, the home of 
all the Mac Kays, where there seems to have been a college 
similar to that kept at Dunvegan by the Mac Crimmons ; 
at any rate, a peculiarly large number of Mac Kay pipers 
came from the district, just as if they had been trained in a 

The changing times were too much for the Mac Kays, 
as for the other pipers, and in 1805 the representative of 
the family, the John Mac Kay last mentioned, went to 
America. He died in Pictou in 1835, when over eighty 
years of age. The late Mr. Alexander Mac Kenzie, editor 
of the Celtic Magazine, on a tour through the States in 
1880, met one of the family. " More interesting to me," 
he wrote, " than all my other discoveries on this continent 
was finding a representative of the famous pipers and poets 
of Gairloch in the person of John Mac Kay, who occupies 
the most honourable and prominent position in this thriving 
town (New Glasgow), that of stipendiary magistrate. His 
great-grandfather was the celebrated blind piper of Gair- 

274 The Highland Bagpipe. 

loch." Afterwards Mr. MacKenzie tells of the circum- 
stances of the family in America. They had, he says, ceased 
to be pipers, and no one of the race kept up the traditions 
of their fathers in the strange land. 


— called in Gaelic Clann Raing — were anciently called 
Clann Duille, being descended from one of the progenitors 
of the Clan Mac Lean called Cudulligh, or Cu-duille. They 
were pipers to the Mac Leans of Duart, the High Chief of 
the Clan, and became pipers to the Mac Leans of Coll after 
the Duarts lost their lands, when Sir John Mac Lean was 
chief in the beginning of the eighteenth century. They 
were hereditary pipers from time immemorial, and the most 
noteworthy incident associated with them of which we have 
any authentic record occurred when the great Dr. Johnson 
visited their island. The piper who played every day while 
dinner was being served attracted the doctor's attention, 
and he expressed admiration of his picturesque dress and 
martial air, and observed that " he brought no disgrace on 
the family of Rankin." We have few dates connected with 
the Rankins, but we have on record a letter from a John 
Mac Lean, on the garrison staff of Fort- William, Bengal, 
written in January, 1799, which states that thirty years be- 
fore " Hector Mac Laine was piper to John Mac Lain of 
Lochbuoy, and was allowed to be the first in Scotland." 
This " Mac Laine " was probably a Rankin. Like so many 
of the others, America provided them, too, with an ultimate 
home, the last hereditary Rankin emigrating to Prince 
Edward Island. 

The Hereditary Pipers. 275 


were pipers to the Campbells of Mochaster, in Argyllshire, 
and they, too, were indebted to Patrick Og Mac Crimmon 
for a good deal of their training. The latest record of them 
in their official capacity is to be found on a tombstone, in 
Bellside Churchyard, Lanarkshire, erected by Walter 
Frederick Campbell of Isla and Shawfield, an M.P. in the 
year of grace 1831, over his piper, John Campbell. 

Besides those mentioned, there were famous, if not 
actually hereditary, pipers in different parts of the High- 
lands. A branch of the Mac Gregors established a school 
in Rannoch, and, the Mac Phersons of Cluny and nearly all 
the other Highland chiefs of any note had excellent pipers, 
many of whom produced pieces of considerable merit. But 
the hereditary pipers have all passed away long ago, with 
the passing of that phase of life which was necessary to 
their existence. Their names, however, are still names to 
conjure with, and are likely to be so long as a love for their 
music remains a prominent trait of Highland character. 

276 The Highland Bagpipe. 


Some Laitek, Day-Pipeks. 

" Ours the strains renowned in story. 
Of peaceful hall or deadly corrie, 
^y'ould you call to field or foray, 
Melt to love or rouse to glory ? 

Sound our mountain melody.'' 

Angus Mac Kay — Queen Victoria's first piper — His book — Donald 
Mao Kay — John Bane MacKenzie — The Queen's oflfer^The 
piper's reply- — Donald Cameron — His achievements — His theory 
of pipe music — His system of noting — -His last competition— A 
special reed — " The King of Pipers " — Other latter day pipers. 

AFTER the death of the last MacCrimmon piper in 
1822 no one was left to maintain -the traditions of 
the hereditary pipers. But the class vtfas not wholly 
extinct. The next notable name we come across is one that 
is not likely to be soon forgotten by those interested in High- 
land music. There is no name better known to the world 
of pipers than that of Angus Mac Kay, the compiler of the 
first really serviceable book of pipe music, but, curiously 
enough, very little is known of his life. He belonged to a well- 
known family of pipers, and was connected with the famous 
Mac Kays of Gairloch. The family home was at Kyleakin, 
the pretty Skye village opposite the Kyle terminus of the 
Highland Railway. His father, John Mac Kay, was piper 
to Mac Leod of Raasay, who sent him to Boreraig, Dun- 


(From a draiuiiig in tin fosscssioii of Duncan Miinro, Kyleakin, Skyc) 

Some Latter Day Pipers. 277 

vegan, to be instructed by John Dubh Mac Crimmon. He 
was afterwards piper to Lord Willoughby de Eresby in 
Perthshire, and finally settled in Kyleakin, where he trained 
some of the best-known pipers, including John Bane Mac 

Angus was born in Kyleakin about 1813, and was in- 
structed by his father. He was piper to Davidson of Tul- 
loch and also to Campbell of Islay. Afterwards he entered 
the service of Queen Victoria, in which he remained for many 
years. He was, by the way. Her Majesty's first piper. ' He 
devoted a great deal of his time to collecting and noting the 
leading pipe tunes, aiid in 1838 he published his collection 
as a book. This was, and still is, a unique work, being the 
first systematic collection. Mac Donald's, which came before 
it, was crude and could hardly be played from except by ex- 
pert performers, but Mac Kay's book, which consists of sixty 
pibrochs, although it contains various errors, is to this day 
considered by many competent judges the best of its kind 
ever written. It is the author's lasting monument, and 
although comparatively little is known of his life, it qannot 
fell to keep his name in remembrance long after the names 
of those who were pipers only are forgotten. Mac Kay was 
a tall, gentlemanly-looking man, with a taste for literature. 
He died at Dumfries on 21st March, 1859, under sad cir- 
cumstances. His mind had given way, and when out walk- 
ing near the Nith, he somehow got into the river, and was 
drowned before those with whom he resided were aware that 
he was out of their charge. His nephew, Donald Mac Kay, 
who was trained at Maryburgh, Ross-shire, by Donald 
Cameron, became piper to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, now 
King Edward VII., and his wife was for a long time in the 
Royal service at Sandringham. 

278 The Highland Bagpipe. 

John Mac Kenzie, familiarly known as John Bane Mac 
Kenzie, ox Am Piobaire Ban, was born near Dingwall about 
the end of the seventeenth century, and died in 1864, full of 
years, and with as high honours as piper could expect to get. 
His first situation as piper was with Mr. Mac Kenzie of 
Allangrange, about 1820. The following year he entered 
the service of Mr. Davidson of TuUoch, where he remained 
for twelve or thirteen years. While at Tulloch John was 
was often taken by his master to Applecross, where a friend 
of his, a Captain Mac Kenzie, resided. One of Captain Mac 
Kenzie's daughters fell in love with the handsome piper, and ' 
one night they ran away and got married at Crieff. Shortly 
afterwards John was appointed piper to the then Marquis of 
Breadalbane, in whose service he remained for thirty years, 
when ill-health forced him to retire. He spent the evening 
of his days in a fine cottage which he bought in the village 
of Munlochy, Ross-shire, and died in 1864, deeply regretted 
by all who knew him. He was buried at Strathpeffer, 
where a fine headstone was erected by his wife, to mark his 

John Bane Mac Kenzie was the foremost player of his 
time, and as an all round exponent of the national instru- 
ment it is doubtful if he ever had an equal. In appearance 
he was the finest possible specimen of a Highlander, of tall, 
handsome physique, upright in appearance as in character. 
When in full uniform his tunic was covered with medals 
and decorations won at competitions, including the gold 
medal of the Highland Society of London, which he won in 
1838, when it was first offered. His knowledge of English 
was limited, but what he lacked in English he made up in 
the quaintly humorous nature of his replies and his good 
knowledge of his native tongue. He composed a number of 



^^ ^ ■ ;*■ 




f ^f * 


•^ ■ f. 

i ^affuf- 

] M.^ 


1 iliiCk .0 1. V^'?fc 




{From a Photograph in the possession of Pipe-Major Ronald Mac Kenzie, Gordo?i Castle) 

Some Latter Day Pipers. 279 

tunes, the best known of which is " Mac Kenzie's Farewell to 
Sutherland.'" Her late Majesty Queen Victoria having seen 
John, asked his master if his piper would enter her service. 
The story of how he declined the Queen's offer is worth 
telling. When she communicated to Breadalbane her desire 
to have Am Piobaire Ban as a member of the Royal house- 
hold, the chief felt taken aback, but not wishing to offend 
Her Majesty, he approached John on the matter : — 

" ' John,' he said, ' the Queen wants a piper.' 

" 'Yes, ma Lort.' 

" ' He must be thoroughly first-rate at marches, and also at 
strathspeys and reels, just the same as you are yourself, John.' 

" ' Yes, my Lort.' 

" 'The Queen also wishes her piper to be a fine specimen of a 
Highlander, tall and handsome, with a fine face and figure ; in fact, 
one something like yourself, John.' 

" ' Yes, my Lort.' 

" ' There is one other indispensable qualification. He must be 
sober, reliable, and in every way a respectable man, just like your- 
self, John.' 

" 'Yes, my Lort.' 

" ' Well, I have now told you all that is required in the man 
wanted by the Queen. He must be in all respects like yourself, 
both as man and as piper. Can you recommend any ? ' 

" ' Inteet, ma Lort, there's no sich a man to be found in aal Scot- 

" ' And will you go yourself, John 1 ' 

" ' Na, na, my Lort, na, na.'" 

This finished the conversation, and John remained with 
Breadalbane. This story, it may be noted, bears a striking 
resemblance to one told of the Prince of Wales's piper in a 
previous chapter.* 

* See page 164. 

S80 The Highland Bagpipe. 

Queen Victoria seems to have coveted the best of the 
Highland, pipers, but while no one doubted their loyalty, 
they did not always agree to serve Her Majesty. Not only 
did John Bane Mac Kenzie prefer the service of his chief 
to that of his Queen, but Donald Cameron, a pupil of his, 
and the piper who, more than any other, was acknowledged 
to be the true successor of the Mac Crimmons, declined 
a similar pffer, and remained with his Highland master. 

Eleven years before the last Mac Crimmon piper died, 
Donald Cameron was born at " the burn bf the music," in 
Strath-Conan, Ross-shire, and at eight years of age he was 
playing the pipes. The late Mr. Mac Kenzie of Millbank, 
an influential Highland gentleman in the district, took a 
gi'eat interest in the youthful musician, and put bim under 
the tuition of Big Donald Mac Leiinan, of Moy, father of 
the well-known John Mac Lennan, piper to the late Earl of 
Fife. Cameron- was next taught by Angus Mac Kay, whose 
father, John Mac Kay was taught by John Dubh Mac 
Crimmon. His last tutor was John Bane Mac Kenzie. 
He first competed in Edinburgh in 18S8, at seventeen 
years of age, and won second prize, a claymore marked 
"Andria Varara," which afterwards came into the possession 
of the late Major A. C. Mac Kenzie, Maryburgh, Ross- 

The prizes won by Cameron during his career as a pro- 
fessional piper were not very numerous, but they were all 
high, and he soonbecame ineligible through having won-all 
the possible firsts. In his early days there was generally a 
rehearsal of- intending competitors, and only the best were 
allowed to compete in public, with the result that the • very 
permission to. compete was considered an honour,^ and,-the 
winning of a prize a distinguished honour. Cameron won 

{From a Photograph in the possession 0/ Pipe-Major Mac Dotigall Gillies, Glasgozv) 

Some Latter Day Pipers. 28l 

at Perth, in 1850, a large silver challenge medal presented 
by his employer, the late Colonel Keith W. Stewart Mac 
Kenzie of Seaforth ; and he won the Highland Society of 
London's challenge gold medal in Inverness in 1859, a feat 
which was subsequently performed by his sons, Colin and 
Alexander ; and also six sets of pipes at different meetings. 
His first service as piper was with Mr. Robert Morison, 
Scallisaig, Glenelg. Afterwards he was employed by Sir 
James J. R. Mac Kenzie, Bart., of Scatwell and Rosehaugh, 
but his principal service was with Colonel Mac Kenzie of 
Seaforth, with whom he continued till his death at Mary- 
burgh in January, 1868. When the Brahan Company of 
Volunteers was formed by Seaforth in 1866, Cameron was 
appointed honorary piper, and when he died a detachment 
accompanied his remains to the burying-ground of the 
High Church, Inverness. 

In 1863, Seaforth presented his piper with the title deeds 
of one of the best houses in the village of Maryburgh, thus 
following to a certain extent the practice of the chiefs when 
the piper was a part of the household. Ten years pre- 
viously he was selected to be piper to Her Majesty Queen 
Victoria, an honour which he highly appreciated, but so 
strong was his attachment to Seaforth that he preferred to 
remain with him. Donald Cameron was very like the Mac 
Crimmons. He lived in different times, but had he lived 
when they lived he would have been as one of them. In his 
theory of pipe music the sounds formed a continuous and 
harmonious whole, as distinguished from that of one or two 
other well-known pipers, whose playing, even of pibrochs, was 
marked by its jerkiness. He was practically an illiterate man, 
but, besides being able to read ordinary music, he noted his 
tunes in a special manner, on the lines of the Canntaireachd of 


^82 The Highland Bagpipe. 

the Mac Crimmons or the Mac Arthurs. Each of these sys- 
tems of notation was different from the others, and the inven- 
tion of the piper who originally used it, so if Cameron was 
illiterate he was certainly also clever. He was a shrewd old 
man, with a fund of stories connected with the Highlands 
and leading Highland families. He was a keen angler and a 
great favourite with Seaforth. When, at a comparatively 
early age, he had ceased playing at competitions, he deter- 
mined once more to try his skill in public. So he took 
advantage of the Northern Meeting, Inverness, where a 
competition was to be held for former gold medalists only. 
This competition was the first of its kind, and all the best 
men were there. When Donald Cameron began to play a 
great hush fell on the crowd, and he played to an audience 
that scarcely breathed. He was, of course, placed first. On 
that matter there was no room for dispute. The photo- 
graph here reproduced was taken immediately after that 

When Cameron was playing in the year 1859 for the 
Highland Society of Loudon's gold medal at Inverness, he 
had rather an awkward experience. The tune was " Mac 
Intosh's Lament," and he had not got much more than 
through the ground or urlar when the drones began to slip 
off his shoulder. He made several futile attempts to adjust 
them, but down they would come, and down they did come, 
until they rested on his arm. But this made no difference 
whatever to the rendering of the tune. He played just as 
if the instrument was on his shoulder in the ordinary way. 
An onlooker remarked to Alexander Mac Lennan how 
splendidly he played, although under a disadvantage. 
" Sandy " replied that " it made no difference to Donald 
although he held the bag between his knees." 

Some Latter Day Pipers. ^83 

In personal appearance, as the sketch shows, he was the 
ideal successor of the hereditary pipers. In 1862 he won a 
prize of ^10 offered by the Club of True Highlanders for 
the best rendering of pibrochs, and the chronicler of the 
event refers to him as being " with his grand, massive face 
and ample grey beard, the very impersonation of an old 
Highland piper." His favourite music was pibroch, but he 
was an all-round master of the pipes. Like many old 
players, he made all his own reeds, and was very particular 
about them. He had one special reed, which he used only 
on high occasions, such as a guest night at Brahan Castle. 
He kept it, when not in use, in an air-tight bottle, and one 
day a tinker piper called at his house, and, as usual with the 
class, begged for a reed. Mrs. Cameron thoughtlessly gave 
him this old-looking reed out of the bottle, and when Donald 
came home some time after, and was told what had been 
done, he was sorely put about. Cameron was one of that 
small number of men who could keep up a continuous sound 
when playing the practice chanter, a thing very few players 
can do. He was the composer of some first-class tunes, 
including " Kessock Ferry," " Brahan Castle," and " Lady 
Anne Mac Kenzie's Farewell to Rosehaugh." Of his four 
sons, three became pipers. Colin, piper to the Duke of Fife, 
is well known as a teacher of pipe music ; Alexander was 
piper to the Marquis of Huntly ; and Keith Cameron, now 
dead, was piper to the Highland Light Infantry. They all 
made names for themselves in the musical world, but in no 
case is their personality so outstanding as that of their 
father. Although the mantle of the Mac Crimmons seemed 
to fall on him, the changing circumstances of life made it 
impossible for him to pass it on to another generation, and to 
find the true representative of the old pipers in the pipers 

^84 The Highland Bagpipe. 

of to-daj would task the ingenuity of those best acquainted 
with the accomplishments of the different men. 

John Bane Mac Kenzie and Donald Cameron were the 
only players who held the title, " King of Pipers." This 
was played for at the Northern Meeting, Inverness, and was 
the prize given at a competition between champions, the 
winner being known as the '' champion of champions " or 
" King of Pipers." After Donald Cameron's day, when he 
won the prize and the title, the competition lapsed, and 
though there are now many so-called " champions," there is 
no " King of Pipers." 

Among other latter-day pipers it is almost impossible to 
pick and choose. There was Donald Mac Phee, a miner lad 
from Coatbridge, who became pipe-maker, teacher, composer 
of and writer about pipe music, and died in Glasgow in 
1880 ; William Ross, piper to the Black Watch, and later 
to Queen Victoria, who compiled a book containing forty 
pibrochs, and 437 strathspeys, marches, and reels ; Donald 
Mac Phedran, a first-class Glasgow player who had one of 
the largest known collections of manuscript tunes; Alexander 
Cameron, a brother of Donald Cameron, who won all the 
champion gold medals, and was looked on as the Mac 
Crimmon of his day ; Duncan Mac Eachern, an apparently 
clumsy manipulator of the pipes, but an able player; 
Donald Galbraith, a native of Islay ; Alexander Mac 
Donald, late piper to the Duke of Fife ; the Mac 
Lennans, especially William MacLennan, who as a 
piper and dancer occupied a unique position ; Alexander 
Mac Donald, Glentruim, a splendid pibroch player, who 
died a few years ago at Aberlour ; Malcolm Mac Pherson, 
Cluny's piper, and a well-known pibroch player ; John Mac 
Rae, known as Piobaire Beag, who was piper to Francis, 

Some Latter Day Pipers. 285 

Lord Seaforth, and John Bane MacKenzie's first tutor; 
Duncan Campbell, piper to Sir Charles Forbes, Castle Newe, 
Strathdon, a piper who on arriving at a competition always 
asked if Donald Cameron was there, as " he did not care for 
anyone else ; " Pipe-Major Alexander Mac Lennan, of the 
Inverness Militia ; John Mac Lauchlan, a first-rate player 
of the " little " music ; and many others who deserve to be 
written about. In our own day we have Colin Cameron, 
son of Donald, piper to the Duke of Fife and recog- 
nised as not only one of the best living pipers, but 
a man who takes more than a passing interest in the 
literature of his art and of the Highlands generally; 
William Sutherland, Airdrie, now retired, a man who had 
not his equal at jigs, was very successful as an all-round 
player, and composed numerous tunes ; Pipe-Major Mac 
Dougal Gillies, of the 1st H.L.I., a pupil of Alexander 
Cameron, son of Seaforth's famous piper, and himself one of 
the best known and most successful of living players ; John 
Mac Coll of Oban, a pupil of MacPhee's and holder of 
most of the highest possible honours ; Ronald Mac Kenzie, 
late of the 78th Highlanders and now piper to the Duke of 
Richmond and Gordon; Angus MacRae of Callander; 
Farquhar Ma,c Rae of Glasgow, and other leading pipers 
whose success and popularity deserve notice. But to do 
justice to the subject would require a large amount of space 
and it would also necessitate comparisons between the 
abilities of lately deceased and still living men, which the 
present writer is not at all inclined to make. The task of 
general biographer would no doubt be pleasant, and there 
are materials enough in existence to justify anyone in be- 
lieving that the result would be well worthy of the effort, 
but this is hardly the place for it. It is enough for us, at 

286 The Highland Bagpipe. 

present, to know that we still have men fully capable of 
keeping pipe music up to the high standard set by its old 
time exponents and that, if we have few who, like Saul of 
old, are head and shoulders above the crowd, the stature 
of the crowd itself is of a high average. Perhaps that 
very fact will make the task of the biographer all the more 




















How Piping is Preserved. 287 


How Piping is Preserved. 

" O, wake once more ! how rude soe'er the hand 

That ventures o'er thy magic maze to stray, 
O, wake once more ! though scarce my skill command, 

Some feeble echoing of thine earlier lay ; 
Tliough harsh and faint and soon to die away, 

And all unworthy of the nobler strain ; 
Yet if one heart throb higher at its sway. 

The wizard note has not been touched in vain. 
Then silent be no more ! Enchantress, wake again ! " 


The waking — Professor Blackie — Highland Society of Scotland — 
Highland Society of London — The system of competitions — The 
first corapetition^The venue changed — The gold medal- 
Present day competitions — Some suggestions — R.L.S. — Pipe 
bands — Examples from high life — Quality of music — The 
Pipes abroad — Sir Walter Scott. 

THE verse of Scott's, quoted at the head of this 
chapter, referred to the harp, but we may use it as 
i-eferring to the pipes, remembering at the same 
time that there is little hope of these ever occupying the 
position they once occupied. The waking must be to 
another life altogether. Civilisation ousted the pipes from 
the position of clan and war instrument of a native popula- 
tion, but it did not find them another. " Had the govern- 

288 The Highland Bagpipe,' 

ing powers been anxious," says Professor Blackie, " to do 
common educational justice to the sons of the brave fellows 
who so freely shed their blood in our defence, the last thing 
they would have suffered to be neglected in the Highland 
schools was the national music. For national purposes 
the " March of the Cameron Men," and scores of such heroic 
lays in the true old Greek style, were worth all the Latin 
grammars that ever were printed. But an evil destiny hung 
over this noble foundation of national inspiration ; a Might 
fell with deadening swoop over the brightness and the joy 
and the luxuriance of Highland life." Professor Blackie 
himself did more than any other man to remove this blight, 
and to him in great measure is due the credit for the present 
revival of respect for Highland literature and Highland 
music. Other men of letters have, by writing of the High- 
lands, shown that the country has a past worth the atten- 
tion of the romancist, and Scott, Stevenson, William Black, 
Fiona Mac Leod, and Neil Munro have brought Highland 
life into touch with the rest of the world better than cen- 
turies of ordinary " civilisation " could have done. But 
Professor Blackie was the champion enthusiast, though even 
he realised that if the harp of the Gael was to wake it must 
wake to new conditions, and be prepared to live in a world 
it knew not, and which, to a great extent, knew it not. 
There is no room in the world for the piper of the olden 
time ; there is room for the piper of the olden time when he 
adapts himself to modern circumstances. That he has done, 
and the result is that the pipes are more the national instru- 
ment of Scotland than ever they were. 

Foremost among the agencies which have kept alive the 
taste for pipe music are the Highland Society of London 
and the Highland Society of Scotland. The latter, founded 

How Piping is Preserved. 289 

in 1784, interested itself more particularly in agricultural 
matters and the general welfare of the people, but the 
former, established six years earlier for the special purpose 
of preserving the language, music, and literature of the 
Highlands, has done grand work. By deciding, on 12th 
July, 1781, "that a Pipe and Flag be given annually by 
this Society to the best Performer on the Highland Bag- 
pipe, at the October Falkirk Tryst," it practically in- 
augurated the system of competitions which has done so 
much to encourage rising talent, and without which no 
yoiing piper could hope in these days to come prominently 
before the public. Many other organisations in different 
parts of Scotland, and in different parts of the world, have 
done good work in the same cause, but the winning of the 
Highland Society of London's gold medal is still the 
highest honour coveted by the ambitious piper. The 
annual competition began with a salute to the Society by 
its own piper. This was followed by a dance. Then three 
or more of the competitors each played a pibroch. Then 
there was another dance and more pibrochs until the list of 
the competitors was exhausted. The judges then retired to 
consider their verdict, and by and by the prizes were dis- 
tributed by the president. This, with a few alterations, 
may be said to be the programme at competitions to this 


The Society's first competition was held in 1781, at 
Falkirk Tryst, the first prize being a new set of pipes and 
40 merks Scots, and the second and third each 30 merks; 
Thirteen pipers competed, and the judges were so placed 
that they could hear, but not see, the players. Each com- 
petitor played four different tunes, and the winner of the 
first prize was Patrick Mac Gregor, piper to Henry Balnaves 

290 The Highland Bagpipe. 

of Ardradour. The second was Charles Mac Arthur, piper 
to the Earl of Eglinton, and the third John Mac Gregor, a 
man of 73, piper to Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell of Glen- 
lyon. The winner of the first prize, curiously enough, 
wanted the third finger of the " upper " hand, but he was 
uncommonly clever at using the little finger instead. For 
this reason he was known as Patrick na Coraig. The 
competition was superintended by a " branch " of the High- 
land Society of London, which existed in Glasgow. 

The competition was held at Falkirk until 1783, when 
the award of the committee caused so much dissatisfaction 
that a number of the candidates resorted to Edinburgh in 
quest of other patronage. There a new committee was 
formed and arrangements made for another competition. 
At this Mac Donald of Clan Ranald presided, and after the 
prizes had been awarded, the pipers, twelve in number, 
marched round St. Andrew Square playing " Clan Ranald's 
March." This revolt of competitors resulted in the forma- 
tion, in 1784, of the Highland Society of Scotland, which 
afterwards co-operated with that of London in the matter 
of competitions. The 1784 gathering was held in "the 
Assembly Hall, back of the City Guard," better known 
afterwards as the Commercial Bank. In 1785 the place of 
meeting was rooms in West Register Street, long since 
pulled down, and among those present was " Professor " 
Mac Arthur, the last of the hereditary pipers to Mac Donald 
of the Isles. He opened the proceedings with a salute to 
the Society and closed with " Clan Ranald's March," both 
played in masterly style. There were twenty-five com- 
petitors, and fifty-two pieces were played. Afterwards the 
competition was held in various places, including a church, 
but at last the gathering found a home in what was then 

How P'lpvng is Preserved. 291 

the Adelphi Theatre. From the first up till 1826 the 
gathering was annual. Then it became triennial, but 
whether the change was an improvement is questionable. It 
resulted, for one thing, in fewer first-rate performers pre- 
senting themselves. At all the competitions private 
rehearsals were held in advance, when those obviously unfit 
were weeded out and the programme thereby shortened. 
The first gold medal offered by the Highland Society of 
London was won in 1835 by John Mac Kenzie, piper to the 
Marquis of Breadalbane. Present day competitions differ 
only in matters of detail from those of former years. The 
plan of keeping the performers out of sight of the judges 
has been abandoned. That, too, was a questionable step. 
There is often a deal of heartburning over the decisions, and 
charges of partiality are often flung at the judges. The 
dissatisfaction of candidates has made itself felt most often 
at local competitions, where the judges knew aU the men. 
There are, of course, many difficulties. The. music is of such 
a peculiar character, subject to so few hard and fast rules, 
and leaving so much to the taste of the performer ; it is, 
besides, produced in a continuous torrent, by quickly fol- 
lowing players, many of whom are almost equal in skill. 
The ordinary auditor is simply bewildered, and remembers 
little beyond a confusion of noises, and with the judges 
themselves the final decision is often a matter of difficulty. 
But there are not many judges like those who presided over 
the piping competitions at the great Jubilee gathering at 
Balmoral in 1887. William Mac Lennan got all the firsts 
for open dancing, and as he was the only first-class piper 
present he felt sure of all the firsts for piping. But he only 
came in second. Whereupon he inquired of the judges what 
mistake he had made. 

292 The Highland Bagpipe. 

" Oh, iiae mistake," they said. " Ye played capital/' 

"Surely, then," he asked, "I was entitled to first prize?" 

" Maybe ye wis ; but, ye see, ye had a' the firsts for 

" But was I not the best dancer ? " 

" Nae doot aboot that." 

" And was I not the best piper, too .'' " 

" We're no sayin' but ye wis." 

" But I thought the best piper ought to get the first 
prize ! " 

" Oh, nae doot ; but we thocht ye had gotten plenty 

Mac Lennan always told this story afterwards with great 
glee. "Do you know," he would say, "these judges were 
the most interesting men I ever met. I wonder what they 
would have done if the competitor was a hammer-thrower 
or a jumper. They could not say thirty feet was less than 
twenty-five feet. 

Taken all over, however, the bigger competitions are 
honourably conducted, and the best men always come out 
first. These now competing are mostly the retainers of 
titled gentlemen, with a number of private individuals who 
unite to an ordinary occupation an enthusiasm for the pipes. 
There are several ways in which the gatherings could be im- 
proved and made more interesting to the general public and 
of more value to the devotees of the pipes. The names 
of the tunes played might be published with the list of 
results, as well as the names of the prize-winners ; prizes 
might be offered for new tunes, and for essays on the 
history or merits of tunes ; and thus composition would be 
stimulated ; and, above all, the old plan whereby the player 
was kept out of sight of the judge might be reintroduced. 

How Piping is Preserved. 293 

The judging at local competitions is often looked on as a 
joke, and not worth protesting against. Were the judges 
ignorant of the identity of the players, the charge of 
favouritism could not be made, and that in itself would be 
a great step gained. If pipers would form a society among 
themselves and insist on only thoroughly competent men 
being allowed to act as judges the charge of ignorance of the 
music would fall to the ground. And again, some attempt 
might be made to put a stop to the liberty which everybody 
seems to have to organise a competition, call it " amateur 
championship " or whatever he likes, issue medals of little or 
no value, and pocket the receipts. All the gatherings, say 
in Scotland, could be managed by one organisation, a pipers' 
society such as that suggested, or a more comprehensive 
Highland society of some kind, and a certain uniformity of 
grades in confined and open and amateur and professional 
competitions introduced which would give confidence to the 
competitors, make the principal prizes a known quantity, 
and interest the general public in the results. That, of 
course, would not preclude the holding of competitions 
under the auspices of well-known and accredited athletic 
or patriotic organisations. 

The idea of competing with each other, even with no 
inducement in the way of medals or prizes, is an old one. It 
has given inspiration to the novelist, and Robert Louis 
Stevenson in one of the best passages of Kidnapped tells 
how Alan Breck and a son of Rob Roy exchanged a duel 
with swords for a duel with pipes, and finished very good 
friends indeed. " Robin Oig," said Alan, when the duel 
was over, " ye are a great piper. I am not fit to blow in 
the same kingdom with ye Body of me ! ye have mair 
music in your sporran than I have in my head ; and though 

294 The Highland Bagpipe. 

it still sticks in my mind that I could maybe show ye 
another of it with the cold steel, I warn ye beforehand — it'll 
no be fair ! It would go against my heart to haggle a man 
that can blow the pipes as you can." At swordsmanship it 
is certain that Alan would not have come off second best. 

After competitions, perhaps the next potent force in 
keeping alive the music of the pipes is bands — regimental, 
volunteer, police, and private. Regimental bands have 
already been referred to at length, and of the others, 
although a good many exist, there is little to be said. The 
Glasgow Highlanders are said to possess more men who can 
play the pipes than any other volunteer battalion, and they 
have no less than four pipe bands in the regiment. The 
1st Sutherland H.R.V. again have the strongest pipe band 
in the kingdom, if not in the world. There are seventy 
members, and although they live far from each other, 
scattered over an extensive and wild county, they are 
brought together regularly for training, and have reached a 
high degree of efficiency. 

The only police band now in Scotland is that of Govan, 
which may be said to have been the first pipe band in con- 
nection with any police force. It was started in 1885, and is 
now more popular than ever, thanks to the encouraging care 
of Chief Constable Hamilton. The members of the force all 
take a thorough interest in the band, and when it plays in 
the public parks of Glasgow and neighbourhood it is always 
listened to by large crowds of the general public. The 
necessary funds are provided by two concerts annually, and 
the men cost the burgh nothing, either in the way of time 
lost from ordinary duty, or in the way of financial assist- 
ance. The tartan of the band is specially made to a pattern 
designed by the Chief Constable. 

Hoio Piping is Preserved. 295 

The fact that " people of quality " keep pipers also helps 
wonderfully to preserve the music. The Sovereign's example 
in this respect has been followed by a great many of the old 
nobility, and even these men who rise from the ranks, and 
whose only claim for admission into aristocratic circles is 
their wealth, must needs do as the others do. In othet 
words, it is now fashionable to keep a piper. Non-High- 
landers have adopted the kilt — the once proscribed dress — 
and wear it while holidaying in the Highlands, and whether 
or not they appreciate pipe music, they have it. This 
results in a state of affairs not always pleasing to the true 
Highlander, but it does much to preserve what the true 
Highlander, if left to himself in these latter days, would 
certainly neglect. There is undoubtedly a lot of sham and 
affectation about the Highland sentiment of to-day, but 
that is inevitable, and so long as with it all the old customs 
are maintained, we ought not to grumble. 

As to the quality of the music in these days of ours, it is 
to be feared that since the piper became a domestic servant 
he has found- it to his interest to cultivate the tastes of 
strangers, and hence the warlike character of the pipes has 
been considerably toned down. The composition of salutes 
and pibrochs is still attempted, and with a certain degree of 
success, but pipers would gain quite as much credit by 
paying more attention to the first-rate works of their pre- 
decessors as by composing and playing tunes of their own. 
Where a musical ear is accompanied by scientific knowledge, 
the present-day piper has a great advantage over those of a 
hundred years ago, but the fact remains that there are no 
tunes like the old tunes, and their intrinsic merit is the 
pride of the piping fraternity. Present-day conditions are 
not conducive to the production of good music, and we 

296 The Highland Bagpipe. 

should be glad that we have a race of men capable of 
adequately interpreting the old. 

The emigration boom that existed before and after 1871) 
resulted in the music and language of Scotland being 
scattered all over the world. In all the British colonies 
there are Highland societies, and competitions are held 
periodically, at which bagpipe playing is a prominent 
feature. In consequence, the exportation of pipes from 
Scotland has increased, and is still increasing. But the 
long distances between townships in the colonies tells 
very severely on the efforts of the Highland clubs. In 
Sydney, New South Wales, for instance, there are from 
twelve to twenty pipers, and a pipe band in connection 
with the Sydney Scottish Volunteers, the members of which 
practice all the year round. There is a big gathering on 
New Year's Day, at which some 20,000 people usually 
assemble, and another similar gathering no less than 400 
miles away. In November there is a gathering at Newcastle, 
sixty miles distant, and in January another at Goulburn, 
130 miles by rail. So it is not easy for pipers to attend 
where prizes may be won. The only places, again, where 
pipes are made, or piping is taught, are in the towns of 
Sydney and Melbourne. Some of the native-born pipers 
are good players, having been taught by those who came 
from Scotland, and many of the old tunes are favourites, 
though the Colonials generally prefer the newer styles. The 
highest prize given is =£"5 for each event, but £Q for 
pibrochs, and ^5, ^"4, £^, and £\ for marches, strathspeys, 
and reels grouped together is more common. Putting the 
three events together is a sore point with the Colonial 
pipers, and a strong effort is being made to restore the 
prize-list to its original form, giving three prizes for each 

ffow Piping is Preserved. 297 

event. The Pipers' Association of Sydney have already 
started a movement for obtaining a voice in the choice of 
judges, and have been so far successful that their nominee 
was appointed last year, with the result that there was 
general satisfaction. This might be particularly noted by 
home pipers. 

In Canada, says the kte Mr, Alexander Mac Kenzie,the 
jumping, tossing the caber, stone throwing, and various 
other Highland competitions, would do credit to some of 
the best athletes at home gatherings, although, he adds, 
" the pipe music was nowhere." Since he travelled through 
Canada, however, there have been great improvements, and 
the visits of leading pipers from home have borne good fruit. 
Canada now has her own Highland pipers and dancers, 
reared on her own soil but on the home model, not perhaps 
so good as the best at home, but better than the average. 
Scotland abroad is more Highland than Scotland at home, 
and the hope of the future of the language and music lies as 
much in Canada and Australia as it does in Argyllshire, 
Perthshire, or Inverness-shire. 

It was Sir Walter Scott who wrote : — 

" The Highlands may become the fairy ground for romance and 
poetry or subject of experiment for the professors of speculation, 
political and economical. But if the hour of need should come — 
and it may not perhaps be far distant — the pibroch may sound 
through the deserted regions, but the summons will remain un- 
answered. The children who have left her will re-echo from a dis- 
tant shore the sounds with which they took leave of their own. — 
Cha till, cha till, cha till, sinn tuillie. — We return, we return, we 
return no more," 

but the Wizard of the North hardly saw into the future so 
clearly as he might have done. Had he seen the latest war in 


The Highland Bagpipe. 

South Africa, he would not have put the " return no more " 
so strongly. The hour of need did come, the pibroch did 
sound, and from Canada, Australia, and New Zealand the 
answer came, in the shape of regiments of loyal Britons, 
who fought and died for the old land. There is now a far 
bigger Scotland than ever existed, or could exist, between 
Maiden Kirk and John o' Groats. Thus has good come 
out of evil. 

The Oldest Pipe Times. 299 


The Oldest Pipe Tunes. 

" At present I'll content myael', 
A hamely Scottish tale to tell, 
Whilk happened years and years back ; 
An' says tradition its a fact : 
Be't true or no I canna say, 
I was nae up to see the day, 
But took the story upon credit, 
An' I shall gie it — as I had it." 

Unreliability of tradition — Lost in antiquity — Occasions of tunes — 
Interest of stories — The MaoRaes' March — ^Story of " Suara- 
ohan " — Hal o' the Wynd — The Mac Intosh's Lament — Two 
diflferent stories — A Cholla mo run — Duntroon's Salute — The 
Campbell's are coming. 

IT serves no good purpose to indulge in regrets for that 
which is past, but one cannot help feeling sorry that 
the story of our national music is so scrappy and so 
unreliable. There is, indeed, a large quantity of material 
of a kind, and on a cursory examination one may think the 
stories of the origin of tunes are plentiful enough. But 
when one begins to go deeper and trace each story to its 
source, reconcile all its different versions and explain how 
the same incident crops up in another place, under different 
circumstances, perhaps even in connection with another 

300 The Highland Bagpipe. 

tune, it is then that the task of making intelligible, and at 
the same time trustworthy, stories for melodies that are 
now so well known, becomes difficult. Precise dates have 
been given for many tunes, but it is obvious enough that 
the writers giving them, though doubtless good pipers, 
were but little conversant with the facts of history. Very 
few, indeed, of the older tunes can be authenticated. With 
them it is truly a case of being lost in the mists of anti- 
quity. It is too often assumed that a tune having a direct 
reference to a certain historical incident, is itself of the date 
of that incident, while the chances are that it was composed 
on that incident by a piper who lived many years after. 
Because Shakespeare wrote Macbeth we do not conclude 
that he lived in Macbeth's day. A composer, like a 
dramatist, has all history spread out before him, and can 
make his music on what he pleases. We have, for instance, 
a piece of pipe music called " The Battle of Harlaw," but, 
though we know that it is very old, we have no reason to 
think that, in its present form, it was in existence in 1411. 
So with very many others. When the events they cele- 
brate took place, very few, if any, of the actors could write, 
and it was a long time after that the matters referred to 
became part of written history. When the tunes were 
composed must, therefore, be decided, when it can be de- 
cided at all, by other evidence — by historical data regarding 
the lives of their composers or by references in the authentic 
history of the country. Such data and references are, how- 
ever, because of the lack of education in the times when the 
accurate information could be got, very scarce, and the 
result is that, although many of the older tunes have been 
first favourites from time immemorial, no one has any idea 
of how the}' came into being. 

The Oldest Pipe Tunes. 301 

There was always a fine vein of poesy and music among 
the Celts, and they readily composed rhymes and tunes 
which powerfully affected the imagination. They had 
magnificent memories, cultivated, of course, by that very 
lack of written books to which I have referred, and into 
their tunes they compressed the sentiments of past 
centuries, and the troubles and joys of everyday life. 
Noted incidents induced commemoration. The birth of an 
heir to the ancient clan, the death of the chief, a victory in 
battle, the home-coming or departure of any notable per- 
sonage, were all fit subjects for the genius of the clan piper, 
and were often utilised as such. Where we can prove that 
the tune was composed when the incident, of which we 
know the date, occurred, we are on sure ground. When we 
cannot we are none the wiser. Each clan had its own 
music, almost all of high antiquity, and all of the class 
common to the Gael, but we can no more fix the origin of 
the music than we can fix the origin of the clan. The 
Munros have a pibroch composed on the battle of Bealach 
na Broiffe, an event which took place about 1350, and there 
is the tradition in the Clan Menzies that their piper played 
at Bannockburn, but in neither case is the matter of any 
use as history. " The Desperate Battle of Perth " is alleged 
to date from 1395, "The MacRaes' March" from 1477, 
and "Macintosh's Lament" from 1526. In each case, 
however, tradition is the only original authority, and to 
tradition a hundred years are often as one day, and one day 
as a hundred years. 

But the fact that we cannot fix exact dates does not im- 
pair the value of the stories, as stories. And it is as 
stories, traditions if you will, bhat we wish to recall them 
now, if only to show the atmosphere in which our pipe 

302 The Highland Bagpipe. 

music lived and moved and had its being. The stories I 
believe are true, though I would not like to vouch for the 
accuracy of the names of characters and places in every in- 
stance, no more than for that of the dates. The incident 
recorded may have taken place at some other time, in some 
other place, and with some other people, and tradition may 
have mixed up names and figures. But there must have 
been such an incident sometime, somehow, somewhere in the 
Highlands. So long as we know that it did not originate 
in the imagination of the story-teller, it illustrates men and 
manners just as well as if we could swear by all its details. 
And as it throws light on the circumstances in which High- 
land music was so often composed, it lends a new interest to 
the study of that music. I give, I need hardly add, in each 
case, that version of the story which I consider best authen- 
ticated, told, whenever possible, in the form that is of 
greatest interest. 

Let us take the first two or three in the order of their 
traditional dates : — 


is the oldest known pipe tune. The Lord of the Isles in- 
vaded Ross-shire about 1477 with a numerous army, and 
laid waste the country of the Mac Kenzies, burning a chapel 
at Contin. The Mac Kenzies took the field to protect their 
lands and property, and in an endeavour to recover the 
booty from the Mac Donalds they asked the assistance of 
the MacRaes. The MacRaes joined them, and the Mac 
Donalds were defeated with great slaughter. In the ranks 
of the Mac Raes there fought Duncan Mac Rae, an orphan, 
familiarly known by the name of Suarachan, a term of con- 

The Oldest Pipe Tunes. 303 

tempt. His prowess on this occasion was remarkable, and 
fully entitled him to higher consideration. He slew a 
notable man in the Mac Donald ranks, and then calmly sat 
down on the body, as if no more was required of him. 
Mac Kenzie was astonished at the action of this ally of his, 
and exclaimed : — 

" Why sit you so, when your help is so much needed ? " 

" If paid like a man, I will fight like a man," replied 
Mac Rae. " If everyone does as much as I have done the 
day is yours." 

" Kill your two and you shall have the wages of two," 
said the chief. 

Suarachan obeyed, and again sat down on the corpse. 

" Kill your three," shouted the Mac Kenzie ; " nay, fight 
on, and I will reckon with you for the dead." 

Suarachan thereupon got up, and dealt fearful destruction 
among the Mac Donalds, killing sixteen with his own hand, 
and thus proved his worth. He was ever afterwards held in 
high esteem, and became a leading man in the clan, acquiring 
the honourable name of " Duncan of the Axe." It was an 
axe he wielded with such dread purpose on the field of 
battle. The pibroch was composed in his honour and in 
memory of the conflict, and has always been the march of 
the clan. 

The resemblance between the story and that of Hal o' the 
Wynd in Scott's Fair Maid of Perth is too striking to pass 
unnoticed. Hal, at the battle on the North Inch of Perth, 
acted exactly as Suarachan did at Contin. Which is the 
original story, or whether the two are different stories it is 
hard to determine. It would be interesting to know where 
Sir Walter got the legend on which he based the Hal o' the 
Wynd incident. 

304 The Highlmid Bagpipe. 


on the authority of The Mac Intosh himself, dates from 
1550. Writing in 1885 the chief said : — " The tune is as 
old as 1550 or thereabout. Angus Mac Kay in his pipe 
music book gives it 1626, and says it was composed on the 
death of Lauchlan, the fourteenth laird, but we believe 
that it was composed by the famous family bard Mac Intyre, 
on the death of William, who was murdered by the Coun- 
tess of Huntly in 1550. This bard had seen, within the 
space of forty years, four captains of the Clan Chattan meet 
with violent deaths, and his deep feeling found vent in the 
refrain : — 

' Mac Intosh the excellent 
They have lifted. 
They have laid thee 
Low, they have laid thee.' 

These are the only words in existence which I can hear of." 
There is, however, another tradition connected with the 
tune. There was a prediction, believed among the clans- 
men, that the Mac Intosh of that day would die through 
the instrumentality of his beautiful black steed, whose 
glossy skin shone as the raven's wing, and whose flowing 
mane and tail waved free as the wind itself. But the chief, 
whatever he felt, was determined to show his people that he 
treated the prediction lightly, and so he continued to ride 
his favourite, in spite of the entreaties of his friends. He 
rode him on the day of his marriage, and on the way to 
church the- horse became more than usually restive. He 
reared and plunged, and behaved so badly that the rider, 
losing control of himself and his horse, drew his pistol and 
shot the favourite dead. Another, a piebald horse, was 

The Oldest Pipe Tunes. 305 

procured, and the company proceeded to church. After 
the ceremony they returned by the way they had come, the 
bride and her maids on white ponies, and the bridegroom 
and his friends following. The chief's horse, in passing, 
shied at the body of the black horse, which lay by the way- 
side, and the rider was thrown to the ground and killed on 
the spot. A turn of the road hid the accident from those 
in front, and the bride, unconscious of what had happened, 
went on her way. She is said to have composed and 
chanted the air as, at the funeral, she moved at the head of 
the bier, marking the time by tapping on the coffin lid all 
the way to the grave, where she had to be torn away as the 
body was being lowered in : — 

" Oh ! my love, lowly laid, Oh ! my love, lowly laid ;' 
Oh ! my love, lowly laid, beside the fatal wall breach ! 

Wife am I, sorrowful in my weeds of deep woe, 
Since I heard, with heart sore pained, that henceforth I must wear 

Th' piebald horse laid thee low, th' piebald horse laid thee 

The piebald horse laid thee low, beside the fatal wall breach. 

Maiden waesome sad am 1, whom scarce know they since the day 
When he fixed the marriage ring then on my finger gaily. 

Oh ! alas, I wasn't there, Oh ! alas, I wasn't there, 

Oh ! alas, I wasn't there, by thy right hand to take thee. 

Oh, I am filled with grief, tear-drops streaming down my cheek. 
Mourning for my youthful chief, who newly rode the piebald. 

Rider of th' bounding black, bounding black, bounding black, 
Kider of th' bounding black, so mangled by the piebald. 

306 The Highland Bagpipe. 

To the feast I'll not go, nor where merriment fast flows, 
Since in waking of the spring an arrow pierced me sorely. 

My young Hugh, lowly laid, lowly laid, lowly laid ; 
My young Hugh, lowly laid in debris of the wall breach. 

I am sad, sore sad and wae, since in dust they low thee laid 
My farewell I pray thee take, to stones in Dun high standing. 

My young Hugh lowly laid, lowly laid, lowly laid ; 
My young Hugh, lowly laid, alas ! and I not near thee. 

Thou couldat dance with grace and glee, when they sang sweet 

melody ; 
The grass blade scarce would bent down be by thy quick tread so 


Och an och ! lowly laid, och an och ! lowly laid, 
Och an och ! lowly laid, beside the fatal wall breach." 

Another set of words were taken down in 1872 from the 
singing of Mor Nighean Alasdair Mhic Ruaraidh in Barra. 
The English here given is not, however, a translation of 
this, but what is practically a third set, written by Mr. 
Malcolm MacFarlane, Paisley, to give some idea of the 
rhythm of the tune : — 

" Hark the pipes' piercing wail 
Sounding clear on the gale 
As they bear adown the vale, 

My brave, my noble marrow. 
Pride of the Heilan's, chief of his clan. 
Ever in danger leading the van — 
Death ne'er laid a fairer man 

Within his chamber narrow. 

The Oldest Pipe Tunes. 307 

Day of dool ! day of woe ! 

Day that saw Evan low, 

Ne'er shalt thou from memory go 

While's life's dim lamp is burning. 
In the morn a bride was I ; 
Wife when noonday's sun was high ; 
Ere its light had left the sky 

I was a widow mourning. 

What is life now to me 

Since they've ta'en ye frae me ? 

What again can pleasure gie ? 

What dispel my sorrow ! 
Life was sweet, I was gay 
Love was short and joy's away ; 
Grief has come, but grief will stay. 

Renewed with every morrow." 


One of the earliest recorded instances of the bravery of a 
piper is contained in the annals of our own Highlands, and 
is inseparably connected with the tune known as A Cholla 
Mo run, referred to in a previous chapter. * It may be as 
well to give the story here at full length. The hero was 
the piper of Coll Kitto, or left-handed Coll, who landed in 
Islay with the advance party of an expedition from Ireland, 
with instructions to take the Castle of Dunivaig by surprise, 
should he find that this could be attempted with any degree 
of success. The Campbells, however, had heard of the 
expedition, and they drew the party into an ambush and 
made them prisoners. All were hung off-hand, except the 
piper, who asked leave first to play a lament over his com- 

* See page 92. 

308 The Highland Bagpipe. 

rades. The chief of the Campbells had heard of the fame 
of this piper, and, being himself fond of music, he granted 
the request, taking care, however, to put cattle in the way 
of those of Coll Kitto's people who might follow the 
advance party, which would distract their attention, while 
his men could fall on them as they did on the others. The 
piper saw and understood the arrangements, and adapted 
his pibroch to the occasion, so that the warning and lament- 
ing notes could not fail to be understood by his comrades. 
The chief of the Campbells also understood, and on finding 
himself over -reached he plunged his dirk into the piper, 
who smiled proudly even in death, for he knew he had saved 
his friends. The lamenting notes represented in this tune 
by " We are in their hands, we are in their hands," and the 
warning notes represented by " leave the cattle, leave the 
cattle," are exceedingly touching, and Coll Kitto, when he 
heard the pibroch, at once knew that his advance party was 
in trouble, and that the piper wished him to keep away 
from the island. Accordingly he turned his birlins, that is, 
boats, and left for a less dangerous locality. The words, 
when translated, are far from having the power and beauty 
of the Gaelic, but they will serve to show somewhat how the 
old pipers were supposed to speak by their music to those 
who understood them : — 

" Coll, array ; be ready, depart ; 
Be ready, depart ; be ready, depart ; 
Coll, array ; be ready, depart ; 
We are in their hands, we are in their hands. 

Leave the cattle, leave the cattle, leave the cattle, 
Leave the cattle, leave the cattle, leave the cattle. 
Leave the cattle, leave the cattle, leave the cattle, 
We are in their hands, we are in their hands. 

The Oldest Pipe Tunes. 309 

An oar, a baler, an oar, a baler, 
An oar, a baler, an oar, a baler, 
An oar, a, baler, an oar, a baler. 
We are in their hands, we are in their hands." 

This was supposed to represent embarking quickly. A 
"^baler " was a dish for throwing water out of the boat. 

" The red hand, the red hand, the red hand, 
The red hand, the red hand, the red hand, 
The red hand, the red hand, the red hand, 
We are in their hands, we are in their hands." 

In this the piper hinted to his friends to call the Mac 
Donalds to their aid before attacking the Castle. 

" Coll of my love, avoid the strait. 
Avoid the strait, avoid the strait ; 
Coll of my love, go by the Mull ; 
Gain the landing place, gain the landing place." 

This was a warning to " avoid the strait," and hasten to 
secure a landing place in the shelter of the Mull of Kintyre. 

" Coll of my love, avoid the castle. 
Avoid the castle, avoid the castle ; 
Coll of my love, avoid the castle ; 
We are in their hands, we are in their hands." 

That is one version of the story. There are several 
others, all more or less similar. The tune is connected by 
tradition with two or three places in the Highlands, notably 
with two castles in Argyllshire — Duntroon, near Crinan 
(destroyed by fire in June, 1899), and, as already stated, 
with Dunivaig, in May. In 1647, another version of the 
story goes : Campbell of Calder was commissioned by Argyll 
to proceed against Mac Donald (Coll Kitto) and expel him 

310 The Highland Bagpipe. 

from Islay, where he had taken up his residence with some 
followers. Mac Donald, it seems, was a sort of thorn in the 
flesh to Argyll, and continually troubled him. In this case 
Calder, assisted by several troops of Campbells and others, 
razed the Castle of Dunad, where Coll was, to the ground, 
but Mac Donald himself escaped to Dunivaig, where he was 
again besieged. Finding his forces too weak, he took boat 
by night to procure assistance from Kintyre or Ireland, 
leaving the castle in charge of his mother. Calder having 
discovered this, determined to increase his own strength, and 
retired for that purpose, leaving his troops under the lady 
of Dunstaffnage, a bold, masculine woman. While the male 
leaders were absent, the wooden pipe conveying water to the 
castle was discovered, and the supply cut off, with the result 
that Coil's garrison surrendered. The night after, the 
piper, whose profession ensured respect, recognised his 
master's boat coming back, and that he might apprise him 
of danger, he asked leave to play a piece of music he had 
composed on the misfortunes of the party. The request 
was granted, and he played : — 

" Coll, my dear, dinna come near, 
Dinna come near, dinna come near, 
Coll, O my dear, dinna come near, 
I'm prisoner here, I'm prisoner here." 

Coll Kitto at once recognised the warning, turned his 
boat, and escaped. The Lady of Dunstaffnage saw how she 
had been out-witted, and she made the piper play on the 
top of the highest hill in Islay tunes of the merriest kind, 
and then ordered his fingers to be cut off so that he might 
never play again. The hill is known to this day as " The 
Hill of the Bloody Hand." 

The Oldest Pipe Twies. 311 

In pretty much the same way the story is associated with 
Duntroon Castle, only there are no women in it, so it is 
difficult to say which is correct. But it is plain enough 
that the incident itself is authentic, although it is doubtless 
exaggerated, and tradition is somewhat hazy as to the pro- 
per location. 

Another tune — " Duntroon's Salute " — is mixed up with 
A Cholla mo run in a rather peculiar way, a way that sug- 
gests that the origin of the one is somehow being attributed 
to the other. Sir Alexander Mac Donald, Alister Mac 
Cholla Ckiotaich, so this story goes, made a raid on Argyll- 
shire in 1644 (the dates are irreconcilable with the accepted 
facts of the two stories), and surrounded Duntroon Castle, 
with the object of cutting off every person inside in revenge 
for the murder of his father's piper. He himself, with a 
fleet of galleys, besieged the castle from the seaward side, 
and he ordered his piper to play the " Mac Donalds' 
March." Instead, however, the piper, on the spur of the 
moment, composed and played a war cry to alarm Dun- 
troon. After saluting Duntroon and wishing him good 
health, he warned him of his danger, pointed out that the 
enemy were ready to attack him by sea and land, from right 
and left and front. The tune was understood on shore and 
also on board Mac Donald's boat, and the poor piper was 
instantly hung from the yard-arm. Mac Donald finding he 
could not reduce Duntroon, moved northward, following out 
his work of destruction. The tune composed and played on 
this occasion is still known as " Duntroon's Salute," and 
that there is some ti'uth in the story is shown by the way in 

312 The Highland Bagpipe. 

which it seems to represent the sound of waves breaking 
against rocks.' The exact relations between its origin and 
that of A Cholla mo run would, however, do with a little 
clearing up. It may be mentioned as a fact that some years 
ago a body was found buried within Duntroon, which was 
evidently that of the piper referred to in the tradition. At 
anyrate his finger bones were awanting, a fact which goes to 
prove the second Dunivaig story. But '' how, then, did the 
piper come to be buried in Duntroon .'' 


dates SO far back in the centuries that we fail to trace its 
origin. It has been the march of the clan for hundreds of 
years. There is an old Gaelic song sung to the air, which 
tradition says was the composition of a piper. This piper, 
in the course of his vocation, was at a wedding in Inveraray, 
where he was inhospitably treated. Smarting under a sense 
of injury, he composed the song : — 

" I was at a wedding in the town of Inveraray, 
I was at a wedding in the town of Inveraray, 
I was at a wedding in the town of Inveraray, 
Most wretched of weddings, with nothing but shell-fish," 

thus mercilessly lashing his churlish host. The wedding 
evidently was so poor that all the company got was limpets, 
and the song is another hit at the poverty of Inveraray. 
Burns echoed it when he wrote : — 

-' There's naething here but Highland pride, 
And Highland scab and hunger ; 
If Providence has sent me here 
'Twas surely in his anger." 

The^ Oldest Pipe Tunes. 313 

The tradition, by the way, was so impHcitly beheved in, 
that the playing of the tune at a wedding, up to a 
comparatively recent date, was regarded as a premeditated 

One curious story is told of the tune. Not very many 
years ago the steamer Cygnet was sailing in a Highland 
loch when a sailor's wife gave birth to twins. The fact was 
noticed more particularly because a few years before, in the 
same steamer, under the same captain, and at the same 
place, a similar event had taken place. On the first occasion 
the mother was a Mrs. Campbell, and, strangely enough, 
just when the twins were born, a piper on board happened 
to be playing vigorously " The Campbells are Coming," 
quite ignorant of the additions that had just been made to 
the passenger list. 

The tune was played by the 78th Highlanders when 
coming to the relief of Lucknow, and was that heard by 
Jessie of Lucknow — if there was such a person— as she lay 
half asleep on the ground. 

314 The Highland Bagpipe. 


Some World-Famous Pibrochs. 

" Oh, heard ye yon pibroch sound sad on the gale, 
Where a band cometh slowly with weeping and wail, 
'Tis the chief of Glenara laments for his dear. 
And her sire and her people are called to the bier." 

— Campbell. 

Mac Crimmon's Lament — Best known of all pipe tunes — Its story — 
Blaokie's poetry — Scott's — The war tune of Glengarry — A tragic 
story — The pibroch o' DonuilDhu— Too long in this condition — 
Pipers and inhospitality — Oh, that I had three hands — Lochaber 
no more — Allan Ramsay's verses — An elated MacCrimmon — 
Rory Mbr's Lament — Clan Farlane pibroch — Pipers, poetry, 
and superstition. 

THERE are several reasons why " Mac Crimmoii''s 
Lament " should be the best knovs^n of all pipe tunes, 
but the most important is the fact that it is, and 
must ever continue to be, inseparably associated with the 
famous pipers of Dunvegan. The tune was composed by a 
piper who was leaving home, and had a presentiment that 
he would never return, but it has often been used in other 
circumstances. In the evicting days, when Highlanders 
were compelled to emigrate from their native shores, the 
favourite air when they were embarking was 


(I'll return no more), and on many other mournful occasions 
the lament of the Mac Crimmons was made the means of 

Sovte World- Pamous Pibrocks. 3lS 

expi-essing the feelings of Highlanders. It was composed 
in 1746 by Donald Ban Mac Crimmon, then piper to Mac 
Leod of Dunvegan. Donald Ean was considered the best 
piper of his day, and when the clan left Dunvegan to join 
the Royalists in 1746, he was deeply impressed with the 
idea that he himself would never again see the old castle. 
The parting of the clansmen with their wives and children 
was sad, and Donald Ban, thinking of his own sweetheart, 
poured forth his soul in the sad wail of the Lament, as the 
Mac Leods were marching away from the castle. The clan 
afterwards took part in a skirmish, which, from the peculiar 
circumstances, is known to history as the " Rout of Moy," 
and Mac Crimmon was shot close by the side of his chief. 

The Gaelic words usually associated with the lament ai-e 
supposed to have been sung by Donald Ban's sweetheart, 
but they are in all likelihood of much later date. The 
chorus, however, is probably as old as the tune, but the 
complete verses first appeared in print in 1835, in a collec- 
tion of Popular Gaelic Songs by John Mac Kenzie, of the 
Beauties of Gaelic Poetry, where the words are said to have 
been taken from an old Skye manuscript. Translated into 
English they lose much of their plaintive melody, and make 
but a poor means of conveying an idea of the tune to the 
non-Gaelic reader : — 

" The mountain mist flows deep on CiiUin, 
The fay sings her elegy sorrowful ; 
Mild blue eyes in the Duin are in tears, 
Since he departed and refused to return. 

He returns not, returns not, returns not, Mac Crimmon, 
From war and conflict the warrior refuses to return. 
He returns not, returns not, MacCrimmon would not return, 
He will return no more until the day of the last gathering. 

316 The Highland Bagpipe. 

The winds of the wold among the boughs are wailing, 
Each streamlet and burn is sad on the hills ; 
The minstrels of the boughs are singing mournfully, 
Since he departed and will never return. 

He returns not, etc. 

The night is clouded, sorrowful and sad, 
The birlin under sail, but reluctant to depart. 
The waves of the sea have a sound not happy, 
Lamenting that he departed and will never return. 

He returns not, etc. 

Gather will not the tuneful race of Duin in the evening. 
While echo with alacrity and joy answers them ; 
The youths and maidens are without music lamenting 
That he departed from us and will never return. 

He returns not, etc." 

This is perhaps too literal a rendering. Let us try Pro- 
fessor Blackie's version. Blackie was an enthusiast for 
everything Celtic, and beautified everything in Celtic 
literature that his pen touched. A comparison of the two 
translations shows this : — 

" Round Cullin's peak the mist is sailing. 
The banshee croons her note of wailing, 
Mild blue eyes with sorrow are streaming, 
For him that shall never return, Mac Crimmon ! 

No more, no more, no more for ever. 
In war or peace, shall return Mac Crimmon ; 
No more, no more, no more for ever. 
Shall love or gold bring back Mac Crimmon. 

Some World-Famous Pibrochs. 317 

The breeze on the hills is mournfully blowing, 

The brook in the hollow is plaintively flowing, 

The warblers, the soul of the grove, are mourning 

For Mao Crimmon that's gone with no hope of returning. 

No more, etc. 

The tearful clouds the stars are veiling, 
The sails are spread, but the boat is not sailing. 
The waves of the sea are moaning and mourning 
For Mac Crimmon that's gone to find no returning. 

No more, etc. 

No more on the hill at the festal meeting 
The pipe shall sound with the festal greeting, 
And lads and lasses change mirth to mourning. 
For him that's gone to Jsnow no returning. 

No more, etc." 

The story of the origin of the tune which I have given is 
that generally accepted as historically accurate. There is, 
however, a tradition that after the passing of the Heritable 
Jurisdiction Bill in 1747 practically abolished the office of 
hereditary piper, Donald Dubh Mac Crimmon, the last of 
the race, who died in 1822 at the age of ninety-one, com- 
posed the lament on his departure for Canada. The senti- 
ment is hardly that which one might expect from a depart- 
ing emigrant, but rather what a piper might give expression 
to on leaving for the wars, a fact which tells against the 
tradition. Nevertheless, the tune has been turned into an 
emigrant's farewell on many occasions, and the last verse of 
Sir Walter Scott's composition connected with the tune, 
shows that the poet accepted the air as such, to some 
extent at least : — 

318 The Highland Bagpipe. 

MacLeod's wizard flag from the grey castle sallies, 
The rowers are seated, unmoor'd are the galleys ; 
Gleam war-axe and broadsword, clang target and quiver, 
As MacOriramon sings ' Farewell to Dunvegan for ever ! 
Farewell to each cliif on which breakers are foaming ; 
Farewell each dark glen in which red deer are roaming, 
Farewell lonely Skye, to lake, mountain, and river, 
MacLeod may return, but MaoCrimmon shall never ! 

' Farewell the bright clouds that on Quillan are sleeping ; 

Farewell the bright eyes in the dun that are weeping ; 

To each minstrel delusion farewell — and for ever — 

Mac Crimmon departs to return to you never ! 

The banshee's wild voice sings the death dirge before me. 

The pall of the dead for a mantle hangs o'er me ; 

But my heart shall not flag and my nerve shall not shiver. 

Though devoted I go — to return again never ! 

' Too oft shall the note of Mac Orimmon's bewailing 
Be heard when the Gael on their exile are sailing ; 
Dear land ! to the shores whence unwilling we sever ; 
Return — return — return we shall never ! 

' Cha till, cha till, cha till, sinn tuille ! 

Cha till, cha till, cha till, sinn tuille, 

Cha till, cha till, cha till, sinn tuille, 

Oed ihilleas MacLeod, hhed Mac Criomain.' " 

Some stories, by the way, state that Mac Crimmon him- 
self composed the words to suit the air, and others that they 
were composed by his sweetheart at Dunvegan on hearing 
him playing the new lament when the clan was leaving the 
castle. Still others would have it that the sweetheart's song 
was another, composed in response to that of Mac Crimmon. 

The phrase, Cha till mi tuille, is also associated with 
the story of the piper who tried to explore a cave in Mull,. 

Some World-Fammis Pibroclis. 319 

which was given in a previous chapter. The people of 
Skye claim the story, and say this piper was a Mac 
Crimmon, but the legend is not supposed to give the origin 
of the phrase. Cha till mi tuille was used on many occa- 
sions as an extempore expression of feeling on the part of 
a piper without any reference to the particular tune, " Mac 
Crimmon's Lament." 

If " Mac Crimmon's Lament " is associated with a depar- 
ture for the wars, there is another tune associated very 
closely with war itself — so closely, indeed, that, according to 
the accepted story of its origin, it was composed while one 
of the most cruel deeds ever done in the name of warfare 
was being perpetrated. 


is the war tune of Glengarry, and its origin — mythical 
according to some writers— is as follows : — 

About the beginning of the seventeenth century there 
lived in Glengarry a famous character named Allan Mac 
Ranald, of Lundie. He was a man of great strength, 
activity, and courage, and, living as he did at a time when 
the feuds between the Mac Kenzies and the Mac Donalds 
were at their height, he invariably led any expedition that 
set out from Glengarry. In these fighting days young 
Angus Mac Donald, of Glengarry, anxious to distinguish 
himself, determined — though against the advice of his 
father — to lead a raid into the country of the Mac 
Kenzies. He surprised and defeated the Mac Kenzies, but 
on their way home by sea the Mac Donalds were in their 
turn attacked by the Mac Kenzies, and defeated with great 
slaughter. Angus Mac Donald was among the slain, and 
Allan of Lundie only escaped with his life by leaping into 

320 The Highland Bagpipe. 

the sea at Loch Hourn, where the battle took place, and 
swimming ashore at another place. Allan was determined to 
be avenged, and not long after he led a strong party of Mac 
Donalds to the lands of Killychrist, near Beauly. He found 
the Mac Kenzies totally unprepared, burned their lands, des- 
troyed their crops, and finally mercilessly set fire to a church 
in which a large congregation were worshipping, driving back 
at the point of the sword all who attempted to escape. 
Meantime he ordered Alister Dubh, his piper, to play so as 
to drown the cries of the perishing people. Alister there- 
upon blew up loud and shrill, and, after making his instru- 
ment give utterance to a long succession of wild and uncon- 
nected notes without any apparent meaning, he began his 
march round the church, playing extemporaneously the 
pibroch which, under the name of " Killychrist," has since 
been used as the war tune of the Mac Donells of Glengarry. 
For a short time the terrible sounds from the inside of the 
church mingled with the music of the pipes, but they 
gradually became fainter, and at last ceased altogether. 

Allan and his comrades had little time to enjoy their 
victory, for the Mac Kenzies soon gathered in overwhelming 
numbers, and, finding the Mac Donells resting on a flat 
near Mealfourvonie, known as " the marsh of blood," they 
attacked them with great fury, and pursued them to Loch 
Ness. Allan was again one of the few who escaped. 

The story of the burning in the church has been al- 
together discredited, but it is admitted that there was a 
raid, and that a large number of cottages, as well as the 
manse of Killychrist, .were burnt. None of the earlier 
writers, however, mention the burning of the congrega- 
tion. The music itself also contradicts somewhat the 
traditional origin of the tune, for when it is properly 

Some World-Fumous Pibrochs. 321 

played the listener can fancy he hears the flames rustling 
and blazing through the timbers, mingled with the angry 
remonstrances and half-smothered shouts of the warriors, but 
there is no representation of the more feeble plaints of 
women and children, as there would surely have been had 
these been among the victims. However, I give the story 
for what it is worth. 


is one of the oldest and best known of pipe tunes. It is 
said to have been played at the Battle of Inverlochy in 1431, 
and it is first found on paper in Oswald's Caledonian Pocket 
Companion, published in 1764, where it is entitled Piobaire- 
acJid Mhic Dhonuill. Afterward it appeared in the book 
compiled by Captain Mac Leod of Gesto, from which it was 
translated in 1815 into ordinary notation by the editor of 
A Ibyn's A nthology. Its first printed heading strengthens the 
title of the Mac Donalds, who claim the tune for their clan, 
but the words Donull Dubh are accepted as referring to 
Cameron of Lochiel, and the tune is known as " Lochiel's 
March." The chief of the Camerons bears the name Mao 
Dhomhnuill Duibh, or son of Black Donald. The air, which 
is the march of the 79th or Cameron Highlanders, is a call 
to arms, and is inseparably associated with Inverlochy, but 
whether composed and played on the field or only in com- 
memoration of the battle cannot now be determined. The 
English words are by Sir Walter Scott, and first appeared 
in 1816 :— 

"Pibroch o' Donuil Dhu, 
Pibroch o' Donuil, 
Wake thy wild voice anew, 
Summon Clan Connil ; 

322 The Highland Bagpipe. 

Come away, come away, 
Hark to the summons, 

Gome in your war array. 
Gentles and Commons. 

Come from deep glen, and 

From mountain so rocky. 
The war pipe and pennon 

Are at Inverloohy ; 
Come every hill plaid, and 

True heart that wears one ; 
Come every steel blade, and 

Sti'ong hand that bears one ; 

Leave untended the herd, and 

The flock without shelter. 
The corpse uninterr'd. 

The bride at the altar ; 
Leave the deer, leave the steer, 

Leave nets and barges ; 
Come with your fighting gear, 

Broadswords and targes. 

Come as the winds come, when 

Forests are rended ; 
Come as the waves come, when 

Navies are stranded ; 
Faster come, faster come, 

Faster and faster ! 
Chief, vassal, page, and groom ! 

Tenant and master ! 

Fast they come, fast they come ; 

See how they gather ! 
Wide waves the eagle plume 

Blended with heather. 

Soine World-Famous Pibrochs. 323 

Cast your plaids, draw your blades, 

Forward each man set ! 
Pibroch o' Donuil Dhu, 

Knell for the onset ! " 


which may be translated " Too Long in this Condition," is 
an old pibroch, dating from about 1712. It was composed 
either by Donald Mor Mac Crimmon or by Patrick, his son. 
Donald was compelled at one time, because of some depre- 
dations of his own, to flee for his life into Sutherlandshire. 
There he put up unrecognised at the house of a relative 
named Mac Kay, who was getting married that day. Mac 
Crimmon sat down in a corner almost unnoticed, but when 
the piper began to play he unconsciously fingered his stick 
as if it were the chanter. The piper of the evening noticed 
this, and asked him to play for them. Donald said he could 
not, and the whole company asked him, and he again 
refused. At last the piper said : " I am getting seven 
shillings and sixpence for playing at this marriage. I'll 
give you one-third if you will play." Donald then took up 
the pipe and began : — 

" Too long are we thus, too long are we thus, 
Too long in this condition, 
Too long lacking meat or drink, 
At Mac Kay's marriage am I." 

These lines he repeated three times, and concluded by 
adding — 

" At the house of Mac Kay am I." 

He played so well that all present knew him to be the 
great Donald Mdr Mac Crimmon, and as he made his pipes 

324 The Highland Bagpipe. 

speak to them they understood his complaint, and he was 
then royally entertained. 

The pibroch is also said to have been composed by 
Patrick Mor MacCrimmon on his being taken prisoner, 
along with many others, at the battle of Worcester, and 
being left in a pitiable state. It is also associated with the 
same piper and the battle of Sheriffmuir, where he was left 
stripped of all his clothing, but it is impossible to say 
which, if either, is right. 

Want of hospitality towards a piper gave rise to another 
tune. It is called 


and its origin, as told to the late " Nether Lochaber " by 
an old Loch Awe-side piper, was as follows : — 

Some two or three hundred years ago, when the great 
Clan Campbell was at the height of its power, the estate of 
Barbreck was owned by a Campbell, who was brother or 
cousin or something of another Campbell, the neighbouring 
laird of Craignish. Craignish kept a piper, but Barbreck 
did not. Barbreck could afford to keep one, but he grudged 
the expense, and his stinginess in this respect is commemor- 
ated in an Argyllshire saying — " What I cannot afford I 
must do without, as Barbreck did without a piper." 

Barbreck one day was on a visit to Craignish, and as he 
was leaving he met the piper, and said to him — " The New 
Year is approaching. On New-Year's Day morning, when 
you have played the proper salute to my cousin, your 
master, I wish you would come over to Barbreck and play 
a New- Year's salute to me, for, as you know, I have no piper 
of my own to do it. Come and spend the day with us." 
This the piper promised to do, and on New Year's Day 

Some World-Famous Pihrochs. 325 

morning, after first playing his master into good humour, 
he went to Barbreek. He played and played until the laird 
was in raptures, but the piper became hungry and thirsty, 
and hinted as much to Barbreek. He got some food, but it 
was not satisfactory, either in quantity or quality. The 
drinkables were no better, and long before the sun set the 
piper was anxious to go home. " Give us one more tune 
before you go," said Barbreek. " That I will," said the 
piper, and there and then he struck up impromptu Tigh 
Bhroinein — the House of the Miserly One. The following 
are some of the lines attached to the tune from the very 
first, whether by the piper himself or by another is not 
known : — 

" I was in the house of the miserly one to-day, 
In the house of the miserly one was I ; 
I went by invitation thither, 
But I got no sufficiency (of meat or drink). 
I got a drink of meal gruel there, 
And got bad barley scones ; 
I got the leg of a hen there, 
And, by my troth, she was a poor and tough one. 
This is an invitation that has annoyed me, 
I will leave this to-night 
Without (I may say) food or drink 
I will leave thee, Barbreek ; 
Nor will I return any more 
To play thee a piobaireachd salute." 

The translation is too literal to be poetry, but one can 
imagine how Barbreek must have felt. He had better have 
done without. that last tune. 


is associated with at least two incidents in Highland his- 
tory. Towards the end of the thirteenth century a dispute 

326 The Highland Bagpipe. 

arose between Mac Cailein Mor, chief of the Clan Campbell, 
and Mac Dougall of Lome, chief of the Mac Dougalls, with 
reference to the boundaries of their estates. The parties 
met at a spot where two streams unite, and fell to recrimina- 
tion and ultimately to fighting like tigers. The slaughter 
was terrible, and the streams ran with blood and were 
crowded with the bodies of the slain. Ultimately Mac 
Cailein Mor was killed, and his followers ceased the fighting 
to carry off his body. Close to the battlefield there was a 
small conical hillock — called in the Gaelic Tom-a-PMobair, 
the Piper's Hillock — on the top of which the piper of the 
Campbells stood and played while the battle raged. Sym- 
pathising with the Mac Dougalls, and regretting the havoc 
made among them, he composed on the spot a pipe tune, 
the purport of which was : — 

" My loss ! my loss ! that I have not three hands, 

Two engaged with the pipe and one with the sword, 
My loss ! my loss ! that I have not three hands, 

Two engaged with the pipe and one with the sword ; 
My loss ! my loss ! low lies yonder 
Mac Dougall, with his pipe, whose sound was soft and sweet to me. " 

This hardly indicates whether the piper would, had he 
three hands, have fought with the Mac Dougalls against his 
own clan, but, at anyrate, the Campbells, seeing that this 
was not one of their own tunes, were so enraged that one of 
them ran to the piper and chopped oif his head. It is said 
that the piper's fingers played three or four notes on the 
chanter while his head was toppling to the ground. 

This story belongs to the same class as those relating to 
the battles of Philiphaugh and Bothwell Bridge, given in a 
previous chapter. The resemblance, indeed, is too striking 
to be a coincidence, and the three have probably at some 

Some World-Famous Pibrochs. 327 

time or other been one story. The other incident connected 
by tradition with the tune is that ah'eady related of a cave 
in either Skye or Mull, into which a venturesome piper 
entered. He never returned, but the last wailing notes of 
his pipes told that he was being hard beset with wolves, 
who threatened to tear him to pieces should he stop play- 
ing. So he played mournfully : — 

" Oh, that I had three hands ! 
Two for the pipes and one for the sword," 

the inference being that in that case he could have kept on 
playing and fought the wolves at the same time. 

The tune nearly always played at Highland funerals is 

"lochabee no more." 

It was composed to Jane, daughter of Sir Ewen Cameron of 
Lochiel, by a young English officer on his being ordered 
back from the Highlands to join his regiment. Jane 
Cameron was afterwards married to Lachlan Mac Pherson 
of Cluny, thus bringing over the tune to the Mac Phersons. 
The traditional account is entirely different. According to 
it a party of marauders from Lochaber, consisting of forty 
to fifty men, reached, one autumn afternoon, the summit of 
a hill immediately above Glenesk, the most northerly parish 
of Forfarshire. They meant to make a raid on the valley, 
but lay down to rest until after dusk. They were, however, 
seen by some shepherds, who gave the alarm, and in the 
evening the inhabitants of the glen were all under arms for 
the protection of their property. After dusk the invaders 
descended, and in the battle that ensued five of the defen- 
ders were killed and ten taken prisoners. Prisoners and 
cattle were driven to the Highlands. The men returned 

328 The Highland Bagpipe. 

next year after a ransom of fifteen merks had been paid for 
each, but the cattle were never seen again. A ballad giving 
these particulars was long popular in the glen, but nothing 
now remains of it except the last' words of each verse — 
" Lochaber no more.'" Allan Ramsay wrote lines for the 
air, but they contain nothing of the spirit of the traditional 
origin. They are obviously based on the historical 
account : — 

" Farewell to Lochaber, and farewell my Jean, 
Where heartsome with thee I've mony day been ; 
For Lochaber no more, Lochaber no more, 
We'll maybe return to Lochaber no more. 
Those tears that I shed, they're a' for my dear. 
And no for the dangers attending on weir, 
Tho' borne on rough seas to a far, bloody shore. 
Maybe to return to Lochaber no more. 

Tho' hurricanes arise and rise every wind, 
They'll ne'er make a tempest like that in my mind ; 
Tho' loudest of thunder on loudest waves roar. 
That's naething like leaving my Jove on the shore. 
To leave thee behind me my heart is sair pain'd. 
By ease that's inglorious no fame can fee gained ; 
And beauty and love's the reward of the brave. 
And I must deserve it before I can crave. 

Then glory, my Jeanie, maun plead my excuse ; 
Since honour commands me, how can I refuse ? 
Without it I ne'er can have merit for thee, 
And without thy favour I'd better not be. 
I gae, then, my lass, to win honour and fame, 
And if I should luck to come gloriously hame, 
I'll bring thee a heart with love running o'er. 
And then I'll leave thee and Lochaber no more." 

Some World-Famous Pibrochs. 329 

It is only fair to add that the tune, under another name, 
is said to have been a favourite Irish air in London in the 
time of Queen Elizabeth. If this was so, the explanation 
probably is that the Irish who came to Scotland, and the 
Scots who went to Ireland, each carried their music with 
them, and that there are many tunes common to both 


Pipers of old times always had " a guid conceit o' them- 
sel's," and Patrick Mor Mac Crimmon, who flourished in 
1660, was no exception to the rule. His master, Roderick 
Mac Leod of Mac Leod, went to London after the Restora- 
tion to pay his homage to Charles II., and was very warmly 
received. He had taken his piper with him, and the King 
was so pleased with his fine appearance and his music that 
he allowed Mac Crimmon to kiss his hand. Patrick was 
highly elated over this, and commemorated the honour that 
had been paid him by composing the tune Fhuair mi pog o 
laimh an Riffh, which, to those acquainted with the lan- 
guage and music, seems to speak forth the pride and grati- 
tude of the performer, the words expressed by the opening 
measure being : — 

" I have had a ikiss, a kiss, a kiss, 
I have had a kiss of the King's hand ; 
No one who blew in a sheep's skin 
Has received such honour as I have." 

" BOEY MOR's lament." 

Sir Roderick Mac Leod of Dunvegan, who died somewhere 
about 1630, was a man of noble spirit, celebrated for great 

330 The Highland Bagpipe. 

military prowess and resource. His hospitality was un- 
bounded, and he was in all respects entitled to be called 
Mor or great, in all the qualities that went to constitute 
a great Highland chief and leader of men. The Gaelic 
bards were enthusiastic in his praises, and his piper, Patrick 
Mor Mac Crimmon — the same Mac Crimmon presumably — 
taking his death very much to heart, could not live at Dun- 
vegan afterwards. Shouldering his great pipe, he made for 
his own house at Boreraig, composing and playing- as he 
went Cumha Ruaraidh Mhoir (Rory Mbr's Lament), which 
is considered the most melodious, feeling, and melancholy 
lament known. The following are some of the words, 
translated by " Fionn " : — 

" Give me my pipes, I'll home them carry, 
In these sad halls I dare not tarry, 
My pipes hand o'er, my heart is sore, 
For Rory Mor, my Rory Mor. 

Fetch me my pipes, my heart is breaking, 
For Rory Mor his rest is taking, 
He walks no more, and to its core 
My heart is sore for Rory Mor. 

Give me my pipes, I'm sad and weary, 
These halls are silent, dark, and eerie. 
The pipe no more cheers as of yore, 
Thy race is o'er, brave Rory Mor." 

"the clan farlane pibroch." 

A Faust-like story is told of Andrew, chief of the Clan 
Mac Farlane, and the supposed composer of the " Clan 
Farlane Pibroch." Andrew and Alastair, chiefs of the Mac 
Donells of Keppoch, were credited with having " the black 
art." They were said to have sold their souls to the devil 

Some World-Famous Pibrochs. 331 

in exchange for their supernatural powers. They seem to 
have driven a rather peculiar bargain, for the understanding 
was that the devil should get only one of their souls, the 
chiefs to decide between themselves which it would be. 
The appointed day and hour came on which the debt was 
to be paid, and still the chiefs, though they had come to 
the trysting place, had not decided which soul was to be 
given up. When the devil came he was in a desperate 
hurry, and at once exclaimed, " Well, and whose soul do I 
get ? " On the spur of the moment Mac Donell pointed to 
Mac Farlane's shadow, saying, " That's he," whereupon the 
devil snatched up the shadow and ran off with it. From 
that day Mac Farlane was never known to cast a shadow. 

As to the tune itself, Sir Walter Scott supposes it had a 
close connection with the predatory excursions of the clan 
into the low country near the fastnesses on the western side 
of Loch Lomond. The pibroch, Thogail nam ho, seems to 
indicate such practices, the sense of the music being : — ■ 

" We are bound to drive the bullocks, 
All by hollows, hirsts, and hillocks, 

Through the sleet and through the rain ; 
When the moon is beaming low 
On frozen lake and hill of snow, 
Boldly, heartily we go, 

And all for little gain." 

The tune was almost lost, but about 1894 some enthusiasts 
gathered it from several who knew it, and committed it to 
paper, thus ensuring its preservation. The credit of this 
laudable effort, it should be added, is mainly due to Provost 
Mac Farlane of Dumbarton, who, with the help of Pipe- 
major J. MacDougall Gillies, Glasgow, had the complete 
tune taken down from the playing of John Leitch, an old 

332 The Highland Bagpipe. 

man who lived in Glendaruel. The Faust-like story of its 
composer is also told of a Donald Mac Kay of Lord Reay''s 
country, bat not in connection with a tune. 


Connected with " John Garbh of Raasay's Lament," one 
of the most famous of pibrochs, and a favourite with most 
pipers to this day, there are stories of pipers, poetry, and 
superstition. John Garbh MacLeod of Raasay met his 
death about 1650 at the early age of 21. He was a man 
of fine appearance and great strength. He had been to 
Lewis on a visit to a friend, and when he was returning 
home to Skye the day was so stormy that his crew were 
very unwilling to put to sea, being afraid they would lose 
their lives. Raasay thereupon exclaimed to the boatman 
in the Gaelic : — " Son of fair Muireil, are you afraid ? " and 
the man at once threw his fears aside, and with the reply — 
"No, no, Raasay, we shall share the same fate to-day," 
began to prepare for the voyage. All went well until off 
Trotternish, the people of which anxiously watched the 
boat. The wind increased still more, and a heavy shower 
hid the vessel from their sight. When it cleared off 
the boat was nowhere to be seen. MacLeod's untimely 
fate was deeply mourned, and Patrick Mor Mac Crimmon 
commemorated the sad event by composing the famous 
and pathetic pibroch. A celebrated Skye poetess also 
composed a touching lament, and a sister of Mac Crimmon's 
composed an elegy, the English of which goes as foUows : — 

" Sitting idly I sorrow, 

Heavy hearted and ailing ; 
I am songless and cheerless, 
I am weary and wailing. 

Some World-Famous Pihrochs. 3S3 

Since the day of my sorrow 
I am weary with wailing, 

Since the loss of the boatie 
Where the hero was sailing. 

Since the loss of the boatie, 
Where the hero was sailing ; 

Oh, strong was his shoulder, 
Though the sea was prevailing. 

Oh, strong was his shoulder, 
Though the sea was prevailing ; 

Now he lies in the clachan 
Whom I am bewailing. 

Now he lies in the clachan 
Whom I am bewailing. 

And a green grassy curtain 
His cold bed is veiling. 

And a green grassy curtain 

His cold bed is veiling. 
His sword in its scabbard 

The rust is assailing. 

His sword in its scabbard 

The rust is assailing ; 
His hounds on their leashes 

Their speed unavailing. 

His hounds on their leashes 
Their speed unavailing ; 

No more shall my hero 
His mountains be scaling. 

No more shall my hero 
His mountains be scaling ; 

Sitting sadly I sorrow. 
Heavy hearted and ailing." 

SSi , The Highland Bagpipe. 

Tradition says that John Garbh of Raasay was drowned 
through the machinations of a witch. She bore him a 
grudge, and while the boat was at sea she sat in her hut 
rocking a basin of milk in which there was a clam shell to 
represent the boat. When she sank the clam shell the boat 
sank, the story being that a crow alighted on the gunwale, 
and that Mac Leod, in trying to kill it with his sword, cut 
the boat to the waters' edge. There are several improbable 
things about this tradition, not the least obvious of which 
is the impossibility of knowing how the boat sank when no 
one was left to tell the tale. However, it is a tradition — 
that much at least is true. 

Some Well-Known Gatherings. 335 


Some Well-Known Gatherings. 

" Ye voices of Cona, of high swelling power, 
Ye barJs who can sing of her olden time, 
On whose spirits arise the blue panoplied throng 
Of her ancient hosts, who are mighty and strong, 
My bards raise the song. " 

— Ossian. 

A Tune with four stories — The Carles wi' the Breeks — The Mao 
Gregor's Gathering — Scott's verses — Caher Feidh — The Camerons' 
Gathering — Well-matched chiefs — The Loch of the Sword. , 

THE first tune to be noticed in this chapter is peculiar in 
this respect, that whereas to many are ascribed two 
origins, to this there are ascribed three or four. More 
than one cannot possibly be correct, unless we conclude that 
different pipers at different tunes in different places and 
without any co-operation, composed the same tune. That 
is rather too much, however, but we will give the stories as 
they are to be found in many books of Highland history and 

In the first place, then, this tune has three names. It is 
known as 

"the beeadalbane gatheeing" 

(or March), " Wives of this Glen," and Bodaich nam 
Briogais ('• The Carles wi' the Breeks "), and each name 

336 The Highland Bagpipe. 

applies to the air as it is associated with a certain district of 
Scotland. As " Lord Breadalbane's March " it is noticed in 
an old hymn-book by Iain Ban Caimbeul, first published in 
1786, and afterwards in 1834. This book associated it 
with Coll Kitto, mentioned in a previous chapter, and gives 
a long story of raiding and plundering in which this worthy 
was engaged about 1644. At one stage in the exploits, 
when his enemies were fleeing, the Baronet of Lochawe 
ordered his piper to compose a march tune suitable for the 
occasion, and to keep playing all night. This the piper did, 
and his tune was Bodaich nam Briogais. There is certainly 
an air of authenticity about the story, and the details bear 
the stamp of probability if not of truth. 

As the " Breadalbane Gathering " it is a Perthshire tune, 
and well known. The story is that it was played in 1762 
at a battle in Caithness, in which the first Earl of Breadal- 
bane was victor, but the air belonged to an earlier period, 
for Seumas-an-Tuim, the reiver referred to in the melody 
flourished at the beginning of the century : — 

" Ye women of the glen 
Ye women of the glen 
Ye women of the glen 
Ye women of the glen 
Is it not time for you to arise 1 
And Seumas-an-Tuim driving away your cattle." 

The tune, then, although Breadalbane's raid into Caithness 
may have given it a new lease of life, under a new name, 
must have been in existence before that time. The raid 
itself, for that matter, is somewhat mythical, and the chances 
are that this is only a bowdlerised version of the next story, 
which is thoroughly authenticated. 

Some Well-Known Gatherings. 337 

It is as " The Carles with the Breeks " that the tune 
really hails from Caithness. Sir John Campbell of Glen- 
orchy received in 1672 from George Earl of Caithness an 
assignment of all his lands and possessions on condition that 
he would take the name of Sinclair. Glenorchy agreed to 
this, and on the death of the Earl in 1676 he took the title. 
His right was, however, disputed by the heir male, George 
Sinclair of Kiess, and Sir John went to Caithness with a 
force of Campbells, and defeated the Sinclairs at Altimar- 
lach, a spot on the banks of the Water of Wick, and a short 
distance from the county town. The Campbells, a High- 
land clan, of course wore the kilt, and like all true High- 
landers — ;of that age — they despised those who did not. 
The Sinclairs, never a Highland clan, but only a county 
family at best, wore the trews, and when Findlay Mac Ivor, 
Glenorchy's piper, saw them wavering, he poured forth the 
voluntary : — 

" The carles with the breeks, the carles with the breeks, 
The carles with the breeks are flying before us." 

And to experts in pipe music the tune does appear to 
articulate very plainly the sentiments of Bodaich nam 
Briogais. Another set of words, given in the Killin collec- 
tion of Gaelic song, seems more like a defying challenge to 
the Sinclairs than a song of victory : — 

" Your cattle lifted are, lifted are, lifted are, 

' Your cattle lifted are, your men sadly slain are. 

I'm Black John the sharp-eyed one, sharp-eyed one, sharp-eyed 

I'm Black John the sharp-eyed one, driving them safely. 

338 The Highland Bagpipe. 

Carles in trewses clad, trewses clad, trewaes clad. 
Carles in trewses clad, up and bestir yon. 
Carles in trewses clad, side dirk and mailed shirt, 
Carles in trewses clad, flight we quick gave you. 

Glenorchy's bold Mac Intyres, true shots that will not miss, 
Bullets sure hitting that fast slay the carles. 
There where the river bends, arrows that pierced you quick ; 
Many's the house-head that rests without waking. 

Carles in trewses clad, etc. 

We made that morning start, morning start, morning start, 
We made that morning start, when watching failed you. ' 

Wives, mothers, in this glen, in this glen, in this glen. 
Wives, mothers, in this glen, it's time you were waking. 

Carles in trewses clad, etc." 

Glenorchy, hovrever, did not obtain a very firm hold in 
the county, and the Sinclairs held the great bulk of the 
lands until within the lifetime of the present generation, 
when it seems to be drifting into other hands because of the 
want of heirs male in the direct line. Neither did the con- 
tempt expressed by the piper do much to make the trews 
unpopular, for the late Caithness Fencibles, raised and com- 
manded by Sir John Sinclair, were dressed pretty much as 
were their ancestors at Altimarlach. Caithness, of course, 
was, and still is, not very Highland, except in the matter of 
latitude, and it is very noticeable that the only pipe tune 
associated with the county was played by a Perthshire piper 
on a warlike excursion, fighting against the natives, Caith- 
ness has no pipe music of its own. 

Again, the tune is known in Argyllshire as " Wives of 
this Glen." Tradition says it was played by Breadalbane's 
piper just previous to the massacre of Glencoe, in 1692, in 

Some Well-Known Gatherings. 339 

the hope of warning the Mac lans of their danger, and that 
one Mac Ian wife heeded the warning and fled to the hills 
with her child, saving his life. Glencoe is one of the wildest 
places in the Highlands, gloomy and desolate, ten miles 
from any other inhabited district, and through it the Cona, 
a wild, rugged stream, on the banks of which Ossian is be- 
lieved to have first seen the light, tumbles its way to the 
sea. Towards the north-west end the terrible tragedy, 
which left an ineradicable stain on Scottish history, took 
place, and there the piper is supposed to have stood when 
he played : — 

" Wives of wild Cona glen, Cona glen, Cona glen, 

Wives of wild Cona glen, wake from your slumbers, 
Early I woke this morn, early I woke this morn, 

Woke to alarm you with music's wild numbers. 
Slain is the cattle boy, cattle boy, cattle boy, 

Slain is the cow-boy while you soundly slumbered ; 
Lifted your cattle are, lifted your cattle are, 

Slain are your herdsmen, by foemen outnumbered. 
Iain du Beeroch dw, Beeroch du, Beeroeh du, 

Iain dii, Beeroch du is off with the plunder. 
Wives of wild Cona glen, Cona glen, Cona glen. 

Wives of wild Cona glen, wake from your slumbers. " 

Iain du Beeroch du was a noted Highland cattle-lifter, 
and corresponds to Seumas-an-Tuim, of the Perthshire 
origin of the tune. Probably they were one and the same 
person under different names. The only theory on which 
the three stories can be reconciled is that the tune originally 
belonged to Perthshire, but was taken to Caithness and to 
Argyllshire by different pipers, accepted in each place as 
new, and given a new name. In those days, when com- 
munication between districts of Scotland which had nothing 
jn common was very restricted, the tune could exist in one 

340 The Highland Bagpipe. 

county as new for many years without the people knowing 
that it was familiar to those of another. And naturally 
they contined to associate with it the circumstances in 
which they themselves first heard it. It was this tune, by 
the way, that on the morning of Quatre Bras, was played 
through the streets of Brussels to wake the slumbering 


Although the Clan Mac Gregor was one of the most 
famous in Highland history, there is not very much even of 
reliable tradition concerning the music of the clan. There 
is^or, at least, was — enough of tradition ; but as it does 
not seem to have been committed to paper, it is now pro- 
bably lost. Of the origin of " The Mac Gregors' Gather- 
ing " we know nothing beyond the fact that it was included 
in Captain MacLeod of Gesto's manuscript book of 
pibrochs as having been taken down in pipers' language, 
that " syllabic jargon of illiterate pipers " referred to at 
length in a former article, from the performers, most likely 
from the Mac Crimmons. From the Gesto book it was 
translated in 1815 into ordinary notation by Alexander 
Campbell, editor of Albyn's Anthology, and this gave it a 
place in published pipe music. The notation of Captain 
Mac Leod, says Mr. Campbell, he found, to his astonish- 
ment, to coincide exactly with regular notation, so it can- 
not have been such jargon after all. Scott thoroughly 
caught the spirit of his tune in the song : — 

" The moon's on the lake, and the mist's on the brae. 
And the Clan has a name that is nameless by day ! 
Then gather, gather, gather, Gregalich ! 
Gather, gather, gather, etc. 

Sor/ie- Well-Known Gatherings. 341 

Our signal for fight, that from monarchs we drew, 
Must be heard but by night in our vengeful haloo ! 

Then haloo, Gregalich ! haloo, Gregalieh ! 

Haloo, haloo, haloo, Gregalich, etc. 

Glen Orchy's proud mountains, Oaolchuirn and her towers, 
Glen Strae and Glen Lyon no longer are ours ; 

We're landless, landless, landless, Gregalich ! 

Landless, landless, landless, etc. 

But doom'd and devoted by vassal and lord, 

Mao Gregor has still both his heart and his sword ! 

Then courage, courage, courage, Gregalich ; 

Courage, courage, courage, etc. 

If they rob us of name and pursue us with beagles. 

Give their roofs to the flame and their flesh to the eagles ! 

Then vengeance, vengeance, vengeance, Gregalich ! 

Vengeance, vengeance, vengeance, etc. 

While there's leaves in the forest, and foam on the river, 
Mac Gregor, despite them, shall flourish for ever ! 

Come then, Gregalich ; come then, Gregalich ; 

Come then, come then, come then, etc. 

Through the depths of Loch Katrine the steed shall career. 

O'er the peaks of Ben Lomond the galley shall steer, 

And the rocks of Craig Royston like icicles melt, 

Ere our wrongs be forgot or our vengeance unfelt. ' 

Then gather, gather, gather, Gregalich ! 
Gather, gather, gather, etc." 


One of the most stirring of pipe tunes is Caher Feidh, 
composed by Norman MacLeod, a native of Assynt, 
Sutherlandshire. The Earl of Sutherland gave a commis- 
sion to William Munroe, of Achany, who, with a large body 

342 The Highland Bagpipe. 

of retainers, descended on Assynt and carried off much 
plunder. His excursion was in the latter end of summer, 
when the cattle were grazing in distant pastures, and Achany 
plundered the sheilings and stole a considerable amount of 
butter and cheese. Indignant at this, Mac Leod composed 
the tune and song which became the clan song of the Mac 
Kenzies. He made it the vehicle of invective and bitter 
sarcasm against the Sutherlands and Munroes. The 
" victims " were very sore about the production, and 
Munroe threatened the bard's life if they should meet. 
They were personally unacquainted, but they did meet in 
Ardgay Inn. Mac Leod was enjoying bread and butter and 
cheese and ale, and he knew Munroe by the colour of his 
bonnet, which was always grey, though Munroe did. not 
know him. Mac Leod drank to Munroe with great 
promptitude, and then offered him the horn, remarking in 
Gaelic : — 

" Bread and butter and cheese to me 
Ere death ray mouth shall close, 
And, traveller, there's drink for thee 
To please the black Munroes." 

Achany was pleased, drank the ale, and when he had 
discovered who the courteous stranger was he forgave him 
Caber Feid/i, and ever after they were good friends. Years 
later the poefs young son, Angus, then a licentiate, waited 
on Achany relative to the filling up of a vacany in Rogart 
Parish Church. " And so you really think," said Munroe, 
" I would use my influence to get a living for your father's 
son. Caber Feidh's not forgotten yet.'' " No, and never 
will," replied Mac Leod, " but if I get the parish of Rogart 
I promise you it will never be sung or recommended from 
the pulpit there." " Thank you," said Achany, " that is 

Some Well-Known Gatherings. 343 

one important point gained. You are not so bad as your 
father after all, and we must try and get the place for you." 
And he gave young Mac Leod a letter to Dunrobin which 
got him the living. 

"the camerons' gathering." 

There is a good story associated with " The Camerons' 
Gathering : " — In the seventeenth century a dispute arose 
between Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel and the Earl of 
AthoU about their respective rights to grazing on lands on 
the borders of Rannoch. The two chiefs met at Perth, and 
it was agreed that the dispute should be settled amicably at 
a meeting on the ground in question. On the appointed 
day Lochiel started early, accompanied by a single hench- 
man and his piper, Donald Breac of Muirshiorlaich. On 
the way, however, he met an old woman — Gorm'uil Mhor of 
Moy — who warned him emphatically not to proceed further 
without more attendants : — " Go back, Ewen of Lochiel, go 
back ! Take along with thee three score and five of the 
best men of thy name and clan. If their aid is required it 
is well to have them to appeal to, if not, so much the 
better. It is Gorm'uil of Moy that advises it ; it is 
Gorm'uil of Moy, if needs be, that commands it." Lochiel 
went back and chose three score and five picked clansmen 
whom he took with him. Before meeting AthoU he con- 
cealed his men in a hollow within a few hundred yards of 
the trysting-place, and arranged with them that until they 
saw him turn his cloak, which was dark grey on one side and 
bright red on the other, they were to lie still. Whenever 
he turned his cloak it was a sign to them that Atholl was. 
treacherous, and they were to come to their chiefs 

SM The Highland Bagpipe. 

At noon the chiefs met, and after discussion they found 
that neither was disposed to yield his claims. The Earl at 
last threatened Lochiel, and at a signal fifty Atholl men 
sprang from a copse near by and awaited orders. 

" Who are these, my lord .'' " demanded Lochiel. 

" These," replied the Earl of Atholl, with a smile, " are 
only a few of the Atholl hoggets come across the hills with 
me to eat and grow fat on their own grazings." 

Lochiel in the meantime had turned his cloak scarlet side 
out, and at the signal his three-score-and-five men rushed 
into view. 

" And who are these, Lochiel ? " said Atholl, rather taken 

" These, my lord," said Cameron, " are a few of my Loch- 
aber hounds, sharp-toothed and hungry, and oh ! so keen to 
taste the flesh of your Atholl hoggets." 

The Camerons were nearer than the Atholl men, and 
could have made the Earl a prisoner before his own men 
could prevent them. So he gave in as gracefully as possible, 
and, drawing his sword and kissing it, he renounced there 
and then all claim to the grazings ; and, in proof of his 
faith in Lochiel, he tossed the sword into the loch near by. 
The loch since then has been called the " Loch of the 

Lochiel's piper meanwhile had been deeply interested in 
the scene, and the idea of the Lochaber dogs tearing the 
Atholl sheep inspired him to a new melody. Accordingly, 
he struck up and played for the first time Cruinneachadh 
nan Camaronaoh, " The Camerons' Gathering." 

" Ye sons of dogs, of dogs the breed, 
Come quick, come here, on flesh to feed." 

Some Weil-itnown Gatherings. 345 

The tune is considered one of the best pieces of pipe 
music extant ; and, in corroboration of the story, it is said 
that in 1826 a herd-boy fished out of the loch, then almost 
empty, a basket-hilted sword, but the men of Lochaber 
coming to hear of it, asked that it should again be deposited 
in its place, as it was a token and pledge of a very solemn 
transaction. So with due formality the sword was again 
thrown into the loch, the bard of the party repeating a 
Gaelic rhyme, which has been translated : — 

" The sword we've oast into the lake ; 
Bear witness all the knolls around, 
Ours to the furthest stretch of time 

Are hill and stream and pasture ground." 

This story, on almost similar lines, is told of two other 
Highland chiefs, but in that case there is no pipe tune con- 
nected with it, and it is as the origin of " The Camerons' 
Gathering " that it is most generally accepted. 

346 The Highland Bagpipe. 


More Stories and a Moral. 

" Pipe of the simple peasant — still 
Through Caledonia's proud domains. 

Thou cheer'st the rustic cottage hearth 
With thy enlivening strains. 

" And in the far, far distant west, 

Where deep and pathless forests lower, 
Thou sooth'st the drooping exile's breast 
ThroBgh many a lonely hour." 

—J. T. Colder. 

The Clan Stewart March — Mac Gregor of Ruaro — The Braes of the 
Mist— Episode at a Dunvegan competition — A Mao Crimmon 
surpassed — Mac Pherson's Lament — Burns and the story — Rob 
Roy's lament — The Mac Lachlans' March — Gille Calum — The 
Reel o' TuUoch — The Periwig Reel — Jenny Dang the Weaver 
— Mac Donald's salute — Mac Leod's Salute — Disappearing lore 
— Something to be done. 

THE Royal House of Stuart should perhaps have been 
mentioned earlier, but, like other names famous in 
history, they did not leave much to posterity in the 
way of music or poetry. Enough has been composed and 
written about them, but that is another matter. 

"the march of clan Stewart" 

is known in Perthshire as the " Sherramuir March," be- 
cause it was played at that battle by the pipers of the clan. 

More Stories and a Moral. 347 

According to tradition this tune was played both when the 
clan were marching to battle and in honour of a victory. 
It was played at Pinkie, Inverlochy, Sheriffmuir, and 
Prestonpans, and it was all along recognised as a tune 
peculiarly pertaining to the Stewarts. In accordance with 
Highland custom, the clansmen were in the habit of 
marching in the intervals of pipe music to improvised 
singing, and when or how the present words emerged from 
all previous improvisations and became a song it is impos- 
sible to say. At the battle of Pinkie in September, 1547, 
the clan was commanded by Donald Stewart, of Invernayle, 
the real chief being an old man. On the march homeward 
in October, when passing through Menteith, the clan found 
prepared at the house of one of the tenants a marriage 
dinner, at which the Earl of Menteith was to be present. 
Being hungry, Donald and his followers ate up the feast, 
and when Menteith arrived he was very angry, and instantly 
pursued the Stewarts. On overtaking them one of his men 
taunted them thus : — 

" Yellow-haired Stewarts of smartest deeds, 
Who could grab at the kail in your sorest needs," 

to which Stewart replied : — 

" If smartness in deeds is ours by descent. 
Then I draw, and to pierce you this arrow is sent," 

and he shot the man who had taunted his clan. A conflict 
ensued, in which the Earl and many of his men were killed, 
and then the Stewarts went off in triumph, their pipers 
playing the Stewarts' March. The words now in use are 
the composition of an Iain Breac Mac Eanric (Henderson), 
a celebrated piper of the time of Montrose, and a resident 
in the Glencoe district. There would probably be older 

348 The Highland Sagpipe. 

words, but those here given are those now associated with 
the tune : — 

" The heath-clad Ben we'll soon ascend, 
Through Glen Laoigh we'll soon descend, 
Our points of steel we'll swiftly send 
Thro' every loon that bars us. 

We will up and march away, 
We will up and march away, 
We will up and march away. 
Daring let of all men. 

" O'er the hills we'll speed along. 
Thro' Glencoe the march prolong ; 
Our King the burden of our song. 
Asking leave of no man. 

We will up, etc. 

" To Glengarry and Loohiel, 
Ever with ua true and leal, 
Keppoch, too, who seeks our weal, 
Is there in spite of all men. 

We will up, etc. 

" MacPhersons come, in deeds not small ; 
Mac Kenzies also at our call ; 
Whose battle frenzy will appal 
And fill our foes with awe then. 

We will up, etc. 

" Mac Gregors fierce when man to man. 
Join with the Royal Stuart clan ; 
Blow up the pipes, march in the van, 
Daring let of all men. 

We will up, etc." 

Mo7-e Stories and a Moral. 349 

The chorus is sung before the first verse, as well as after 
each. " Daring let of all men " means " Defying the 
hindrance of all men." 

One of the most tragic of stories is associated with 
another Clan Mac Gregor air — 

"macgregor of ruaro." 

The clan, as is well known, were terribly persecuted by the 
ruling powers. When, after the '45, most of the other 
Highland chiefs accepted Crown charters for their lands, the 
Mac Gregors refused, their clansmen backing them vigor- 
ously in their attitude. For this independence of theirs 
they were hunted like wild beasts, pursued by bloodhounds, 
and executed whenever caught. Even so early as 1603 the 
clan found themselves so persecuted and hemmed in that 
their chief, Mac Gregor of Glenstrae, considered it necessary 
to deliver himself and a score of his principal men to the 
Government, under promise of being allowed to leave the 
country. This promise was given, but ruthlessly broken, 
for they were all hanged at Edinburgh. In the group was 
Gregor Mac Gregor of Ruaro, the subject of the lament and 
the song. The author of neither is known : — 

" There is sorrow, deep sorrow, 

Heavy sorrow down.weighs me : 
Sorrow deep, dark, and lonesome, 
Whence nothing can raise me. 

Yes, my heart's filled with sorrow, 

Deep sorrow undying, 
For Mac Gregor of Euaro, 

Whose home was Glenlyon. 

350 The Highland Bagpipe. 

For the bannered Mao Gregor, 

So bravely who bore him, 
With the roar of the war pipe 

Loud thundering before him. 

His emblem the pine tree 

On mountain side swinging ; 
His trim-tapered arrows 

The true bird was winging." 

And so on in very much the same strain for other nine 

There is another tune of the " Children of the Mist," as 
the Clan Mac Gregor were known, that deserves mention. 
It is a wild and melancholy pibroch, called Cruachan a' 
Cheathaich, or 

"the braes of the mist." 

To it is sung a ballad, and connected with the air and song 
there is an interesting story. The singer, a Mac Gregor, 
concealed in her house her husband and two sons when some 
bitter enemies of the clan were approaching. There was no 
time for escape, and so she hid her friends in a bed, and, 
sitting down by the fire, proceeded to sing : — 

" I sit here alone by the plain of the highway, 
For my poor hunted kin, watching mist, watching byeway ; 
I've got no sign that they're near to my dwelling ; 
At Loch Fyne they were last seen — if true be that telling." 

And so on, representing herself as waiting in solitude for 
her persecuted kindred, and saying that as they had not 
returned they must either be at Loch Fyne — as when she 
last heard of them — or far away in the glens of the mist, 
hunting and fishing, and compelled to pass the night in 

More Stories and a Moral. 351 

some poor hut, where she had previously left some things 
for them. After a prayer for their safety — 

" May the King of the Universe save you for ever 
From the flash of the bullet and the store of the quiver, 
From the keen-pointed knife, with the life-blood oft streaming, 
From the edge of the sharp claymore, terribly gleaming," 

she concluded with expressions of her own sadness on 
account of their dangers. The enemies stopped outside her 
cottage and listened to the song, and believing it to be from 
the singer's heart — as it was, but not in the way they 
supposed — they passed on without disturbing her, and her 
husband and sons were saved. 

The Gaelic proverb, " The apprentice surpasses his 
master," or 


is associated with two tunes. There was to be a piping 
competition at Dunvegan at which pipers from all parts of 
the country were to be present. The leading Mac Crimmon 
of the day, the head of the college — " Professor " he would 
now be called — and a nephew of his had " entered," — if that 
formality was necessary in these days — and Mac Crimmon 
had taught his nephew all he himself knew, with the excep- 
tion of one tune, which he hoped would give him the lead 
in the competition. The two of them, man and boy, on 
their way to Dunvegan, slept one night at a wayside inn, 
sharing a bed. When the old man slept he dreamed of the 
morrow, and in his dreams he seized the boy's arm and 
fingered on it the notes of the special tune he had reserved 
for himself. The youth was smart enough to realise that 
this meant something, and also smart enough to commit 

352 The Highland Bagpipe. 

the notes to memory as his uncle fingered them on his arm. 
When the competition began he stepped out first and im- 
mediately played his uncle's tune, and carried off the prin- 
cipal honours of the day. Then, the story goes, the people 
began to speaii of An gille 'toirt harr air Mac Crimmon — 
the lad that surpasses the Mac Crimmon. 

But it is the other version of the story that is connected 
with the origin of a pipe tune. One of the Mac Crimmons, 
well known as Padruig Caogach or " Winking Peter," owing 
to his inveterate habit of winking while playing, once 
endeavoured to compose a new pipe tune. He managed two 
measures, which in time became very popular, but he could 
not for the life of him complete it. Two years elapsed, and 
still Padruig''s muse had failed to come to his assistance, and 
the fragment began to be called Am port leathach — ^the 
half-completed tune. Then a young piper — Iain Dall it 
was — inspired with the music of the tune, set himself to 
complete it, naming it Lasan Fhadruig Chaogaich, and re- 
nouncing all shai-e in the honours of authorship. But 
Padruig did not like being outstripped in this way by Mac 
Kay, who was but a beardless boy, and, in his anger, he per- 
suaded the other students at the college to make away with 
his rival. He succeeded the better in his scheme that Mac 
Kay had previously given great offence to his classmates by 
his proficiency, of which they were jealous, and with which 
the master piper taunted them. So one day as they were 
all walking together at Dun Bhorraraig, they came to a 
rock twenty-four feet in height, over which they pushed the 
blind " apprentice." But he alighted on his feet without 
sustaining much injury, and the spot over which he was 
thrown was known for a long time after as Leum an doill 
— the leap of the blind. Iain Dall ultimately returned to 

More Stories and a Moral. 353 

Gairloch and succeeded his father as family piper to the 
Mac Kenzies of Gairloch, dying at the age of ninety-eight. 

" MAC pherson's lament ^ 

will always be associated with Burns's song and with the 
noted Highland freebooter who in 1700, after holding the 
counties of Aberdeen, Banff, and Moray in fear for a long 
time, was captured, tried before the Sheriff of Banffshire, 
along with certain gipsies taken in his company, and 
executed on the Gallow Hill of Banff. But it is not gener- 
ally known that Burns's words can hardly be called original. 
As a matter of fact, Mac Pherson himself, tradition says, 
composed both the pibroch and a set of words wonderfully 
like those afterwards composed by Burns. The pibroch he 
composed long before his capture, and the words he gave to 
the world when he was executed, under the name of " Mac 
Pherson's Farewell." Here they are : — 

" My father was a gentleman 
Of fame and lineage high, 
Oh ! mother, would you ne'er had born 
A wretch ao doomed as I ! 

But dantonly and wantonly 

And rantonly I'll gae, 
I'll play a tune and dance it roun' 
Below the gallows tree. 

The Laird o' Grant, with power aboon 

The royal majesty, 
He pled fu' well for Peter Brown, 

But let Mac Pherson die. 
But dantonly, etc. 

354 The Highland Bagpipe. 

But Braco Duff, in rage enough, 

He first laid hands on me ; 
If death did not arrest my course, 

Avenged I should be. 
But dantonly, etc. 

I've led a life o' meikle strife, 

Sweet peace ne'er smiled on me, 
It grieves me sair that I maun gae 

An' nae avenged be. 
But dantonly, etc." 

Burns, on his tour through the Highlands, probably 
learned the air and the tradition of how Mac Pherson, when 
in prison under sentence of death, wrote the song, sang and 
played it on the scaffold, and concluded by breaking his 
violin to pieces because no one would accept it as a present, 
and promise to play the tune over his body after his execu- 
tion. Neither the old version nor the words of Burns have 
much of the ring of a lament about them, but both are in 
accordance with the notorious character of the man. Burns, 
by the way, perpetrates a rather curious Irishism in first 
saying Mac Pherson 

" Played a spring and dano'd it round 
Below the gallows tree ; " 

and immediately afterwards making him say — 

" Untie these bands from off my hands 
And bring to me my sword." 

How a man could play a spring and dance it round while 
his hands were tied, he does not take the trouble to 

More Stories and a Moral. 355 


Rob Roy himself, the most celebrated of all the clan who 
had "a name that was nameless by day," had a lament 
specially composed by his wife, Helen Mac Gregor, on an 
occasion when the family were compelled by the law to leave 
their fastnesses and take refuge in Argyllshire. Helen was 
a woman of fierce and haughty disposition, and, feeling 
extreme anguish at being expelled from the banks of Loch 
Lomond, she gave vent to her feelings in a fine piece of 
music, still known as " Rob Roy's Lament." "I was once so 
hard put at," Scott makes Rob say, " by my great enemy, 
as I may well ca' him, that I was forced e'en to gie way to 
the tide and remove myself and my people and my family 
from our native land, and to withdraw for a time into Mac 
Cailein Mdr''s country — and Helen made a Lament on our 
departure, as well as Mac Crimmon himself could hae framed 
it — and so piteously sad and waesome that our hearts amaist 
broke as we sat and listened to her — it was like the wailing 
of one that mourns for the mother that bore him — the tears 
came down the rough faces of our gillies as they hearkened 
— and I would not have the same touch of heartbreak 
again, no, not for all the lands that ever were owned by 
Mac Gregor." 


A touch of the romantic is found in the story of Moladh 
Mairi, a well-known Mac Lachlan tune. Angus Mac Kay, 
son of Iain Dall, the blind piper of Gairloch, attended a 
competition in Edinburgh on one occasion, and the other 
competitors were so jealous of him and afraid of his superior 
talents that they conspired together to destroy his chances, 

356 The Highland Bagpipe. 

They obtained possession of his pipes and pierced the bag 
in several places. When Mac Kay began to practise on the 
day of the competition he discovered the injury, and was in 
despair. But he had a fair friend of the name of Mary who 
quickly procured for him a sheep's skin, from which, 
undressed as it was, they between them formed a new bag. 
With this the piper carried off the first prize, and in grati- 
tude to his helper Mac Kay composed Moladh Mairi.. He 
afterwards married a Mary Fraser of Gairloch, but we have 
nothing to show that this was the same Mary. In a proper 
story it certainly would have been. 

Another, and a more probable, story is associated with 
this tune. A daughter of Mac Lachlan of Strathlachlan, 
chief of the clan, made a present of a wether's skin to the 
family piper to make a bag for his pipes. He was delighted 
with the present, and composed the tune in her honour. 
This story is the more likely, inasmuch as it is well known 
that pipers always had a high sense of honour, as they still 
have, and would never think of treating a competitor in the 
way the first story says Mac Kay was treated. 


or " The Sword Dance," is one of the best known of pipe 
tunes. There is the jocular story to the effect that it made its 
first appearance in the world after the Deluge, when the Ark 
had landed on Ararat, and Noah expressed his joy by dancing 
over two crossed twigs. That the tune, or at anyrate the 
dance, is an heirloom from the ancients," is highly probable, 
as the sword dance in a modified form was the special antic 
of the priests of Mars. The real GUle Calum, how- 
ever, is said to have been Galium a' chinn rnhoir — Malcolm 
Canmore, who incurred the displeasure of the Highlander^ 

More Stories and a Moral. 357 

by removing the ancient Court from Dunstaffnage Castle, in 
Argyllshire, to Dunfermline, by marrying the Saxon Prin- 
cess Margaret, which led to the change of Court language 
from Gaelic to English, and also by having added to the 
coinage a very s'mall coin, the bodle, equal in value to one- 
third of our halfpenny, and so small as to be contemptible 
in the eyes of his Highland subjects. The translation, by 
" Fionn," of the Gaelic associated with the name shows con- 
siderable wit and a pretty strain of sarcasm : — 

" Gillie-Callum, twa pennies, 
Gillie-Callum, twa pennies, 
Twa pennies, twa pennies, 
Gillie Callum, ae bawbee. 

I can get a lass for naething, 
I can get a lass for naething, 
Lass for naething, lass for naething, 
My pick and wale for ae bawbee. 
Gillie-Callum, etc. 

I can get a wife for tuppence, 
I can get a wife for tuppence, 
Wife for tuppence, wife for tuppence, 
A useless ane for ae bawbee. 
Gillie-Callum, etc." 

"the eeel o' tulloch" 

has two alleged origins, but one at least is discredited by 
the known character of the people concerned. It was oh a 
wild Sunday in the parish of Tulloch, Aberdeenshire, that 
the minister, thinking his people would not venture out, 
stayed at home. His congregation, however, to whom the 
kirk was a trysting-place, turned up as usual. For a time 
they waited patiently enough, but by and bye, moved by 

358 The Highland Bagpipe. 

the stormy weather and their minister's absence, they pro- 
posed refreshments. The collection ladle was sent round, 
and the proceeds invested in " yill ■" at the neighbouring 
changehouse. As the liquor took effect the fun grew more 
furious, and at last a dance was suggested. The enthusiasm 
rose even to this height, the village cobbler mounted the 
pulpit, the blacksmith from the precentor's box roared out 
the ditty "John, come kiss me now," and the floor rang with 
the flying feet of the dancing congregation. The fiddler, 
impressed for the occasion, allowed his bow to get more and 
more into the spirit of the gathering ; it went madder and 
madder as the cKcitement increased, and at last, in a sudden 
burst of inspiration, he improvised the dance tune of all 
dance tunes — "Reel o' TuUoch." Tradition is silent as to 
what befel the revellers in so sacred a place, as well it may. 
It is hardly possible to imagine a company of Scottish 
Established Church people looking at a fiddler on the Sab- 
bath, much less dancing in church to his music. 

Strathspey also claims the tune, and in competition with 
Deeside, it has a fierce tradition on the subject. The dis- 
trict of Tulloch lies at the back of the Abernethy forest, 
and here is said to have occurred the incident that inspired 
the maddest of Highland reels. A certain John Mac 
Gregor, commonly known as lain Dubh Gearr, was at 
Killin at a market held somewhere between 1550 and 1580. 
In the house of call there, known as " Streethouse," he was 
set upon by eight men, but being powerful and a splendid 
swordsman, he discomfited all his adversaries, killing some 
and wounding others. Then he fled to Strathspey, where 
he married a woman named Isabel Anderson (one version of 
the story has it that Mac Gregor got into trouble with some 
Robertsons through having married this Isabel, who was 

More Stories and a Moral. 359 

sought by a Robertson, and that these and not market 
acquaintances were his enemies). His foes followed him, 
and one night thirteen of them arrived at his house, deter- 
mined to take him dead or alive. John was sleeping in 
the barn when they came, and when he was wakened and 
told of his danger he determined to fight it out. Isabel 
and he had a gun and a pistol and plenty of ammunition, 
and they defended the barn against all comers. John fired 
the weapons one after the other alternately through crevices 
in the walls, and Isabel kept them loaded. The thirteen 
outside, handicapped as they were by the shelter from which 
the defenders worked, were very soon all wounded, where- 
upon John sallied out and cut off their heads. Then Isabel 
in her glee gave him a big draught of beer, which he drank, 
and seizing his spouse by the waist they improvised and 
danced those reel steps which have ever since been so 
popular. The music must have been old, but the words are 
of the date of this incident : — 

" At Streethouse at Feill Fhaolan, 
On him they made an onset dead ; 
And were he not most manly brave, 
Eight sturdy men had mastered him. 

From TuUechin to Ballechin, 

From Ballechin to Tullechin ; 

If beer we don't in Tullechin, 

We'll water get in Ballechin." 

The song then, at considerable length, tells the story 

until : — 

" Says Black John, turning towards his bride, 
' Since I did what I meant to do, 
Give me a drink of beer to quaff. 
And we will dance the Tullechin.' 
From Tullechin, etc." 

560 The Highland Bagpipe. 

The story has two traditional endings. In the one John 
became a peaceable and prosperous man, and as his name 
appears in authoritative documents of date 1568, it is the 
more likely to be true. The other is tragic. Mac Gregorys 
enemies, according to it, still hunted the couple, and Isabel 
was thrown into prison. Then Mac Gregor himself was 
shot, and his head brought to Isabel. At the sight she was 
so struck with sorrow that she suddenly expired. 

It may not be inappropriate to conclude these stories of 
tunes with two which are associated with ministers. 


can always be depended on to provoke laughter when well 
played. It is probably the composition of Mr. Eraser of 
Culduthal. This gentleman was at a baptismal " entertain- 
ment " at the house of Fraser of Knockie, where the pre- 
sence of a very old and venerable minister could not restrain 
him from exciting mirth. He sat next but one to the 
minister, and found means over his neighbour's shoulder to 
tickle below the parson's large wig with a long feather or a 
blade of corn. As the glass went round the old man be- 
came uneasy, but suspected nobody. At last he got into a 
rage, dreading an earwig or spider, and shook out his wig 
over a blazing fire, which unfortunately got hold of it. It 
was too greasy to admit of its being saved. Amid great 
laughter, it simmered in the fire till it had almost suffocated 
the company. The minister's bald head produced more 
laughter at his expense, in which he himself joined, and he 
enjoyed the joke thoroughly when it was told to him. The 
real name of the air is " The Fried Periwig." 

More Stories and a Moral. S61 

The other tune is 

"jenny dang the weaver," 

and its story is somewhat interesting. Rev. Mr. Gardner, 
minister of the parish of Birse, in Aberdeenshire, was well 
known for his musical talents and his wit. One Saturday 
he was arranging his ideas for next day's service in his 
study, which overlooked the courtyard of the manse. Out- 
side his wife was beetling potatoes for supper. To unbend 
his mind a little, Mr. Gardner took up his fiddle and begun 
to run over the notes of an air he had previously jotted 
down, when suddenly an altercation arose between Mrs. 
Gardner and Jock, the minister's man, an idle sort of 
weaver fellow from the neighbouring village of Marywell, 
who had lately been engaged as man of all work about the 
manse. " Here, Jock," cried the mistress as Jock came in 
from the labours of the field, "gae wipe the minister's 
shoon." " Na," said Jock, " I'll dae nae sich thing. I 
came here to be yir ploo'man, but no yir flunkey, and I'll 
nae wipe the minister's shoon." " Deil confound yir impu- 
dence," said the enraged Mrs. Gardner, and she sprang at 
him with a heavy culinary implement, and giving him a 
hearty beating, compelled him to perform the menial duties 
required of him. The minister, who viewed the scene from 
his window, was hugely diverted, and gave the, air he had 
just completed the title of "Jenny Dang the Weaver." 
This is supposed to have occurred in 1746. There is a 
well-known Gaelic song entitled "Trousers for meagre 
shanks, and bonnets for the bald," sung to the air. 


there are not many stories of general interest. The tunes 


36^ The Higliland Bagpipe. 

are there, but whence they came, or when they came, must 
ever remain a mystery. " Mac Donald's Salute "" and 
" Mac Leod's Salute " were composed by Donald Mhr Mac 
Crimmon on the reconciliation of the MacLeods and the 
Mac Donalds after the battle of Bencuillein in Skye, and 
played when the chiefs met at Dunvegan. There had been 
a feud between the clans, in the course of which much blood 
was spilt. This feud at last became so notorious that in 
1601 the Privy Council interfered and requested the chiefs 
concerned to disband their forces and leave Skye. It being 
known that both intended to " mass togider grit nowmeris 
and forceis of thair kin and freindschip," and pursue each 
other " with fyre and sword and other hostilitie by say and 
land," they were required to release peacefully all prisoners, 
and to observe the King's peace. Ultimately a reconcilia- 
tion was effected, on which the chief of the Mac Leods in- 
vited the chief of the Mac Donalds to a banquet at Dunvegan 
Castle. When Donald Gorm Mbr Mac Donald appeared 
in sight of the castle, he was met by Mac Leod's famous 
piper, Donald Mbr Mac Crimmon, who welcomed him by 
playing " Mac Donald's Salute," which he had composed 
for the occasion. In connection with the same banquet 
he composed and played for the first time " Mac Leod's 

The stories I have given are, after all, but the merest 
pickings from the wealth of lore which has now almost dis- 
appeared from the Highlands. It irritates one considerably 
to find here and there fragments of what were once fine 
tales, with perhaps important bearings on social life or cur- 
rent history, and to realise the impossibility of ever obtaining 
them complete. For this we have to thank the Sassenach 
over-running of the Highlands, which resulted in the 

More Stories and a Moral. 363 

extinction of clan bard and clan piper — who between them 
took the place of a literature — and did not even try to intro- 
duce in their stead the blessings of that wider education 
which preserves the life of a nation by better means, until 
after much of what was worth preserving had vanished into 
a misty past. We have, for instance, the " Lament for the 
Harp Tree," connected either with some tree on which the 
bards were wont to hang their harps, like captives in Babylon 
of an even earlier age, or with the disappearance of the harp 
itself, or, as the tune is called Bean Sith in the North, with 
the fairies in some way or other ; A mhic Iain mhic Sheumais,' 
which celebrates some battle between the Mac Donalds and 
the Mac Leods ; another on Blar Uine, or the " Shirt 
Battle," fought at Kinloch Lochy between the Frasers of 
Lovat and the Mac Donalds of Clan Ranald, and so called 
from the parties having stripped to their shirts ; " The 
Sister's Lament for her Brothers " ; a lament expressive of 
the aged warrior's regret that he is no longer able to wield 
his sword ; " Grim Donald's Sweetheart," a salute of very 
ancient origin ; A Ghlas Mheur, an ancient pibroch com- 
posed by Raonull Mac Ailean Oig, a Mac Donald of Morar, 
to which there is supposed to have been a wild story 
attached ; Cogadh na Sith, " war or peace," one of the best 
known of tunes, and one which, as its composition indicates 
a determination either to obtain an honourable peace or 
engage in immediate war, must have had a story ; and any 
number of others, around which stories of love or adventure 
or war must at one time have clustered. Tunes of later 
generations have no stories to speak of. They have been 
composed on special occasions, or in honour of certain 
people, but that is all. It is the old tunes we would know 
more about, and the old stories. Several writers, notably 

364 The HtghlancL Bagpipe. 

Mr. J. F. Campbell, of Islay ; Alexander Mac Kenzie, of 
Inverness ; Angus Mac Kay, and Hector Mac Lean, of 
Ballygrant, Islay, did much good work by gathering "at first 
hand Highland legends and traditions ; and in our own day 
Henry Whyte, (" Fionn "), the Celtic Monthly, and others, 
are doing a great deal to preserve what is left to us of 
Highland life and story. But there is much yet to do, and 
to do quickly, for the generation that knows of these things 
is fast passing away. This volume makes no claim to 
originality. It is only a gathering together of material 
that is common to Highland tradition and Highland 
literature, but if it shows what an amount of such material, 
even on one side phase of Highland life, really exists, it will 
have served a good purpose. In every hamlet in the High- 
lands there is surely some individual patriotic enough to 
take an interest in its folk-lore, and intelligent enough to 
see the necessity for saving still more of it, and these people 
can do more to preserve it, if only by giving it a place in 
the columns of the weekly papers, than any one collector or 
writer. And why should there not be a Highland Publish- 
ing Society, which would sell every known book on the 
Highlands, take the financial risk of gathering material for 
new books, and publishing them, and do the educational 
and other work now being attempted by various societies ? 
There are already enough of county societies and clan 
societies working only for their own county or clan. Such 
distinctions have been broken down by the march of civili- 
sation, and with the intermixing of the clatis and the free 
movement of the people all over the country, the societies 
have little more than the sentiment of the past, a sound 
enough reason, no doubt, to justify their existence. But 
there is the Highlands and the language and the music, 

More Stories and a Moral. 365 

the scattered literature and half- Anglicised people, and if 
Highlanders with a craze for organising will but think on 
these things and build up some organisation that will 
become the natural rallying point of everything Highland, 
it is not yet too late to let the world see that the Scottish 
Highlands has a history and a literature worthy of a far 
higher place among the nations of the earth than the earth 
has yet given them. As to its music : — 

" Long may its lays be heard on Scotia's hills, 
Which call no more her clans in fray to meet. 
And dye with kindred blood their native rills ; 
And, as blythe echoes the shrill notes repeat, 
May Scottish hearts with kindling raptures beat ; 
For valour's throb no more obeys the call. 
Than laughs the eye with mirthful jollity 
When the pipe sounds at village festival. 
Such power, loved pibroch, has thy magic minstrelsy. 

Thee from her hall let heartless fashion spurn, 

For softer warblings of the Italian string ; 

Let luxury or wantoned dalliance burn. 

Yet into hearts that round our Scotia cling, 

With thy dear lays shall patriot raptures spring ; 

And he who can o'er faded glory sigh. 

Who to oppression's children gives the tear. 

Will say, while awful transport lights his eye. 

No generous soul is theirs, unmoved thy strains who hear." 


It was at first intended that the Appendix to this book 
should contain a tutor to the bagpipe. It was, however, 
seen that to do this would not only be departing from the 
avowed character of the undertaking — the production of a 
thoroughly untechnical book, and one that would appeal to 
players and non-players alike — but it would also be encroach- 
ing on the preserves of the publishers of pipe music, nearly 
all of whom preface their volumes with a tutor. Other, and 
it is hoped, equally interesting matter has been substituted. 

3 ppendix, 



In making a few observations on the scale of the bagpipe 
(Piob-mhorna h-Alba) it is not necessary to go deeply into 
the evolution of instrumental music, but it may be well to 
state shortly that the earliest instruments devised for ex- 
pressing musical sounds, that is sounds having a definite 
relation to one another, were of two distinct orders, the 
first probably being the reed or pipe, made of various 
materials, such as straw, reeds, bone, wood, or metal, blown 
by the mouth and giving a single note which varied in pitch 
according to the diameter and length of the tube or pipe 
through which the wind escaped. The second order was a 
stringed instrument wherein cords varied in length and 
thickness were fixed at both ends upon a suitable frame, and 
the sound was produced by plucking with the finger and 
allowing the cord to vibrate freely. 

The next stage was to make vents or holes in the pipe, 
arranged so that they could easily be covered by the fingers, 
and as the sound always escaped by the hole nearest the 
reed, it was easy to produce a series of sounds by removing 
one or more fingers in succession. In a somewhat similar 
way, a series of sounds were obtained from the vibrations of 
a single cord by pressing, or merely touching, it at certain 
poin^s, and thus shortening the portion which was allowed 
to vibrate. 

The primary object of all music is to give pleasure 
through the ear by imitating, or reproducing, more or less 

370 Appendix. 

correctly, the sound of the human voice, and other natural 
sounds, so we find that as early instruments began to be 
improved they were so constructed as to produce various 
notes having the same intervals between them as are found 
between the tones of the human voice. In this way instru- 
ments with a fixed scale were obtained, and we know that 
in course of time various nations improved the instruments 
they had in use, the ancient Greeks especially bringing the 
art of music and their favourite stringed instrument, the 
lyre, to a high degree of perfection. 

The great defect of all the more ancient instruments was 
their limited compass, most of them containing from five to 
ten notes only, thus rendering it impossible to play anything 
upon them except by the same series of notes and at the 
same pitch. This was gradually remedied, both as regards 
wind and stringed instruments, by adopting various devices 
whereby their compass was extended, and by introducing, 
with more or less accuracy, new notes called semi-tones be- 
tween the original notes. The modern method of tuning 
musical instruments by " equal temperament " was unknown 
until the time of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) who, 
disregarding the custom which had prevailed until his day, 
of writing in a few keys only, and tuning instruments so as 
to render these keys nearly perfect at the expense of the 
rest, himself tuned the instruments on which he played in 
" equal temperament." When he first began to play music 
on the harpsicord, tuned in the old way, in other than the 
keys in which it was originally composed, the effect was 
almost unbearable, and it thus became necessary to alter 
the relation of the notes throughout the whole scale by 
framing a complete chromatic scale having exactly the 
same interval between each semi-tone. In this way every 
note was slightly altered from the true natural scale, but 
not to such an extent as to seriously offend the ear. 

It is obvious that to have a perfect chromatic scale a 
separate string or pipe is required for each note in such in- 
struments as the organ and pianoforte, while it is obtained 
in those of the flute and oboe class by making additional 

Appendix. 371 

holes in the tube at the correct intervals and covering them 
with close-fitting pads vi'ith levers (keys) vi^ithin convenient 
reach of the fingers. (Having mentioned the oboe, it may 
be remarked in passing that its tone has been called " bag- 
pipe music sublimated.") Various attempts have been made 
to adapt similar appliances to the chanter of the bagpipe, 
but the results have not been satisfactory, and its scale re- 
mains practically the same as it was two centuries ago. It 
will be shown, however, with the aid of the table of vibra- 
tions appended to this article, that it does not differ so 
widely from the natural or " equal temperament " scales as 
the critics allege. 

The scale of the bagpipe closely resembles what is known 
as the Greek scale, having a flat seventh, if we take it as 
running from A to A' , with a supplementary note G- (the 
lowest on the instrument). While this is true, a reference 
to the table of vibrations shows that other scales can be 
rendered with a fair amount of correctness. A great deal 
has been written on this subject, much of it tending to show 
that the bagpipe is hardly, if at all, entitled to be con- 
sidered a musical instrument. One writer starts with the 
assumption that the first or lowest note is the keynote of 
its scale, and thereby, very easily, comes to the conclusion 
that all the rest of the notes are out of tune. As well 
might it be asserted that the lowest note in any piece of 
music is the keynote of such piece ; and it is obvious that 
taking the highest note on the bagpipe for the keynote and 
descending, quite a different result would be arrived at. 
There are various other writers who seem unable to dis- 
tinguish between the Great Highland Bagpipe and the 
Italiaji and French bagpipes. With these it has hardly 
anything in common except the name. 

It is pretty certain that the pipe chanter was at first used 
without a bag, and blown directly from the mouth, as a 
practising chanter still is, and that its key was D, thus 
giving an equal number of notes above and below. After- 
wards two dtones were fitted into the bag along with the 
chanter, probably in unison with one another, and with the 

372 Appendix. 

lower A on the chanter, the key of the Greek scale already 
referred to. The instrument remained in this form for a 
long period. In the seventeenth century probably a third 
and longer drone {dos mor) was added, tuned an octave 
below the others. The drones form a fixed bass, and, 
according to the well-established principle in music that the 
bass always ends with the keynote, this may furnish very 
good ground for saying that the true scale is A, with which, 
indeed, a very large proportion of pipe music ends. But 
taking the note D on the chanter as the keynote, it is found 
that the notes above it are nearly in perfect tune, as can be 
easily observed by playing any well-known air in that key 
that falls within the compass of the piob mhor. Of course, it 
can be seen at a glance from the table of vibrations annexed 
that the scale of I) is very nearly the same as that of A with 
a flat seventh. The use of this flat seventh descending is so 
common in minor scales as to form, after the minor third, 
one of their chief characteristics ; and it does not greatly 
off'end even the critical cultivated modern ear, when not an 
accented note nor leading directly to the key note. Accord- 
ing to the principle mentioned already, that the bass always 
ends with the key note, it must be assumed that A is really 
the key note of the bagpipe scale, seeing the drones are 
tuned to that note ; and starting from that point we find 
that A, C, E, A are Do, Mi, So, Do' of the scale of A. 
Taking the higher Do of this scale and descending a fifth, 
we find D (Fa), and taking this as the key of a new scale, 
we find that D, F, A , A are Do, Mi, So, So, of the scale of 
D. In the same way, taking the fifth below D — that is, G 
— we find that G, B, D, G' are Do, Mi, So, Do' of the scale 
of G. On referring to the table of vibrations it will be 
seen that all these notes are very nearly correct in the 
scales mentioned, whatever their Sol-Fa names, the only 
differences being that B should be a little sharper in the 
key of A than in D and G, and that E should be a little 
flatter in- the key of G than in D and A. For comparison 
there is a column inserted in the table giving the vibrations 
according to " equal temperament " of the . chromatic seal? 

Appendix. 373 

from G to A' . None of the notes of the bagpipe admit of 
being sharpened or flattened except the upper G, which can 
be slightly sharpened by opening the F hole along with G 
and E. The notes D, C, B can be slightly flattened by ; 
lifting one finger only, with all those below it closed, but 
passages requiring this fingering are hardly met with except ■ 
in pibrochs (Cebl mor). The scale given in the annexed 
table is, I venture to submit, the true scale of the bagpipe. 
It is as perfect as can constructed upon an instrument of 
such limited compass without the aid of valves, and places 
it much on a level with the other instruments in use up to ] 
the time of Bach, already referred to, whereby the approxi- i 
mate correctness of a few keys was obtained by the sacrifice : 
of all the others. It is possible that pipe chanters may not ' 
always be bored with perfect accuracy, and that in the case i 
of very old instruments the holes may get enlarged by wear ; 
so as to be more or less out of tune, but I thinic that the 
true " bearings "' are as I have stated. 

Is is to be noted that but very few of the airs of our : 
Gaelic songs can be played on the bagpipe, a fact which we 
think goes far to prove that the instrument was designed 
and used for martial purposes in the open air. Indeed the \ 
timbre of the instrument renders it unsuitable for playing in ' 
concert with the human voice. , 

It is, I think, a matter of great satisfaction to all High- ; 
landers and to those who love the race, that so many i 
intelligent and praiseworthy efforts are being made at the i 
present time to preserve and cultivate our national music. ! 



The following is the table of vibrations of musical scales 
forming the foundations of the scale for the bagpipe : — 

Notes on 
the Staff 

Sol-fa Names with Vibrations in 


True Pipe Scale. 








1 880 


so 891 





G sharp 

t 835tV 



SO 792 


f 792 




F sharp 







f 704 




1 660 






D sharp 



r 594 


do 594 

f 594 



C sharp 







do 528 

f 528 






r 501A 




A sharp 





so, 445^ 




G sharp 





do 396 





Note. — These calculations are made assuming that C in the 
middle of the staff has 528 vibrations, but of course whatever pitch 
be taken the relative proportion of the notes remains the same. 
Fractions, except in the case of one note, are omitted in the scale of 
equal temperament. 

Appendix. SYS 



If the player is standing the body should be perfectly up- 
right, head erect, and eyes carelessly fixed on some object as, 
high as himself. Great care should be taken that the 
shoulder on which the big drone rests is not allowed to rise, 
or yield in any way to the weight or blowing of the pipes ; 
the head must not incline towards the big drone or droop 
backwards or forwards ; the chest must be kept inflated and 
the shoulders square. 

If the player is marching the shoulders should be allowed 
to swing to and fro, the motion proceeding from the 
haunches only and not exceeding what will suffice to give a 
free and easy step. His bearing should be stately and lofty 
in accordance with the warlike instrument on which he 
plays. In playing marching tunes the performer should 
never stand, if possible, and when marching should beware 
of taking shorb stilted steps. He should also practise reels 
in marching time, and play over irregular ground, in order 
to gain confidence and command over his instrument. 


In blowing the bagpipe, the cheeks must never be inflated 
nor the face distressed in any way. There is really no hard 
work required, only a little careful practice, and everything 
should be done as easily and freely as possible. The bag 
does not at all times require to be filled to its full extent, a 
little more than three-fourths being usually sufficient. The 
player must not expend all his breath without resting, as 
by so doing he will not only hurt but disable himself. The 
arm should be pressed lightly on the bag, but allowed to 

3Y6 Appendix. 

yield gently to the wind as it comes from the mouth, the 
pressure being gentle and steady and according to the 
strength of the reeds. The player will at first find some 
little difficulty in satisfactorily managing the bag, but when 
he has succeeded he will be able to play in a free and com- 
manding style, and will have surmounted a difficulty which 
is a great bugbear to all inexperienced players. 


When the pipes are first struck in, the big and outer 
drones should be stopped by placing a finger over the hole 
of the bell of each. In doing this or at any time when only 
one hand holds the chanter, the E note should be sounded. 
The centre drone being nearest to the ear should, as a rule, 
be tuned first. Should this drone not be in tune with the 
chanter reed, a discord between them will ensue, and to get 
a chord the point of the drone must be moved up or down, 
as the case may require. By carefully listening to the 
chanter reed and moving the joint at the same time, the 
player will easily discover whether the sounds are assimilat- 
ing or the discord increasing, and be able to suit his action 
accordingly, until the sounds blend into one. The low A 
must now be sounded, and the drone tuned to that note. 
(We may, however, tune to E, high G, or in fact any note, 
providing the chanter reed is true to all the notes, but in 
order to prove the reed and tune the pipes at the same time, 
low A is generally preferred.) Afterwards sound high A to 
prove whether the chanter reed is properly set, arid true 
from low to high A. If it is, the drone also will be in 
perfect chord with the latter note. But should this not be 
the case and the drone cannot be brought to the exact pitch 
with both notes. The discord, however slight, must be divided 
between the two notes, and not left wholly on either. If 
the pipe or the reeds are not defective, this should never 
occur, and the reeds if properly fitted should tune about the 
centre of the joint. After the centre drone is properly 
tuned, the outer should be begun by placing the finger on 

Appendix. 377 

the air-hole of the bell, or suddenly easing the arm. This 
drone is not tuned to the chanter reed but to the drone al- 
ready tuned, in the same manner as that was tuned to the 
chanter reed. The big drone is tuned to the other two in 
a similar manner. 

After the centre drone has been tuned to the chanter 
reed, raising the others to the same height in the tuning 
joint or in line with it, does not always put the drones in 
tune. The reeds may differ materially in tone, and they 
must be brought to the same pitch by studying the sounds 
only. When the pipes are in tune all four reeds will chord. 
One may be stronger or harsher than another, and still chord 
with it. It is sometimes difficult for the learner to find the 
tuning mark, as it is very exact. Care and practice makes 
it easy. 

Young pipers should never play with their instruments 
out of tune, as this will accustom their ears to discords, and 
they will eventually be unable to tell when their pipes 
are in tune and when they are not. Suddenly moving the 
joints up or down to their full extent will be found capital 
practice for the beginner, as he cannot then fail to dis- 
tinguish discords. He should then move them cautiously 
back as if feeling for something, and he will hear the jarr- 
ing sounds gradually dying away until they blend in chord. 
In tuning, care must be taken that the pressure of wind on 
the reeds is exactly the same as when playing, otherwise dis- 
cord is inevitable. 

Beginners should use reeds in the centre and big drones 
only, as the pipes will then be easier blown, as well as easier 
tuned. The practice can be discontinued when the player 
is able to blow freely. The further down the drones are 
tuned the sharper the sound becomes, and the further up 
the flatter or deeper. So if the chanter should have a sharp 
sound the drone must also be made sharp, or vice versa. 
All new reeds are generally sharp, and become flatter the 
longer they are played on. 

378 Appendix. 


Reeds have many defects, and nothing but experience 
combined with care will make a piper thoroughly at home 
in dealing with them. 

A new reed before being put into the chanter should be 
placed in water for a few minutes. If it has lain past for 
some time it should be left in the water longer, as the wood 
may have shrunk or the blades become too open or close. 
New reeds can never be thoroughly depended on, as they 
alter moi-e or less with use. They should therefore never 
be cut or interfered with before being tried. They are also, 
as a rule, harder to blow than reeds which have been in use 
for some time ; and, if after a fair trial, they are still' found 
to be too strong, they may then be weakened at the dis- 
cretion of the player. When a reed has a " dirling " sound 
on the low hand (generally A or G), it is either too' weak 
or too lightly built. In the latter case, it will, combined 
with the "dirling" sound, have a want of fulness of • tone, 
and cannot be readily improved. Should it be only too 
weak, it can be easily strengthened by being opened care- 
fully and gradually with a specially made implement of 
some kind until it has a firm sound. This, of course, has to 
be done with great care, or the reed may be rendered use- 
less. When a reed is too flat, the staple should be lowered 
into the chanter until the correct sound is produced. If 
the staple is as far down as it can be got a hairsbreadth may 
be cut from the point of the reed and the staple raised or 
depressed as required. If after this the reed becomes too 
strong, the blades may be slightly reduced with sandpaper. 
If the blades are already sufficiently thin, but the point of 
the staple too open, it can be made considerably closer by 
inserting a tapered instrument into the staple,'and giving 
the latter a slight tap with a small hammer. In this, care 
must be taken that the instrument used is shaped as like 
the inside of the staple as possible. In the event of the 
reed being too sharp, the staple should be raised in the 
chanter as high as possible, when should it still prove too 

Appendix. 379 

sharp, it may be opened in the way ah-eady described. This, 
however, should only be done when the staples or blades are 
too close, as although the tone is rendered flatter by the 
process the reed is more or less strained, which is apt to give 
it a sound insufficiently full, and render the playing 
laborious without any object being gained. 

The player should always bear in mind that the longer 
reeds are in use the flatter they become. In cases where a 
reed is not very much out, it can be toned down by fre- 
quent playing, rather than by experimenting with it. 
When it is too strong and not too open in staples or blades 
it may be partly because it contains too much wood, a 
matter which can be easily rectified with fine sandpaper. 
A reed that is too strong owing to its being too open in the 
blades can be made considerably closer and easier to blow 
by taking a common cork, making a deep cut in the end of 
it, and inserting the blades of the reed into the cut, then 
tying a piece of cord round the cork sufficiently tight to 
close the blades, and leaving it in that position for a few 
days. The width of the staple should, however, be tested 
before this is done, as if it is too open making it closer by 
the process already explained will make the blades closer 
also, and save the trouble of using the cork . 

It should be noticed that when chanter reeds have certain 
false notes, such as a sharp high A or a flat high G or E, 
this is caused by the reeds being improperly fitted, the 
points of the blades being too thin or the sides of the I'eed 
being too thick. Care must therefore be taken, when 
fitting a reed, that all the different notes are true, after 
which it should never again be touched except when 
actually requiring attention. 

The beginner may find some difficulty in distinguishing 
the true sound when the chanter reed is in his mouth. He 
should therefore put it unto the pipe and sound it, when he 
will be better able to judge, as he will hear the sound from 
a greater distance. The chanter reed should always have a 
clear, distinct, shrill sound, accompanied with a full and 
firm tone in every note. 

380 Appendix. 


The small drone reeds should sound smooth and firm, 
with a clear humming sound, and the big drone reed deep 
and bass, and strong enough to bear the pressure of wind 
required for the chanter reed. New reeds are often hard to 
" strike in," and have a rough or sharp tone. This is owing 
to their newness and dryness, and goes away with playing. 
They are also frequently inclined to close or stop. This is 
caused by the steam of the breath swelling the wood, and 
causing it to fall into its natural set. In this case, the 
tongue of the reed should be raised as high as it will admit 
of without straining, atid the centre pressed down. Should 
it after this become too rough or flat, it can be rectified by 
bringing the tuning string a little towards the point of the 
tongue. Should this make it too weak for the strength of 
the chanter reed, the best plan is to raise the tongue and 
put a hair (out of the head) between the tongue and body 
of the reed, and as far back as the tuning string will permit. 

When a drone tunes too far up, that is when the tuning 
mark is higher than the joint can be raised, it will be too 
sharp to admit of its chording with the chanter reed. In 
that case the reed should be lowered — i.e., given a smaller 
catch in the joint or drone. Should it still prove too sharp, 
the tuning string should be moved backwards towards the 
end placed in the joint. This ought to correct any ordinary 
reed. Should it fail, the reed must be too short and cannot 
be amended except by altering the chanter reed, which 
should never be done for such a purpose, the chanter reed 
being always first set and the others set to it. 

When the tuning mark is too far down for the joint, and 
the tone cannot be rendered sufficiently sharp, the required 
sound will in most cases be produced by moving the tuning 
string towards the point of the tongue. Should this fail, 
the reed may be put further into the joint of the drone, or 
a veiy little cut oft' the end which goes into the joint. 

When reeds have a rough, roaring sound they may be 
rectified by bringing the tuning string nearer the point of 

Appendix. 381 

the tongue, as before described. A reed may have a burring, 
squealing, or double tone when blown up to the full pitch 
of the chanter reed. This may be caused by the tuning 
string being too tight, or it may be caused by the tongue 
being too heavy, in which case the proper note may be 
obtained by cutting one or more notches across the tongue. 
This will weaken the false sound, and with regular playing 
it will disappear. 

It must be remembered that over-blowing a reed will 
cause it to " dirl," and half covering any of the holes will 
cause the reeds to squeal. In blowing, also, if the regular 
strength of wind is withheld from the reeds, even for an 
instant, they will stop, or " hiccough," as pipers term it. 
The results of these mistakes must not be attributed to the 

An old reed may be made to wear much longer by putting 
one or more hairs under the tongue where the tuning string 
is placed and using a new tuning string. 

A reed is said to be " water-locked " when it has become 
soft through continuous use. Drone reeds only are liable 
to become water-locked, and should never be over-played. 
When the mischief is done they must be laid aside until 
properly dry. 

Wet reeds should be taken out before the pipes are laid 
past, and the water blown out of them. They should then 
be rolled between the hand and knee and the tongue 
slightly lifted, after which they should be replaced in the 
joints. Reeds should not be exposed to the air to dry. A 
common bottle makes an excellent receptacle for them. 

Young pipers should on no account tamper or experiment 
with their i-eeds, unless they are perfectly certain of what 
they are to do, why they are to do it, and what the result 
will be. 


For making the bag tight a paste composed of resin, 
beeswax and sweet oil boiled together is here recommended. 
This, when cool, should be slightly thicker than cream. 

382 Appendiar. 

After the stocks have been inserted a few spoonfuls of this 
paste should be put in (lukewarm), then the stocks stopped 
up and a little wind left in the bag to prevent its sides 
sticking. The skin should be rubbed and wrought until it 
becomes impregnated with the paste. 

When pipes are much used, and the bag draws a good 
deal of water, the reeds will always be damp. To remedy 
this, a little salt may be put into the bag, which will cause 
the damp to be discharged through the skin. This, how- 
ever, might make an old bag give way altogether. Water 
should never on any account be put into the bag. 

The bag should always be soft and pliable. This can be 
managed in several ways. After being dried, say half a 
teacupful of melted brown sugar may be passed into it, and 
worked with the hands, the skin being then hung up over- 
night for the surplus sugar to run out. 


Pipes as a rule should be cleaned thoroughly at least once 
a month, and if much played on once a weet. Cocoa-nut 
oil will be found to serve the purpose best. When the 
pipes are to be cleaned the reeds should first be removed, 
and either placed in a bottle or rolled in a damp rag. The 
different joints should then be detached and the pieces 
cleaned outside and inside with an oily rag, a long feather 
satui-ated with oil being passed through the joints. If not 
required immediately, and after the reeds have been re- 
inserted, the instrument should then be laid past in its oily 
state for a few hours. Before being used, the reeds should 
be again abstracted and all the parts carefully cleaned. Care 
must be taken that the warping on the joints is never 
allowed to get ragged or soaked with water, as this will 
cause the joints to crack, or swell the hemp, and render 
them difficult to move. The player cannot be too particular 
in satisfying himself that none of the joints are too tight. 
New pipes, especially in hot weather or warm climates, 
should before being used be laid up for a few days in coco^- 

Appendix. 383 

nut oil and exposed daily to the sun ; care, however, being 
taken that they are not allowed to dry and that they are 
frequently turned and well wetted with oil. This will 
season the wood, and lessen the danger of splitting. 

The young piper must not forget that it is the practice 
chanter that makes the piper, and he should never attempt 
to play a tune on the full set until he can play it thoroughly 
on the chanter. Quick and careless playing should always 
be avoided. Also, the player should endeavour to get into 
the spirit of the music by understanding the circumstances 
under which each particular tune was composed and the 
feelings it is meant to express. No man other than a High- 
lander can fully appreciate the piobaireachd or do justice to 
the wild, though majestic, strains. The histories of the 
various tunes, with the words to which they are set, would 
be invaluable to the player, and it is to be hoped that the 
present volume will do something towards emphasising all 
the grand old associations that cling round the Highland 
Bagpipe, and thus enable the public to appreciate it all the 
more and pipers to play it all the better. 


The list of books of pipe music is not very long, but the 
difficulties of making it complete and accurate are more 
than may at first appear. The principal difficulty is in the 
matter of dates, publishers, no doubt for good reasons, 
nearly always refraining from giving on their title page the 
year in which the book was first issued. Some of the older 
books, too, are now very rare, and there are not many 
people who have anything like a complete set. The follow- 
ing list has been compiled with every possible care : — 

384 Appendix. 

1784— Mac Donald — A collection of Highland Vocal Airs with 
a number of Country Dances or Reels of the North 
Highlands, a few Bagpipe Strathspeys and Reels set 
for the Violin, and also four Pibrochs, viz. : — Mac 
Intosh's Lament, Mac Crimmon's Lament, The Finger 
Lock, and Peace or War. Compiled and published by 
Rev. Patrick Mac Donald, minister of Kilmore, 
Argyllshire. Out of print. 

1803— Mac Donald — A Treatise on the Theory, Principles 
and Practice of the Great Highland Bagpipe, to which 
is added one pibroch for a beginner ; prepared by 
Joseph Mac Donald, Sutherlandshire, and published 
by his brother. Rev. Patrick Mac Donald, Kilmore. 
Out of print. 

1818 — "Amateur" — A Preceptor for the Great Highland 
Bagpipe, with a few favourite simple airs ; written 
and edited by "An Amateur," and published by 
Oliver & Boyd, Edinburgh. Price 3s. Out of print. 

1822— Mao Donald— A collection of the Ancient Martial 
Music of Caledonia, called Piohaireachd, consisting 
of 23 pieces, as performed on the Great Highland Bag- 
pipe. Now also adapted to the pianoforte, violin and 
violincello ; with a few old Highland lilts purposely 
set for the above modern instruments ; to which is 
prefixed a complete tutor for attaining a thorough 
knowledge of pipe music. Respectfully dedicated to 
the Highland Societies of London and Scotland by 
Donald Mac Donald, and published by Alex. Robert- 
son & Co., Edinburgh. Republished in 1855 by 
Messrs. J. & R. Glen. Price £1 Is. 

1828 — Mac Leod — Canntaireachd, a collection of twenty Pio- 
haireachd or pipe tunes, as verbally taught by the 
Mac Crimmon pipers in the Isle of Skye to their 
apprentices; published as taken from John Mac 
Crimmon, piper to the old Laird of Mac Leod and his 
grandson, the late Johin Mac Leod of Mac Leod. 
Edited by Captain Neil MacLeod of Gesto. Re- 
printed in 1880 by Messrs. J. & R. Glen, Edinburgh. 

Appendiw. 385 

1829 — Mac Donald— A collection of Quicksteps, Strathspeys, 
Eeels and Jigs, consisting of 120 tunes, arranged for 
the Highland Bagpipe. Edited and published by 
Donald Mac Donald & Son, pipe makers, Edinburgh. 
Republished by Messrs. J. & R. Glen in 1848 and 
frequently afterwards. Now in fiftb edition. Price 2s. 

1838 — Mac Kay — A collection of Ancient Piobaireachd or 
Highland Pipe Music, consisting of sixty-one tunes, 
many of them adapted to the pianoforte, with instruc- 
tions for learners of pipe music, sketches of the 
principal hereditary pipers, and historical and tradi- 
tional notes respecting the origin of the various pieces. 
Edited and published by Angus Mac Kay, piper to 
the Queen. Second Edition published in 1839, also 
by Mac Kay. Price, £1 15s. Reprinted in 1899 by 
Logan & Co., Inverness. Price, £1 Is. 

1841— Mac Kay— The Complete Tutor for the Great Highland 
Bagpipe, with a compendious selection of Marches, 
Quicksteps, Strathspeys, Reels, and Jigs, consisting 
of 100. tunes. The whole selected and arranged 
specially for the instrument by William Mac Kay, 
piper to the Celtic Society of Scotland. Published 
by Alexander Glen, Edinburgh. Corrected and im- 
proved by Angus Mac Kay in 1843 and republished 
by Mr. Glen. Price 4s. Out of print. 

1843 — Mac Kay — The Pipers' Assistant, a collection of 
Marches, Quicksteps, Strathspeys, Reels, and Jigs, 
consisting of 155 tunes. Edited by Angus Mac Kay, 
piper to the Queen. Edinburgh, published by Alex- 
ander Glen, bagpipe maker, 30 West Regent Street. 
London, by Angus Mac Kay. Price 8s. Out of print. 

1847 — GUNN — The Caledonian Repository of Strathspeys, 
Reels, Jigs, and Quicksteps, consisting of about 200 
pieces. Edited and published by William Gunn, piper, 
Glasgow. Enlarged by about a dozen tunes in 1867, 
and republished by Gunn. Republished in 1892 
and 1889 by Peter Henderson, Glasgow. Price 6s. 

1853 — MacLachlan — The Pipers' Assistant, containing 120 
tunes. Compiled -by John MacLachlan, piper to 

386 Appendix: 

Neil Malcolm of Poltalloch, and published by Alex. 
Glen, Edinburgh. Price 6s. Out of print. 

I860 — Glen— The Caledonian Repository of Music for the 
Great Highland Bagpipe, consisting of Marches, 
Strathspeys, Reels and Quicksteps to the number of 
120 tunes. Edited and published by Alexander 
Glen, Edinburgh. Revised and republished by David 
Glen in 1882. Price, 6s. Out of print. 

1869 — Ross — A collection of Marches, Strathspeys, Reels, and 
Pibrochs, consisting of 243 pieces. Edited and pub- 
lished by William Ross, piper to the Queen. Several 
editions since published, and book now contains 41 
pibrochs and 437 marches, etc. Republished in 1900 
by Mrs. Ross. Price, £\ lOs. 

1870-1871— Glen— Parts I, II., and III. of Glen's collection 
for the Great Highland Bagpipe, consisting of about 
]60 tunes. Edited and published by J. & R. Glen, 
Edinburgh. Price, originally 3s. each part, now Is. 

1876-1901— Glen— Parts I. to XVII. of a collection of Bagpipe 
Music, consisting altogether of about 1000 pieces. 
Edited and published by David Glen. Edinburgh, at 
different times between 1876 and 1901. Price, each 
part, Is ; complete volume, with tutor, £1. 

1876 — MacPhee— A selection of Music for the Highland 
Bagpipe, consisting of about 150 Quicksteps, Marches, 
Strathspeys. Reels, etc., with a complete tutor. Edited 
and published by Donald Mac Phee, Glasgow. Price, 
6s., in cloth 7s. Republished in 1895 by Messrs. 
Logan & Co., Inverness, in two volumes, at 2s. each. 

1880 — MacPhee — A collection of Pibrochs, consisting of 37 
tunes. Edited and published by Donald Mac Phee, 
bagpipe maker, Glasgow. Republished in 1885 by 
Messrs. Logan & Company, Inverness. Price, 8s. 

18801899— Glen— Parts I to IV. of a collection of Ancient 
Piobaireachd or Highland Pipe Music, consisting alto- 
gether of 55 tunes ; arranged, revised, and published 
by David Glen, Edinburgh, at different times between 
1880 and 1899. Price 4s. each part. 

Appendix. 387 

1881 — G-LEN — David Glen's Highland Bagpipe Tutor, with a 
selection of Quicksteps, Strathspeys, Reels, and Jigs, 
amounting to 50 tunes. David Glen, Edinburgh. 
Price, 3s. Now in 13th thousand, price, Is. 

1887 — Mac Kinnon — A collection of Highland Pipe Music, 
consisting of Marches, Strathspeys, and Reels to the 
number of 82 tunes, with a complete Tutor. Edited 
and published by Robert Mac Kinnon, bagpipe maker, 
Glasgow. Republished by Mr. Mac Kinnon in 1898. 
Price 4s. 

1 888 — Henderson — Henderson's Bagpipe Collection of 
Marches, Strathspeys, and Reels, extending to 138 
tunes. Edited and published by Peter Henderson, 
bagpipe maker, Glasgow. Price 5s. 

1891 — HENDEESON^Henderson's Bagpipe Tutor and Collec- 
tion of Marches, Strathspeys, and Reels, to the extent 
of 56 pieces. Price 2s. 

1899— Bett — A Collection of Pibrochs, Marches, Strathspeys, 
and Reels, consisting of 198 tunes. Edited and 
published by James Bett, Strathtay. Price, £1 Is. 

] 899 — ^LOGAN — A collection of Marches, Quicksteps, Laments, 
Strathspeys, Reels, and Country Jigs, consisting of 
sixty pieces. Logan & Co., Inverness. Price Is. 

1900— Glen — The Music of the Clan Mac Lean,'consisting of 
25 pieces, compiled under the auspices of the Clan 
Mac Lean Society of Glasgow. Edited and published 
by David Glen, Edinburgh. Price, in paper, 5s., in 
cloth gilt, 7s. 6d. 

1900 — Henderson — Henderson's Tutor for the Bagpipe and 
collection of Marches, Strathspeys, Reels, Country 
Dances, Jigs, etc., consisting of 197 pieces. Peter 
Henderson, Glasgow. Price 7s. 6d. 

1900 — Thomason — A collection of Piobaireachd as played on 
the Great Highland Bagpipe — Ceol Mbr — compiled, 
edited, and rendered in a new and easily acquired 
notation by Major-Gleneral C. S. Thomason, R.E. 
(Bengal). Published by C. S. Thomason, c/o S. 
Sidders & Co., 17 and 19 Ball Street, Kensington^ 
London, W. 

388 Appendix. 


In 1781, the Highland Society of London instituted com- 
petitions in pibroch playing. It was not, howevei', until 
1835 that the gold medal now so well known as the highest 
honour attainable by pipers, was first awarded. The fol- 
lowing is a list of the first prize winners and gold medalists 
so far as it has been found possible to obtain them. Un- 
fortunately for the absolute authenticity of the list, the 
records of the Highland Society were lost in a fire sometime 
ago, and the secretary, therefore, could not supply them 
officially. It has, however, been carefully compiled from 
Angus Mac Kay's book of pipe music, the files of the Glas- 
gow Herald and those of the Inverness Courier, and it may 
be relied on as thoroughly accurate : — 

1781 — Patrick Mac Gregor, Ardradour, Perthshire. 

1782 — John Mac Allister, West Fencible Regiment. 

1783— Neil Mac Lean, Airds. 

1784 — John Mac Gregor, senr., Fortingall. 

1785 — Donald Mac Intyre, senr., Rannoch. 

1786— Roderick Mac Kay, North Berwick. 

1787 — Archibald Mac Gregor, Glenlyon. 

1788 — John Mac Gregor, Strathtay. 

1789— Duncan Mac Nab, Lome. 

1790— Robert Mac Intyre. 

1791 — Donald Mac Rae, Applecross. 

1792 — John Mac Kay, Raasay. 

1793 — John Mac Gregor, Breadalbane Fencibles. 

1794 — Angus Cameron. 

1795— Peter Mac Gregor. 

1796 — Donald Fisher, Breadalbane. 

1797 — Alexander Mac Gregor, Glenlyon. 

1798— Donald Mac Earchar. 

1799— Dugald Mac Intyre. 

1800 — George Graham. 

1801— William Forbes. 

Appendix. 389 

1802 — John Buchanan, 42nd Highlanders. 

1803 — Donald Robertson, Edinburgh Volunteers. 

1804— Malcolm Mac Gregor. 

1805— Duncan Mac Master, Coll. 

1806 — John Mac Gregor, London. 

3 807— Donald Mac Nab. 

1808— John Mac Gregor, 73rd Regiment. 

1809— Peter Forbes, Foss. 

1810— Allan Mac Lean, Mull. 

1811— John Mac Gregor. 

1812— Donald Mac Gregor. 

1813— Finlay MacLeod. 

1814 — Robert Mac Kay. Sutherlandshire. 

1815 — John Mac Kay, Sutherlandshire. 

1816— Donald Mac Kay, Glasgow. 

1817 — Donald Mac Donald, Argyllshire. 

1818— Allan Mac Donald. 

1819— John Campbell. 

1820 — William Mac Kay, piper to Celtic Society. 

1821 — Adam Graham. 

1822— Donald Mac Kay. 

1823— John Mac Kenzie. 

1824 — Donald Scrimgeour. 

1825— Donald Stewart. 

1826— John Gordon. 

1829 (First triennal competition) — John Mac Nab, 92nd 

1832 — Roderick Mac Kay, Abercairney. 
1835 (First competition for gold medal) — John Mac Kenzie, 

piper to the Marquis of Breadalbane.* 
1838 — John Mac Beth, piper to Highland Society of London. 
1841 — Donald Mac Innes, late piper to Colonel Mac Neill of 

1844 — Donald Cameron, piper to Sir James J. R. Mac 

Kenzie of Scatwell. 

* In Chapter XIX., page 278, the date 1838 is given by mistake 
instead of 1835, as the year of this competition. Also, on page 284, 
it is stated that John Bane Mac Kenzie and Donald Cameron were 
the only players who held the title of "King of Pipers." That 
there were at least two others is, however, shown by this list. 

390 Appendix. 

There is a blank between 184<4< and 1859 which it has not 
been foand possible to bridge. In 1844 we leave the com- 
petitions being held triennally at Edinburgh; in 1859 we 
find the Gold Medal being competed for at the Northern 
Meeting, Inverness, as " a new feature." Several other 
competitions are reported during these fifteen years, and 
well-known names are given as prize-winners, but there is 
no mention of the Highland Society's Gold Medal. It 
would be interesting to know if the competition was discon- 
tinued during these years. 

1859 (First competition under auspices of Northern Meeting, 

Inverness) — Donald Cameron, piper to Seaforth. 
1860 — Alex, Mac Lennan, pipe-major, Inverness Militia. 
1861 — D. Mac Kenzie, 25th Borderers, Shorncliffe. 
1862 — Alex. Cameron, Greenock Rifie Volunteers. 
1863 — Ronald Mac Kenzie, 78th Highlanders. 
1864 — Alex. Mac Donald, piper to Mac Pherson of Glentruin 
1865 — Colin Cameron, piper to Mr. Malcolm of Glenmarog. 
1866 — Wm. Mac Kinnon, 74th Highlanders, Limerick. 
1867 — John Mac Lennan, piper to the Earl of Fife Donald 

Cameron, piper to Mr. K. W. S. Mac Kenzie, of 

Seaforth, was this year " Champion of Champions." 
1868 — Andrew Gordon, piper to the Earl of Seafield, £alma- 

caan, Glen-Urquhart. 
1869 — Wm. Mac Donald, piper to the Prince of Wales. 
1870 — Alex. Cameron, piper to the Marquis of Huntly. 
1871 — Malcolm Mac Pherson, piper to Cluny Mac Pherson. 
1872 — Donald Mac Kay, piper to Sir George Mac Pherson 

Grant, Bart., of Ballindalloch. 
1873 — .Duncan MacDougall, piper to the Earl of Breadal- 

bane. Champion of Champions, Ronald Mac 

Kenzie, 78th Highlanders. 
1874 — John Smith, 93rd His;hlanders, Lochgilphead. 
1875 — Ronald Mac Kenzie, piper to Neil Mac Donald of 

]876 — John Mac Kenzie, Royal Caledonian Asylum, London. 

Champion of Champions, Duncan Mac Dougall, 

piper to the Earl of Breadalbane. 
1877 — John Mac Bean, piper to Lord Middleton. 
1878 — Lewis Grant, piper to the Earl of Seafield. 

Appendix. 391 

1879 — William Mac Lennan, Dundee. 

1880-^ John J. Connan, piper to John H. Dixon, Inveran. 

1881 — Angus MacRae, piper to Mr. E. H. Wood of Raasay. 

1882 — Angus Mac Donald. South Morar. 

1883 — A. D. Longair, 2nd A. and S. Highlanders. 

1884— John Mac Coll, Oban. 

1885— Pipe-Major J. Mac Dougall Gillies, Glasgow. 

1886— R. Meldrura, 93rd Sutherland Highlanders. 

1887 — Alex. Fletcher, Invermoriston. 

1888 — William Boa, piper to Mr. Dixon of Inveran. 

1889— John Mac Kay, 4th A. and S. Highlanders. 

1890 — John Mac Donald, Glentromie Lodge, Kingussie. 

1891 — Colin Thomson, 3rd Seaforth Highlanders. 

1892 — John Cameron, 2tid Cameron Highlanders. 

1893— Pipe-Major Matheson, 3rd Highland Light Infantry. 

1894— Pipe-Major D. Campbell, Scotiish Rifles. 

1895— Murdo Mac Kenzie, piper to Mr. A. G. Butter of 

1896 — Alec. Mac Kenzie, Resolis, Invergordon. 
1897 — Wm. Campbell, second piper to the Queen. 
1898 — Murdoch Mac Kenzie, Church Street, Inverness. 
1899 — D. 0. Mather, Lochcarron. 
1900— W. G. Meldrum, Moy Hall. 

The Highland Society of London, have also, since 1875, 
presented a gold medal at the Argyllshire Gathering, to be 
competed for under the same conditions as that at the 
Northern Meeting. The two medals are of about equal 
value, and, though neither can be won twice by the same 
competitor, one piper may win both. The following are 
the prize winners at the Argyllshire Gathering, as kindly 
supplied by the secretary, Mr. Alexander Sharp, Oban: — 

1875, Sept. 8. — John Mac Bean, Culloden. 

1876, „ 13.— Malcolm Mac Pherson. Cluny. 

1877, „ 12. — John Mac Bean, Culloden. 

1878, „ 11. — William Mac Lennan, Inverness. 

1879, ., 10.— George Mac Donald, South Morar. 

1880, „ 15. — Pipe-Major Robert Mac Kinnon, Skipness. 
1886, „ 8. — Pipe-Major Robert Meldrum, Argyll and 

Sutherland Highlanders. 



-Pipe-Major John Mac Kay, 4th Argyll and 

Sutherland Highlanders, Paisley. 
-Kenneth Mac Donald, Braemar. 
-John Mac Pherson, Cluny. 
-Norman Mac Pherson, Loch Lomond. 
-D. C. Mather, Loch Carron. 
-A. E. Mac Coll, Oban. 
-Pipe-Major Wm. Robb, 91st Highlanders. 
-Pipe-Major George Boss, Black Watch. 
-John Mac Kenzie, Glasgow. 
-Gavin G. Mac Dougall, Aberfeldy. 
-John Mac Donald, Kingussie. 
-Farquhar Mac Rae, Glasgow. 
-Murdo M'Kenzie, Inverness. 
No Gathering. 

1887, Sept. 14 

1888, , 

, 12 

1889, , 

, 11 

1890, , 

, 10 

1891, , 


1892, , 

, 14 

1893, , 

, 13 

1894, , 

. 12 


, 11 

1896, , 


1897, , 


1898, , 

, 14 

1899, , 

, 13 

1900, - 

From 1880 till 1886 no Medal was given. 


The making of bagpipes is almost, if not quite confined 
to Scotland. One or two firms in London profess to be 
makers, but they either make very little or get the instru- 
ments from Scotland. There are no makers abroad, but a 
large trade is done by Scottish makers with colonial cus- 
tomers. The following is a list of all the makers of any 
professional standing : — 

Aberfeldy — 

Gavin Mac Dougall. 
Dundee — 

David Thow, 45 and 47 Gellatly Street. 
Edinburgh — 

John Centre & Sons, 12 Grove Street. 

David Glen, 8 Greenside Place. 

J. & E. Glen, North Bank Street. 

J. & W. Hutcheon, 3 Niddry Street. 
Glasgow — 

Peter Henderson, 100 Renfrew Street. 

Robert Mac Kinnon, 59 Eenfrew Street. 




The following list of pibrochs, which is the index to Major-General 
Thomason's Ceol Mor* is the most complete that has ever been published. 
With the exception of three new tunes included in The Musk of the Clan 
Mac Lean, and one or two others, it contains all the pibrochs known to 
present day players, while the particulars as to composers' names and dates of 
origin are more full than anyone else has attempted : — 


Aberoairney's Salute 

Aged Warrior's Lament, The 
Allan, Lament for Young ... 
Altearn, The Battle of 
Anapool, Lament for Lady . . . 
Antrim, Lament for the Earl of 

Argyll's Salute 

Army, The Red Tartaned ... 
Athole, The Battle of 

Athol Salute, The 

Away to your tribe, Ewen, 
Loohiel's Salute 


Failte Abercharnaig 

Cumha CJilaibh 

Ctimha Ailein Oig 

Sldr AlU-Eire 

Cumha Ban-tighearna Anapuil 

Cumha laiia Antruim 

Failte Marcus Earraghaidheal 

An t-arm breac dearg 

Bldr Athol 

Failte Dhiuc Athol 

or Gu do bhuidheann Eoghainn ... 

Author and Date. 


Balladruishaig, The Battle of 
Battle of the Bridge (or Inch) of 

Perth, The 

Battle of Doirneag, The 

Battle of Glenshiel, The 

Bealaoh na brbige. The Battle of ... 
Beinn na Greine 

Bella of Perth, The 

Beloved Scotland, Heave Thee gloomy 

Berisdale Salute, The 

Bicker, The 

Big Spree, The, or You're drunk and 

had better sleep 
Black Donald of the Isles, March of 
Black Watch's Salute, The ... 
Blind Piper's Obstinacy, The 
Blue Ribbon, The (the Grants) 
Blue Ribbon, The (Isle of Mull) 
Boat Tune, The 

Bldr Bhaile DhruisJieig 

Ceann drochald Pheairt 

Bldr nan Ddirneag 

Bldr Ghlinn Seile 

Bldr Bealach na brbige 

Beinn na Griine 

Cluig Pheairt ... 

Albainn bheadarach's mise 'gad fhdgail 

Fdilte Morair Bharisdail 

Port a' Mheddaair 

An Daorach mhor (Tha'n daorach 

ort's /eairrdthu cadal) 

Piobaireachd Dhomhnuill Duibh 
Faille an Fhreiceadain Duibh.. 

Crosdachd an Doill 

Eiobain Gorm nan Granndach 
Riobain Gorm an Eilein Mhuilich 
Port a' Bhdta ... 

J. D. Mac Kay. 

A. MacLennan. 

. J. Mac Donald, 1730 
.. J. D. Mao Kay. 

See page 110. 




Boisdale Salute, The 

Burlum's Salute, The Laird of 
Breadalbane, Lament for Lord 
Brothers' Lament, The 

Cameron, Donald, Lament for 

Camerons' Gathering, The 

Campbell, G. , of Oalder's Salu te ... 
Campbell of Kintarbet's Salute, 
Laohlan MacNeill 

Carles wi' the Breeks, The 

Carles of Sligacbin, The 

Catherine's Lament ... 

Catherine's Salute 

Castle Menzie or Fraser's Salute ... 

Charich's, Alastair, March ... 

Cheerful Scotland 

Children, The Lament for the 

Chisholm's Salute 

Chisholm of Strathglass's Salute ... 

Choaig, Patrick, A Satire on 

Ciar, Lament for John 

Ciar, Salute for John 

Clan Chattan, The Gathering of ... 
Clan Ranald's Salute... 
Claverhouse, Lament for 
Cleaver, General, Lament for 
(?) Claverhouse 

Comely Tune, The 

Company's Lament, The 

Contullioh, Lament for the Laird of 
Craigellaohie, The Grants' Gathering 
Crunluath Tune, The 

Faille Fir Bhaondail ... 
Fdille Thighearna Bhorluim . 
Cumha Morair Braidalhainn . 
Oumha nam Brailhrean 

Author a.nd Date. 

K. Cameron, 1893. 

Cumha Dhomhnuill Ohamaroin 

Cruinneachadh nan Camaronach 

Faille ShedratH dig Tighearna Chaladair 

Faille Mhic Niiil Uhinn-iairbeart ..." J. Mao Kay, Snr. , 

Bodaich nam Briogainean 
Bodaich Shligeachain ... 

Cumha Chatriona 

FaiUe Chatriona 

Caisteal a'Mheinneirkh — Fiobnireaclul 

Vaidh, Faille Cloinn Shimidh 
Spaidsearachd Alastair Charaich 

Albainn Bheadarach 

Cumhna na Cloinne P. M. Mac Crimmon. 

Faille 'n t-Sioiolaich 

Faille Siosalach Srath-Ghlais 

Lasan Phadruig Chaoig Mhic Cruimein D. M. MacCrimmon. 
Cumha Iain ChHr 
Faille Iain Chiir 
Cruinneachadh Chloinn Chatain 
Fdilte Chloinn Raonuill 

Cumha ChUibheir 

Cumha ChUibheir 1689. 

Ant- Ailteaclid ... 
Cumha na Cuideachd . . . 
Cumha Fir Chontullaich 
Creag Ealachaidh 
Port a' Chrunluaith 


Daughter, Lament for the ... 
Davidson of TuUoch's Salute 

Dead, Lament for the 

Desperate Battle Cuchulin, The 
Donald Gruamach's Lament for his 

elder Brother 
Doyle's, Lady, Salute 

Drizzle on the Stone 

Duke of Perth's March, The 

Duncan Mac Kae of Kintail's Lament 

Duntroon's Salute 

Duntroon's Warning 

Dunyveg, Lament for the Castle of 

Cumha iia h-ighne 

Fdilte Tighearna Thulaich 

Cumha nam Marbh 

Cath fuasach Chuchulinn 
Spaidsearachd Dhomhnuill Ghruam- 

Faille Bain- Tighearna Dhoile 
Ceob air cloich ... 
Spaidsearachd Dhiiic Pheairt 

Cumha Dhonnachaidh Mhic Iain 

Fdilte Dhimtrbm 

Caismeachd Dhuntroin 

Cumha Caisteal Dhim-Naomhaig 

D. Gruamach. 

J. Mac Kay. 

R. Mac Dougal. 

Finlay Dvhh Mac 

Rae, 1715. 




Earl of Rosa's March, The 

Earl of Seaforth's Salute 

Elohies Salute, or MaoNab's Salute, 
End of the Great Bridge, The 
End of Isheberry Bridge, The 

End of the Little Bridge 

E wen of the Battles 

Extirpation of the Tinkers, The . . . 

SpaidsearacM larla Jiois 

F&ilte Uilleam Duibh Mhic Coimiich... 

Faille Elchln, na Fdilte Chloinn an Aba 

Ceann na Drochaide mdire 

Ceann Drochaid Iseberri 

Ceann na Drochaide bige 

Foghan nan cath 

Sgrios nan Ceaird 

Fair Honey 

Fairy Flag, The 

Fare thee well, Donald 

Finger Lock, The 

Finlay's Lament 

Forbes, Lament for Colonel. 

Frenzy of Meeting, The (or 

for Brian O'Duff) 
Frisky Lover, The ... 

...A mhil bhraonach 

A' bhratach ahU/i 

Soiridh leat a Dh&mhnuill 

A' Qhlas Mhair 

Cumha Fhionnlaidh 

Cumha Chorneil Forbes 

Lament Faoin Bhaile na Coinneimh 

...An Suiriche slogach 

... Fiunnachair 

Author and Date. 
D.M. MacCrimmon, 

. Finlay Dubh Mac 
Eae, 1715. 


D. Fraaer. 

J. Mac Kay, or 

Donald Mac Dougal. 

Glen is mine, The ' S learn fheim an Oleann 

Glengarry, Lament for Cumha Mhic- Alastair A. Munro. 

Glengarry's March Cille Chriosda 

Gordon's Salute, The FHlte nan Gordonaeh 

Gower, Lament for Lord Fred Leveson Cumha Morair F. L. Oobhair 
Grain in Hides and Corn in Sacks .. . Grain an Seicheannan 'a siol am po 


Great Supper, Lament for the ... Cumha na Suipearach m.6ire Mao Dougal. 

Groat, The An Orbta 

Gunn's Salute Fiitte nan Ouineach 

Hail to my Country 

Half -Finished Piobaireachd, The .. 

Fdilte do m.' dhiithaich... 
Am Port leathach 

Hamilton, Lament for the Duke of 

Harp Tree, Lament for the 

Hen's March o'er the Midden, The 

Hey ! for the old Pipes 

Highland Society of London's Salute, 

Highland Society of Scotland's Sal- Faille Commun Gaidhealach Albainn 

ute. The 

Cumha Dhiiic Hamiltoin 

Cumha Craobh nan lend 

Glocail nan cearc 

Dastriom gu'n seimiam piob 

Faille Comunn Gaidhealach Lunainn 

I got a kiss of the King's hand 

Inveraray, Salute to . . . 

Fhuair mi pdg o laimh an Sigh 

Fdilte lonaraora 

Ed. June, 1896. 
P. M. Mac Crimmon 
and J. D. Mao Kay. 

John Dall Mac Kay. 

John Mao Kay. 

Prof. Mae Arthur, 

.D.M. MacCrimmon, 




Islay, Farewell to the Laird of 
Isle of Skye 

Jarae3 VI. 's Salute 

Soraidh Tighearna Heath 
HMean a' Cheo 

Cumha Sigh Seumas an seathamh 

King George III., Lament for 
King James' Departure, Lament for 

King's Taxes, The 

Kinloch Moidart's Salute 

Kinloch Muideart — Lament for Mao Fd.ilte Fir Oheannlock- Miiidcart 
Donald of... 

Cumha Righ Seoras a tri 

Siubhal Sheuma^s 

MM an Righ 

Fdilte Fir Ckeannloch- Miiideart 

Laggan Salute, The 

Laird of Anapool, Lament for the . 
Lament for Abercairney 
Leaving Kintyre 
Leigh, Col., Farewell to 

Little Finger Tune, The 

Little Spree, The 

Little Supper, Lament for the 
Loch Carron-point, The Battle of 
Lord Lovat, Lament for 

MaoCruimein, Donald Ban, Lament 

Mac Cruimein, Patrick Og, Lament 

Mac Cruimein will never return ... 

Mac Cruimein's Sweetheart 

Mac Donald of the Isles, Lament for 

Sir James... 
Mac Donald of the Isles, Lament for 

Sir James 

Mac Donald i)f the Isles Salute 
Mac Donald of the Isles, Sir James, 

Mao Donald, Lament for Lady 

Mao Donald, Lord, Lament for 
Mao Donald of Morar, Ronald, La- 
ment for ... 
Mac Donald's, Angus, Assault 

Mac Donalds are simple,. The 
Mac Donalds of Clanranald's gather- 
ing at Sheriffmuir 
Mao Donalds of Clan Konald, The 
Gathering of the 

Author aisd Date. 

A. Mac Kay, 1840. 

a Mao Crimmon. 


D. Mao Kay, 1871. 

C. S. Thomason, 


Fdilte Lagain ... 

Cumha Fir A napuil 

Cumha Aberchdrnaig 

Fagail Chimitire 
Soraidh Chbirneil Leigh 

Port na Liidaig... 
An Daorach bheag 
An t-Suipear bheag 

BBr an t-Srian 

Cumha Mhic Shimklh 

Cumha Dhdmhnuill Bhain Mhic Cruim- 

Cumha Phddruig Oig Mhic Cruimein J. D. Mac Kay. 

CJia till, cha till, cha till mi tuille ... D. B. Mao Crim- 
mon, 1746. 

Mai Dhomi 

Cumha an Ridire Seumas MacDhomh- C. Mac Arthur. 
nuill nan Eilean ... 

Cumha an Ridire Seumas Mac Dhomh- W, Mac Donald of 
nuill nan Eileau ... ... ... Vallay. 

FMlte Mhic Dhdmhnuill nan Eilean 

Faille an Ridire Seumas Mac Dhdmh- 
nuill nan Eilean ... 

Cumha Bain-tighearna Mhic Dhomh- Angus Mac Arthur, 
nuill 1790. 

Cumha Morair Chloinn Dhomhnuill ...A. Mao Arthur, 1796 

Cumha Raonuill Mhic Ailein dig 

lonnsaidh Aonghais Bhig Mhic Dhom- 

Tha Clann Dbmhnuill socharach 

CruinneacJiadh Chloinn HaonUill {Sliabh 1715. 

an t-SiorraJ 

Cnocan Ailean Mhic lain 



Mac Donald's, Lady Margaret, Salute 

Mac Donalds, March of the 

Mac Donald's Salute, Lady Margaret 

Mac Donalds' Salute, The 

Mac Donalds, The Parading of the... 

Mac Donald's Tutor 

Mac Douell, Alex., of Glengarry's 


Mac Douell of Laegan's Lament, . . . 
Mac Dougall, Lament for Captain , . . 

Mac Dougall's Salute, The 

Mac Duffs' Gathering, The 

Mac Farlanes' Gathering, The 
Mac Gregors' Gathering, The 

Mac Intosh, Lament for 

Mac Intoshs' Banner, The 

Mac In tyre's Salute 

Mac Kays' Banner, The 

Mac Kay's, Donald Dugal, Lament, 

or Lord Eeay 's Iiament, 

Mac Kays' March, The 

MacKenzie of Applecross's Salute... 
Mac Kenzie, Donald — his Father's 

Lament for 
Mac Kenzie of Gairloch's Lament, . . . 
Mac Kenzie of Gairloch's Salute .... 
Mac Kenzie, Lament for Colin Roy . 

MaoKenzie's, Capt. D., Lament ... 
Mac Kenzies' Gattiering, The 
MacKenzies' Gathering, The — Tul- 

loch Ard 
Mac Lean, Great John, Lament for 
Mac Lean of Coll, Lament for Sir 

John Garve 
Mac Lean, Lachlan Mor, Lament for 

Mac Leans' Gathering, The 

Mac Leans' Gathering, The 

Mac Lean's, Hector, Warning 

Mac Leans' March, The 

Mao Lean, Lament for Hector Roy, 

Mac Lend, A Taunt on 

Mac Leod of Colbeek, Lament for ... 

Mac Leod, dispraise of, 

M ac Leod of Gesto's. Salute 

MacTlieod John, Lament for, 

Mac Leod of Mao Leod, Lament for 


FMlte Bain-tighearna Mairearad 
Spaidsearachd Mhic Dhdmhnuill 
Failte Bain-tighearna Mhic Dhcmh- 

Failte Chloinn Donihnuill 

Uaill Chloinn Dbmlmuill 

Oide-ionnsaehaidA Mhic Dhdmhnuill... 
Cumha A lastair Dheirg 


D. M. MacCrimmon 

.. Ronald Mac Dougall 
.. R. Mao Dougall. 

Oamha Dhornhnuill an Lagain 

Cumha Ghaiptein 'Ic Dhughaill 

Failte Chloinn Dughaill 

Cruinneachwlh Chloinn Duibh 

' Thogail nambd 

Cruiimeachadh nan Griogarach 

Cumha Mhic an Toisich 

Bratach Mhic an Toisich 

FiUte Mhic an t-saoir 

Bratach Chloinn Mhic Aoidh 

Cumha Dhornhnuill Dhughail Mhic D. M. Mac Orimmon 

Spaidsearachd Cloinn Mhic Aoidh ... 

Fdilte Tighearna na Goimirich 

Cumha Dhdmhnuill Mhic Coinnich (le 
. 'Athair) 

Cumha Tighearna Ghedrloch 

Failte Thigearna Ghearloch ... 

Cumha Ghailein Buaidh Mhic Coin- 

Cumha 'Ghaiptein D. Mhic Coinnich... 

Tulloch Ard ... 

Gruinnfachadh Chloinn Ghoinnich ( Tul- 
loch Aril) 

Cumha Ian Ghairbh Mhic llleathain 

GumJia Iain Gliairbh Mhic 'llleathain 

A. Mac Kay. 

J. Mac Kay. 

Latha Sron a' Chlachain 

Gruinneachadh Chloinn Ghilleathain... 
Spaidsearachd Chloinn Ghilleathain ... 
Caismxachd Eachain Mhic Ailein nan 


Spaidsearachd Chloinn Ghilleathain . 
Cumha Eachainn Ruaidh nan cath . 
Port Gearr Mhic Leiid 
Cumha Mhic Lebid VholheC ... 
Di-moladk Mhic Lebid 

Failte Fir GSosta 

Cumha Iain Mhic Iain Ghairbh 
Cjtmha cinn-cinnidh nan Leddach 

,. A. Mac Lean, 1650. 
J. Mac Kay. 

, D.M.Mac Crimmon, 



Mac Leod of Mao Leod's Rowing 

Pibroch or Salute 
Mao Leod, Mary, Lament for 
Mac Leod of Kaasaj', John Garve, 

Lament for 
Mac Leod of Eaasay's lament 

Mac Leod of Raasay's Salute 

Mac Leod, Roderick More, Salute at 

Birth of 
Mao Leod of Tallisker'a, Mrs. , Salute 
Mac Leod of Tallisker's Salute 
Mac Leod's Controversy 

Mac Neill of Barra's Lament 

Mao Neill of Barra's March 

Mac Neill of Kintarbert's Fancy ... 
Mac Phees, The Rout of the 
Mao Pherson's March, Cluny 
Mac Pherson's Salute, Cluny 

Mac Raes' March, The 

Mac Suain of Roaig, Lament for ... 
Maolroy, The Battle of, or Isabel 

Mao Kay 
Mary's praise for her Gift . . . 
Massacre of Glenooe 

Melbank's Salute 

M eiizies' Salute, The 

Men went to drink, The 

Middling Spree, The 

Monros' Salute, The 

My dearest on earth, give me your kiss 
My King has landed in Moidart ... 

Old Sword's Lament, The 

Old Woman's Lullaby, The 

Only Son, Lament for the 

Park, Battle of 

Pass of CrieflF, Battle of the 

Perth, The Desperate Battle 
Perth, Lament for the Duke of 

Piper Samuel, Lament for 

Piper's Farewell to his Home, The 
Piper's Salute to his Master, The . . , 
Piper's warning to his Master, The 
Praise of Marion 

Pretty Dirk, The 

Prince Charles' Lament 

Prince's Salute, The 


Author and Date. 

Port lomram Mhic Ledid, na ^''^^j'fte D.M.Mac Crimmon, 

nan Leddach 

Cumha Mdiri Nic Ledid 

Oumha Iain Ghairbh Mhic Gille Cha- V.. 

Oumha Mine Gille Chaluim Rathasadh D. ' 

Fd-ilte Mhic Gille Chaluim Rathasadh A . 
'Nann air mhire tJia sibh ? P. 

FMite Bain Tigeama Thailasgear . . . 

FaiUe Tighearna Thailesgear 

lomradh Mhic Ledid D. 

Oumha Mhic NHll Bhara 

Spaidsearachd Mhic N&ill Bhara 
Aon tlaehd Mhic Niill... 

Ruaig air Oloinn a Phi 

Spaidsearachd Thigheama Chluainidh 

Pdilte Fir Ohluainidh 

Spaidsearachd Cloinn Mhic Rath 
Cumha Mhic Shuain d Roaig... 
A mhuinntir a chdil chaoil thugadh am 
bruthach oirbh 

Moladh Mhiri 

Mort Ghlinne Oomhann 

F&ilte Fir Bhlabhne 

FMlte 'Mhiinneirich 

Ghaidh na fir a dh'bl 

An Daorach mheadhonach 

FMte nan Rothach 

Tlwir domh pbg, a luaidh mo chridhe 
Thdinig mo Righ air tir am Miiideart 

Oumha an tseana Ohlaidheimh 

Crdnain na Cailliche 

Cumha an aona mhic ... 

'.M.Mac Orimmon, 

1548 (?). 
M.Mac Crimmon, 

Mao Kay, Gairlooh 
M.Mac Crimmon, 

M. Mao Crimmon, 


Bldr Pairc Shruithleith 

Oath bealach Chraoibh 

Oath fuathasach, Pheairt 

Cumha Dhuic Pheairt 

Cumha Shomhairle Dhuibh ... 
Soraidh piobaire da dhachaidh 
FMlte a' Phiobaire d'a Mliaighstir 
A C holla mo rim 

Moladh Mairi 

A 'Bhiodag bhdidheach 
Cumha Phrionnsa TeArlach ... 

FAilte' Phrionnsa 

.P.M. Mac Crimmon. 


. Capt. M. Mac Leod, 

. J. Mac Intyre, 1715, 



Queen Anne, Lament for 

Cumha Ban-Bigh Anna 

Author and Date. 

Red Hand in the Mac Donald's Lamh dhearg Cliloinn Domhnuill 

Arras, The 

Bed Hill, The Battle of the 

Red Kibbon, The 

Robertson's Salute, Strowan 

Rout of Glen Pruin, The 

Rout of the Lowland Captain, The 

Sauntering, The 

Scarce of Fishing 

Sheriffinuir, The Battle of 

Sinclairs' March, The 

Sisters' Lament, The 

Sobieski's Salute 

Smith's, Mrs., Salute 

Strone, The Battle of Castle 
Stuarts' White Banner, The 
Sutherlaads' Gathering, The 

Tallisker, The Battle of Waternish 
Thomason's, Miss Mabf 1, Salute 
Thomason's Salute, General .. 

Too long in this condition 

Tune of Strife, The 

Union, Lament for the 

Unjust Carceration, The 

Vaunting, The 

Waking of the Bridegroom, The .. 

War or Peace 

Waterloo, The Battle of 

Weighing from Land ... 
Welcome Johnnie back again 
Writer, Lament for the 

Young King George III. Salute 
Young Laird of Dungallon's Salute 
Young Neill's Salute... 
You're welcome, Ewin Lochiel 

Fir nam hreacan dubha 

An riohain dearg 

FAilte Thighnarna Struain 
Buaig Ghlinn Fraoine ... 
Buaig a'Ghaiplein Ohallda 

A Chracaireachd 

Spiocaireachd lasgaich 

Bldr Sliabh an t-Siorra, 
iSpaidsearachd Mhic na Ce&rda 
Cumha na peathar 
FhiltP Sliobia^gaidh 

IhiUe Bean a'Ghobha 

Bl^r Stroine 

Bratach Bhdn nan Stiubhartacli 
Oruinneachadh nan Hutharlanacli 


...J. Maclntyre, 1715. 

. . J. B. Mac Kenzie. 

Blar Thailesgeur 

Fdilte na h-bighe Mabal nic Thbmais K. Cameron, 1894. 
Fdilte an t-seanaileir Mhic Thbmais ...A. Paterson, H.L.I., 

P. M.MacCrimmon, 


'Sfada mar so tha sinii . 

An Co-chomunn... 

An ceapadh eucorach ... 


Diisgadh Mr-na-Bainnse 
Cogadh na sith ... 

Bldr Bhaterlii 

Togail bho tir 

Sldn gu'n till Eoinachan 

Cumha 'Chleirich 

Fdilte Shedrais dig 

Fdilte Thigheama Oig Dhungallain . 

Fdilte Neill Oig 

Is e do bheatha Edghain 

... J. Dall Mac Kay. 

... Ed. Mac Donald of 

J. Mac Kay, 1815. 


With nineteen pibrochs, of which name and date and composers are all 
alike unknown. 

400 Appendix. 


(From the Glasgow Herald, April 7, 1900). 

" Oh first of garbs ! garment of happy fate, 
So long employed, of such an antique date, 
Look back some thousand years till records fail, 
And lose themselves in some romantic tale ; 
We'll find our god-like fathers nobly scorned 
To be by any other dress adorned." 

— Allan Bamsay. 

The " quelt," as very ancient writers called it, is one of 
the few things that are left to remind Scotland of its once 
distinctive nationality. Together with the Gaelic and the 
pipes, it makes Scottish history peculiar among the histories 
of countries. In no other land have the distinguishing 
marks of a nationality that, as a separate kingdom, has 
ceased to exist been retained in almost all their original 
purity. Of the three things, the kilt is perhaps the most 
interesting. The language and the music have been, and 
are, confined to the people of the Highlands, either in or 
out of the Highlands ; but the kilt, while no longer the 
every-day wear of Highland people, has found its way into 
non-Highland circles, and the tartan has become a fashion- 
able dress. But still, and this is a peculiar thing, it remains 
the Highland garb, and must, wheresoever seen, be associ- 
ated with a distinctive country and a distinctive people. 

The kilt is the most ancient of all garments. It is the 
development of the fig leaves of our first parents. Primitive 
man wrapped himself round with a piece of cloth, when he 
had cloth, caring little about the niceties of cut or fashion. 
When the cloth didn't hang properly he, quite naturally, 
tied it round his waist with a string, and in so doing trans- 
formed his wrappings into a belted plaid, the immediate 
predecessor of the plaid and kilt. It was certainly not a 
sense of delicacy but a desire for outward show that led 

Appendix. 401 

primitive man to clothe himself. Cassar found the Britons 
with their bodies painted with woad, and they appeared 
naked in public. Afterwards they clothed themselves with 
skins of animals and with woollen garments, the latter of 
which was undoubtedly the string-bound plaid of the well- 
to-do Highlander. 

The earliest bit of evidence regarding the antiquity of 
the Highland dress in anything like its present form is a 
piece of sculpture which was dug in I860 from part of the 
ruins of the wall of Antoninus, built in a.d. 140. It shows 
figures representing very clearly the plaid and kilt, presum- 
ably in one piece. Another sculptured stone, found at Dull, 
Perthshire, gives the bonnet and shield of the Highlander ; 
while a third, discovered at St. Andrews, shows the arrange- 
ment of the belted plaid or full dress of the ancient Gael. 
Both the latter, now in the Museum of Antiquaries, Edin- 
burgh, are of unknown antiquity. Then in a.d. 204 we find 
Herodian, a classical writer, saying that the Caledonians 
were only partly clad ; and in a.d. 296 a Roman writer, in 
a eulogy of the Emperor Constantinus, calls the Picts 
hostilibus seminudis, half-clad enemies. European his- 
torians, as a matter of fact, almost always called the Gael 
of Alban half-naked. Besides, we have Gildas, the earliest 
of British writers, saying that the Picts were dressed only 
with cloth round the loins, a rude form of the plaid evi- 
dently. And, while both Caesar and Tacitus assure us that 
the Britons were precisely the same people as the Gauls, in 
manners, religion, appearance, and customs, we also read, in 
other writings of the same date, that the Gauls " wore coats 
stained with various colours." Also as a very ancient writer 
on Scotland tells us : — 

" The other pairb Northerne are full of raountaines, and very rud 
and hornelie kind of people doeth inhabite, which is called Reid 
Schankes, or Wyld Scottish. They be clothed with ane mantle, 
with ane schirt fachioned after the Irish manner, going bare-legged 
to the knie." 

These things all indicate a people partially clad in cloth 
which was not all of one colour, and it is not stretching the 

402 Appendix. 

inference very far to identify the garb with the latter-day 
dress of the Scottish Highlander. 

Let us come now to times of which more or less authentic 
history treats. The first historical reference we find is con- 
tained in the Icelandic Sagas. When the death of Malcolm 
Canmore plunged Scotland into anarchy, Magnus Olafson, 
King of Norway, was ravaging the west coast and securing 
a firm hold of the Hebrides for his own country. On his 
return from that expedition in 1093, the Sagas relate, he 
adopted the costume of these western lands, and " his fol- 
lowers went bare-legged, having short kirtles and upper 
wraps, and so men called him 'Barelegs.'" The seal of 
Alexander I., whose reign began in 1107, shows him in 
Highland dress, and as the same seal was used by David I. 
(1124) and Malcolm IV. (1153), we are quite justified in 
concluding that these monarchs actually wore what they 
were represented on their seal as wearing. Such a dress 
must certainly have existed at that time. 

Then, dating from 1350, we have a sculptured representa- 
tion of a chief attired finely in Highland dress, and in 1471 
John, Bishop of Glasgow, treasurer to King James III., in 
an account for tartan for the use of the King, gives the 
following item : — " For a yard and a half, ^£'1 10s. (Scots of 
course), and the colour blue." Half a yard of " double 
tartane " for the Queen cost 8s. James V. made a hunting 
expedition into the Highlands in 1538, and a Highland 
dress was provided for the occasion. The account of the 
King's treasurer shows that it consisted of " a short High- 
land coit," hose of " tertane," and a " syde Heland sarkis," 
all for the " Kingis Grace." The last article was presumably 
an unusually long shirt. 

John Lesley, Bishop of Ross, writing in 1578, says the 
garments of his day consisted of a short woollen jacket and 
a covering of the simplest kind for the thighs, more for 
decency than for protection from cold. About 1580 a 
writer with a turn for rhyming described the dress of the 
Highlanders thus : — 

Appendix. 403 

" Their shirtes be very straunge, 
Not reaching past the thigh, 
With pleates on pleates they pleated are, 
As thick as pleates can lie," 

which was a very good and concise description of the plaid 
as it then was. Another writer, in Certayne Mattere Con- 
cerning Scotland, pubhshed in London in 1603, says the 
Highlanders " delight in marbled cloths, especially that have 
long strips of sundrie colours .... with the which, rather 
coloured than clad, they suffer the most cruel tempests that 
blow in the open fields, in such sort that, in a night of snow 
they sleep sound." From A Modern Account of Scotland, 
printed in 1679, also in London, we learn that "the High- 
landers wear slashed doublets, commonly without breeches,, 
only a plad tyed about their wastes, thrown over one 
shoulder, with short stockings to the gartering place ; their 
knees and part of their thighs being naked ; others have 
breeches and stockings all of a piece of plad ware." A 
writer of 1710 supplements this by saying, " they wear 
striped mantles of divers colours called plaids"; a statement 
which brings the evidence to a date so recent as to render 
the calling of further witnesses unnecessary. That the kilt 
is a pure outgrowth of Scottish life there is no gainsaying. 
It could have been imported from Ireland only, and that it 
was not is proved by the two facts, that the colony of Irish . 
Scots who settled in Argyllshire never overran Scotland, and 
that the checkered plaid was worn in Scotland at dates 
earlier than it can be proved to have been worn in Ireland. 
The complete outfit of a Highland chief in the middle of 
the eighteenth century makes rather a formidable list. 
Here it is : — 

Full-trimmed bonnet. 

Tartan jacket, vest, kilt, and cross-belt. 

Tartan belted plaid. 

Pair of hose, made up from cloth. 

Tartan stockings, with yellow garters. 

Two pairs of brogues. 

Silver-mounted purse and belt. 

Target with spear. 

404 Appendioc. 


Pair of pistols and bullet mould. 


Knife and fork. 

The garb was completed by a feather, or, in the case of 
the common people, a tuft of heather, pine, holly, or oak, 
in the bonnet. Personal decoration was always considered 
a more important matter than home decoration or even 
home comforts. 

Hair was used for making clothing at one time, for we 
are told Ossian Fin Mac Coul was " arrayed in Hieland 
plaidis of hair," but wool was the general material, and so 
long as wool was worn, so long — it is said — was rheumatism 
.unknown in the Highlands. In colours green and black 
predominated, with an occasional stripe of red. The number 
of colours indicated the rank of the wearer, a King or a 
Chief having seven, a Druid six, and other nobles four, 
while, the very poor people had their plaids plain. The 
dyes were got from herbs, and the colours are said to have 
been so " fast " as to keep for two hundred years. The 
Celts were proud of the grandeur of their tartans, and an 
old song makes one of them, when wooing a Lowland lass, 

" Bra sail the sett o' your braid tartan be 
If ye will gang to the Highlands wi' me." 

The rigorous Disarming Act, passed in 1747, created 
what was perhaps the most critical time in the history of 
the tartan. The pipes and the tartan were banned as 
treasonable things, and marks of extreme disloyalty to the 
House of Hanover. The law expressly enacted that 
"neither man nor boy, except such as are employed as officers 
and soldiers, shall, on any pretence, wear or put on the 
clothes commonly called Highland clothes, viz., the plaid, 
philabeg or little kilt, trowse, shoulder-belts, or any part 
whatsoever of what peculiarly belongs to the Highland garb, 
and that no tattan or party-coloured plaid or stuff shall be 
used for greatcoats, or for upper coats, on pain of imprison- 
ment for six months, without the option of a fine, for the 

Appetidiic. 405 

first offence, and transportation for seven years for the 
second." This was stringent enough, and it nearly strangled 
all that was peculiar to the Highlands. But, thanks prin- 
cipally to the patriotic exertions of the then Duke of Mon- 
trose, the ban was removed in 1782, and the Highland garb 
restored to favour. It is now worn by five British regiments. 
The Gordons wear the Gordon tartan, the Camerons the 
Erracht-Cameron, the Seaforths the Mac Kenzie, the Argyll 
and Sutherlands the Sutherland, and the Black Watch a 
special tartan closely resembling the Sutherland. Both 
battalions of the Gordons, and one each of the other four 
regiments, are now in South Africa. 

The Highland garb as we have it to-day is a compound 
of three varieties, all of which were worn in the seventeenth 
century. There was first the dress worn by the gentry — a 
shirt died with saffron and a plaid of fine wool tartan, with 
colours assorted so as to give the best possible effect. Then 
there was the dress of the common people — a shirt, painted 
instead of dyed, with a deerskin jacket above it, and the 
plaid, not always of tartan, worn over the shoulders instead 
of belted about the body. The third variety was the trews, 
but this cannot be traced farther back than 1538. It pro- 
bably came from Ireland, where it was the dress of the 
gentry from the earliest periods. 

The plaid proper consisted of a long piece of tartan care- 
fully plaited in the middle and bound about the waist in 
large and very particularly-adjusted folds. While the lower 
part came down from the belt to the knees, the upper, after 
various wrappings so as to cover the whole body, was fixed 
to the left shoulder with a brooch, leaving the right arm at 
liberty. In wet weather the plaid was thrown loose, and 
formed a complete covering for the body. The headdress, 
when there was any, was a round, flat bonnet, the stockings 
were cut from the web of tartan, and the shoes were made 
of skin shaped in the best possible way to the form of the 
foot. The original of the sporran was a large piece of goafs 
or badger's skin profusely ornamented, which hung in front, 
and served as a pocket. 

406 Appendix. 

There seems to have been a time, before the dress 
developed into its present form, when the belted plaid and 
the trews were worn together. In 1656 a certain Thomas 
Tucker, who reported on the settlement of the revenues 
of excise and custom in Scotland, says one of his collectors, 
in order to avert the antipathy of the natives to an excise- 
man, " went clad after the mode of the country, with belted 
playde, trowses, and brogues." " In sharp winters," says a 
writer of 1680, " they wear close trouzes, which cover the 
thighs, legs, and feet ; " while at the Battle of Killiecrankie, 
in 1715, " there were several of the common men died in 
the hills, for, having cast away their plaids at going into 
battle, they had not wherewith to cover them but their 
shirts ; whereas many of the gentlemen that instead of short 
hose did wear trewis, though they were sorely pinched, did 
fare better in their short coats and trewis than those that 
were naked to the belt." 

By and by, however, the belted plaid and the trews gave 
way to the plaid and the kilt as we now have them. It 
cannot be said, indeed, that there ever was a period in 
which the trews held anything like universal sway. The 
transition was rather from the original form of the loosely 
wrapped plaid to the present form of the dress. There is a 
story to the effect that an English tailor named Parkinson 
or Ralliston invented the kilt in 1715 or 1745 — it is a 
somewhat vague story — and both Pennant and Sir John 
Sinclair accept it as truth. Pennant, himself an English- 
man, may be excused, but the man who edited the Statistical 
Account of Scotland might have known better. The Earl 
of Moray of Charles I.'s day wore the kilt, and Lord Archi- 
bald Campbell, in Records of Argyll, shows two pictures, 
one of 1672 and one of 1693, in both of which the kilt can 
be plainly seen. Besides, the Highlanders wore it in the 
rebellion of 1715. It is carrying conjecture a bit too far to 
contend that the Saxons, who were able to introduce very 
few of their customs among the Celts, introduced the 
national dress. The simple fact seems to be that the 
change from the belted plaid, with the plaid and trews here 

Appendix. 407 

and there, to the plaid and kilt, took place when the alter- 
ing circumstances of the people made continuous labour a 
necessity, and also, therefore, a convenient and inexpensive 
working outfit. 

It gives one an insight into the habits of the times to 
read that the managers of the piping competition held in 
Edinburgh in 1783, apologised to the public for the defici- 
ency in dress. The competitors, they said, having no pro- 
spect of appearing " before so magnificent and great a com- 
pany," had nothing in view in quitting their distant 
dwellings but the competition at Falkirk, where their in- 
struments alone were essential. In 1785, however, candi- 
dates were warned to appear "in the proper Highland habit," 
which has since held good. Pipers' dress was sometimes 
stylish enough even in the middle of the eighteenth century, 
for we read that in a procession of the Royal Company of 
Archers in Edinburgh in 1734 there was " one Highland 
piper who was dressed in scarlet richly laced." 

In the present-day dress, as is well known, the upper part 
of the plaid is disjoined from the lower, and made up so as 
to resemble the ancient form. The kilt itself is plaited so 
as to resemble the lower half of the plaid, but as a matter 
of fact, it is always too well plaited to be more than a far- 
off imitation. When properly made, the garb is certainly 
one of the most picturesque in the world. It is not so well 
adapted for the hillside as the old was, having been " im- 
proved " too much, but it is remarkable as showing how 
closely mankind clings to habits and costumes which experi- 
ence has proved suitable, and which is entwined into the 
history and traditions of their particular race. As to its 
suitability for war, a great deal has been said in connection 
with the present operations in South Africa, and it has been 
laid to the charge of the tartan that it not only betrays 
the presence of the wearer, and makes him a target 
for the enemy's sharp-shooters, but also exposes the soldier 
to all sorts of chills, and the attacks of all the vermin that 
crawl over the ground on which he has often to sleep. 
There is no use denying the fact that there is a great deal 

408 Appendix. 

of truth in this, and if the Government press their proposals 
for the reform of Army dress, and include in these proposals 
the abolition of the kilt as a fighting garment, it seems as if 
there will not be one half the outcry there would have been 
in the same circumstances before the war begun. The 
campaign has undoubtedly revealed the short-comings of the 
kilt as a part of active service dress, but that is no reason 
why it should be altogether abolished. Sentiment can be 
satisfied by retaining the kilt for parade purposes and 
garrison duty, while common-sense will indicate that senti- 
ment, unless it can be proved to be very strong indeed, 
must have little voice in deciding what is best in the face of 
the enemy. It would certainly be bad policy to totally dis- 
sociate the Highland regiments from their distinctive 
tartans. Recruiting in Scotland is not what it might be, 
and when the Highland regiments cease to be distinctively 
Highland it will decline still further. If the authorities 
wish to foster the military enthusiasm of Highlanders they 
cannot do better than foster all that pertains to their part 
of the kingdom. Besides, the tartan is not now the badge 
of a rebellious remnant, but of a race that is loyal to the 
empire of which it is a worthy part, and considering the 
high position the kilted regiments hold in the British army, 
it is not too much to expect that their peculiar dress should 
be left to them, for use in all possible circumstances. 

The war has given a decided impetus to the general trade 
in tartans. The demand from the regulars remains practi- 
cally stationary, as the number of men wearing the High- 
land uniform is always the same. Among Scottish Volunteer 
regiments, however, the kilt is coming more and more into 
favour, and quite a number of additional " Highland com- 
panies" have been formed recently. The 6th V. B. Gordon 
Highlanders is the only battalion in the Highland Brigade 
unprovided with the national garb, the Government having, 
owing to " financial difficulties," declined to supply the 
dress. The honorary colonel, Mr. J. Gordon Smith, has, 
however, now given the regiment £\500 to enable the men 
to wear their territorial uniform, and it is almost certain 

Appendix. 409 

that the Government will supply the regiment with the kilt 
in the future. But it is from fashionable civil life that the 
bulk of the increased demand comes. The headquarters of 
the kilt-making industry — for it is an industry — are in 
Glasgow, but the principal market is in London. The 
demand in the Metropolis for the Highland dress is very 
extensive, and the biggest firm of Glasgow manufacturers 
are kept continually employed fulfilling orders from the 
South. The favourite tartans are, naturally, those of the 
kilted regiments, but the fashionable Highland dress con- 
sists of the kilt with an ordinary dinner jacket above it — 
the full outfit would be too Highland for London drawing- 
rooms. In Scotland the formation of clan societies has, in 
the cities, revived interest in the different tartans, but in the 
real home of the kilt, the fastnesses of the Highlands, the 
dress is practically extinct. A few old men wear it, as well 
as some of the better class residents, visitors sometimes wear 
it, while retainers wear it as a sort of livery ; but among the 
people themselves it is, to all intents and purposes, obsolete. 
The garb of old Gaul has ceased to be the at-home dress of 
the Highlander, and become the evening dress of the 
fashionable who would ape a Highland connection, and the 
mark of the Highland wanderer, who far from home stands 
by home customs out of patriotic love for his home land. 
We may regret the turn of events, but there is no use 
blinking simple facts. — W. L. M. 



Aberdeen, 171, 226 

Aberdeenshire, pipesin 153 

"Abide with me" at Omdur- 

man, 154 

A Cholla mo run 92, 307, 311, 

Africa, engravings found in,... 31 

A Ghla.-- M/ieur, 76, 363 

Aiken, Williaui, piper, 162 

Airdrie, 285 

Albyn'x Anthology, 321, 340 

Aldershot, i 45 

Alexauder, G. W 138 

Alexandria, a Mac Crimmon in, 261 

Alister Mac Cholla Chiotaich, 311 

Allan, James, piper, 189 

AUoway'sAuld Haunted Kirk, 223 

Alma,. pipes at, 128 

Altimarlach, battle of, 337 

American War, pipes in, 133 

A mliic Jainmhic aheumaii.... 363 

Amoaful, battle uf, 133 

Am port leathach, 352 

Aniierson, Win., 173 

Antiquaries, Scottish Society 

of 116 

Antoninus, the Wall of, 15 

Antwerp, pageant in, 225 

Applecross 278 

"Apprentice surpasses his 

master, The," 351 

Arabian instrument, an, 31 

Argyll and Sutherland High- 
landers, the, 137, 216 

Argyllshire, a cave in 250 

Argyllshire Highlanders, the, 136 

Argyll, the Earl of 50 

Argyll, the eighth Duke of,.... 202 

Armadale, 263 

Armagh, fighting at, 51 

Arroyo-de-Molinos, pipes at, 128 


Arundel, Richard Earl of 40 

Ashanti War, pipers in, ... 134, 138 

Assaye, battle of, 120, 129 

Assyut 341 

Atbara, battle of the, 134 

Athenians and pipes, 35 

AthoU, excursion into, 20 

Atholl, Earl of, 343 

Autobiagraphy of a Scottish 

Borderer, The 179 

Awa', Whigs, awa, 127 

Aytoun, Professor, 113 

Bahylonian instruments, 31 

Bacon, Lurd, 17 

Badenoch, 229 ; a piper of, ... 164 

Baird, Major William 133 

Balaclava, the 93rd at, 125 

Balmoral, 291 

Baluaves, Henry, of Ardra- 

dour, 289 

Balrines, battle of 50 

Bannockburii, battle of, 38, 116, 271 

Bannocks o' Barley Meal, 140 

Barbreck, the laird of, 324 

Barra, the Mac Neills of, 16 

Bealach ?ta BroU/e, battle of, 301 

Beauly .' 90, 320 

Beauties of Gaelic Poetry, The, 315 

Bean Mh 363 

Bellside 275 

Bencuillein, battle of, 362 

BenDorain, 27 

Bennet, George, piper, 162 

Berwick 194 

Bett, compiler of pipe music, 109 

Beverley, carvings at, 44, 156 

Biggar 171 

Birse, the parish of 361 

Black Chanter of Chattan, the, 228 

Blackie, Professor, 75, 85, 288, 316 




Black Watch pipers, 125, 133, 134 
137, 138, 154, 160, 220 

Black, William 201 , 288 

Blane, Neil, piper, 188 

Blar liine 363 

Bodaich nam Briogais 355 

Bo'ness, carving found at, 34 ; 

witches burned at, 224 

Bon Oaultier Ballads, The, ... 113 

Border Minstrelsy, 178 

Borderers, the, 137 

Boreraig, 262,263 

Botanic Gardens, Glasgow,. ... 219 
Bothwell Bridge, battle of, 127, 326 

Boston, carvings at 44 

Boyne Water, 208 

Braes of the Mist, the, 350 

Brahan Castle 283 

Brakenrig, .Tames, piper 162 

Breac, Donald, piper, 343 

Breadalbane Gathering, the, 335 
B read al bane Fenoibles, the,... 219 
Breadalbane, Marquis of, 278, 279, 


Bridgeton, the piper of, 188 

Britons and pipes : . . 21 

Brose and Butter 140 

Broun, Edmoud. piper, 162 

Brown, Major-General G., ... 136 

Brussels, pipes in, 46, 340 

Buchanan, George, 23, 46 

Burohhardt, W., 32 

Burns, Rubert, 76, 99, 353 

Byron, quotation from 122 

Calder, J. T., 255 

Cameron, Alexander,. 281, 283, 284 
Cameron Highlanders, pipers 

of, 131, 134, 137, 215, 321 

Cameronians, tlie, 137, 219 

Cameron, Colin, 281, 283, 285 

Cameron, Donald, piper, 104, 277, 
- . 280, 284 

Cameron, Keith 283 

Cameron of Lochiel,...321, 327, 343 

Camerons' Gathering 343, 345 

Campbell, Alexander, 340 

Campbells are Coming, 129, 210, 
213, 312 
Campbell, Colonel, of the Sea- 

forths 121 


Campbell, Duncan 285 

Campbell, Frederick, of Isla, 275, 

Campbells, hereditary pipers, 275 
Campbell, James C, Royal 

piper, 154 

Campbell, J. F.,...16, 59, 105, 106, 
107, 238, 364 
Campbell, Lord Archibald, ... 240 
Campbell, Lieut.-Col. of Glen- 

lyon 290 

Campbell, Sir Colin, 128, 207 

Campbell, Sir John of Glen- 

orchy 337 

Oaber Feidh, 341 

Cairns, Thomas, piper, 162 

Cairo, occupation of 220 

Caithness, pipes in,... 159, 163, 242 
254, 336, 337, 339 

Gailleach LiatJi Rarsair 246 

Oaimbeul, Iain Ban 336 

Caledonian Pocket Companion, 321 

Cambrensis, Giraldus, 35, 62 

Candahar, Battle of, 132 

Canmore, Malcolm 13, 356 

Canntaireachd, 87, 102 

Canterbury Tales, the, 40 

Caraid nan Gaidheal, 56 

Cailes wi' the Breeks, 835, 337 

Carrick, customs in, 158 

Oathkin, Rutherglen and, 256 

Celtic Magazine, The 235, 273 

Celtic Monthly, The,....S6, 131, 364 

CeolMbr, 79, 111 

Cha till mi tuille, 12, 313, 318 

Chalilean instruments, 31 

Chattan, the Clan, 40, 228, 304 

Chaucer, 40, 76 

Cliarlie, Brince,... 52, 90, 113, 118, 
121, 226, 227, 229, 266 

Charles I,, King, 117 

Charles II., King 329 

Chisholm, the, 228 

Cirencester, carvings in 156 

Glach-na-phiobair, 128 

Clan Ranald's March, 290 

Clarence, Duke of, 159 

Clark, George, piper, 129 

Clark, James, piper, 163 

Claverhouse, General 127 

Club of True Highlanders, the, 283 




Cluny Castle, 229 

Cteiny MaoPherson, 229 

Cochilby's Sow 155, 161 

Ciackof the North, the 139, 140 

Cogadh na Sith,... 76, 131, 132, 363 

Coil Kitto 92, 307, 336 

Coll, the Mac Leans of 274 

Complaynt of Scotland,... 18, 35, 48 

Cona, the Glen 339 

Contin, burning chapel at, 302 

Coomassie, pipers at 134, 138 

Coventry performance in 50 

Craigellaohie, 1 08 

Craignish, 324 

Cremona, 258, 264 

Crimea, the 138, 207 

Cromdale Hill 128 

Cruackan a' Cheathaich, 350 

Oruinneachadh nan Oamaron- 

ach 344 

Crusaders' March, the, 140 

Cuidad Rodrigo, Battle of, ... . 129 
CuUoden, Battle of, 56, 58, 113, 229 

Cumberland, Duke of 113, 114 

Gnmha no Ohlohin, ... 266 

Cumha Ruaraidh Mhoii; 330 

Cunningham, Allan, 99 

Dalkeith, 49, 172 

Dalmarnook, 256 

Dairy (Ayrshire), 226 

Dalziel, Sir John Graham, .... 36 

Danrach Eohhi, 91 

Dargai, pipes at, 123, 127, 128 

Davidson, Mr., of tulloch, 277, 278 

Delhi, a camp at, 217 

Derby, 227 

Desperate Battle of Perth, the, 301 

Dingwall, pipes in, 52, 278 

Disarming Act, the, 58 

Don, the Eiver, 226 

Druida, the, 19, 24, 76, 100 

Drummossie Moor, 229 

Drumouchter, 226 

Dunad, Castle of, 310 

Du art, Mao Leans of, 274 

Dunbar, poet 154, 158 

Dundee, 172 

Dunderave, Castle of, 193 ; 

ghostly piper of 251 

Dunfcirmline, 13 


Dunivaig, Castle of 307, 310 

DuuKonald's Tune, 126 

Dunstafifnage, Castle of,... 310, 357 

Duntroon Castle 92, 309, 311 

Duntroon's Salute, 311 

Duntulm Castle, 269 

Duuvegan Castle,... 102, 104, 119, 

132, 239, 248, 262, 266, 268, 

270, 272, 273, 351, 362 

Dumbarton, 171 

Dumfries 171, 277 

Durer, Albreoht, 32, 46, 225 

Duroha, the Hill of, 235 

Durinish 267 

Durham, 190 

Durness, 253 

Edinburgh, 118, 153, 158, 162, 
174 ; the Duke of, 164 ; 
the pipers of, 170; com- 
petitions in 270, 355 

Edinburgh Castle 256 

Edinburgh Gourant, 118 

Edward II., 38; IIL, 39; 

VI., 47; VII., 277 

Eglinton, Earl of, 290 

Elandslaagte, Battle of, 135 

End of the Little Bridge, the, 107 

Ettrick, the Kiver, , 127 

Fair Maid of Perth, The, 303 

Falkirk, 176, 290; pipers from, 

133, 138; Tryste in, 289 

Falmouth 117 

Familji Legend, The, 20O 

Farquharson, Eev. John, 14 

Faust, the Story of, 234 

Fhitair mi pbg o laimh an Sigh, 329 

Fife, Earl of, 280 

Fife, Duke of 284 

JFindlater, Piper, 128, 129 

Finlagan Isle and Loch 240 

"Fionn," translations by, 330, 357, 


Fisher, Alex 202 

Flodden, Battle of 27, 46, 180 

Flowers of the Forest, the, 

143, 154, 160 

FoUart, Loch, 262 

Forbes, John, piper, 162 

Forbes, Sir Charles, 285 




Fort Rohya, Battle of, 143 

Fort Washington, Battle of,.. 133 

Prance, pipes in, 38 

Fraser's Regiment, 119 

Gairloch lairds and pipers, 165, 272 

Galbraith, Donald, piper, 284 

Galbraith, Robert, piper, 1 38 

Galloway, a well in, 163 

Gallowgate Barracks, Glasgow, 218 

Gardner, Rev. Mr 361 

Gesto Book, the, 103, 104, 107 

Gesto, Capt. Mao Leod of, 103, 104 

Gesto Collection of Music 110 

Gilbert, W. S , 74 

Gille Calum, 30, 91, 356 

Gillierhroist, :.... 104, 319 

Glasgow Cathedral 22-t, 256 

Glasgow, Court Housein 217 

Glasgow Highlanders, the, ... 294 

Glasgow, old piper in, 321 

Glen, David, pipemaker,... 53, 110 
Glen, J. & R., pipemakers. 41, 104 

Glen, Messrs, .'. 109 

Glencoe, 93 

Glencoe, Massacre of, 338 

Glendaruel, 332 

Glenelg, 258 

Glenesk, 327 

Glenfiunan, Prince Charlie at, 121 

Glenfinin, rout of, 67 

Glengarry, 90 

Glengarry, the piper of, 147 

Glengarry, war tune of,. 319 

Glenlivcli, Battle of 116 

Glenluce 171 

Glenorchy, Sir J. Campbell of, 337 

Glenorchy, the bard of 26, 199 

Glenquoicb, story of, 249 

Good Hope, Cape of, 141 

Gordon Castle, piper at 135 

Gordon, Capt., of the Seatorths. 121 

Gordon, Duke of 81 

Gordon, General, 154 

Gordon, Highlanders, the, 128, 131 
132, 135, 137, 141, 210, 220 

Gordon, Lord Louis, 266 

Gourock, 267 

Govan Police Band, 294 

Grant, Clan, Gathering of,.... 109 
Grant, J. W. , of Elchies, 109 


Grants of Glenmoriston 229 

Grants of Strathspey, 229 

Greek sculpture,,,.,, 34 

Greenock, 267 

Grim Donald's sweetheart,.... 363 

Guun, John, piper 163 

Gunn, Wm., piper 109, 188 

Habbie Simpson, piper of Kil- 

barohan, 155, 185 

Hal o' the Wynd 303 

Hamburg, carvings in 157 

Hamilton, Wm., Govan, 294 

Hamilton, Wm., of Bangour, 176 

Handel, 77 

Hanover, the House of, 56 

Harlaw, Battle of, 26, 42, 108 

Harris, a story of 236 

Haughs o' Cromdale, the, 82, 128, 


Hastie, John, piper, 46, 180 

Hastie, Eobin, piper 179 

Hebrides, Dr. Johnson in, 73 

Henderson, Peter, pipe maker, 109 

Henry VII 44 

Henry Vin., 46 

Heriot, the parish of, 173 

Heritable Jurisdiction Aboli- 
tion Act 258 

Hey Johnnie Cope, 122, 128, 132, 
139, 140 

Highland Brigade, The, 141 

Highland Laddie, the, 140 

Highland Light Infantry, the, 134, 


Highland Soottische, the 213 

Highland Society of London, 53, 

72, 130, 270, 278, 281,282, 288 
Highland Society of Scotland, 270, 

Historical Proofs nf the JHigh- 

Innders, 54 

Hiistory of the Peninsular War, 129 

Hogg, Jamos 99 

Holyrood Palace, 51, 158, 256 

Honeyman, James, piper, 138 

Houeyman, John, piper, 138 

Hope, General, of Pinkie, 143 

Houston, Rev. Andrew, 159 

Hull, carvings at, 44 

Hume, Rev, Alex., , 51 




Hundred Pipers, the, 9 

Hunt, Leigh 193 

Huntly, Marquis of, 283 

Hyder All defeated, 120 

Iain Dall, 28, 165, 352 

Jain Lorn, 25 

lain Otihar 258, 263 

I have had a Kiss of. the King's 

Hand, 329 

Inveraray 202, 312 

Inverlochy, Battle of,.... 25, 42, 76, 

Inverness 20, 153, 160, 281 

Inverurie, battle at, 119, 266 

lona, 13 

Ireland, 19, 21 

Ireland, the claim of, 54 

J risk Masque, The 170 

Irish Sketch Booh, The, 196 

Is fada mar so tha sinn, 323 

Isles, Donald Lord of the 20 

Islay, how it lost the music, 242 

Islay, 307 

Islay, Hector Mao Lean of, ... 240 
Italy, the pibroch not from, ... 55 

Jacobites, the, 56, 128 

Jamaica Street, Glasgow, 

plaj'er in, 72 

James L, 20, 40, 51, 158; 

IV., 170; VL, 21, 49; 

VIL 118 

Jedburgh 179, 180 

Jenny Dang the Weaver, 36 1 

Jew Exile, The 198 

Jerome, St., 60 

John Garbh of Raasay's La- 
ment, 332 

John o' Groat's house, 153, 159 

Johnson, Ben, 170 

Johnson, Dr., 73, 262, 274 

Johnstone, John, piper, 171 

Johnstone, Sir Archibald, 195 

Keene, Charles, artist 206 

Keill, caveat, 250 

Keith 171 

Kempelen, Baron Von, 88 

Kent, a Mao Crimmon in, 267 

Keppoch, the bard of, 24 


Kessock Ferry, 283 

Kidnapped, 293 

Kilbarchan, 155, 184, 195 

Kilellan, the hill of, 250 

Killychrist, 319 

Kinghorn, 173, 175 

King of Pipers, the, 284 

Kintail, a Mac Crimmon in,... 264 

Kintail, the Lord of, 265, 266 

Kintyre, a cave in, 250 

Kiroaldy, story of , 52 

Kirke, Thomas, 196 

Kirriemuir, 173 

Kitchener, Lord 135, 154 

Knox, John, a book of 14 

Kourgave Hill, 42nd at, 128 

Kyleakin, ...'. 276 

Lairg, village of 234 

Lament for the Children, the, 266 

Lament for the Harp Tree, the 363 

Lasan Phadruig Ghaogaich,... 352 

Lauder, 172 

Leitch, John, 331 

Leith, 191 

Leitli Roads, warships in - 118 

Leslie, General, 127 

Lewis, piper from 135 

Linlithgow 44, 171 

Lochaber, the Bard of 25 

Loohaberno More, 93, 153, 207, 

216, 327 

Lochaber, pipes in, 1 53 

Loohiel, Cameron of, 343 

Loch of the Sword, the 344 

Loch Lomond, 331 

Londonderry invested, 118 

Lothian, Lord,...! 117 

Lords of Session, playing the, 217 

Lorimer, Robert, piper, 172 

Lost Pibroch, The, 227 

Louis XIV. and XV., 38 

Lovat, Lord, 153 

Luoknow, the story of,.... 121, 128, 
133, 138, 313 

Mac Arthur, Archibald, 270 

Mao Arthur, Charles, 290 

Mao Arthur, John and Donald, 27 

Mac Arthur, Professor 290 

Mao Arthurs, the, 268 




Mac Cailein Mdr, 326 

MaoCodrum, Iain, 26, 199 

Mac Coll, John 285 

Mac Crimmon, Donald Ban, ... 315 
Mac Crimmon, John Dubh, 277, 280 
Mac Crimmon, Donald Dubh, 317 
MacCrimmons, the,....79, 102, 103, 
104, 105, 119, 165, 239, 242, 
248, 249, 258 
Mae Crimmon, Donald Mdr, 323, 

Mac Crimmon, Patrick, 324, 329, 

Mac Crimmon's Lament,... 261, 266, 


MacCulIoch, Dr., 80, 196 

Mac Donald, Alex., ..•^...14, 24, 284 
Mac Donald, A., of Glengarry, 319 

Mac Donald (Coll Kitto), 310 

MacDonald, David, 39 

Mao Donald, Donald, 108, 109, 

110, 277 

Mae Donald, Dr. K. N 110 

Mac Donalds, fighting at Con- 
tin 302 

MacDonald, General Hector, 96 

MacDonald, Hugh, 256 

Mac Donald, Joseph, 108 

MacDonalda, march of the, 311 

Mac Donald, Murdoch 21,22 

Mac Donald of Clan Ranald, 290 
MacDonaldsofLochMoidarb. 27 1 
Mac Donald of the Isles 240, 242, 

268, 290 
MacDonald, Rev. Patrick, ... 108 

Mac Donald's Salute, 362 

Mao Donald, Sir Alex. , 311 

MacDonald, William, piper, 164 

Mao Donel, Irish piper, 164 

Mac Donell, Alice C. 131 

MacDonells of Glengarry,... 90, 320 
Mac Donells, of Keppoch, the, 330 
Mac Dougall Gillies, J., piper, 

285, 331 

Mac Dougall, of Lome, 326 

MacEachern, Duncan 284 

MacEanric, lain Breac, 347 

MacFarlane, Andrew, Chief, 330 

MacParlane, Malcolm, 306 

Mac Farlane, Provost, Dum- 
barton 331 


Mac Gregor, a, 252 

Mac Gregors' Gathering, the, 340 

Mac Gregor, John 290, 358 

Mac Gregor, Sir John Murray, 153 

Mac Gregor of Euaro, 349 

Mao Gregor of Glenstrae, 349 

Mac Gregor pipers 275 

Mac Gregor, Patrick 289 

Mac lans of Glencoe, 93, 339 

Macintosh, Alex 138 

Mac Intosh's Lament, the, . . . 282, 
301, 304 

Macintosh, the 304 

Maelutyre, Duncan ^(Jjj, ... 26, 199 
Mac Intyres, hereditary pipers, 

38, 271 

Mac Ivor, Findlay, piper, 337 

Mac Kay, Angus, J 09, 110, 
224, 262, 263, 271, 276, 

277, 280, 304, 355, 364 

MacKay, Charles, 1.30 

Mac Kay, Clan Society , 135 

MacKay, Donald, 277, 332 

Mac Kay, James, 135 

Mac Kay, John {lain Dall), . . . 352 

MacKay, John 276 

Mac Kays, hereditary pipers, 272 

MacKay, Kenneth, 131, 132 

MacKay, Rev. Dr. George,... 160 

Mac Kenzie, A. C, 280 

MaoKenzie, Alex., 235, 273, 297, 


MacKenzie, Captain 278 

Mac Kenzies, Clan Song of, ... 342 
MacKenzie, Col. K. W. S.,.. 281 
Mao Kenzies, the country of, 302, 


MacKenzie, John Bane,... 103, 106, 

277, 278, 280, 284, 285, 291 

MacKenzie of Gairloch 28, 272 

Mao Kenzie, Kev. James, 40, 42, 

Mac Kenzie, John, author,.... 315 
Mac Kenzie, Lady Anne's Fare- 
well to Rosehaugh, 283 

Mac Kenzie, Mr., of Allan- 
grange, 278 

MacKenzie, Ronald, 135, 285 

MaoKenzie, Mr., of MQlbank, 280 

Mac Kenzie, Sir J. J. R 281 

Mac Kinnon, Robert, piper, ... 109 




MacKinnon, the Clan, 249 

Mao Laohlan, J.ohn, piper, 109, 129, 

Mao Laehlana' March, the,.... 355 

Mac Lean, clan music of, 110 

Mao Lean, Hector, of Islay, 240, 

Mac Lean, John Garve of Coll, 21 
Mac Lean's History of Celtic 

Langunr/p, 60 

Mac Lean the Clan, pipers of, 274 
Mao Lellan, piper of H.L.L,.. 13+ 

Mao Lennan, Alex., 282, 285 

Mao Lenn an, Donald 280 

Mao Lennans, the, 28t 

MaoLennau, William 284, 291 

MacLeod, Captain, of Gesto, 103. 
104, 321, 340 

MacLeod of Dunvegan, 28, 239, 

258, 267, 329 

MacLeod, Dr. Norman, 56 

MacLeod, Fiona, 288 

Mac Leod,.John Garbhof Raa- 

say 332, 334 

MacLeod, John, piper, 133 

Mac Leod, Kenneth, piper, ... 135 
MacLeod, Norman, Assynt. . 341 

Mao Leod of Glenelg, 28 

Mac Leod's Highlanders, 120 

Mao Leod of Raasay, 276 

MacLeod, Roderick, of Mao 

Leod, 329 

MacLeods 21, 102, 119 

Mac Leods' Salute, 362 

Mao Leods, the, of Gesto, 110 

MaoMhurich, Neil, Clan Eai)- 

aldbard 24, 26, 27, 224 

Mac Naughton, Alex., 116 

MacNeills of Barra, the, 16 

Mao Phedran, Donald, 284 

MacPhee, Donald, ... 109, 284, 285 

MacPherson. James, 14 

M ao Pherson's Lament, 353 

Mao Pherson, Malcolm 284 

MaoPherson of Cluny, 229, 275, 


Mac Pherson, Patrick, 86 

Mac Rae, Angus, 285 

Mao Rae, Duncan 302 

Mao Rae, Farquhar, 285 

MaoRae, John, 284 

Mao Raes' March, the, 301, 302 

Mac Ranald, Allan, of Lunilie, 319 

Magersfontein, Battle of, 94, 122, 

134, 135 

Maggie Lauder, 179 

Malcolm Canmore, 13, 356 

March of the Cameron Men, 122, 
134 288 

Maryburgh, 277, 281 

Matheson, Pipe-Major 159 

Mary Queen of Scots, 21 

Meaifourvonie, 320 

Meikle Ferry, 272 

M elhonrne 296 

Melrose Abbey, carvings in, 36 

Menteith, Eart of, 347 

Menzies, Piper Donald, 219 

Menzies, Sir Robert, 27 1 

Menzies, the i;lan, 38, 116, 301 

Methuen, General Lord, 135 

Middleton, Wm., piper, 132 

iVliserly, Miserable One's 

House, the, 324 

Mochaster, the Campbells of, 275 
Modei'n Account of Scotland, /I, 196 

Moladh Mairi, '.... 355 

Monkstad, 248 

Montrose, the army of, 127 

Mar Nighean Alasdair Mine 

Riiaraidh 306 

Morton, Earl of, 117 

Mozart, 77 

Mvch Ado About Nothing, .... 49 

Mull, Harper of, 22 

Mull, Island of, 248, 249, 270, 318, 


Munloohy, 278 

Munro, Neil, 89 

Munroe, Wm., of Aohany, .... 341 
Music of the Highland Clans, 267 
Musical Memoirs of Scotland, 36, 
163, 267 
Mutiny, the Indian,... 125, 138, 141 
My Faithful Fair One 139 

Napier, hii-torian, 129 

JSaples, a musician i>f, 64 

Napoleon, a storv of, 140 

Nativity, Catholic tradition of, 32 

Nero, oontorniate of, 33 

Nether Lochaber, 324 





Neukomm, the Chevalier 85 

Nevis, the River, 248 

Newcastle, Scottish army at, 117 

New College, Oxford, 39 

New Testament in Gaelic, 14 

Nineveh, sculptures in, 32 

Nith, the River 277 

Noah, the story of, 30 

Northampton, Earl of, 196 

North British Fusiliers, the, 117 
Northern Meeting, the, ... 282, 284 

North Inch of Perth, battle of, 40 

Northumberland, Duchess of, 189 

Northumberland, the piper of, 189 

Norwich, carvings in, 156 

Novogorod, Archbishop of, ... 63 

Nubar Fasha and pipes, 220 

Ogilvie, Mrs., poem by 230 

Old Mortality, quotation from, 188 

Olrig, parish of, 242 

Omdurman, battle of, 154 

Osborne, Queen Victoria's fun- 
eral from 154 

Ossian,'. 20, 50 

Ossianic poetry, 14, 54, 273 

Paderewski, 82, 97 

Feblis to the Play 41 

Peingowen, the farm of, 269 

Peninsular War, pipers in, ... 129 

Pennant, references from, 35 

Pentland's, Satanic dance on, 224 

Periwig Reel, the, 360 

Perth, pipers of, 51, 171 

Perth, competition at, 281 

Perthshire, expedition into,... 20 

Peterhead, superstition at,.... 226 

Pesth, piping at, 64 

Pibroch o' Donuil Dhu, 321 

Picts, the, 54 

Pictou, a Mae Kay died at,... 273 

Pififerari, the Italian, 64 

Philiphaugb, Battle of, 127, 326 

Piper's PuJe, the 127 

Piper's Stone, the 128 

Piper's Warning, the, 92 

Pinkie, Battle of, 347 

Pondicherry, fighting at, 121 

Popular Gaelic Song-i 315 


Popular Tales of the West . 

Highlands, i 105 

Port Novo, fighting at 120 

Prestonpans, Battle of, 52, 118, 347 

Priesthood, the Celtic, 19 

Prince Edward Island, 274 

Prince of Wales, the piper to, 164 

Prince's Salute, the, 1 05 

Princess of Thule, the, 165 

Procopius, historian, 15, 35 

Provincial Poets 173 

Puebla Heights, pipes at, 128 

PuncA, a joke from 205 

QuatreBraa, Battle of,.... 131, 132, 


Quebec, Battle of 119 

Quhale, the elan, 40, 228 

Quinish, in Mull, 22 

Quintillianus, Aristides, 35 

Ralph, Julian, war correspon- 
dent 93, 96 

Ramsay, Allan 328 

Ramsay, P. A 22 

Ranald, the clan, 24, 26, 271 

Rankins, hereditary pipers, ... 275 
Rannoch, dispute about, 343 ; 
the Menzies of, 271 ; a 

school in, 275 

Raonull Mac A ilean Oig, 363 

Baoghiill Odhar, a, cowardly 

piper, 126 

Reay Country, pipers from, 

132, 135, 272 ; college in, 273 

Records of Argyll, 240 

Bedgavntlet, story from, 252 

Reel o'TuUoch, the,. ..213, 261, 357 

Reformation, the, 42 

Eeid, James, piper, 118, 121 

Reid, Jamie, piper, 172 

Retreat, meaning of, 140 

Reveille, meaningof, 139 

Richard II., 40 

Richborough Castle, carvings at, 34 
Richmond and Gordon, Duke 

of, 125, 285 

Ripon Cathedral, carvings in, 156 
Ritchie, Alexander A., poet, 166 

Ritchie, James, piper, 176 

Robertson, Hugh, pipemaker,. 52 



- . PAGE 

Rob Roy, : 12, 153, 261 

Rob Roy's Lament, 355 

Rogart, the parish of, 342 

Komans, the, 15 ; pipes among, 34 
Rome, Italian shepherds in,-... 157 

Eory ilfdr's. Lament, 330 

Rosehall, estate of 235 

Ross, a Breadalbane piper,.... 165 

Rosa, Duncan 103, 107 

Rosslyn Chapel, carvings in, 44, 

[L56, 226 

Ross, William, piper, 103, 154, 284 

Ross-ahire Buffs, the, 129 

Routnf Mov, the, 266, 315 

Royal Highlanders,... 125, 133, 134, 

[137, 138, 154, 160, 220 

Royal Soots Fusiliers, the, 117, 137 

Royal Soots, the 137, 159 

Rutherglen, tradition of, 256 

Rutherglen and Cathhin, 256 

Suaraidh Ball, 21, 28 

Sarasate, 97 

Scale of the pipes, peculiari- 
ties of, 77,89 

Scottish Gael, Logan's 267 

Scottish. Life and. Character, ... 221 

Scott, Sir Walter, 39, 147, 178, 180, 

188, 287, 288, 297, 317, 321, 331 

Scots Guards, the, 137 

Scripture, pipes in, 31 

Seaforth, Colonel Mac Kenzie 

nf 281 282 

- Seafortii Highlanders, 121, 137', 135 

Seaforth, Lord, 285 

Sheriffmuir, Battle of, 42, 324, 347 

Sheriffmuir March, the, 346 

Shafpe, Archbishop, 163, 195 

Shakespeare 48, 49, 53, 196 

Shirt Battle, the 363 

Shon Mac Lean, Weddin' of,. 150 
Sister's Lament for her Bro- 
thers, The, 363 

Siuolair, George, Earl of Caith- 
ness, 337 

Sinclair, George, of Kiess 337 

Sinclair, Sir John, 338 

Skye, stories of, 90, 233, 239, 214. 
248, 319, 327 

Skye, pipers from, 132, 138 

Skye, funeral in .,. 153 


Skye, making roads in, 155 

Skye, college in, 165, 262 

Skye, island of 267 

Smith, Sydney, 193 

Snizort, Loch, 248 

Somerled's Lament 76 

South African War, pipes in, 93 

Spenser, 48 

Staffa ; 271 

St. Andrews, pipers of 48, 162 

Stewart, Donald, of In vernayle, 347 

Stewart, James,- piper, 1 34 

Stewart, The March of Clan,. 346 

Stewart, W . , Stirling, 50 

Stevenson, E. L 288,293 

Stirling, a complaint from, ... 162 

Stirling, court case at 50 

St. Giles, honouring 48 

St. James's Palace, pipes in,. 42 

St. Patrick 19 

Strathglasa, the village of, ... 198 

Strath-Conan, 280 

Strathpeffer 278 

Strathspey, tradition of, 358 

Stuart, Royal House of, 346 

Suatachan, story of, 303 

Sutherland, Duke of, 71 

Sutherland, Earl of 341 

Sutherlandshire, Mao Kays 

from, 272 

Sutherlandshire, stories of, 234, 


Sutherland, William, piper,.. 285 

Sutherland Rifle Volunteers,. 294 

Sydney, New South Wales, ... 296 

Sydney Scottish Volunteers,. 296 

Syme, Geordie , piper, 172 

Sysa, the Well of, 242 

Tales of the West Highlands,.. 238 

Tam o' Shanter 201, 223 

Tannahill, poet 22, 99 

Tarsus, excavations in, 32 

Tattoo, meaning of, 139 

Temple, services of the, 32 

Thackeray 196 

Theocritus 32 

Thogail nam bo 331 

Thomason, Major-General, 109, 110, 

Tigh Bhroinein, 325 




Tobermorj', a native of, 212 

Tomnahurich 238 

Tongue, competition in , 20^ 

Tongue, college at, 132 

Tongue, pipers from, 131, 132 

Too Long in this Condition, . . . 323 

Trotternish, 332 

TuUioh, Aberdeenshire, 357 

TuUoch, Strathspey, 358 

TuUoehgoruni, 73 

Tweed, the River, 176 

Tyrol, pibroch from the 55 

Uamh an Oir 248 

Uist, North, 26 

Ulva, the Island of 270 

Up an' Waur them a', Willie, 139 

Up in the Morning's no for me, 139 

Ure, Duncan, piper, 162 

Victoria, Queen, 133, 154, 277,279, 
[280, 281 

Vimiera, Battle of, 129 

Vittoria, Battle of 128, 129 

Wales, harpers of, 21 

Wallace, William, piper, 163 

Wandering Willie's Tale 252 

War or Peace 76, 131, 132,363 

Waterloo, pipers at,... 128, 131, 143 
Water of Leith, pipers of,... 49, 162 

Watsone, Richard, piper, 162 

Wauohope, General, 94 

We Return no More 261 

Whittier, quotation from, ... 146 

WhUlebinhie, 166, 202 

Whistle ower the lave o't, 224 

Whyte, Henry 330, 357, 364 

Wick, the Water of, 337 

Winchester School, arms of, 39 

Wigton 171 

Windsor, presentation at, 1 33 

Windsor, Queen's Funeral at, 154 

Wives of this Glen 335,338 

Women of this Glen, 93 

Woo'd an' Married an' a', 141 

Woodward, Richard, piper,... 47 

Worcester, Battle of 324 

Wotherspoon, James, piper, ... 133, 


Yarmouth, carvings at, 44 

Yha, the clan 228 

York Minster, pipes in 159