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The Author's Favourite Pipe. 

Photographed by the Threc-Colour Process. 

Blocks presented by Dr. Maitland Ramsay, of Glasgow. 

The drones are made on the model ot those attached to the Edinburgh Museum 
Pipe, i.e., without combing and with pear-shaped terminals. 



Some Reminiscences 


The Bagpipe 



M.D.. D.P.H., EDIN. 




,'^"S/c Library 



C/ia nigh na tha dh'uisge 's a'-mhuir ar cairdeas. . Q^. 3 








This little work is the outcome of a series of lectures 
given by me at intervals during the last twelve years 
to different Highland Societies. It is also an expression 
of the indignation which so much false criticism of the 
Great War Pipe of the Highlands, repeated in my 
hearing year after year, has aroused within me. 

I take this opportunity of apologising for the style 
and diction of the book — it is difficult for one so 
unused to the pen as I am, to change the spoken into 
the written word. 

The few sentences in Gaelic are spelt for the most 
part phonetically. 

My best thanks are due to all who have helped me 
in any way, and especially to those kind friends who 
have put themselves to much trouble and expense in 
their endeavour to add to my collection of Bagpipes. 

In two or three instances, I have spoken in depre- 
ciation of other peoples' writings, but the reputation of 
these writers stands too high to be affected by the criti- 
cisms of a single and unknown individual like myself. 

The motives which have impelled me to write have 
nothing personal in them. 

My whole life has been devoted to the relief of 
suffering, nor would I hurt for the sake of hurting, but 


if anything I hav^e said here in defence of the " dear 
old Bagpipe " should happen to give offence to any 
man, — "even unto the least of these," — I here and 
now heartily apologise. 

In conclusion, allow me to state that no one can 
be more alive to the many imperfections of this work 
— to its many inaccuracies — than I am ; therefore 
gentle reader, however severe your criticism other- 
wise may be, 

"... Accuse me not 
Of arrogance ..." 

A. D. F. 




I, — Introductory .. ... ... •• • 

11.— Do ... ••• 9 

III.— Do ... .. ... ••• 32 

IV.— A Well-Abused Instrument ... . 42 

v.— The Critics and the Bagpipe ... .. 44 

VI.— A Royal Instrument ... 5' 

VII.— The Why and the Wherefore ^. ... 56 

VIII.— Wanted : A Book on the Bagpipe .. 64 

IX.— Old New Year : A Reminiscence ... ... 7° 

X.— An Interesting Byway ... 77 

XL— The Delicately-Attuned Ear and the Bagpipe 81 

XII.— The Musician and the Bagpipe ... 93 

XIII.— A Highland Instrument ... ... 103 

XIV.— The Bagpipe, the National Instrument hi 

XV.— The Scottish Bagpipe ... ... ... 120 

XVI.— Bagpipe Influences at Work ... ... 129 

XVII.— Gaelic Song and the Bagpipe ... ... 139 

XVIII.— The Glamour of the Highlands ... 148 

XIX.— No Prehistoric Bagpipe in existence ... 153 

XX. — Ancient Myth and the Bagpipe ... 163 

XXL— Piper Pan ... ... ••• 167 

XXIL— Pallas Athene ... ... ... i79 

XXIIL— Theocritus and the Bagpipe ... ... 197 

XXIV.— The Classics and the Bagpipe ... 204 

XXV.— The Nativity and the Bagpipe ... ... 216 

XXVL— An Old Tradition ... .- ... 221 


XXVII. — The Romans and the Bagpipe ... ... 226 

XXVIII. — The Spread of the Bagpipe ... ... 237 

XXIX.— The Piper ... ... .. .. 254 

XXX. — The Bagpipe in Scotland ... ... 273 

XXXI. — Piping and Dancing dying out in the Highlands 300 

XXXIa. — Skye in 1876 ... .. ... 313 

XXXII.— The Chorus .. .. .. 348 

XXXIII. — The Great Highland Bagpipe .. 360 

XXXIV. — The Great Highland Bagpipe : Its Antiquity 380 

XXXV. — Mr Macbain and the Bagpipe ... 393 

XXXVI. — A Great War Instrument .. ... 404 

XXXVII.— The Pipe at Funeral Rites ... ... 413 

XXXVIII.— Bagpipe Music ... ... .. 420 

XXXIX. — Can the Bagpipe Speak? . ... 425 


(From photographs by J. P. Miller, Falkirk). 

The Author's Favourite Pipe ... ... Frontispiece 




German Band of 1739 ... ... ... 8 

Chanter and Drone Reeds 

Highland Pipe Reeds 

The Gheeyita of Spain ... ... ... 32 

Old Irish Bagpipes ... ••■ ••• ••• 4° 

Tuning up the Northumbrian Small Pipe ... 48 

An African Bagpipe ... •• ... ... S^ 

Photograph of Wooden Piper... ... ... 64 

Two Instruments allied to the Bagpipe ... ... 72 

An Old Print ... ... ... ... 80 

Two Specimens of Irish Stocks ... ... ... 88 

A French Piper ... ... .-• ••• 96 

The Magic of the Photograph ... ... ... 102 

"A Relic of Waterloo" ... ... ••■ 121 

The Cuisleagh Ciuil of Ireland ... ... ... 144 

The Pan Pipe ... ••■ ••• ••• '68 

A Bagpipe of "Ane Reed and Ane Bleddir " ... 184 

Italian Pifferari ... ... ••. ••• 208 

The Zampogna of Italy ... ... ... ... 216 

The Celtic Piva or Bagpipe of Northern Italy ... 232 

The Hungarian Bagpipe ... •• ••. ••. 243 

A Two-Drone French Chalumeau ... ... 244 




The French Chalumeau 

The Musette or French Bagpipe 

The Northumbrian Small Pipes . . ... 251 

The Great Irish Pipe ... ... ... ... 253 

The Piper ... ... ... ... ... 256 

The Great Two-Drone War Pipe of the Highlands .. 288 

African or Egyptian Bagpipe ... ... ... 356 

Old Bill of 1785 ... ... ... ... 360 

Bulgarian Pipe ... ... ... ... 368 

A Second Spanish Bagpipe ... ... ... 369 

Irish Bellows Pipe ... ... ... ... 392 

The Old Northumberland Bellows Pipe ... ... 396 

The Bellows Pipe of Lowland Scotland ... 400 




'T^HIS little book is the first serious attempt made 
■*■ to put the Story of the Bagpipe upon a proper 
footing, to trace its origin from ancient history, and 
to examine the claims of Greek and of Latin to its 

The task has been to me a fascinating one, and 
although still far from completion, I sigh farewell to 
it, with keen regrets. 

Some one of more scholarly attainments may one 
day — nay, will — I hope utilize my labours as a step- 
ping-stone to better things. 

I have dallied with the subject for years, for very 
love of it ; not caring much whether I ever finished 
the book or not. 

My Highland instinct discovered the importance 
of the task before it was well begun ; kept me at it — 
in a fitful manner it is true ! — when its magnitude 
dawned upon me and all but dispirited me ; and has 


guided me in my treatment of it right through the 

But if not a complete treatise on the Bagpipe, still 
as a small contribution to the subject it should appeal 
to the true Highlander, be he situated where you will 
amidst the busy haunts of men in some great city, or 
on the confines of the mighty empire, in some secluded 
spot, the solitary sentinel of civilization. 

There are Highlanders, it is true, who have proved 
themselves false to the old ideals. Such, when they 
become citizens of the world, deem the two citizen- 
ships incompatible, and deliberately sink their national 
characteristics in the great maelstrom of life, assimilat- 
ing themselves to their new surroundings like the 
chameleon, and nervously afraid lest something in 
dress, manner, speech, or bearing, should betray 
them, and make known the truth, that they are not 
quite "like unto these." 

These are the men who, believing a sacrifice neces- 
sary, have sacrificed the past to the present ; have 
forbidden Gaelic in the house ; made the name of the 
'45 anathema, maranatha ; suppressed all references 
to the brave deeds of their forefathers ; and tabooed 
"the tales of old." 

These are the Highlanders who have, in short, 
turned their backs for ever on the old life, with the 
pinch and the toil in it, the little pleasures, and 
the poor monetary rewards ; who have preferred for 
themselves and for their children the stuffy atmo- 
sphere of a dingy, ill-ventilated office in some 
crowded city to the sweet airs, with healing on 


their wings and fresh from heaven's hand, which blew 
round the old homestead ; and who see more beauty 
in the piles of yellow gold upon the dusty counter, 
gathered often so wearily and at such a price, than in 
the glorious purple mountains, girdled by the sea. 

There are others who go further than this, and 
scoff at the land which gave them birth. 

Some little time ago I was dining along with 
a number of other Highlanders in the Grand 
Hotel, Glasgow. The man on my left roused my 
curiosity. He seemed out of place in such a 
gathering although he wore the kilt. I noticed 
that the kilt was of — we will call it — MacWhamle 
tartan. He was a tall, stout, rather handsome- 
looking fellow, with refined — I had almost said over- 
refined — manners. His speech was very Englified in 
tone, with here and there a dash of the Cockney in 
it, and he dropped, or tried to drop, I verily believe, 
his h's occasionally, but not with much success. 
There was not>^the slightest flavour of peat-reek about 
him anywhere. Who are you, and what are you 
doing here? Why are you making yourself uncom- 
fortable in a kilt? — were some of the questions which 
I put to myself, but without evoking a reply ; for I 
could see that he fidgetted about in the strange 
dress a good deal during dinner. At the interval 
between the second and third courses I was intro- 
duced to the stranger as Mr MacWhamle from 

MacWhamle then was his name, and MacWhamle 
was his tartan. 


**You are from London," I said. 

He bowed largely. 

'*But I suppose," I said, looking at his dress, 
'*you came from the Highlands first?" 

"I left the Highlands when I was but a boy," he 

"Do you visit the old home occasionally?" 

** Never been there since I left." 

"I am glad at all events," I remarked, ''to see 
you still wear the kilt." 

"Yes," he answered ; but, turning to me as if for 

sympathy, added quickly, "a d d uncomfortable 

dress though ! " 

And I could see that he spoke feelingly. A kilt 
never sits well on a *' corporation " ; and his kilt kept 
creeping higher and higher, and growing tighter and 
tighter, in a way that a kilt alone can do, as dinner 
proceeded, until goaded to desperation, he stood up 
and unfastened the waist straps and took the chance 
of a catastrophe. 

One other remark I ventured on to Mr MacWhamle: 
" Do you like the Bagpipe?" 

" Yaas ! oh yaas ! at a distance" — pause on the 
word distance — "and the greater the distance the 
better y 

This was cheery for a Highland Gathering, 
wasn't it? It made me feel as if there were some- 
thing wrong, something out of joint : the High- 
land Gathering had no right to be there, or friend 
MacWhamle had got, so to speak, into the wrong 


In the King's Arms Hotel, Kyle Akin, I met 
another Mr MacWhamle in the following autumn. 

He amused himself at dinner-time by running 
down the Highlands, or perhaps I should say, the 
Highlander, with a self-assurance in his own wisdom, 
and with an air of infallibility, that ought to have 
made — but didn't — any doubter of this " Daniel come 
to judgment " blush for shame at his own temerity. 

He had one doubter in my daughter, who sat on 
pins and needles, while this slanderer of the people 
she loved, rambled along in his pompous way. It 
was only by constant pressure of the foot under the 
table that I could restrain her impetuosity. She was 
boiling over with indignation at each fresh insult, and 
yet this Solomon blundered along, quite unconscious 
of how near he was to a living volcano. 

And so it came about, that when he appealed to her 
for confirmation of some heresy, worse than another, 
not knowing that she was a Skye lassie, — born on the 
island — he got a look from her that would have 
annihilated a less sensitive person, and a con- 
tradiction along with it as flat as words could 
make it. 

He appeared highly astonished at being pulled up 
so sharply, and more than a little indignant that any 
one should venture to question the wisdom, not to say 
the truthfulness, of his remarks, and dare to tell him 
plainly that all his fine talk was little better than so 
much ignorant twaddle. A little colour mounted to 
his brow, — a small sign of grace I took it to be— as he 
realized that he had been snubbed, and that he had 


himself invited the snub ; and for a time the smooth 
flow of his words became broken — his speech halted 
and limped along painfully. 

After a time, however, he seemed to recover his 
equanimity, and "went" for the poor Skyeman as 
viciously as before. He would ''clear every mother's 
son of them out of the island." He would make Skye 
a desert, except — oh ! notable exception — for three 
months in the summer. " To suit the convenience of 
tourists like yourself?" I put in. He paid no heed to 
my interruption, but rattled on, heaping abuse upon 
the islanders. Idle, lazy, ill-fed, ill-clad, content. 
Oh, the scorn in this rich man's voice as he said 
content ! 

That these people whom he affected to despise, 
because they preferred the fresh air and the quiet, 
and the contentment of the country, to the smoky 
atmosphere, and the noisy streets, and the seething 
discontent of the town — a people in whose life his 
unseeing eye could detect no colour but a dull grey ; 
uniform, constant, unvarying — should dare to be 
content, pained the good man exceedingly. 

" Contentment is better than riches," I ventured to 
remark ; but again he took no notice : he turned a deaf 
ear to me, and refused to be drawn into a discussion. 

He had but one rule, by which he measured every- 
thing, the rule of the almighty dollar ; the rule of the 
golden thumb. "Why," he said, "I had a man 
rowing me on the loch all day, and he was content 
with the two shillings which I paid him. If that man 
went south, sir, he could make thirty shillings a week 


in the mills, and here he is content to take two 
shillings for a day's work." 

The table listened in silence to the well-fed, well- 
dressed, sleek-looking man as he preached his money 

I did not ask Mr MacWhamle, as perhaps I should 
have done, why he, a rich mill owner, had refused 
a millhand's wage to the old Highlander who rowed 
him about the loch so patiently all day. 

Such are not true Highlanders, and it is not for 
such that this book is written. The true Highlander, 
methinks, is one who forgets not the good blood 
which flows through his veins in spite it may be of a 
lowly upbringing ; who forgets not to visit the 
friends of his boyhood's days, because they have 
preferred the old and simpler life ; who forgets not 
that his ancestors followed Prince Charlie, not 
blindly, but with eyes wide open and with ultimate 
failure staring them in the face, preferring a lost cause 
with honour to success without it. The true High- 
lander is one, methinks, for whom not distance from 
home, nor length of years, can destroy the constant 
yearning for the old life among the hills ; whose ear 
detects and loves the soft sweetness of the old tongue ; 
whose heart warms at the sight of the tartan ; and 
who knows no music, with the story in it, and the 
charm in it, like the rude wild Pibroch. 

And of all Highland things, what is more Highland 
and what more worthy of being preserved than the 

It grows handsomer as it grows older, and it is as 



useful to-day as when it led the Roman legions of 
old. It is as Highland in the streets of London, or 
in the suburbs of Melbourne, as in the wilds of 
Stratheric, or in the backwoods of Canada ; and will 
be with us when the tartan is faded and the Gaelic 
tongue is silent, a signpost to an unbelieving world, 
reminding it that there once lived north of the Gram- 
pians an old and a gallant race— a race of warriors as 
brave as the world has ever seen. 

German Band of 1739 : 

With Piper in tlie Foreground. 

From an old Engraving presented to the Author bv Mr VV. K. Gair, 

The Kihis, Falkirk. 



T HAVE no wish to pose as an authority on 
the Bagpipe, nor is this book meant to be 
authoritative in any way. 

It is but a beginning ; a groping for the light in 
dark places. If I correct some very palpable errors, 
which through constant repetition have gained 
currency among a certain section of the public, I 
also lay myself open to correction, and will welcome 
such. I have avoided conjecture as much as possible, 
but it is impossible to avoid it altogether when writing 
of a subject whose history reaches back to the remote 
and misty past — to " an axe age, a spear age, a wolf 
age, a war age." 

I have lectured on this subject for many years, but 
always as a student ; always with the hope of 
improving my own knowledge. 

And to-day, in the light of such knowledge as I 
have been able to pick up, I proclaim myself to be 
one of the '* unwary," as Mr MacBain of Inverness 
calls them, "who postulate for the Bagpipe a hoary 
antiquity " in the Highlands and elsewhere. 


This book is the result of accident rather than of 

When President of the Falkirk Highland Society, 
I was one night impressing upon the members the 
necessity of each doing something for the Society and 
not leaving the burden of the work on two or three 
shoulders, as had been done in the past, if it were to 
be a permanent success. Among other subjects 
suitable for short papers I named the Bagpipe, and 
at the mention of the word an audible smile rippled 
along the benches. I was somewhat annoyed at this, 
and although I did not myself know anything of its 
history at the time, I promptly accepted the challenge 
to write a paper on it. This was the beginning of 
my book. 

One month later I gave my first lecture on the 
Bagpipe to a crowded house, the largest gathering 
ever held under the auspices of the Society, and one 
of the most successful. 

The great enthusiasm displayed during the evening 
by the Highlanders present was the highest com- 
pliment which could be paid to the choice of a subject 
which, as I have said, was in a manner forced upon 
me, and also shewed that the dear old " Pipes " 
could still delight and enthuse as in days of old. 
Pipe-Major Bulloch and Pipe-Major Simpson gave 
selections on the Bagpipe illustrative of the lecture ; 
both shewed themselves masters of the instrument, 
and their delightful playing added largely to the 
success of this, the first lecture, I believe, ever 
delivered on the Bagpipe. 


During the month of preparation not a saleroom 
or bric-a-brac shop in Glasgow or Edinburgh but 
was visited in search of old " Pipes," and the joy- 
in each new find still remains for me a sunny 

I need hardly remind my readers that it was in 
Falkirk that the revival of the Bagpipe took place 
after its suppression by the Government in 1747 : 
here was held the first competition promoted by the 
Highland Society of London in 1779 ; and here too it 
seems only fitting that the first lecture on the 
Bagpipe, one hundred and odd years later, should 
have been delivered. 

For this reason, too, if any '' kudos " should 
happen to follow upon this venture, I would like the 
good old town of Falkirk to share in it. 

My book has been thought out while walking 
through its streets, or cycling in the country round 
about, or wandering over its old battlefields, or seated 
in the cosy corner waiting upon some case or other 
while the rest of the world slumbered. 

A chapter has been written, now here, on a plain 
deal table, almost the only piece of furniture in a 
one-roomed house ; now there, on a table of beautiful 
ormolu design, one of half-a-dozen decorating the 
drawing-room of some wealthy citizen ; and in this 
way the book has become " part and parcel" of my 
every-day life and work in Falkirk during the past 
few years. 

I am therefore having it published in Falkirk, and 
printed by a Falkirk "Bairn," so that everything 


about it may be redolent of the town which has been 
for so many years my abiding place. 

I know that my quaHfications for the task of writing 
a History of the Bagpipe are few, and it was therefore 
rather tantalizing some years ago to have the one 
qualification, my Celtic blood, on which I prided 
myself the most, ruthlessly trampled upon by Dr 
MacPherson, now one of His Majesty's Commis- 
sioners in Lunacy. The Doctor lectured one evening 
to the Falkirk Highlanders on "The Celt in History," 
and his conclusion of the whole matter, which was 
received in grim silence by his hearers, each of whom 
had hitherto considered himself as The Celt — I had 
almost said the salt — of the earth, was that there is 
no such thing as 3. pure Celt in the Highlands to-day. 

My Celtic qualification was thus discredited. 
" But," added the lecturer, and the fine words that 
night did not butter the parsnips for his audience, 
" you who have been born in the Highlands, and are 
of Highland parentage, can call yourselves instead, 
and with greater truth, pure Highlanders." 

There was a searching of hearts and of genealogies 
after the meeting broke up, and I felt some con- 
solation in dropping the Celt to know that I could 
lay claim to the title of Highlander with some credit. 
I was born in Argyleshire ; my father was a Fraser, 
which goes without saying ! My mother was a 
MacLachlan, my grandmother a Gunn ; my cousins 
in order of merit were Frasers, Macintoshes, Grants, 
Shaws, MacLachlans, and MacNicols. 

My father was born in the Parish of Avoch, in the 


Black Isle, opposite to Inverness, in the beginning 
of last century, at a time when the name of the 
" bloody " Cumberland was used as a bogey to 
frighten the children with. 

He learned the story of the '45 at first hand from 
his grandfather, who was out in the " Rebellion," 
and many a time and oft his heart burned with 
indignation at the recital of the many cruelties 
perpetrated by "The Butcher's" orders. 

The story of the murder of Charles Fraser, jun., of 
Inverallochy, in cold blood after the battle of Culloden 
was often repeated in his hearing. He was a distant 
kinsman of ours, and the horror of the tale would 
lose nothing through this to the listening boy. The 
tale, which is a true one, and which was recorded at 
the time by more observers of the incident than one, 
will bear repetition here. 

The Duke, while riding over the battle-field after 
the short but sharp tussle was over, saw a young 
Highland officer lying wounded on the ground. He 
was resting on his elbow, and looked up at the Duke 
as he was riding by. " To what party do you 
belong? " said the ' Butcher.' The answer came back 
proudly, '* To the Prince." "Shoot me that High- 
land scoundrel who thus dares to look on us with 
so insolent a stare," shouted Cumberland. This 
command was addressed to Wolfe, then an ensign, 
the General who afterwards died so gloriously on the 
Heights of Abraham. He refused to obey, as did 
the other officers one by one, and placed their 
commissions at His Grace's disposal, rather than 


carry out so degrading an order. His Royal 
Highness, who, it was said, never forgave the brave 
Wolfe for this, commanded one of the common 
soldiers to shoot this lad, not yet turned twenty 
years of age, and the cowardly deed was at length 

Is it to be wondered at that the nicknames of " The 
Bloody Duke " and *' The Butcher " were given to 
him by the old Highlanders and are still recalled 
by us their children? 

This story, along with others of the same kind, 
made so strong an impression on my father that he 
found it impossible to take up arms after the manner 
of his forefathers, more especially in defence of a 
Government which he believed encouraged such 
cruelties. He accordingly turned his attention to 
ways of peace, and became a trader. 

He soon owned a fleet of small sloops, with which 
he traded among the Western Islands, but ultimately, 
tempted by the beauty of the country, settled in 
business at Lochgilphead. Here he lived the best part 
of his life ; was elected and re-elected more than once 
chief magistrate ; and here he died and was buried at 
the ripe age of eighty-one. He was a good Gaelic 
scholar, and was said to be a very eloquent speaker 
both in Gaelic and in English. 

He was successful in business, and made a fortune, 
as fortunes went in the days before the advent of the 

He was a very muscular man, with never an ounce 
of fat about him ; he stood 5 ft. 11 -)^ ins. in his 


Stockings, and girthed round the bare chest some 48 

He was of great strength, but seldom if ever used 
it ; peace with honour was his motto ; and when 
called in to settle a quarrel he always tried peaceful 
methods first. 

For two years or so, after the bursting of the Crinan 
Canal, an event which I shall never forget, nor the 
fearful night of wind and rain which preceded the 
disastrous flood, an army of several hundred navvies 
was engaged in mending it. 

When pay day came round, the village of Loch- 
gilphead, in which the pay office was situated, became 
a veritable battlefield ; a succession of fights, in which 
we boys took an unholy delight, went on from morn 
to night. Old Dugald, the policeman, wisely shut 
himself into his house on these occasions, and there 
was none to say the fighters nay. 

One pay Saturday a little Highlander was getting 
the worst of it in a boxing-match with a big Irish 
navvy. Our sympathies were with the little High- 
lander, who, although he took his punishment like a 
man, was getting fairly mauled, and I remember well 
how I shivered with terror each time he went down 
before the powerful blows of his antagonist. The 
crowd, feeling quite sure that there would be murder 
before the fight was over, asked me to run for my 

He came at once, not even waiting to put his hat 
on, and taking in the situation at a glance, he 
suddenly seized the Highlander from behind with one 


hand and carried him off the field, the small man 
struggling in the air the while like a little child ; 
shoved him into a house near at hand, and shut out 
the Irishman, whom he faced up to and was 
prepared to tackle, but who, I must say, for reasons 
best known to himself, did not make any very serious 
objections to the Chief Magistrate's original method 
of stopping an unfair fight. This was done without 
any seeming exertion on my father's part. Twice, 
however, I did see him exert himself, and the two 
feats of strength — both also shewing great bravery — 
were the talk of the town for many a long day after. 

Once a mad Highland bullock — mad because it had 
been struck badly by an incapable butcher at the 
killing stone in Menzies' yard — broke away and 
charged wildly at a group of people, including my 
brother and myself, who were looking on. The men 
and all who could run away bolted from the infuriated 
animal, but my brother and I, holding each other's 
hands tightly, stood rooted to the spot in terror. 

As the huge beast charged down upon us my father 
appeared on the scene, and, quick as thought, threw 
himself in the way of the angry bullock, drawing its 
attention away from us to himself. The ruse was 
successful, and after a moment's indecision the 
enraged animal, with the red foam flying from mouth 
and nostrils, and madness in its eye, charged away 
from us to the spot where father stood expectant. By 
a quick movement, more like legerdemain than 
anything else, he stepped to one side on its approach, 
thus avoiding the charging horns, which in the 


twinkling of an eye he seized from behind, and 
standing close up to the neck of the animal, and 
planting his foot firmly against a projecting stone 
in the yard, which was known as the small killing 
stone, he held the struggling brute as in a vice until 
the frightened men returned with new ropes and 
secured it once more, when he himself, by request, 
and to avoid any further mistake, gave it the death- 
dealing blow, and all was over. 

On another occasion, the partition wall between two 
houses in a large three-storied building was being 
removed from the basement floor. The methods then 
in vogue were very primitive, and incurred much 
more danger to the masons engaged in the operation 
than in these days. The great wooden beam, which 
was already fixed into a niche in the wall by one end, 
and which was to take the place of the removed wall, 
was being supported on the backs of a dozen or more 
strong men, ready to be slipped into its place the 
moment the centre prop, which was really a piece of 
the wall itself, was knocked away. 

But the moment this last support was removed, the 
wall was heard and seen to crack in an ugly manner, 
and it was evident that the partition was coming down 
before the beam could be got into place. The 
unusual operation had drawn a great crowd of 
villagers to the spot, and these began to clear out in 
a hurry when it was believed that the house was 
falling about their ears ; but my father, who was also 
looking on, shouting encouragement to those above, 
swarmed up on to the platform beside the men whose 



lives were now in serious danger, and, putting his 
back under the end of the beam, he cried out cheerily, 
** Now, men, heave ! ho ! " — and all putting forth their 
best strength, the great beam slowly rose against the 
descending wall, and was shoved into place, but not a 
moment too soon. 

A sigh of relief, which was almost a sob, rose from 
the crowd below when it saw that the danger was 
past, and the tension of feeling found vent in a 
spontaneous outburst of cheering, renewed again and 
again. My father, his assistance no longer required, 
stepped down from the platform and went quietly 
home to breakfast, himself the only one of the crowd 
who saw nothing heroic in a deed which won for 
him, on that still summer's morning, the hearts of 
the people. 

His quiet courage and his manliness on all 
occasions made us feel that he was a grand soldier 
lost to his country, and that the sword, not the ell 
wand, would have best graced his side. 

My grandfather was a soldier, and served for many 
years with the first regiment of the Sutherland 
Highlanders. His father and grandfather before him 
were soldiers ; and soldiers my people were as far 
back as tradition goes. And before that ? Well ! as 
the Book of Books says, " In those days Noah made 
unto himself an ark of Gopher wood." 

I should like here to pay a passing tribute to the 
memory of an old aunt who lived with us for the 
best part of her life, not because I loved her, but on 
account of the great love which she bore to the 


Highlands. She was my father's sister, and each was 
the antithesis of the other. They may have been one 
at heart, but father was not the sort of man who wears 
his affections on his sleeve, and if he had any 
predilections for the old life, he was remarkably 
successful in concealing them from us. Aunt, on the 
other hand, was wholly and frankly Highland. 
Inverness was the county of counties ; and its people 
were the brave ones, the true and loyal and hospitable 
ones. There you would always find the open hand 
and the open heart ; the spirit of hospitality was as 
rampant in the poorest crofter's hut as in the chiefs 
castle. When a visitor arrived — a stranger it might 
be, and utterly unexpected — the fatted calf, or the 
fatted kid, or the fatted hen, was killed in his honour, 
and not unfrequently the family starved that he should 
have plenty. The best chair in the cosy corner was 
his during the day, and when he retired at night it 
was to the "best" bed covered with the finest linen. 

For gentle and simple, it was the land of unfailing 
welcome, the land of " the open door." Aunt always 
maintained that the door was never locked in her old 
home ; seldom even did it stand on the sneck ; but, 
open all day long, it smiled a kindly welcome upon 
every passer-by. 

And, I remember well, that she carried out this 
welcome of "the open door" to a certain extent at 
least in the old home at Lochgilphead, where the 
kitchen door, with my father's consent, was never 
locked; and in the winter months she always saw to 
it that a good fire was left banked up, so that no 


poor waif or stray passing by should want for warmth 
or shelter when the weather was inclement. Father, 
however, always took good care to see that the door 
between the kitchen and the house was fastened : his 
trust in the stranger was not so implicit and child-like. 

My aunt was a capital teller of stories, of which she 
had a great store, and nothing was more delightful 
than to sit round the fire at night and in its cheery red 
glow listen to her ever-fresh tales. Her tales of 
wolves were many and weird, and were founded on 
stories handed down from the days when wolves 
infested the Highlands : of v\^olves driven desperate 
by hunger in the hard winter months, coming down 
from their dens in the mountains, and attacking men 
in the open : of wolves making a sudden dash in at 
the door, in the dusk of the evening, and carrying off 
the sleeping child before its mother's eyes : of wolves — 
and how creepy this used to make us feel — climbing 
on to the roofs at night and eating their silent way 
through the soft thatch while the unsuspecting house- 
hold slumbered. 

Or, again, she would tell of the perils of the chase : 
of the wild boar at bay turning upon the hunter and 
gashing his body with its terrible tusks ; or of the 
deer-stalker, in the excitement of the chase, missing 
his foothold and slipping over the edge of the 
treacherous precipice, and falling " down, down, 
down," into empty black space. The grey hag of 
the single tooth and grisly paw, was a favourite 
story of hers ; and many of her tales of fairies and 
Avitches were worthy to rank beside Hans Andersen's 


best. In talking of the dead, which she always did 
with reverence, she had an eerie trick of looking 
over her shoulder, as if the spirits of the departed 
hovered near. At such times I often fancied that 
a breath of ice-cold wind — cold as the grave from 
which it came — swept down my back : an eerie 
sensation to have. But in one way or another, when 
in the humour, she used to thrill us with a delightful 
sense of fear and terror, so that we could not go to 
bed alone. Aunt was also great in folk-lore, and 
believed firmly in the potency of healing crystals, 
and other Highland charms. She dabbled in medi- 
cine continually, and her advice was valued, and 
much sought after by the sick poor. 

All the old medicinal herbs were known to her by 
their Gaelic names, with their several virtues ; and 
from these she occasionally made most horrible de- 
coctions, which, however, I must admit, she mostly 
drank herself, when B — 's pills, her favourite remedy, 
failed to rise to the occasion, and through this, or in 
spite of this — it will always be a debatable point ! — 
she lived to be well over the allotted span of three- 
score years and ten. 

But aunt's strong point was genealogy. She could 
trace the history of every family of distinction in the 
North, including our own, from its remotest branches 
back to the fountain head. 

I remember once coming home from school some- 
what crestfallen and depressed, because some of the 
boys had shouted after me in chorus '■^ Frishelach 
Fraser, Fresh Herring ! Frisheladi Fraser, Fresh 


Herring ! " to which I could but feebly reply, " Better 
fresh herring ( Scattan Ur) than rotten herring " 
( Scattan gorst ). Now, my knowledge of Gaelic at 
that time was so poor that I believed the word 
Frishelach, which really means Fraser, meant fresh 
herring. But when I told my aunt of my troubles, she 
explained the word to me, and said "You shouldn't 
listen to what these ill-bred boys say; it is just because 
you are a Frishelach that they are jealous of you ; you 
have got better blood in your veins than any of them." 
Whether the boys who shouted after me understood 
the words used by them any better than I did is uncer- 
tain, but this I know, that they tapped the nose of a 
Frishelach with the same unconcern as they tapped the 
nose of a common Smith, and saw no difference in the 
"claret " drawn. This trifling incident gave aunt an 
opportunity when evening came on, to lecture to us on 
the genealogy of our branch of the Fraser family, which 
lecture was interrupted at the most interesting point by 
the advent of father, who, I believe must have been 
listening at the door for some time, and said: — the 
while looking very sternly at aunt, — " How often have 
I told you to give up stuffing the children's heads 
with all that nonsense : much your fine relations will 
do for you. As for you," turning to us, "I'll have 
you holding on to no one's coat-tails, remember that. 
You have got your own way to make in the world, so 
off to bed with you and forget your aunt's stories." 
Aunt, however, stuck to her grand relations, in spite 
of my father's ridicule ; and although damped down 
for a time by one of his attacks, she was sure sooner 


or later to break out again on the forbidden subject, 
which was not altogether good for us. She always 
maintained, and we were sharp enough to notice that 
father never actually denied the truthfulness of her 
statement, that we were descended from one of 
the most distinguished branches of the family, and 
that but for the loss of some papers, which had 
mysteriously disappeared, we should have been landed 
proprietors in the North to-day, and the stigma of 
trade, as she called it, would never have fallen upon 
us. She never indeed forgave my father for becoming 
a tradesman, and, I am sorry to say, made us at times 
ashamed of his calling. A " parvenu " she could not 
stand, and the small "gentry," of one or two genera- 
tions only, she sniffed at. When one of these latter 
put some real or fancied slight upon her, she would 
come home furious. "This is what I have to stand 
from these people whose grandfathers were nobodies, 
because I am your father's sister." 

It was on these occasions that, taking out her 
geneological tree, she would climb to the topmost 
branches, and, perching us around her, she would, 
from this coign of vantage, pour out the viols of her 
wrath upon the head of the unsuspecting offender 
below. But if father appeared by any chance 
on such occasions, which he had a trick of doing, 
aunt climbed down the tree much more quickly 
than she had climbed up. She certainly stood in 
awe of the head of the house — but she was not peculiar 
in this. Once, however, when death, for the first time, 
visited our hitherto unbroken circle, she asserted 


herself in strangest fashion, much to our astonishment, 
and forcibly seizing hold of the reins of government, 
she ordered the household about — including father and 
mother — in regal fashion. She would have her mother 
buried in the old Highland way ; and would herself 
arrange everything : she dared interference. All the 
invitations — and they were very numerous — were 
issued by her. To the principal relations, she wrote 
herself, in a cramped hand, and with many a painful 
effort : the ordinary invitation was printed. Whether 
any of our "fine" relations came to the funeral I do 
not know : if they did, so far as I can remember, we 
small boys were overlooked by them in the bustle and 
excitement of the day. 

Now, my father was an abstainer all his life, and no 
strong drink of any kind was allowed in the house; 
but on this occasion, aunt brushing aside his scruples 
with slightly veiled contempt, ordered in quantities of 
wine and whisky, to which he made no demur. Huge 
kebbocks of cheese also, and delicacies of all sorts were 
provided for the coming guests, and the maids were 
busy night and day baking cakes and scones ; while 
the country side was scoured for hens with which to 
make a dish, much in demand on state occasions, a 
kind of Highland soup, — the most delicious dish in 
the world — a single whiff of which would have made 
hungry Esau sell his birthright ten times over. 

The body of the little lady upstairs, who was in her 
79th year when she died, and was only 4 ft. 11 J inches 
in height, lay in state for ten days. This was to allow 
the friends from far off Inverness and Ross-shire to 


get to the funeral ; and as some of the arrivals were 
earlier than others, the house became, during the last 
few days of waiting, like a hotel ; and with each new 
arrival aunt's importance grew. 

In this way, for several days before the funeral, 
feasting, such as we had never seen before, and 
mourning, which we did not quite comprehend, 
walked the house arm in arm from morn till nigfht. 

It is somewhat amusing to look back on the old 
life of fifty years ago. Everything was so different 
then from now. On the Greenock and Glasgow line 
I have travelled on an open truck to and from college. 
Habits of thrift were inculcated, ;w^eek in week out, with 
a wearisome monotony, and, worse still, were put 
into practice, with the result that we seldom or ever 
had pocket money given us. A single toy or book 
would last the year, and holidays, which were looked 
upon by our parents as a nuisance, were spent at 
home. Children were taught to respect their elders 
more, which was a good thing, and the fear of the 
parent was greater than the "fear of the Lord," 
which was not perhaps so good. 

While my father was plain Donald Eraser to the 
public — a big, burly, smiling, good-natured man — he 
was the Grand Seigneur in his own house, whose 
slightest word was law. We always addressed him 
hat in hand, and prefaced all requests with "Sir." 
He kept up a dignity and a state before us that never 
slacked, although for politic reasons these were laid 
aside during business hours. His bedroom was a terra 
incognita to the last. We were never allowed to take 


our meals with him ; he always dined alone, while we 
passed the time outside, — on the landing opposite the 
dining-room — with marbles, teetotum, and such like 
games, until the command to enter the sacred presence 
was given, when we invariably marched in according 
to seniority. The pleasure of the game outside, how- 
ever, more than compensated for the cold meal inside. 
The drawing-room was always kept locked, and 
opened only when guests of quality arrived. When, 
by special invitation, we did enter its sacred precincts — 
which was but seldom — it was with bated breath and 
whispered humbleness. Now, being a professing 
Christian, my father had some difficulty in squaring 
this exclusiveness with the lesson in the Book which 
teaches us that "All men are equal in the sight of God." 
And so he tried to get out of the difficulty in this way. 
Every Sunday morning we were allowed to breakfast 
along with him : but in order to keep our pride within 
bounds, which otherwise might o'erleap itself at such 
graciousness, he had the maid-servants in to table 
also : this latter being a survival possibly of some old 
and kindly custom. 

This he did regularly, year in year out, and so 
eased his conscience, and at the same time squared 
his dignity with his religion ; but the equality 
disappeared with the meal until the next Sunday 
morning, and if in the interval any of us dared to 
presume upon it, woe betide him. 

He had some curious methods of dealing with 
children. One, I can never forget. He always 
insisted on our going to bed in the dark. This was 

Chanter and Drone Reeds 


Bagpipes of Different Nations. 



Highland Pipe Reeds : 
Shewing their Constriction. 




to harden us, he said, and to strengthen our nerves. 
It nearly broke mine altogether. For a child of five or 
six years old to go up two long stairs in the dark all 
alone, and along a narrow dark passage to the sleeping 
room, which was situated at the furthest end of the 
lobby from the stairs, especially after some wild beast 
story with the blood-curdling details in which she 
revelled had been told by aunt, was a mighty severe 
strain on that child's nerves. My mode of progression 
along the passage in question, off which several doors 
opened, was as follows : — I knew or believed that the 
unseen danger was greatest when passing one or other 
of the open doors. I also felt that I was within the 
danger zone when I reached the top of the last stair, 
and kept a sharp lookout, as I tried to pierce the 
gloom for what it contained. I then opened the 
nightly campaign with a sudden dash for the 
opposite wall, in which were the doors, and putting 
my back to it, and clinging to it with all my 
might, I began to sidle along cautiously to the 
first door. Instinct, I suppose, taught me that with 
my back to the wall I could only be attacked from 
the front, and should be able to make a better fight 
with my unseen foe. But when crossing the open 
doors I was exposed to attack from all sides, and it 
was always in one dark room or another I imagined 
the hidden monster — the creature of my own imagina- 
tion, it is true, but all too real notwithstanding — 
lay in wait. I swear even now, that I often heard in 
the black darkness of these rooms, the cruel crunching 
jaws at work, and often saw the baneful light of 


the fierce green eyes, as the brute crouched low, 
making ready for the spring. And so for moments, 
which seemed hours, I stood close to the first door, 
listening and shivering with terror. Then would I, 
in desperation, make one wild spring past it : when 
again working cautiously up to the next door, there 
was the same hesitation before crossing it, the 
same straining of ears, the same holding of the breath. 
And now, between two doors, I had to watch on 
both sides, and my fears thus grew as I neared the goal; 
the chances of an attack I calculated increased with 
each door safely passed, until the strain on my nerves 
became all but intolerable, and reason itself tottered 
on its throne. Sometimes in my anxiety to get into 
the nursery when reached, I missed the door handle 
in the dark ; and oh ! the dread of those miserable 
moments, when open to attack from behind, and 
not daring to look back, I fumbled and fumbled with 
nerveless fingers, feeling the while the hot breath of 
the evil thing on my neck! The dread of those trying 
moments visits me still in my dreams. 

I well remember the night of the day on which 
grandmother died, although I was too young to know 
what death meant. My brothers and I were sitting 
up much later than usual, there being no one 
seemingly to order us off to bed ; but the liberty thus 
secured, and which was at first delightful, soon palled 
upon us, and I was the first to set off upstairs upon 
that nightly lonesome journey. I had just reached 
the first landing, when I noticed a light coming from 
under the drawing-room door. This was in itself 



such an unusual thing that my curiosity was aroused. 
Surely some guests had arrived, and we knew it 
not ! I crept forward on tiptoe and listened for 
voices ; there were none. The stillness of the house 
was oppressive. The fresh odour of pine wood 
assailed my nostrils. 

As the door stood slightly ajar, after again listening, 
I gently pushed it open and looked in. The sight 
which I saw fairly took away my breath. The room 
was a blaze of glorious light ; but where were the 
guests? I noticed that both windows, with blinds 
drawn up, were open, as well as the door. From two 
paintings on the wall, father and mother looked 
down upon the gay scene in silence, smiling. Nobody 
else was there, not even aunt. In the centre of the 
room was a large table which I had never seen before, 
dressed in spotless white, and covered with flowers, 
and upon it a long black box surrounded by numerous 
tall white wax candles, all burning, and flooding the 
room with a brillant glow. Little puffs of wind 
coming in at the open windows, made the lights flicker 
and toss their heads: and with every movement, the 
tall shapely candles threw long, black, dancing 
shadows upon floor and wall. Immediately overhead 
was a large and very handsome crystal chandelier, 
which flashed back, reflected in a thousand hues, the 
light below. The old-fashioned wall paper of glisten- 
ing pearly white, covered with a thick dark crimson 
fluff, and the black "papier mache" furniture, each 
piece inlaid with irridescent mother-of-pearl, formed 
fitting surroundings to the crowning glory of the 


white flower-laden table in the middle of the room, 
with its black burden. What could it all mean? It 
was to my childish mind like a beautiful bit out of 

I knew well that I had no right to be where I was : 
I knew well what the consequences would be were I 
discovered ; but the strange sight fascinated me : it 
held me spellbound. What was in that black box? 
Why was it there? Unsatiable childish curiosity 
prompting me, I drew a chair — one of the chairs for- 
bidden us even to sit upon — close to the table, and 
stepped lightly up on to it, and, looking down into the 
box, who should I see lying there quietly sleeping but 
** little grandmother." She was dressed all in white: 
her little face looked no bigger than a child's. She 
smiled in her sleep, and all the wrinkles, which I had 
often tried to count, but in vain, were gone. Between 
her little hands, which were clasped in front, a little 
flower was pressed : on her breast was a saucer full of 
salt, and lower down another of the red-brown earth. 
The mystery was solved. Here lay the honoured 
guest of the drawing-room, and all the lighted candles, 
and beautiful flowers, and sweet fresh airs from 
outside, were for 'little grandmother' : and she must 
have fallen asleep in the midst of all this grandeur, 
like a tired child in the midst of its toys. And at the 
thought I could have clapped my hands and cried 
aloud for joy, but I might waken "little grandmother," 
so, slipping softly off the precious chair, which I care- 
fully replaced, I crept quietly out of the room, leaving 
the door ajar as I found it. For m,e that night the 


lonely journey to bed had no fears : the light of the 
tall wax candles dispelled the gloom ; the peace and 
calm of the sleeper down stairs filled my heart, 
leaving there no room for terrors : no fierce eyes 
glared at me out of the doorways : no hot breath 
lapped my cheek that night ; and if they had, what 
did it matter so long as "little grandmother," whom 
we all loved, was honoured and happy. 

I do not know that I yet understand all that aunt 
meant by these arrangements. The open window 
and open door, the lighted candles, the saucer of salt, 
every Highlander understands. But what of the dish 
of red brown earth? 

The funeral, when it came off, was, I need hardly 
say, under aunt's skilful management, a Highland 
success. This is not the correct expression to use of 
a funeral, I know, but it is a true one ; for more than 
one old Highlander that day, whose napless hat and 
threadbare clothes proclaimed him an experienced 
judge in such matters, was heard to say that " It was 
a ferry finefuneral whateffer." 



' As life wanes, all its cares and strife and toil 
Seem strangely valueless, while the old trees 
Which grew by our youth's home, the waving mass 
Of climbing plants heavy with bloom and dew, 
The morning swallows with their songs like words, 
All these seem clear, and only worth our thoughts. 
So, aught connected with my early life, 
My rude songs or my wild imaginings, 
How I look on them — most distinct amid 
The fever and the stir of after years ! i— 

Robert Browning in Pauline. 

Tk^Y earliest recollections are of War and the 
"*■ "^ Bagpipe. I was born a few years before the 
outbreak of the Crimean War. 

During that great war there was but one subject 
of discussion in the village among our elders — the 
war itself — and but one ambition among the boys 
at school — the ambition to be a soldier. Mimic 
warfare occupied all our spare time. In winter vve 
built our forts of snow, and in summer of stone, 
and these we defended often at no smali^ risk, with 
a certain degree of skill, I believe, and certainly 
with an overflowing zeal and energy and determina- 

The Gheeyita of Spain : a One-Drone Bagpipe. 

The gift ot the late Mr Henry Aitken, of Falkirk. 


tion, which in real warfare should go far towards 
securing" victory. 

One half of the village was dubbed " Cossackees," 
and many a battle royal — often with road metal for 
want of better — took place after school hours, between 
it and the other half of the village, which was called 
'' Portuguese," for what reason, unless it were a mere 
childish rh3'thmic one, I know not. Saturday after- 
noons were devoted to the game of war by the two 
rivals. Wounds got in such fights were looked upon 
as honourable, and we prided ourselves upon them, 
and shewed a fine indifference to all bruises and cut 
heads. Among the bigger boys duels by challenge 
were quite common, and as there was a spice of 
danger in them, they often aroused tremendous 
enthusiasm among the privileged spectators, who of 
course took " sides." 

These duels, fashioned on traditional lines, were 
carried through with every punctilio : seconds were 
gravely appointed, time and place of meeting fixed, 
and weapons chosen — generally broadsword or bow- 
and-arrow. The broadsword, I need hardly explain, 
v/as a supple ash plant, and the bow was a 
primitive weapon, of rude home-make, but could 
throw an arrow straight and true twenty-five to 
thirtv yards. 

My eldest brother was shot in the eye one day in 
one of these duels with the bow, and the tin barb with 
which the arrow was tipped got fixed in the bones 
at the inner angle of the eye, and had to be extracted 
by the village doctor, to whose house we took him. 



He was the hero of the township for many a long- 
day after. 

On another occasion cousin Mcintosh got blown 
up by a mine, which exploded unexpectedly during 
some siege operations. 

The attack on the " Redan," which was defended 
by the " Cossackees," had failed. A series of 
assaults, extending over a long Saturday afternoon, 
left the Russian flag still flying and the garrison 
defiant. It was determined as night drew near to 
blow up the fortress. With the connivance of the 
brave defenders, who even assisted us in the pre- 
paratory sapping and mining work, some four pounds 
of coarse blasting powder were placed in position 
under the south wall of the fort, which looked on 
to the river, and a long train from the mine was 
successfully laid. When all was ready we lit the 
fuse, and besiegers and besieged retired hurriedly to 
a place of safety, and watched eagerly for what 
was to be the glorious finale to a great day's 

But something had gone wrong! No explosion took 
place. As minute after minute passed, and still there 
was no explosion, the excitement grew intense. 
Perhaps the powder was damp, or the train had gone 
out before reaching the mine. To go forward and 
examine was a risky job, as we all knew from 
previous experience. Volunteers were called for, and 
cousin Mcintosh at once stepped to the front. " I'll 
go," he said simply, and he went, there being no 


What happened to him, and how, has been told 
in various ways by the different boys present. I 
can only recount here what I saw for myself and 

My cousin had just reached the fort, and was 
stooping over to examine the mine, when a huge sheet 
of flame shot out and enveloped him from head to 
foot. The force of the explosion threw him heavily 
to the ground, at the same time bringing the 
defences about his ears. 

His comrades rushed to his assistance, and found 
him lying all huddled up — a singed heap — his body 
half covered with fallen masonry. 

His own mother would not have known him at that 
moment. He was unconscious, and at first we 
thought him dead, but after a time he began to 
moan piteously, which relieved us mightily. The 
hair on head and face was gone, and the latter was 
begrimed with blood and mud and gunpowder. 
His front teeth were blown in, or blown out — they 
were never seen again — and his hands and face were 
dreadfully scorched. 

Tenderly the boys lifted the fallen stones off his 
bruised body ; tenderly they wiped the poor bleeding 
face with handkerchiefs — not over-clean I am afraid — 
dipped in the river which ran at their feet ; tenderly 
they carried the brave one home. 

The doctor, who had been sent for, was in waiting 
when we arrived at the house ; and during the two 
hours which he spent picking pebbles and powder out 
of my cousin's face and dressing his burns, and 


patching him up generally, we waited anxiously 
outside to hear the verdict, and while we waited we 
discussed in low tones, but also with a fearful joy, 
the events of the day which had ended in so tragic a 
manner, but which were so like real war. 

When at last the doctor appeared, and announced 
that recovery was more than probable, we all but 
mobbed him in our excitement, and a great cheer was 
raised, after which we quickly dispersed and hurried 
home, feeling more than happy. 

For many weary days cousin Mcintosh lay 
unconscious — the doctor pronounced him to be 
suffering from concussion of the brain ; his eyesight 
was for a time despaired of, and his face was scarred 
and pitted as if he had had a bad attack of 

Many were the anxious inquiries made daily by 
the boys during his slow recovery, and many and 
touching were the little acts of kindness shown by 
them to their wounded comrade, but nothing did 
more to help his return to health than nicknaming 
him " Sebastopol," in honour of his bravery : a 
name which he still bears among his few remaining 

In those now all but forgotten days of wars and 
rumours of war the recruiting sergeant, with a gay 
cock of ribbons fixed jauntily on his cap, and a 
piper or drummer by his side, was a frequent sight. 
Morning, noon, and night he perambulated the 
district, eloquent on the many advantages of an 
army career ; standing treat generously to all young 


men likely to take the Queen's shilling ; now ap- 
pealing to their love of a red coat, now to their 
cupidity, always to their loyalty. Urging them to 
respond to their comrades' cry for help from far 
Crimea, by joining the troops which were being 
hurriedly got together to reinforce the depleted ranks 
of that gallant army which was then lying out in 
the snow before Sebastopol : nor did the Highlanders 
require much urging, as the martial spirit of the 
nation was never more fully aroused than it was 
during the Crimean War. And when the campaign 
was over it was a familiar sight to see the war-worn, 
medal - bedecked pensioners sunning themselves 
against the gable of Uncle M'Intosh's house: a 
sheltered spot and warm, which looked to the south 
and away over the sea — the glorious sea which never 
loses its charm for those born within sound of its 
waves. And here on sunny afternoons, when freed 
from school, we boys used to assemble and listen 
in wonder to those brave old warriors as they fought 
their battles over again, drawing maps on the sand 
with the points of their sticks for our better under- 
standing. The many courageous deeds of their 
comrades were told so simply; the outwitting of the 
stolid, lumbering, heavy-coated Russians seemed so 
easy, as we listened open-mouthed to their tales, 
that we silently wondered how the enemy withstood, 
even for a single day, the assault of those brave 
men who knew the art of war so well. 

A little later and the Indian Mutiny was upon us, 
enveloping the entire nation in a cloud of gloom 



and sorrow. These were the dark days before the 
dawn. I remember my father one day reading aloud 
in the gloaming, with an unsteady voice and dim 
eye, the awful story of the massacre of Cawnpore, 
while my mother, at whose feet I lay, and nestled 
in the firelight, cried and sobbed as if her heart 
vvrould break ; and I, too — not understanding 
altogether — cried aloud out of sympathy with her 
who was always the dearest woman in the world 
to me. 

One more of my early recollections, also associated 
with piping and redcoats, I should like to give here, 
and it will be my last. 

One day, in the autumn of '53, I was taken by 
my father to see Queen \^ictoria as she passed 
through the Crinan Canal on one of her early trips 
to the Highlands. Miller's Bridge, as it was called, 
was the point of vantage aimed at, as at that spot 
the track boat called the Sunbeam slowed down to 
allow of the track-rope being unhitched to clear the 
bridge, and also because from there we commanded 
a good view of a long stretch of canal, and, at the 
same time, of the low or main road along which the 
soldiers who formed the bodyguard of the Queen — 
picked men of the Ninety-Third — were to march on 
their way to Crinan. 

It was thus an ideal spot from which to watch 
the whole proceedings. The weather was " Queen's 
weather." The sun shone out of a cloudless sky, 
flooding the country-side with a glorious mellow 
light. Such a day on the West Coast is something 


to be experienced ; something to be remembered ; 
something to be enjoyed ; but cannot be described. 

It is as superior to an autumn day elsewhere as 
is a Lochfyne herring to every other herring in the 
sea, and leaves happy memories behind. On this 
day of which I speak the warm wind came off the 
sea in short puffs, and wandered and lost itself 
languorously in the tree-tops by the canal bank, as 
if, too, awaiting the coming of the greatest lady in 
the land. The woods of Auchindarroch, which 
dipped down to and kissed the water on the opposite 
bank, were decked out in all their autumn finery of 
brown and gold. The silken stirring of the leaves, 
and the hum of myriad insects whispered of 
eternal summer. The waters of Lochgilp, lying at 
our feet, glistened in the bright sunshine like polished 
silver, and the calm surface of the loch, disturbed 
only by the late swell of the paddle steamer lona^ 
rose and fell with a gentle heaving like the breast 
of some young girl in love's first dream. 

The last bell of the lona had scarcely done ringing 
when the distant sound of Bagpipes announced to 
us that the Queen had started on her journey through 
the canal, and ere long the music, growing clearer 
and louder, heralded the near approach of the soldiers 
as they marched gaily along the low road, to the 
tune of " The Campbells are Coming, Hurrah ! 
Hurrah !" To my great disappointment, however, 
the pipers ceased playing as they drew near to 
Miller's Bridge ; a short disappointment it was, as 
almost immediately the music had ceased a soldier 


Stepped out of the front rank, and facing round so 
that he marched backwards, sang that beautiful 
Jacobite marching song, '' Ho, ro, March Together; 
Ho, ro, Mhorag." At the end of each verse, the 
soldiers took up the chorus, and in this way they 
marched and sang, and sang and marched, until the 
company was lost to sight, and the singing had died 
softly away. To us children, the passing of the 
Highlanders in their gay uniforms, the swing of the 
kilts, the piping, and the singing, were simply en- 
trancing, and together gave a real touch of holiday 
feeling to the afternoon. 

Hardly, however, had silence fallen upon the air 
when it was once more broken by sounds of distant 
cheering, and a thrill of excitement passed through 
the waiting crowd as it eagerly watched for the 
coming of the Queen. As the six grey horses, with 
their little boy riders, came in sight, sweeping round 
the bend at " Taura-vinyan-vhor " like a tornado, the 
great gathering which lined the canal bank, far as eye 
could see, raised a mighty cheer. It was a beautiful 
spectacle which met the eye and an impressive one. 
Each rider wore a black or crimson, gold-braided 
jockey cap, scarlet coat, white corduroy breeches, and 
patent leather boots with yellow tops. Drawn by six 
splendid greys, on this most favoured of days, the 
Sunbeam seemed to fly, and sitting on the top deck, 
smiling and bowing to all, we at length beheld 
Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen. " The 
Queen ! The Queen ! " shouted the people, " God 
bless the Queen ! " cried old and young. 


Perched on my father's shoulder, I had a splendid 
view of everything, and shall never forget the 

The crowd around us cheered again and again with 
wild enthusiasm as the boat slowed down going 
through the narrow bridgeway, and feasted their eyes 
upon the "little lady" who ruled so lightly over so 
mighty a kingdom ; but as for me, though carried 
away by the prevailing enthusiasm for a moment, 
being yet but a child, my eyes soon wandered away 
from the main attraction of the day to the six grey 
horses with their little rider-boys, who in their 
smart gay-coloured trappings looked as if fresh out 
of Fairyland. 



"VTO musical instrument has been subjected to so 
much hostile criticism as the Great Highland 

No musical instrument has been so often made the 
butt of the heavy after-dinner wits ! 

Men, in whom the sense of humour seems entirely 
awanting, waken up on the first mention of the word 
Bagpipe, feeling that their reproach is about to be 
taken from them — now they will show that they too 
are possessed of a nice wit — and nine out of ten such 
answer the simple question " Do you like the 

Bagpipe?" with, '* Oh, yes ! I like the Bagpipe ■ 

at a distance." The long pause after Bagpipe 
punctuates the wit, and prepares for the laughter 
that always follows. 

Is this sort of thing not becoming a little stale ? 

It may be clever ! I really do not know ; but even 
the best joke loses force from over-repetition. 

Demades, the Athenian Orator, a man " of no 
character or principle," who lived in the beginning 
of the fourth century, B.C., was among the first to set 


the fashion of laughing at the Pipe, and there has 
been a host of imitators since his day. 

Falstaff, that unprincipled braggart, says that he is 
''as melancholy as the drone of a Lincolnshire 

Shylock's reference to it is unfit for gentle ears. 

Otway, of whom his biographer writes " little is 
known, nor is there any part of that little which his 
biographer can take pleasure in relating," said once, 
" A Scotch song ! I hate it worse than a Scotch 

While William Black, the novelist, not to be 
outdone in originality by these old writers, harps 
upon the same string thus — " Sermons, like the 
Scotch Bagpipes (sic), sound very well, — when one 
does not hear them." 

Only the other day an English critic, who was 
present at a large gathering of Highlanders in one of 
the Midland towns, wrote to his paper as follows : — 
"The Highlanders cheered loud and long as the 
pipers marched into the hall to the strain of the 
Bagpipes. The Englishmen also cheered heartily 
Tiohen the pipers marched out.'' 

The italics mark the humour, and prevent the 
careless reader from missing a joke, all time-worn and 
thread-bare as it is. 

" Now, by two-headed Janus, 
Nature hath framed strange fellows in her time : 
Some that will evermore peep through their eyes, 
And laugh like parrots at a Bagpiper." 



'X'HE Humourist does not always shine as a wit 
when poking fun at the Bagpipe, but he is as 
a rule good-natured. 

There is nothing spiteful ; nothing giving '*just 
cause for offence," in the allusions to the Bagpipe just 

The modern critic, however, stands on a different 
platform in this respect from the wit. The Kplnk or 
judge is lost in the carper or faultfinder. The critic 
in short becomes the finic, and in his findings 
there is none of that "Mercy that boasteth over 

He seems to me always to approach his subject in 
an atrabilious frame of mind. He is at once, and 
strongly antagonistic. The Bagpipe acts on him like 
the proverbial red rag on the bull. Anger sits at his 
nostrils. He lays about him like a man with a 
sledge-hammer ; caring for nothing, not even for 
truth, so long as he can strike and wound and 

And, as might be suspected, in his criticisms 


good-nature and humour are both conspicuous by 
their absence. 

Here are a few choice specimens, culled at random, 
from these flowers of speech ! " An instrument of 
torture," writes one ; " As vile an instrument as it is 
possible to conceive," writes another ; "A sorry 
instrument, capable only of making an intolerable 
noise," says a third ; *' A barbarous instrument, harsh 
and untunable," writes a fourth; "A squeeling 
pig" in a poke," and " A portable screech owl." 
These last two make up a wandering Jew's genial 
contribution to the criticism of the carpers. 

This is mud-throwing quite worthy of Mr T. W. 
Crossland at his best, but it is not fair criticism. It is 
Billingsgate pure and simple. 

It is the voice of unreason and querulous discontent. 
This is the sort of criticism that suggested once to 
Disraeli the famous saying : "■ You know who the 
critics are. The men who have failed in literature 
and art." And the failures are as a rule a dis- 
contented and a supercilious lot. 

Let us now take and examine for curiosity's sake 
one of those typical magazine articles on the 
Bagpipe, from the pen of the musical expert, which 
crop up periodically. 

The critic on this occasion is one Mr John Storer 
(Mus. Doc). He it is who called the Pipe in his own 
elegant way "An instrument of torture." Surely, 
"A Daniel come to judgment!" Can we expect 
fair play for the Bagpipe from a judge who condemns 
before the case is well begun ? It is a little difficult to 


imagine so: but let us see. Mr Storer, having given 
his readers a taste of his pretty wit in these words, 
the Bagpipe is an " instrument of torture," proceeds 
gravely to his task of critic, — Heaven save the mark ! 

I waded through what turned out to be a dry and 
barren rigmarole — I do not wish to be disrespectful, 
but no other word is so truthfully expressive of the 
article — hoping, alas in vain, to pick up some 
crumbs of knowledge from this expert's lore. 

He is powerful in " gibes and flouts and jeers," but 
in nothing else. His knowledge of the subject is 
surely of the flimsiest ! His facts are travesties 
of truth. 

" Although to most cultivated ears," he says, 
" The Bagpipe is not a thing of pleasure or joy, it is 
nevertheless a curious fact that it has a fascination for 
those who have little or no ear for the ?nusic of any 
other instrimient, and no less a man that Dr Johnson, 
whose musical knowledge was in his own words 
limited to being able to distinguish the sound of a 
drum from that of a trumpet, and a Bagpipe from 
that of a guitar, seemed nevertheless to take pleasure 
in the tones of a Bagpipe. He loved to stand with 
his ear close to the big drone. The picture thus 
conjured up of the great lexicographer is, to say the 
least of it, most diverting ; certainly there is no 
accounting for taste. '^ 

This is the sort of rubbish which a certain type 
of musical critic palms off as criticism upon an 
unsuspecting public. 

Now, bad taste, which is the taste Mr Storer refers 


to here, and which he illustrates by his article, is 
easily accounted for. It is generally due to 
ignorance. Mr vStorer also says it is a curious fact 
that the Bagpipe has a fascination for those who have 
no ear for music. 

Where and when did Mr Storer learn this fact? 
Did he first prove it for himself before he gave it to 
the world ? 

Did he take a census of the many thousands who 
love the Bagpipe? And then, did he test their ears? 
If not, what of his curious fact ? He must have 
taken it on trust from some Hi'ghland humourist, who 
was perhaps "coaching" him on the subject before 
he wrote his article, or it is but the figment of his own 
brain. The latter is, in my opinion, the more likely 
hypothesis of the two. 

Mr Storer's reasoning, however, is no sounder than 
his ** fact," when we come to examine it, and summed 
up in a nutshell it amounts to this : — 
Dr Johnson had no ear for music. 
( Dr Johnson loved the Bagpipe. 
All who love the Bagpipe have no ear for music. 
Or, again — 

The Bagpipe is an " instrument of torture ; " 

No one with an ear for music loves it ; 

A great many people love it ; 

A great many people have no ear for music. 


Now, as a matter of fact, within most people's 
knowledge the Bagpipe is not an " instrument of 
torture " when well played any more than is the fife, 
or flute, or fiddle, or organ ! And it is simply not 
true to say that only " persons with little or no ear" 
enjoy its music. 

We have a good example in the " Unspeakable 
Scot," of how a whole nation may be traduced by a 
writer who snaps his fingers at truth, and makes 
facts to suit himself. 

In the same way to ridicule any musical instrument 
is an easy matter. 

Take for example that prince of instruments, the 
fiddle. We all know what a delight it is in the hands 
of a Sarasate playing on a peerless Stradivarius. 
But Sarasates are as rare as great pipers, and a 
*' Strad " is not in every fiddler's hand : so if we 
are to judge the violin fairly, some allowance must 
be made for the indifferent player, and the cheap 
badly-made instrument. 

The caterwaulings of the budding violiniit, or the 
unmusical scrapings on the catgut of the drunken 
street fiddler are no doubt disagreeable, and lend 
themselves to the ridiculous. 

The fiddle in such hands may be even more 
painful to the ''cultivated ear" than Mr Storer's 
London Bagpipes ; but no fair-minded critic would 
on this account call the fiddle "an instrument of 

It seems, however, impossible for a certain class of 
critics to review the Bagpipe in an impartial spirit. 

Tuning up the Northumbrian Small Pipe of Six Reeds. 


Even Mr W. Chappell in that otherwise delight- 
ful book of his, " Popular Music of the Olden 
Times," cannot resist having a quiet fling at it in 

"Formerly," he says, "the Bagpipe was in use 
among all the lower classes in England, although 
nov) happily confined to the Northy From which 
remark we may infer that Mr Chappell, the Eng- 
lishman, would willingly see it consigned not only 
to the North, but to the back of the North Pole as 
well, or, in fact, kicked over the edge of the world 
into everlasting perdition, if that were possible. 

" Take heed of critics," said Dekker, " they bite, 
like fish, at anything." And so it is with musical 
critics, W'hen they get on this subject ; they both 
bark and bite at the Bagpipe. The above statement 
by Mr Chappell might well lead the incautious 
reader to think that the Bagpipe was confined to 
the lower orders in England. 

This is not the case, however. It was patronised 
by Royalty from remotest times. The early kings of 
England kept Pipers, and on one occasion at least, 
the King — as the exchequer rolls show — paid for 
his Piper's musical training, and sent him, at his 
own expense, to visit the famous Continental schools. 
It was also a general favourite at one time with the 
upper classes, as well as with the common people. 

But it has been so long silent in the South that 
there is some excuse for the Englishman who, after 
listening to and enjoying a Highland pibroch, asked 
the piper to play it over again in English. There 



is no excuse, however, for the learned ignorance 
which some musicians display when writing on this 

Dr. vStorer and Mr Chappell are both Englishmen, 
I presume, and are probably, on this account, un- 
acquainted with the peculiar and old-fashioned scale 
of the chanter which the piper has to contend with. 

They cannot surely have heard any of the great 
masters play. 

At all events they seem to have taken their ideas 
of pipe music from the incoherent ramblings of the 
London street piper, the Whitechapel Highlander? 
a creature with nothing Highland in him, unless it 
be the whisky that is oozing out of every pore of 
his dirty body ? — a huge sham of a Highlander who 
takes the ill-tuned, ill-made affair, called by courtesy 
a Bagpipe, out of the pawnshop, along with his 
kilt, every Monday morning, and with hideous 
noises, kills the quiet places, which are already all 
too fev*^ in our great cities. I readily acknowledge 
that this class of piper is beyond the pale, and is a 

fit subject for ridicule, if any critic care to stoop so 



T^HE Bagpipe is an instrument of great antiquity. 
■^ All authorities are agreed upon this. 

The great Highland Bagpipe, which is the perfected 
pipe, is also a handsome instrument when decorated 
with silk tassel and fluttering ribbon, and bright 
tartan cover. And the piper, with shoulders well 
back and head erect, is a pleasing sight as he 
marches backwards and forwards to the rhythm of 
the music. 

There is an old proverb that says, " Handsome is 
as handsome does," and here the Bagpipe takes 
precedence of such puny competitors as harp or 
fiddle ; for of all Scotland's instruments, what other 
can compare with it for usefulness? For centuries it 
has done the nation's turn handsomely. 

It has always been where war's alarms were 
thickest, from the day when it led the clansmen at 
the bloody battle of Harlaw, or piped reveille in 
Priiice Charles Edward Stuart's camp, or carried a 
message of hope to the beleaguered garrison of 
Lucknow ; to but yesterday, when it cheered on the 


sons of the empire at Elandslaaghte, and stayed 
the rout on that disastrous day at Maagersfontein. 

But again ! What other instrument in times of 
peace has entered so closely into the daily life of 
the old Scottish Celt? Sweetening the toils of his 
labours with its old-world songs ; enlivening his 
hours of recreation with its merry strathspeys and 
reels ; soothing the burden of his sorrows with its 
plaintive laments. 

At once the saddest and the liveliest of instru- 
ments, this '* antique " appeals from a past that is 
gone for ever, and — cla^ in all its old-world panoply 
of neuter-third scale v\ath droning bass — challenges 
attention, and claims a hearing, and will not be 

At one time the welcome inmate of the palace, 
the companion of kings and princes ; at another 
time a dweller in the slums, the associate of 
wandering minstrels and beggars. 

At one moment the darling of the upper classes, 
made of costly woods inlaid with precious stones, 
or fashioned with beautiful ivory, with silver keys 
attached, and clothed in purple velvet rich with the 
embroidery of fair hands. Anon ! The herdboy's 
plaything, made of " ane reid and ane bleddir," 
deposed from its high position, and driven out of 
society as " a rude and barbarous instrument." 

When fallen upon evil days, the piper of yore, 
shouldering his " pipes," and shaking the dust of 
the city from off his feet, retired to the old home 
among the mountains, where he was sure of a wel- 


come from the lonely goatherd, whose favourite 
instrument it was from the earliest of ages ; whose 
invention it was ; and where he could bide his time 
waiting for better days. The Bagpipe has in this 
way survived the royal displeasure, the neglect of 
the great and wealthy, the denunciation of bard and 
minstrel, and the criticism of hostile musicians ; and 
it is still a living force in the world. 

A Jew, who once visited Strathglass in the High- 
lands, nearly a hundred years ago, was much struck 
with the power which this rude instrument wielded 
over the Highlander. 

Now this Jew hated Bagpipe music as he hated 
the Evil One. When his Highland host, profuse in 
hospitality to the last, sent a piper to play him 
some miles on his way at leaving, he returned his 
hospitality by saying ungraciously — only after he 
left the Highlands well behind him, you may be 
sure — " My young Highlander played me on the 
road five miles, and I would gladly have sunk the 
portable screech-ov/1 appendage." 

He hated the very name of Bagpipe. To him in 
his ignorance this love of the Highlander for the 
Pipe was incomprehensible. He felt himself com- 
pletely out of touch with a people who could 
appreciate such music. It annoyed him ; and in 
his wrath he cried aloud, "To think that this 
squeeling pig in a poke should be the great lever 
of a people's passion." 

We want no better testimony than this of the Jew 
— prejudiced as he was — to the influence and power 


of the Bagpipe in olden times. '* The great lever 
of a people's passion " it was in all verity. 
And should this not be so? 

Its history is one of which every Scotsman should 
be proud. 

Its power over the Highlanders in Strathglass 
and elsewhere was not a mere flash in the pan. 
More than once, as history tells us, the soldier 
refused to advance in battle except to its music ; 
and under its influence the dying man has often 
cut his moorings, and drifted out into the unknown 
sea with a smile on his face. 

Its influence over men's passions goes back to 
early times as well. 

Nor has this power been exerted upon only one 
race, nor confined to only one age. Centuries ago 
civilised Europe adopted it as the instrument of 
instruments. All sorts and conditions of men : 
Greek, Latin, Roumanian, Bulgarian, Austrian, 
Hungarian, German, Frenchman, Spaniard, fell 
under the influence of its sway, and sang or danced 
to its pipings. 

And centuries before this, while history still 
"lisped in numbers," the Bagpipe was held in high 
repute. For are we not told of kingly feet dancing 
to its music as early as the second century before 
Christ, and of royal hands fingering the chanter 
in the first century of the present era? It is of this 
instrument then that I would speak.. 
A handsome instrument withal. 
One of the oldest musical instruments in the world, 


but to all seeming blessed with perpetual youth. It is 
fresh and vigorous to-day as when it sounded in 
the ears of Rome's Imperial master, or when, still 
earlier, Antiochus, the proud Syrian monarch, danced 
to its measures. Nor would our late noble Queen, 
Victoria the Great, have kept a piper if she did not 
delight in its strange quaint music, so different 
indeed in character, and in its effect upon the 
listener, from the cultivated melodies of to-day. 

The Highland Bagpipe is as old as the High- 
lander himself, in spite of what the modern critic 
says, and notwithstanding the silence of the 

The Celt took it with him to the Highlands when 
he migrated there, along with his household gods, 
and many another thing not mentioned in history, 
and not yet labelled in the collections of the 



" To mind the inside of a book is to entertain one's self 
with the forced products of another man's brain. Now, I 
think a man of quality and breeding maj' be much amused 
with the natural sprouts of his own." 

Lord Foppington in The Relapse. 

r^ENTLE READER, if 3^ou wish to know the 
^^ why and the wherefore of this little book, 
written in our so-enlightened twentieth century, upon 
so archaic a subject as the Bagpipe, these are to be 
found — if I have made myself at all intelligible — in 
the introductory chapters. 

As, however, you may not care to wade through 
what are, after all, little better than half-forgotten 
reminiscences, loosely strung together, and probably 
interesting only to the writer of them, I will here 
state shortly the reasons which have induced me to 
take up the pen — an instrument which I most 
thoroughly detest ! — and appear before the world as 
an author at a time of life Avhen most men seek 
seclusion and ease. 

The first reason then is this. In my youth 
everything Highland was discouraged and held up 

An African Bagpipe : 

The bag made from the whole skin of a small doe or g^azelle. The blow-pipe, 
whicli is carved, is the leg-bone of a flamingo or other bird. The horns are used 
as terminals to the double reed of the chanter. 


to ridicule. The old language, the old dress, and 
the old music shared a common fate. The Highland 
sentiments which found untrammelled expression in 
private when we boys were alone of an evening, 
telling stories round the garret fire, and which should 
have been treasured and guarded as a something 
*' better than rubies," were ruthlessly stamped out. 
The Highland instincts with which I was born, and 
which should have been zealously fostered and nursed 
into full growth by my parents, were severely 

And this book is the outcome of the reaction which 
set in after mature years. 

It is my protest against a treatment which might 
have destroyed — but which, luckily for me, did not do 
so — all those Highland tendencies and aspirations of 
my youth, to which I still cling as to something that 
is dearer than life, and which makes it possible for m.e 
to-day — for me, who, perforce, have lived the better 
part of my life among the cities of the plain — to 
" turn mine eyes to the hills," when in travail, as 
did of old the sweet Singer of Israel, and to say 
in all sincerity and love, " My heart's in the 

My next reason is this ! 

Scotsmen — not to say Highlanders — have shewn 
themselves, by their writings and otherwise, 
wondrously ignorant of the main subject of this 
book — the Bagpipe and Bagpipe music. 

Take for example these common words — slogan, 
coronach, and pibroch. 


Slogan, I need hardly say, is the Avar-cry or 
gathering word of the clan. And yet in the latest 
and only book on the Bagpipe, Mr Manson (p. 133) 
gravely tells us that the piper " began to play the 
slogan of the clan." 

I hold in my hand at this moment a piece of 
music sent to me from Aberdeen, and set to the 
''pipes," entitled "General Hector MacDonald's 

Coronach, or cronach, is a crying or shouting 
together ; from comh (together) and ranach (an out- 
cry). It is the wailing and clapping of hands by 
the old women gathered round the bier. It is the 
kreen or keen of the Irish, and is still practised in 
Ireland. It has nothing to do with pipe music and 
never had ; and yet a gentleman who, if not a 
Highlander, appears constantly in the Highland 
dress, and is looked upon by many as one of the 
leading exponents of Highland music, writes a piece 
of Bagpipe music, and calls it " General Hector 
MacDonald's Coronach." How this mistake in the 
meaning of the word coronach arose, or when, I do 
not know, but it was some time after the '45. The 
earliest example known to me occurs in a book 
written in 1783 by one W. F. Martyn, where he 
says " The Highland funerals were generally pre- 
ceded by Bagpipes, which played certain dirges 
called coronachs." 

Now the dirge on the Bagpipe is a lament 
(Gaelic, ciimlia) and not a coronach. 

But even Logan in "The Scottish Gael," 1831, 


mixes up the ciimha or lament of the "pipes" with 
the coronach or lament of the old women. In 
vol. ii.. pp. 284-5, he says, "The piobrachd, as its 
name implies, is properly a pipe tune, and is 
usually the crunneachadh or gathering, but also 
includes a cumha^ coronach or lament, and a failte, 
salute or welcome. 

And to make sure that his meaning shall not be 
mistaken, he adds, "Their characters are much 
alike, with the exception of the coronach^ which is 
of course particularly slow, plaintive, and expres- 

John Hill Burton, the historian, makes a double 
blunder in the use of this word. He talks of a war 
coronach. In his " Life of Simon, Lord Lovat," 
published in 1847, we read, " Before these out- 
rages " — perpetrated by Simon — "the Frasers seem 
to have been enjoying a degree of repose and 
tranquility, which in their hot mountain blood must 
have been felt as an unwholesome stagnation. It 
would be to the delight of their fierce natures that 
one morning the war coronach was heard along 
Stratheric and Strathglass, and the crossterie or 
fiery cross passed on. It may be said that the 
"war coronach" here means war pipe, and not a 
pipe tune at all ; the word, of course, has no such 

Fifty years later. Dr. Walter C. Smith, writing 
in " Kildrostan," says " Eachain Macrimmon is 
playing a coronach^ as it were for a chief." 

No wonder that with such authorities before them^ 


smaller writers are busy to-day perpetuating a 
blunder, that an acquaintance with the great writers 
of the past should have prevented them from ever 

Simon, Lord Lovat, in a letter to President 
Forbes, date 1745, writes, " If I am killed here it 
is not far from my burial place ; and I will have, 
after I am dead, what I always wished, the cronach 
of all the women in tny country to convey my body 
to the grave ; and that has been my ambition when 
I was in my happiest situation in the world." This 
wonderful man, whose whole career was full of 
strange happenings, and of whom it might be said 
with truth, that " Men's bad deeds are writ in brass, 
their good deeds writ in water," had the unique 
experience of hearing his own coronach. Knowing 
that their captured Chief was already as good as 
dead ; knowing full well that they would never see 
his face again, now that a cruel government had got 
hold of him, the wail of the old women, singing 
his coronach, followed the litter on which lay Morar 
Shime — long a helpless cripple from gout — as he was 
being carried through his own beloved country of 
Stratheric on his way to London and the scaffold. 

In "Humphrey Clinker," published about 1771, 
Smollet says : " attended by the coronach of a multi- 
tude of old hags who tore their hair." 

And, again, Pennant, who published his book in 
1774, mentions " the coronach or singing at funerals." 
While Sir Walter Scott, in 1814, writes, "Their wives 
and daughters came clapping their hands, and crying 


their coronach, and shreiking." These three things 
together — the shreiking, and crying, and clapping 
of hands — constituted the coronach. 

The third word, pibroch (Gaelic, piohrachd or 
piobaireachd), is also being constantly misapplied for 
Bagpipe and march. 

I am often asked, " How is the piobrach getting 
on?" meaning how is the Bagpipe getting on ; and 
a few weeks ago I took the following quotation 
from a daily newspaper :— 

" Ichabod is the watchword for the Highlands 
and Islands, and the piobrach may skirl the lament," 

Writers constantly talk of marching to piobrachs, 
which is a little absurd, when we remember that 
the piobrach is a piece of classical music, in which 
the time is constantly varying from the largo or 
andante of the air (Gaelic, urlar) to the allegro of 
the closing movement, the crnnluadh, and cannot 
therefore be marched to. 

In poetry this use of the word piobrach is perhaps 


" Sound the piobrach loud and high, 
Frae John-o-Groats to Isle of Skye ! " 

As this old song has it, it is at least poetical, although 
it is really the Pipe which is sounded. 

In Lord Byron we read, " For when the piobrach 
bids the battle rage ; " an expression that oft^nds 
neither eye nor ear, although not correct, strictly 

And Miss Mary Campbell, in "The March of the 


Cameron Men," that proudest and most patriotic 
of Highland songs, makes the chorus repeat again 
and again : — 

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

One poet, in that well-known song, "The 
Hundred Pipers, and a', and a'," even goes the 
the length of making the soldiers, after they had 
crossed a swollen river, dance themselves dry to 
the piobrach's sound. Now pioh is the pipe, piohair 
the piper, and piohaireachd the piper's special 
music, and the one should never be substituted for 
the other. 

A third reason for taking up the pen is this. 

I have got together a collection of Bagpipes be- 
longing to various peoples and countries, which 
will, in all probability, one day get scattered. It is 
the fate of most collections of curios ; and I wish 
to perpetuate by means of photo-illustrations in this 
book not only the pipes, which are interesting in 
themselves, but the many lessons to be learned from 
a study of them. 

And my last reason for venturing upon the 
troublous sea of authorship, at this time, must also 
be my justification. 

I have got a message to deliver to my brother 
Highlander ! 

When Mr Carnegie of Skibo Castle was address- 
ing the students of St. Andrews University as their 



recently appointed Lord Rector, he spoke with the 
light of the flaring torches reflected from a hundred 
opposing windows, bringing into relief, out of the 
darkness, the faces of the great crowd that surged in 
the street below. And he finished up a happy speech 
with words to this effect^ — 'Let your motto be, 'I 
will carry the torch of truth into the dark places of 
the world.' " These words, spoken under such cir- 
cumstances, had an added significance that must 
have impressed itself upon the receptive youths 
around. Now the history of the Bagpipe needs 
illuminating badly. It is one of the dark places of 
the world, so to speak. I believe that I can throw 
some light upon it. My torch may be only a rush- 
light, but if it brings into viev/ a single hidden 
truth, however small, I have no right to hide it 
under a bushel. ''Let your light so shine, that 
it may be seen of all men," is the command of the 

It is enough for me then, that I think I have 
some truth to unfold, something new to say, or 
something to say in a new way, and this must 
be, after all, my sole justification for troubling an 
already book-ridden world with one more volume. 



" To travel hopefully is better than to arrive, and the 
true success is in labour," 

Robert Louis Stevenson. 

OOME time in 1901 there was issued from 
^-^ the well-known publishing firm of Alexander 
Gardner, Paisley, a rather voluminous work, entitled 
" The Highland Bagpipe, " by W. L. Manson. 

This v^olume, containing so much interesting and 
varied information, must have cost Mr Manson an 
infinite amount of trouble, and every true Highlander 
will readily acknowledge his indebtedness to him for 
the interest he has displayed in, and the learning he 
has expended upon, the unravelling of the tangled 
skein of Bagpipe history. 

It is so far the only work wholly devoted — as its 
title indicates — to the '* History and Literature and 
Music of the Pipe." 

It is indeed the only work of the kind in this or in 
any other language, so far as I know, if we are to 
except a small French book written by Mersenne 
in 1631. 


of a small wooden piper playing on a one-drone Pipe. Found at Dinon, in France. 
Supposed to be taken from an old church when it was being dismantled. 

Presented by Miss Ella Risk of Bankier. 


With Mr Manson's goodly-sized volume before us, 
then, is there any need for another book on a subject 
interesting only to the few, and about which so little 
is known ? 

I think there is. 

Is there a demand for a new work? 

I believe so. And having the courage of my 
opinion, I mean at any rate to put it to the test, and if 
the world proves me in the wrong, by leaving my 
book to dissolve itself away in the butter shop — Well ! 
better books have gone there ere now, and ' ' to travel 
hopefully is better than to arrive, and the true success 
is in labour." My reason, however, for so thinking 
is this : Mr Manson's book has itself created the 
demand for further information. 

His praise like his blame is ill-balanced and 
somewhat erratic. 

He blows hot and cold by turns, and never seems 
long in the same mood. And it is the unexpected 
that you meet with more frequently than not on 
turning over the page. 

He says too much or too little. He leaves many 
interesting questions unanswered, after just whetting 
our curiosity ; and our hopes of arriving at some safe 
conclusion are raised at one moment, only to be 
dashed to the ground at the next. 

In short, his opinions, . to which one looks for 

guidance, are too often only half formed, and, like 

all things in the process of formation, are nebulous 

and want crystalising. 

On this account the reader generally rises from a 



perusal of Mr Manson's book unsatisfied, and with a 
feeling of irritation that is quite intelligible. 

He wants something more definite than is there ; 
he asks for bread, and refuses to be content with a 

He wants more definite praise : more definite 
blame, if you will ! 

He does not like to be told in one chapter, 
e.g.,^ that "Some have invented contrivances and 
modifications for bringing the instrument nearer to 
all-round music, and are not likely to succeed'''' ; and 
in the next chapter, to learn that in Mr Manson's 
opinion **The Bagpipe is the result of an evolution 
process, and we may yet see it further improved." 

Nor can one wonder if the intelligent Highlander 
doubts whether a writer knows anything about the 
*' Pipes, " who asserts that the instrument can be 
modulated during playing, as the following quotation 
from this book seems to indicate : *' The more hot 
and deadly the fire became, the more highly strung 
became the pipers' feelings, and the louder squeeled 
the Pipes." 

I don't want to quarrel with the word "squeeled," 
applied to the Pipe, although it is not a very 
complimentary one, but I may point out, without, I 
hope, giving offence, that the loudness of the Bagpipe 
is the same throughout the tune, and does not vary, 
and is quite irrespective of the feeling of the piper 
or of the number of bullets knocking about. 

We are also informed by Mr Manson that "The 
old pipers could indeed so regulate their instrument 


as to make their music almost as sweet as that of 
the violin, but," he adds, "sweetness is not the 
outstanding feature of the Bagpipe." 

I do not know that the old piper could regulate his 
instrument more than the modern piper. The only- 
regulation is the difference in tone between a soft and 
a hard set of reeds. 

In the tail of the last sentence, you will notice, there 
is a sting only half veiled. 

Such pin pricks meet one at every turn in this 
work, and are thrown in, I suppose, as a sop to those 
who dislike the Pipe ; but as these are the very people 
who will never open the book, it is " love's labour 
lost" in appealing to their understandings. 

But, again, no one has ever attributed sweetness 
as "its outstanding feature" to the great War Pipe 
of the Highlands. Kid gloves and sweetness are not 
always desirable on the battlefield, as we learned to 
our cost in South Africa, and the Bagpipe is first and 
above all things a war instrument. 

Still many people are pleasurably affected by the 
Bagpipe even in times of peace ; and to such this 
"rude and barbarous instrument," while not in itself 
sweetness, can discourse sweet music pleasantly. 

What air, for example, is sweeter than the old 
Pipe tune "Bonny Strathmore," or softer and more 
melodious than "Bonny Ellen Owen," cr more filled 
with pathos than is that delightful litde air called 
^' After the Battle?" 

Chevalier Newkomn, the friend and companion of 
Mendelssohn in his tour through Scotland in 1829, 


Strikes the right key-note in his criticism of the 
Bagpipe when, in answer to some carping critic, he 
wrote, " When you traverse a Highland glen you 
must not expect the breath of roses, but must be 
content with the smell of heather. In like manner 
Highland music has its rude wild charms." 

One other and last example well illustrates the 
difficulty of getting at Mr Manson's real opinion on 
any subject connected with the Bagpipe. To say that 
it has an "actual language," he calls a "wild 
fanciful notion." " Of the speaking power of the 
Pipes about 75 per cent, exists in the vivid 
imagination of the Highlander . . . the Bagpipe 
cannot speak any more than it can fly." 

As it stands this opinion is definite enough ; but 

what are we to think of the writer when a few pages 

further on we read the following : — " The Piobrach 

of *" Daorach Rohhi' contains the keenest satire ever 

levelled at the vice of drunkenness. The ludicrous 

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-recurring notes, ' Seall a nis air ' (look at 

him now) are enough to annihilate any person 

possessing the least sensibility." Is this not 

speaking! and plain speaking too? If the Bagpipe 

can express half of the above, if it possess notes that 

can sneer, and notes that scathe with their keen satire, 

it has surely an "actual language." I do not know 

this marvellous tune by the name of ^^ Daorach 

Robbi,'' but if it is the same as the pibroch called 


^^ An Daorach Mhor'' or "The Big Spree," it is 
one of my favourites, and trips out of the chanter 
with uncertain steps, Hke a merry Bacchanal. No 
tune gives my little ones greater pleasure, after they 
have retired for the night, than this one, the piper 
playing and acting the tune backwards and forwards 
along the nursery floor, previously cleared of all 

Staggering along to the irregular measure of the 
pibroch, one can give a very good imitation of a man 
who is being gradually overcome in his cups. The 
effect is entirely due to the halting measure of the 
tune ; the satire, if it can be called satire, is eminently 
good-natured. Tennyson gets a similar effect in his 
" Northern Farmer " — a rhythmic effect — where he 
imitates the jog-trot of the farmer's old mare by the 
idle refrain " Proputty, proputty, proputty." 



n^O-DAY is New-Year's Day, the first of January, 

In my young days, the Twelfth, a date now all 
but forgotten, was the day, and a great day too ! 
The whole village, dressed in its Sunday best, turned 
out early to football and shinty. 

There were no restrictions in numbers or in age : 
old and young met on the same field, and all were 
made welcome. Twenty ! Fifty ! One hundred a 
side ! And the more the merrier. 

How well I remember the old days ! 

My heart still beats faster at the thoughts con- 
jured up by them. 

We are told somewhere that *' A thousand years is 
to the Lord as one day ; " and what is the longest of 
lifetimes when looked back upon, to man made in His 
image — to man the Godlike? 

It is but as yesterday. 

The memory of events that happened on a certain 
New Year's Day some forty years ago, rises up before 
me while I write, clear and distinct as crag and scaur 
on summer hill before rain. 


My dearest school friend and myself — we were as 
David and Jonathan in the closeness of our friend- 
ship ! — were to take part in the game of football for 
the first time. How proud we felt, as we marched 
alongside of our seniors to the bank field, which was 
granted free for the occasion by Campbell of Auchin- 
darroch, — the Pipers leading the way to the tune of 
" Bhanais, a bhanais, a bhanais a Raora." 

There was a cool crisp feeling in the air that in- 
toxicated, and many an iron-shod boot struck out 
anvil-notes from the hard ground as we made our 
way to the scene of action, making music in hearts 
already brimming over with the joy of gladness. 

Every sound had a special significance to us on 
that morning of mornings, and seemed laden with a 
message of " Peace and goodwill to man." 

The twittering of the sparrows under the eaves of 
the house ; the chirp of the robin in the holly bush 
hard by ; the whimpering of the sea-birds on the ice- 
bound shore, — I seem to hear them still. 

From the frozen river below, where some children 
were sliding, and one solitary skater, too "delicate" 
to take part in the great game, was wheeling about in 
graceful curves, the song of the ice floated up on the 
calm morning air, a delight to the ear. 

While we waited for the settling of the all-important 
preliminaries, such as the choosing of captains and 
sides and the fixing of goals, the suspense was de- 
licious, and it was with a thrill of excitement that 
we heard our own names at length called. 

And now — having won the toss — as our captain, a 


tall, Strapping young fisherman, in huge jack boots, 
stepped proudly out and in front of the field kicked 
off the ball, a mighty shout went up from a hundred 
throats strained to cracking point, that rent the air in 
twain, and hurtled north, disturbing the rooks as they 
sat warming their toes in the Bishopton trees, and 
sped west, past the canal and Auchindarroch House 
to the dark Tomb Wood, where the jackdaws, cower- 
ing among the ivy on the ruined walls, heard it and 
wondered ; and swept south over the frozen waters 
of Lochgilp, crackling through the solitary street 
which formed the fishing village of Ardrishaig like 
a salvo of artillery, and bringing the old women to 
their doors. 

These latter, with many a wise shake of the head 
and sapient nod, breathed forth in one breath a hope 
and a prophecy. " Sure it's the boys at the ba'," said 
the one to the other. " I hope there'll no be blood- 
shed before they're done." 

It was not a very venturesome prophecy this to 
make ; not a very bold suggestion on the part of the 
old wives of Ardrishaig, who spoke from an intimate 
knowledge of their mankind and his behaviour in the 
past ; for wherever men from different townships were 
gathered together in those days, whether at games or 
sports, at fairs or markets, at weddings or funerals, 
the most trivial discussion, once started, generally 
ended in a free fight. 

But on this particular day of which I write the sun 
shone out of a clear sky all morning, flooding the 
land and the hearts of the players with brightness 

This is n Photogfraph of 

Two Instruments allied to the Bagpipe. 

On the left is the Chinese Cheng, a wind instrument as old as the days of 
Confucius. On the right is the Indian snake-channer's pipe. The wind bag in 
both these instances is represented by a hoUowed-out gourd. 



and gladness, and leaving no dark corner anywhere 
for fierce or angry thoughts to breed in. 

The only accident indeed that happened during the 
forenoon, and a pretty frequent one too, was the 
bursting of the bladder with which the old-fashioned 
football was blown up. When this occurred, came our 

At the game itself we boys were not of much use. 
Playing on the outskirts of the crowd, for safety's 
sake, we occasionally got the chance of picking up 
the ball and of running off with it ; but how could we 
run far, with a huge Jack in seven-league boots close 
on our tracks, and rapidly overtaking us with mighty 
stride ? 

Now, however, when it came to the buying of a 
bladder we could be useful. We knew right well the 
difference between the three kinds which generally 
adorned the flesher's shop, as they hung in rows from 
strong- iron hooks fixed into the wooden rafters over- 
head. It would take a very clever man to palm off 
upon us — young and all as we were — the inferior 
sheep's or cow's for the more substantial pig's. 
Threepence, fourpence, and fivepence were the usual 
prices, but on New Year's Day the demand was great 
and prices ruled high, the unconscionable butcher 
making extortionate demands — even to the extent of 
eightpence or ninepence — from the players, who were 
of course in his power, the demand being greater 
than the supply. 

On this occasion I was one of the two who were 
chosen for the special mission of bladder-buying, 


and it was with a feeling- of great importance that 
we ran down the crowded field in view of all on our 
way to the village square, where stood the butcher's 

" Be sure you bring a pig's," cried one greybeard; 
*' Get it as cheap as you can," said another ; while a 
score of voices sped us on our way with the shout of 
" Hurry back ; hurry back." 

And hurry back we did, I can assure you, breath- 
less and panting, but full of pride and joy at having 
knocked a whole penny off the butcher's price. 
To-day the smallest boy or girl scoffs at so insigni- 
ficant a sum as a penny, and holidays are of weekly 
occurrence. In those days a penny was a penny, 
and the Queen's Birthday and Old New Year were 
the only holidays in the year. 

At noon a much-needed halt was called, when a few 
of the players went home for dinner, but the majority 
remained on the field, and partook of a modest meal 
of bread and cheese and whisky galore — " lashins and 
lavins iv whisky " — which had been provided for by 
a subscription raised earlier in the day from the 
players on the ground. 

After a short rest, during which the " sneeshan 
mull " was handed round freely, and quiet jokes 
recounted by the elders, while the young men 
indulged in the game of brag, the game was once 
more started, but with renewed vigour, each side, 
with an equal number of goals to its credit at the 
interval, determined to win. 

From the very outset the game was seen to be 


rougher, and tempers were curbed with difficulty, so 
that over and over again the forebodings of the old 
wives of Ardrishaig all but came true. At length 
the word was spoken, with the insult in it that 
nothing but blood would wipe out. A challenge 
was given and accepted, umpires were appointed, and 
while the combatants stripped for the fray, the 
players, glad of the rest, seated themselves round 
in a circle on the grass to watch the fight and 
discuss probabilities. 

I have said that the football of those days was 
not so scientific as is the modern game ; there was 
not at least so much head play in it, but boxing, 
while not perhaps quite like the modern science 
either, was on a much higher level of excellence. 

Every boy at school had learned to use his fists, 
and I need hardly add that gloves were unknown, 
and that the fight was generally a fight to the 

Now, with stout hearts behind strong arms, and 
clothed in the "quarrel just," I have seen many a 
contest in the old days, that for pluck and endur- 
ance, and the courage that can take a "licking like 
a man," would take a great deal of beating even 

One fight which I saw between little Ian Fraser 
and big Neil M'Geoghan lives fresh in my memory 
yet. It was " a great efibrt entirely " for Fraser to 
beat the bully M'Geoghan, who was a giant com- 
pared to him, and had a tremendous reach of arm, 
and was looked upon as the most scientific boxer 


in the district. The battle of the gods, when Pelion 
was heaped upon Ossa, was not a more glorious 
encounter than this, and if I had the pen of an 
Ovid I might try and describe here, although it is 
in nowise connected with the Bagpipe, a fight that 
was the talk of the village for many a long day 
after. But if Neil is still alive I would fain be the 
last to open up old sores ; besides, his broken 
nose speaks more eloquently of that rude encounter 
than any pen of mine can ; and if he is dead, which 
I very much suspect, then peace be to his ashes. 

Three different fights on that afternoon formed 
pleasant interludes in a game that might otherwise 
have flagged. 

And when descending darkness brought play to a 
close, the opposing sides, now that the contest was 
over, marched back to the village, more friends than 
ever, with the pipers leading the way. 

The evening was spent in merry-making, in strath- 
spey and reel dancing, interspersed with riddle 
guessing, and the singing of old Gaelic songs, and 
in this way in olden times the New Year was well 



"Every science has its byways as well as its highways. It 
is along- an interesting byway that this book invites the student to 

'T'HE Rev. James B. Johnston, B.D., minister of 
St. Andrew's Church, Falkirk, opens up a 
charming introduction to his " Place Names of 
Scotland " with the above words. 

The science of music, like the science of language 
of which Mr Johnston speaks, has also its little- 
frequented paths. 

The History of the Bagpipe is one of those 
interesting byways, if only a short one and a narrow. 
So little trod now-a-days, there is small wonder that 
the track has become moss-grown, or that it is for 
the greater part of the way scarcely discernible. 

And if a rare traveller like myself, along this 
narrow and little explored pathway, often stumbles 
and at times wanders off the track altogether it is 
not to be wondered at. 

With no library at hand for reference when in a 
difficulty ; without time to refer to books, even it the 


library were within reach, I write under some dis- 
advantage. However, as but little notice of the 
Bagpipe has been taken by writers of any note in the 
past, and as modern writers have stuck to the well- 
trodden highway, where facts are few and fallacies 
numerous, and missed, or at anyrate neglected the 
little used byways, where hidden lies an occasional 
golden grain of truth, this disadvantage is not so 
great as it would otherwise have been. 

Is the Bagpipe a Scottish instrument ? 

Is it a Highland instrument? 

Is it a Celtic instrument? 

In answering these and such like questions most 
recent writers are but echoes, the one of the other. 
They have been content to take their opinions at 
second hand ; to copy one another slavishly, asking not 
for proof; shutting their eyes indeed to facts which lay 
patent under their very noses, but which, perhaps, 
contradicted some pet theory, borrowed at some time 
by some one, from some other one whose reputation 
as a scholar in Celtic, or in other paths of learning, 
gave the worthless dictum an undue weight. 

If, then, some well-known facts, and many better 
known fallacies, are conspicuous by their absence, 
and, like familiar faces that are gone, are missed by 
the reader in this book, I hope the deficiencies, if 
such, will be more than compensated for, by a display 
of greater originality, in my treatment of this very 
interesting subject : originality being hitherto the 
one element most awanting in lectures or writings 
on the Bagpipe. 


I cannot remember the time when I did not love 
the Bagpipe and take great "delight in its noises," 
and I offer no apologies to-day for saying a word 
or two in its defence. 

It has been my good fortune to have heard only 
good piping in my youth. 

When I think over the old days — days that now, 
ah kindly, tricky memory ! seem all play and 
sunshine, and piping — two names leap to my pen, 
the names of Colin M'Lauchlin and Dugald 

Colin M'Lauchlin among the amateurs stood head 
and shoulders above his fellows. He was "clever 
at the Pipe " from his earliest years, and while still 
only a schoolboy could hold his own with most 
professionals. He and one or two others, scarcely 
inferior, kept the spirit of piping alive in my native 
village. His brother — this by the way — could make 
the most marvellous imitations of Bagpipe tunes with 
his voice, so absolutely real did they sound, and often 
have I marched home from school to his piping. 
Now what Colin was among amateurs in the village, 
Dugald M'Farlane was among his brother profes- 
sionals in the county. 

He was a giant among big men. Not only was 
he a player unmatched in reels and strathspeys, 
but he was learned in all things concerning the 
piobaireachd ; and in short Dugald was one of the 
best exponents of Pipe music, not forgetting the 
Leachs of Glendaruel, that Argyleshire has ever 


Dugald attended all the social functions in the 
district. His services were in large request where- 
ever there was merry-making, whether at feast or 
funeral, so that the Lochgilphead people had many- 
opportunities of hearing him pipe. 

It was from the playing of these two masters that 
I learned what a wonderful old instrument the Bag- 
pipe in capable hands becomes. 

Of course, we occasionally heard piping of a 
different order. 

I remember well, when a boy of only some six 
summers, playing the truant from school for the first 
and almost the last time, having allowed myself to 
be charmed away from the delights of sing-song 
spelling by the witchery of an old wheezy Bagpiper, 
whose career came to a somewhat inglorious 
termination at a public-house near the end of the 
village — the eighth or ninth "pub." visited on that 
memorable morning — but not, alas ! in time to let 
me get back to school, for morning lessons. 

If the piper had kept sober, and had gone on 
playing, I do not know where we — for I had com- 
panions in evil-doing — would have stopped. 

Like the children in the *' Pied Piper of Hamel," 
we might still be marching along to the fairy music 
of that most unfairy-like, red-nosed, blear-eyed 
anatomy of a musician. 

An Old Print : 

Published by the Art Union <if Scotland in 1857, shewing a blind piper 
performing upon the Irish Bagpipe. 


" I have no ear for music." — Elia. 

'T^HE delight which I took in Bagpipe music is one 
of my earliest recollections ; a delight which has 
lasted until now, and which fades not with the years, 
but, like the eagle renewing its youth, rejuvenates 
with each fresh Spring, — an ever-growing delight, 
which has stood well the test of half a century. 

The first sound to fall upon my ear, I fain would 
have it also the last. I have never tired of it, I never 
shall tire of it, and I must confess to having a 
difficulty in understanding the antipathy which some 
musicians express towards it. When I read the adverse 
criticisms of certain writers who should know some- 
thing of musical matters, I cannot help asking 
myself this question: " Is the love of music confined 
in the scholar to that of one instrument only?" Or 
this other question: "Can a 'Doctor of Music' not 
speak favourably of the Bagpipe without hurting his 
reputation ? Can he not enjoy its old-world melodies, 
because the scale to which they are written is one of 
neuter thirds?" 



I am not a musician by profession certainly, and 
assume no right to speak as one, but I will yield to no 
professional in my passionate love of music of all 
kinds when it is good. But I am not ashamed to 
own that the Bagpipe is my favourite instrument. 
This "foolish fondness," according to the Storer 
gospel, is of course due to my "want of ear" for 
music. But I maintain, in spite of the learned 
gentleman's judgment, that I have an ear for music; 
and who is a better judge ? My partiality for the 
Pipe, however, does not prevent me, as I have said, 
from enjoying the music of other and more modern 
instruments. I appreciate the Bagpipe the more I 
hear of its old-world strains, but I am also a 
Cosmopolitan in taste where music is concerned. 
The solemn organ and the lively fiddle equally 
affect me when I am in the mood. 

I can even extract pleasure from the tinkling 
notes of the common hurdy-gurdy that goes grinding 
its slow way along the street. Nor are " the 
pleasings of the lascivious lute " entirely thrown 
away upon me. But in spite of this, the warm 
corner in my affections is dedicated to the Bagpipe. 
It is just because I have an ear for other music 
that I am so pleasurably affected by Pipe music. 

And if I can judge other lovers of the Bagpipe 
by myself, I do not think that it is in the least true to 
say that it is appreciated only by people " who have 
no ear for music." 

Men of refinement and letters, artists, actors, 
soldiers, have professed to find a charm in Pipe 


music that is quite peculiar to it, and shared by no 
other instrument. Many of the most accomplished 
musicians of the day have listened to it with 
pleasure, and have spoken warmly in its praise. A 
great musician in London, who died quite recently, 
was lecturing" some years ago to a mixed audience 
which included more than a sprinkling of High- 
landers. It may have been to please the latter — 
although I hardly think so — that he told them, 
among other things, of the fascination the Scotch 
Bagpipe had for him. No matter what his business 
might be — no matter how pressing — if he heard the 
sound of the Pipe down some alley or side street 
he immediately turned aside from the business in 
hand and set off in quest of the piper, and having 
found him had one or two quiet tunes all to himself. 

It was not to the fiddle nor to the harp, but to 
the Highland Pipe that Mendelssohn went for his 
inspiration when he was composing his Scotch 

Mr Murray, the modern critic, can find no inspira- 
tion, Scottish or otherwise, in the Pipes. I would 
like very much to see a new Scotch symphony 
written by him, or any one else however competent, 
with Bagpipe music and all that it stands for left 

I give here one or two examples out of many, 
shewing the fascination which the Bagpipe exerts 
upon people of different tastes, and in different walks 
of life. 

One day, when far from home, Gordon Gumming, 


the lion hunter, lay tossing uneasily upon a bed of 
sickness, which ultimately proved to be his death- 
bed. Sleepless and exhausted, his thoughts turned 
to the old home in the Highlands, and to the old 
music that he loved as a boy, and he cried aloud 
in his anguish — " Oh ! for a tune on the Pipes." 
His wish was granted almost as soon as spoken, 
in quite a miraculous manner, but with that we 
have nothing to do here.* It was the distinguished 
traveller's yearning for the Bagpipe at the greatest 
crisis in a man's life, — this instrument, so despised 
of some — that claims our attention. 

Again, when Cameron of Fassifern, who fought 
and fell at Quartre Bras, was told by the surgeon 
that he was dying, and that there was no hope for 
him, he called to his piper, "Come here, M'Vurich. 
Play me the 'Death Song of the Skyemen.' My fore- 
fathers have heard it before me without shrinking." 

" Orain an Aoig," said the piper, shouldering his 
Pipes ; and as the mournful notes of the lament rose 
above the din of battle, and floated along on the 
soft morning breeze, the spirit of the hero — one of 
Scotland's truest sons and best ! — passed away on 
the wings of the music he so loved. 

Some years ago there was a gathering of High- 
landers in a Glasgow hotel. Old men who had 
grown grey in the service of the great city were 
there, and young men fresh from their native glens. 

It was a night of conviviality. 

The story is told near the end of this book. 


Highland sons: and sentiment ruled with undis- 
puted sway, and of these the GaeUc song and the 
GaeHc word held first place in the esteem and 
affections of the listeners. 

Over and over again the applause which greeted 
speaker and singer was hearty and prolonged ; and 
between song and speech there was the constant 
buzz of animated conversation, which proclaims a 
meeting in harmony with itself, while a cloud of 
tobacco smoke mingling kindly with the aroma of 
the water that "comes over twenty faals," rose 
heavenwards with a sweet incense that assailed 
grateful nostrils. 

When the piper at length marched up the room 
playing the Pibroch of the evening, a Lament in 
whose notes there throbbed the sorrow and the sad- 
ness of the broken heart, a hush fell upon the 

On the face of more than one that evening, as 
the Pibroch shook itself down into the full steady 
rhythm of the melody, there came a far-away dreamy 
look — the look of the taibhseadair or seer. 

The spell of the music was upon these children 
of the mist, stirring up the old Celtic imagination, 
and tenderness, and love of nature. 

And the dreamer, forgetful of companions, forget- 
ful of the palatial hall in which he sat, forgetful of 
the wakeful city outside, forgetful of the pipe which 
had gone cold between his fingers, was back once 
more in the little thatched cottage at the head of 
the glen, taking a boy's delight in stoning the ducks 


in the pool at the bottom of the garden, or in 
harrying over again the field bees' nest for the 
sweet morsel of honey that was hidden there. Or 
it might be that the dreamer was thinking of the 
warm autumn days when he trudged barelegged 
and bonnetless through the growing corn, hot on 
the heels of the thieving cattle, or when tired and 
drowsy at the end of the day, he sat in the firelight 
and listened to his mother singing the old songs 
timed to the soft whirr of the busy spinning-wheel. 

When the last note of the Pibroch had died away, 
these dreamers awoke from their dreams, and joined 
in the well-deserved applause to the piper that 
thundered forth from every part of the room, shaking 
the window frames like so many giant rattles; making 
the wine glasses jingle joyously on the table, and 
the lamplights dance in their sockets. 

On the same evening that this gathering of High- 
landers took place, and almost within earshot of the 
"sounds of revelry," which continued far into the 
night— under the very same roof indeed — quite a 
different " part" in life's drama was being played. 

In a little room upstairs, as far away as possible 
from the noise and din of the city, there lay a sick man 
who for days had been so near to death's door that, 
as Tom Hood once said, " he could hear the creaking 
of it's hinges." Now this sick man was tired of every- 
thing around ; I had almost said, tired of life itself ; 
he was tired at anyrate of his own company ; tired 
most of all of the necessary quiet enjoined upon 
him by his medical attendant. 


To his listening ears there stole up from the 
room below the sound of the great Highland Bag- 
pipe. The cheery buzz of the drone carried with it 
into the sick room a message of hope and life. 
It swept through the chamber like a breath of clear 
mountain air, heather-scented. It revived like a 
deep draught of clear cold water on a hot day. For 
many days the whole world had stood on tiptoe, 
expectant, at that chamber door, hoping — ay ! and 
praying — that the shadow which now darkened it 
would quickly flee away ; that the man who lay 
there would appear once more with renewed health 
and vigour to delight it with his art as he had so 
often done before. 

Ringing the bell for the manager, the invalid 
asked him, when he appeared, if he could tell him 
where the music was coming from. 

And when he learned that there was a gathering 
of Highlanders downstairs, he said, '* I am very 
fond of the Pipes. Do you think the piper would 
come up, if I requested him, and play me a tune?" 

When the Highlanders heard that Sir Henry 
Irving — for it was the great actor, and none other, 
who lay ill upstairs — craved for a tune, they at once 
sent the piper to him. The invalid had his heart's 
desire gratified, as that proud functionary, marching 
up and down the passage opposite the sick room, 
and putting his whole soul into the playing, threw 
off in quick succession march, strathspey, and reel. 

When the music ceased, Irving called the piper 
into his room, and shook hands with him kindly, 


and thanked him warmly for the treat which he had 
given him. 

"Sit down beside me," he said, "and I will tell 
you a story of the Bagpipe. It was during one of 
my first visits to Glasgow that I first heard it. I 
was acting in a piece called ' The Siege of Luck- 
now,' which was staged on the boards of the old 
Theatre Royal in Dunlop Street. The scene was 
the interior of the Residency, the outer walls of 
which had been battered down almost to the erround. 
A group of listless, pale-faced, starving women — 
some with little children in their arms — could be 
seen listening to Jessie Brown, as she recounted her 
dream of the morning to them, and prophesied 
assistance at hand ; while outside, keeping the rebels 
at bay and waiting calmly for the last assault, stood 
a band of soldiers — few in numbers, and wasted with 
disease, but still determined. 

"At this moment I had to march on to the stage, 
and my advance was the signal for the Pipes to 
strike up. The piper began to play outside of the 
theatre, I think, and advanced slowly into the house, 
marching round the back of the stage. The effect 
was magical. I shall never forget the wave of 
enthusiasm which swept over that great audience, 
as the first notes of the Pipe fell upon their ears — 
the Highlanders were coming ; Jessie's dream was 
answered ; and Lucknow was relieved. I have loved 
the Bagpipe ever since." 

I do not pretend to give the exact words of the 
story which Sir Henry Irving told to the piper, nor 

Two Specimens of Irish Stocks with Regulators 
AND Drones. 

The one on the left hand of the picture presented by Mr David Glen, 

of Edinburffh. 

By this ingenious arrangement the drones and regulators are brought within 
easy reach of the bellows arm. 


could I expect to rival his eloquent manner of 
telling it, but I have given the gist of it correctly 
as told me by the piper. 

Having finished his story, Sir Henry once more 
complimented the piper on his playing, and well he 
might, for the player was one of the best in Scot- 
land, and a champion of champions. But not 
content with this — ah ! kind heart now at rest ! — he 
pressed upon his acceptance at parting a handsome 
Sfolden souvenir in remembrance of the occasion. 

Here was a man most delicately attuned to har- 
monies of all sorts, to harmonies in colour as well 
as in sound, asking of his own free will for a tune 
on the great Highland Bagpipe at a time too, when 
mere noise would be intolerable. 

In 1901 I happened to be in Camp at Barry with 
the Stirlingshire Volunteers. I there had the 
pleasure of meeting with Dr Anderson of Arbroath, 
who was acting as Brigade Surgeon. We soon 
became very great friends, and one day he told me 
that he was very fond of music of all sorts, but that 
the violin was — if I remember aright ? — his favourite 
instrument. Nothing, however, moved him so 
strongly, he said, as a Highland lament on the 
Bagpipe. I had many opportunities during the 
pleasant month I spent in camp of verifying his 
statement ; because when he found out that I was a 
little bit of a piper myself, it was a rare day that 
did not find the Colonel at my tent in quest of a tune 
at midday when the camp was quiet. 

There, reclining upon the little bed which served 


during the day for a couch, he called at his ease for 
his favourite piobaireachd, and listened, as he sipped 
slowly of the cool deep draught of " Fashoda," that 
lay ready to his elbow. 

I at first played bright, cheery pieces to him, such 
as " Huair mi pog o laimh an Righ " ("I got a 
kiss of the King's hand") and " Maol Donn'' (" Mac- 
Crimmon's Sweetheart"), or war pieces in keeping 
with the camp life around, with the ring of battle 
in them, like "The Piobroch of Donald Dhu " and 
'' Cath fuathasac, Peairt" (''The Desperate Battle"). 
But one day he asked me for a Lament, and I gave 
him that masterpiece of Patrick Mor MacCrimmon, 
'■'■ Cumha Na Cloinne" ("The Lament for the 
Children"). When I had got the piece well under 
way, I looked round at my companion to see how 
he was enjoying the melody. Big tears were 
coursing each other down his cheeks. Afraid that 
I had recalled some unhappy memories to the old 
man, who had hitherto been so bright and cheery, 
I ventured to stop playing, when he cried out, 
" Go on, go on, never mind my tears, I am enjoying 
myself entirely ; I am perfectly happy." After this 
I always played my laments to a finish in spite of 

I could give many instances of the attraction the 
Bagpipe possesses for the better classes — men and 
women, highly-trained in the fine arts, well educated, 
and with delicately attuned ears, but space forbids. 

It has — I need hardly say — always had an attrac- 
tion for the '' masses," a fact which no one denies. 


but on the contrary some writers have used this fact 
to its disparagement, as if only the wealthy classes 
could enjoy good music. 

One little story showing that the masses still love 
it will therefore suffice. Early one summer's morn- 
ing I was practising in the garden at the back of 
the house. A poor widow — a washerwoman — who 
was hurrying along to her work heard me, and 
stopped for a moment to listen. Just for one little 

The moment lengthened itself out into minutes ; 
so, concealing herself behind one of the gate pillars, 
where she could hear and not be seen, she remained 
rooted to the spot, oblivious altogether of time, and 
of the clothes that were waiting to be washed, and 
of the angry lady behind the clothes ; and in this 
way she lost her engagement for the day rather 
than miss one note of the music. '* But I didn't 
mind that," she said to a neighbour, who told me of 
the circumstance long after; "the music was worth 
it." Similar testimony, only multiplied a hundred- 
fold, might be produced here, but space forbids, 
and it seems to me absurd, with such testimony 
before us, to say that the Bagpipe is only for those 
who are incapable of appreciating music. 

" I have no ear. Mistake me not, reader," writes 
Charles Lamb, "nor imagine that I am by nature 
destitute of those exterior twin appendages, hanging 
ornaments, and (architecturally speaking) handsome 

volutes to the human capital I was 

never, I thank my stars, in the pillory 


When therefore I say that I have no ear, you will 
understand me to mean — for music." 

We are not all so honest to-day as Charles Lamb 
was when he wrote the above confession. And I 
have more than a suspicion that it is the people 
without an ear for music who oftenest sneer at the 
Bagpipe, in the vain hope of thus hiding their own 

These people, in short, knowing nothing of music 
themselves, have been content to take their opinions 
from the scorner, and having no discrimination or 
judgment of their own, hug the delusion that the 
Bagpipe is a safe **Aunt Sally" for every earless 
person to shy at ; or think because they have heard 
it called by one who should know better "a barbar- 
ous instrument, capable only of making an intolerable 
noise," that they, too, may safely pose as hostile 
critics of this fine old instrument. 



" Sympathy is the key to truth — we must love in order to 

"I"! 7"E may safely assert that lovers of the Bagpipe 
during last century, to go no further back, 
were to be found among all classes in this country, 
from that of the little woman who presided over the 
wash-tub to that of the Great Lady who presided 
over the Empire's destinies. 

Is the Bagpipe then a musical instrument deserving 
of the esteem in which it has been held by many 
from time immemorial? Or is it only ''a squeeling 
pig in a poke," owing its popularity to the caprices 
of fashion, and to a corrupt and depraved taste ? As 
I take up this subject in another part of the book, it 
will be as well to confine ourselves here to one aspect 
of the question, which will also be in exemplification 
of what was suggested in the last chapter. 

To make my meaning perfectly clear, I will put 
this matter in the form of a question, and answer 
it from my own experience. 


Is the Bagpipe intolerable to the trained ear? 

Now if Ave answer this in the affirmative, then we 
must add on to it as a rider, that the Bagpipe is 
always mtolerahle to the trained ear. 

A further corollary of necessity follows upon this, 
viz., The Bagpipe is tolerable only to the untrained 
ear ; and if this be the case, then is the Storer type 
of critic right, and the rest of the world, including 
myself, who differ from him, wrong. 

To some ears Bagpipe music is indeed intolerable. 
The owners of these too sensitive drums are out of 
sympathy with the Bagpipe, and honestly hostile 
to it. 

For such there is no discoverable tune in the 
music : no time, no melody, no rhthym, nothing 
but noise. 

They cannot love, therefore they do not appreciate. 

Other senses are in like manner at times abnor- 
mally developed. The touch of velvet is abhorrent 
to certain men and women, and makes them shiver. 
The colour yellow acts upon an occasional unfortunate 
as an emetic. 

I know of one medical man who cannot sleep on 
a pillow made of a certain kind of duck's feathers 
without having an attack of asthma. 

And it is a matter of common knowledge to most of 
us that a certain number of people cannot tolerate cats. 
If one of these keen-scented persons enter a room 
where a cat has been he immediately starts to sneeze, 
whereupon some superstitious Pagan present cries 
out on him, " God bless you." 


Many other good things, and useful things, and 
beautiful things, are intolerable to certain people, 
because they were born with a kink in their insides. 
And it would be as unjust to condemn Bagpipe music 
on account of one or two hyper-sensitives, as to 
condemn all fur and feather and bright colour 
because of a handful of cranks. 

I wish, however, to speak here only of the normal 
ear, whether trained or vmtrained. 

'Tis now some twelve years or more since I had 
the honour of entertaining Mons. Guillmon, the great 
Paris organist, at my house. He had come to open 
a new organ in the Falkirk Parish Church, and he 
put up with me for the night. 

During dinner, Pipe-Major Simpson, an old friend 
of mine, played to us in the hall. It was Monsieur's 
introduction to the Bagpipe, and he evidently enjoyed 
the new sensation, but to the neglect of his dinner, 
which grew cold in front of him, as he sat in an 
attitude of wrapt attention, while his busy fingers beat 
time on the cloth to the different measures. When 
dinner was over, he must go out and see the 
"Pipes" for himself, and compliment the piper. 
He was veritably lost in wonder as he examined 
the instrument. It was astonishing ! marvellous ! 
miraculous! how such ^^ tres bien''^ music could be 
got out of so simple-looking an instrument. And 
the fingering ! What a time — hundreds of years — 
it must have taken to evolve the system of notes 
known as warblers ! Then he turned to the piper 
and paid him many pretty compliments, and Simpson 


went home that night proud and happy, with the 
words of praise from a brother musician ringing in 
his ears. 

While I was writing the above, and thinking 
kindly of my old friend who had disappeared out of 
our ken for many years, and of his many good 
parts, I was all unconscious of what was taking 
place not many miles away. 

In a quiet Glasgow churchyard, a firing squad 
from the Maryhill Barracks was standing with 
reversed arms by the side of a newly-made grave, 
and the bugler was sounding the last post, for the 
very man who then filled my thoughts. This was 
the sad news that reached me on the following 
morning from MacDougal Gillies, of Glasgow, the 
famous pibroch player. 

Poor Simpson was a great favourite with all of 
us, and more especially with my wife. He dis- 
appeared from Falkirk many years ago, under a 
cloud. It was nothing very serious. He got drink- 
ing one evening when entertaining, with his usual 
generosity, some sailors from Grangemouth, and 
afterwards accompanied them to their ship, which 
was on the point of sailing. When on board he 
got into a state of profound stupor, and when he 
came to himself he was astonished to learn that he 
was in Rouen, deserted and alone. 

He was proud, and refused to come back to 
Falkirk, and to his friends who would have helped 
him ; and after a time he was forgotten, but never 
by me nor by my wife. He was a modest man for 

A French Piper : 

Life size, done in stucco, to be seen nt the door of a curiosity shop in Dinon. 
Photographed by Miss Risk. 



a piper : honest, upright, honourable, generous, 
obliging, possessed of a big heart : a soldier every 
inch of him, and as handsome a man in the kilt as 
ever donned one. '' Requiescat in Pace^ 

But now to return to my subject ! After dinner, 
we went to the church, where Mons. Guilmant, 
unaided, kept a large audience spellbound for over 
two hours with a marvellous performance on the 

He was an old man, and naturally tired with the 
effort, so, after supper, I suggested bed. "Bed!" 
said he, *' but I want to hear the piper again." 

Now Mons. Guilmant knew no English, and I was 
sadly deficient in French. I had therefore some 
difficulty in explaining to him that, owing largely 
to accident of birth, or, perhaps, to the mislaying of 
an important paper, I was not a Highland chief, 
with the piper one of . my tail, — although my tale is 
one of the piper — that Piper Simpson was an 
independent gentleman, as independent as myself, 
and a good deal more so, who had come down of 
his own freewill to do honour to a brother in the 
craft ; and that he was by this time most probably 
sound asleep in bed. 

To lessen the visible disappointment with which 

my guest received this news, I offered to play a 

pibroch to him myself. I was but a poor substitute 

for the Pipe-Major, it is true, and proposed 

judiciously to perform as far away as possible from 

him. He would not have me play anywhere but in 

the room beside him. 



The room was small, being only about fifteen feet 

And in this way, it came to pass, that I got an 
opportunity — no better possible ! — of testing the effect 
of the Bagpipe on the trained ear. 

Mons. Guilmant did not find it intolerable. On the 
contrary, I had great difficulty in satisfying his newly 
acquired taste. 

With a book of piobaireachd in his hand, he called 
for tune after tune, scanning the score of each closely 
as he went along, and so kept me playing on into the 
small hours of the morning. 

The variety given to the music by the introduction 
of grace notes enchanted him, and he announced his 
determination to write a piece of music for the organ, 
in imitation of the Bagpipe, whenever he got back 
to Paris. 

This must, however, have proved an impossible 
task for him — as indeed it is for any musician, 
however skilful — for it is well known that the 
variation known as Crunluath cannot be put upon 
any other instrument than the Bagpipe. At all 
events, if the attempt were ever made, the result was 
not communicated to me. 

Let us now listen to the opinion of one who is not a 
musician by profession, but who recounts a somewhat 
similar experience of the Bagpipe played in a small 

Mr Manson will not object, I hope, to being placed 
outside of the musical profession, for the time being 
at least. He is a journalist, I believe, but his opinion 


is none the less valuable to my argument on this 
account. Now, Mr Manson tells the reader, in his 
book on the Bagpipe, of how he was once shut up in 
a small room, during a Highland gathering in 
Glasgow, with a piper, and of the excruciating half 
hour he spent there listening perforce to the Bagpipe. 
" In five minutes the big drone seemed," so he 
writes, "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." And all the while — 
m.uch-to-be-pitied man — "copy" was waiting to be 
done. "Anything more indescribably disagreeable 
than that half-hour it is difficult to imagine." 

What a contrast in opinion we have here ! Mons. 
Guilmant, the great organist — music his life-long 
mistress — who could not have the " Pipes" too near, 
nor the room too small. 

Mr Manson, the literateur, who under similar 
circumstances of nearness and loudness, suffers the 
"tortures of the damned," as he sits with fingers 
glued to his ears, trying in vain to shut out the 

And so when the question is put, " Is the Bagpipe 
a musical instrument? " who are we to believe? 

Mr Manson, the historian of the Bagpipe, whose 
appreciation of it is at times somewhat doubtful ? Or 
the charming Frenchman — one of the first musicians 
of the day — who listens and admires and has nothing 
but praise for this old-world instrument, semi- 
barbarous though it be ? 


Do not, however, reader, imagine for a moment 
that we are recommending the Bagpipe as a fitting 
companion in a small room. I say in this book, and 
I have said the same thing over and over again in my 
lectures, that the Bagpipe, whether engaged in lead- 
ing sheep to the green pastures, or men to the battle- 
field, was originally an open-air instrument, and in 
the form of the pioh mhor at least, is unfitted for 

But this is a very different thing to saying that it is 
not a musical instrument. We listen and admire, or 
profess to admire, the great organ with all its stops 
out, or the brass band of full complement roaring its 
loudest, in a hall that is no larger in proportion for it 
than is the small room for the " Pipes." 

But in such a detestable climate as ours, if you will 
not have piping indoors, then must you do without 
it for a greater part of the year. 

Now, curiously enough, and this fact that I am 
about to mention partly explains and is partly 
corroborated by Mons. Guilmant's pleasurable 
sensations from the "Pipes" at close quarters, if 
the Bagpipe must be listened to indoors, then it is 
best heard in a small room and not in a large 

In the former, one's sense of hearing very quickly 
accommodates itself to the loudness which just at 
first is excessive, and very soon the air comes out 
of the hurly-burly full, clear, and steady, while not 
a grace note fails to reach the listener's ear. 

In the latter, the echo coming back from roof 


and wall, confuses the issue, and the notes trip 
each other up as they hurry to and fro, until all 
semblance of a tune is lost in the buzzing sound 
that reminds one for all the world of the struggles 
of an enormous bee in a bandbox. 

I am perhaps prejudiced in favour of the Bag- 
pipe: I confess indeed that I am. "I love, therefore 
I appreciate," and in this way sentiment at odd 
times takes the place of argument. 

As I have said before, I like modern instruments, 
with their improved scale and niceties of expression; 
but no modern instrument can recall to me the old 
home and the old folk, like the dear old Highland 

It is always associated in my mind with the kilt, 
and the tartan, and the heather ; and the cheery 
summery buzz of its drones wakens up within me 
sunny memories of the days " When we were boys, 
merry, merry boys, when we were boys together." 
Of the days when the world was young, and care 
was unknown. 

When at a wave of the wand Youth, fairy castles 
reared their tall heads to the moonlight in the 
twinkling of an eye, and brave knights and fair ladies 
gaily dressed, sprang to full life and stature like 
daffodils at the first breath of spring. When hope 
whispered in the murmur of the sea, and in the 
sigh of the summer air, and in the silence that lurks 
in the deeps of the forest. 

When the ** Pipes" spoke to us boys with no 
uncertain voice, of the great world that lay beyond 


our ken : of its mighty cities and g-orgeous palaces, 
full of life and of the heart's desire ; where fame 
and fortune, ripe for the plucking, waited upon the 
masterful heart and hand at every street corner ; 
and love lurked behind every window curtain. 

When every tune was like the *' Lost Pibroch " 
in Neil Munroe's beautiful story, and indeed urged 
us to the road, — the long road, — the straight road, 
— the smooth white road, that stretched itself out 
through the mountains, to the world's end and 
beyond. " It's story was the story that's ill to tell 
— something of the heart's longing and the curious 
chances of life." " Folks," said the reeds coaxing, 
'' wide's the world and merry the road. Here's but 
the old story and the women we kissed before. 
Come, come to the flat lands, rich and full, where 
the wonderful new things happen, and the women's 
lips are still to try." 

The Magic of the Photograph : 

Fairv castles reared their tall heads to the moonlight. " 




rpO-DAY is the day of trial for the poor Bagpipe. 
■*- Its ancient claims are being challenged one by 
one. We have already had one example of the 
professional critic, who would fain have us believe 
that the Bagpipe is not a musical instrument at all. 
We are now told that it is not a Highland instru- 
ment : the harp is the Highland instrument. It is 
not even a Scottish instrument : it is an English 
instrument, and never was a favourite with the 
Lowlander, and cannot therefore be the national 
instrument of Scotland. We are further told, — and 
this by a Celt, and quite recently, too, — that it is 
not even of Celtic origin ; that we Highlanders took 
it from the Lowlander, who in turn borrowed it 
from the Anglo-Saxon : all of which is, to put it 
mildly, so much ignorant twaddle and tommy-rot. 
There is an old and well-known proverb which says 
"Jack is as good as his master," and it would be 
strange indeed if the critics of the Bagpipe were 
limited to those who have a knowledge of music. 
A facile pen, and an unscrupulous wit, and a 


large ignorance of the subject, give a right to the 
owner of these somewhat doubtful qualities to pro- 
nounce off-hand an expert opinion on any matter 
relating to the Bagpipe or to Bagpipe music. Only 
yesterday* there was a letter in the Glasgow Herald 
giving an extract from a late number of the Satur- 
day Review, which illustrates this well. The date 
of the article in the Review is October 24, 1903. 
The article is from the pen of its musical critic, and 
continues as follows: — "Of all the faculties known 
to me the most wondrous I have observed is that 
which enables a person to appreciate Scottish music," 
— poor man, and we are supposed to be living in 
the twentieth century! — "and to tell the difference 
between one tune and another. To be more exact, 
until lately I recognised only two Scotch tunes — 
one quick, lively, jerky, undignified ; the other 
mournful and slow. In dances it is the negation 
of any dignity of movement, and in songs it 
becomes a mere squeal. The instruments on which 
Scotch music is performed are three — viz., the 
human voice, fiddle, and the Bagpipes. Of these 
the Bagpipes is by far the most horrible. There is 
no music in its empty belly." 

All the three Scotch (?) instruments are evidently 
horrible to this cheap penny-a-liner : the Scotch 
voice, the Scotch fiddle, and the " Scotch " Bagpipe, 
but of the three ' ' the Bagpipes (sic) is by far the 
most horrible." In its empty belly there is indeed 

* This chapter was written on the 9th January, 1904. 


no music, but I forbear to press the point : it is too 

Could we have a better example of the facile pen, 
and the unscrupulous wit, and the vast ignorance? 
Only a month or two since, a Scots lassie, a real 
Falkirk Bairn — with a "Scotch" voice, I presume 
— was sent for by Royalty to come and sing" to it 
"The auld Scotch sangs." But an hundred such 
incidents would make no difference to this scribbler, 
who mixes up " Scotch " and Highland matters in 
delightful fashion, and finds nothing good in either. 
"Write me down an ass," said Dogberry: and the 
breed is evidently not yet extinct. 

In the same number of the Glasgow Herald there 
is a second letter, in which the writer, Mr W. H. 
Murray, asserts that the Bagpipe is not our national 
instrument. "It is time," he says, " that the notion 
that the Bagpipe is the national instrument of Scot- 
land were exploded. It has never held that place 
in the Lowlands, and the clarsach (harp) is much 
older in the Highlands. True the clarsach was 
supplanted by the Pipe," etc. 

Now it is not true that the harp is older than the 
Pipe in the Highlands, or at least we have no proof 
that such is the case ; nor was the harp ever sup- 
planted by the Bagpipe. The Bagpipe was the 
shepherd's instrument, the instrument of the poor 
and illiterate, and it therefore remained for centuries 
unnoticed in the Highlands ; the harp was the bard's 
instrument, the instrument of the cultured and the 
powerful, and it was taken notice of from its first 


appearance : and if the bard and the harp disappeared 
the Bagpipe was not to blame : but I will take Mr 
Murray's assertions and answer them in inverse order. 
He says, "the clarsach was supplanted by the Pipe." 
What authority has he for this statement ? It would 
be truer to say that the clarsach for a time usurped the 
place of the Pipe. The harp was an innovation in 
the Highlands at a time when the Bagpipe although 
of native growth was still only a pastoral instrument, 
rude, and feeble, and not worthy of mention by the 
historian, ill suited to the cultivated ear, and all unfit 
for war as it then was. The bards were the travelled 
people in those days, and to them the introduction 
of the harp is due. They picked it up in the South 
during their travels and retained it, because they found 
it of great service as an accompaniment to the voice 
in their incantations or recitations. Its use spread 
down to the people from the bards, not up from the 
people to the bards, and I suppose — at least George 
Buchanan says so — it became popular for a time 
with the common people, and then declined, not 
through its usurpation by the Pipe, but because 
it was quite unfitted to the genius of a warlike race. 
The old Highlander looked upon it with contempt ; 
he called it a Nionag's or maiden's weapon, and 
considered its strings fit only for the sweep of feeble 
fingers. It is an Anglo-Saxon weapon with an 
Anglo-Saxon name, and it is not at all likely that 
the proud Celt would adopt his hated enemies' 
instrument, and make it into the national instru- 
ment of the Highlands, preferring it to his own native 


Pioh. The name harp is the old English or Anglo- 
Saxon hearpe and hearpa. In Gaelic there are two 
words that denote the harp : Cruit^ which is just the 
British crowd or cruth, and the Welsh c^-wth, a 
kind of fiddle that was played upon with a bow, 
but without the neck of the modern fiddle ; and 
clarsach, a name evidently given to it from the 
appearance of the sounding board, clar in Gaelic 
meaning a plank, a lid, a trough. 

If the Highlander had invented the harp he would 
have given it an original or root-word name, and 
would not have gone to Saxondom for a title. But 
this he has not done. The harp also was in universal 
use among the Anglo-Saxons from the earliest 
times. It was the minstrel's weapon par excellence. 
Early in the 9th century, Alfred the Great, with 
harp in hand, penetrated the camp of the Danes 
and learned their secrets, which he turned to good 
account in the battle which followed. And later on 
the compliment was returned by the Danes, when 
one of their leaders entered the British camp dis- 
guised as a harper, and picked up much valuable 
information from the unsuspecting Britons. But 
nearly four hundred years before this incident in 
the life of Alfred the Great, the very same method 
was adopted by the enemy during the siege of 
York to get news to the besieged, who were on the 
point of surrendering, as the British had cut off the 
water supply, and the food supply was all but run 
done. The leader's brother, disguising himself as a 
harper — we are told that be shaved his head, and 


put on the minstrel's cloak on this occasion — passed 
unsuspected through the besiegers' lines, beguiling 
the simple soldiers with many songs to the accom- 
paniment of the harp. All day long he sang his 
way nearer and nearer to the fosse surrounding 
the doomed city. When night fell he changed his 
tune ; was recognised by his friends inside the 
beleaguered town ; by means of ropes he was drawn \ 
up over the walls, and the news which he brought 
of reinforcements at hand saved the city. 

The fiddle also, like the harp, is an Anglo-Saxon 
instrument, invented by an English Churchman, and 
called by him a fithele. It was from England that 
the fiddle spread to other countries. The Norman 
tongue could not get round this word, and so they 
called it fiel or viel, which is just the modern viol, 
with its diminutive violin. 

The Bagpipe, on the other hand, is a Celtic 
instrument, with a Celtic name — Pioh-Mhalaidh 
( Pioh and Mala) ; and it seems strange, to say the 
least of it, that the Highlanders, a Celtic people should 
be denied having any art or part in the invention 
of this, their favourite instrument ; one, too, which 
they alone have brought to perfection, and which they 
alone can play artistically by means of a system of 
fingering as original as it is effective, and so subtle 
that it must have taken hundreds and hundreds of 
years to evolve out of the rude fingering of the 
past, and make into the fine art which it now is. 
And, further, is it not passing strange that these 
same Celts should be accused of borrowing this 


" military weapon " with the Celtic natne from the 
Sassenach. It is difficult to carry the absurd any 
further, but it has been done ! We are bravely 
told by one learned Highlander — alas, that I should 
have to write it down ! — who is seated high up in 
the temple of music, and who speaks as one having 
authority, that the Celt's Bagpipe is not only an 
English instrument, but that the English fiddle is 
the Lowland Celt's national instrument. Such reck- 
less statements carry their own refutation writ large 
on the face of them. 

Further proofs of their incorrectness will be given 
from time to time, and the claim of the Bagpipe to 
be looked upon as a Celtic instrument made good, 
which latter will be equivalent to proving that it is 
also a Highland instrument, and not one merely 
borrowed by the Highlander. 

While the Bagpipe of to-day then is thoroughly 
Highland in character, it is also — as I hold — the 
only distinctive musical instrument which Scotland 
possesses, or which Scotsmen all over the world — 
be they of Highland or of Lowland origin — can 
justly and proudly claim as their own. 

Now, what constitutes a national instrument? 

Firstly. It must be distinctive of the nation 
using it. 

Secondly. It must be recognised by other nations 
as the national instrument. 

Thirdly. It must be, and must have been for a 
long time, a general favourite with the people, and 
be in general use. I use the word people here 


advisedly, because it is from the people : from the 
shepherd and the plough-boy, and not from the 
lordlings who rule it over us for a day, that all 
national musics have sprung. 

Fourthly. It must be the invention of the race 
using it, and not merely borrowed from some other 

Fifthly. In order to attain this position of 
national instrument, it must be in consonance with 
the character and the aspirations of the race. 

Sixthly. It must have assisted largely in shaping 
out the national music by impressing upon it its 
own peculiarities. I could name other characteristics, 
but these will suffice for my purpose here. Let us 
test by means of the above the three musical in- 
struments which have been put forward for national 



" That the Englishmen had their supporters was shown by the 
cheer that went up when the men, all in white, emerged from the 
pavilion to the strains of 'The British Grenadiers,' but it was 
nothing- to the mighty shout which greeted the Scots, who, led by 
pipers, looked in the pink of condition in their Royal blue jerseys." — 
Glasgow Evening Times. 

" In Scotland the Bagpipe must be considered as the national 
instrument." — Dr. MacCulloch. 

XTOW, if we apply the tests in the preceding 
-•■^ chapter, or any other tests which you may 
devise, to each of the three musical instruments 
which have been put forward at one time or another 
as Scotland's national instrument, we will find that 
the Piob-Mhor., or great War Pipe of the Highlands, 
is the only one of the three which at all satisfies 
the conditions laid down. 

It seems to me hardly worth while to go beyond 
the first and most important test of all, that "the 
national instrument of a country must be distinctive 
of the nation using it." Neither the harp nor the 
fiddle is in any way distinctive of Scotland. The 
harp is distinctive of the Welsh people and of the 
Irish flag, but not of the Scottish nation. The 


fiddle, an Anglo-Saxon invention originally, is now 
the property of the whole civilised world, and is 
characteristic of no one people. The Bagpipe, how- 
ever, stands on a very different footing. It is in 
the first place pre-eminently distinctive of the High- 
lander, and this is half the argument and more. The 
Lowlander is apt to forget that the Highlander is 
as much a Scotsman as himself. 

What would dear old Scotland be without her 
Highlanders? If the glorious records of our High- 
land regiments were erased to-morrow from the 
book of history, would not the tale of the years 
that have fled be shorn of much of its glory so far 
as we Scotsmen are concerned ? But to most Low- 
land Scotsmen also, the Bagpipe is the national 
instrument. This is "the generally accepted" 
notion, according to Mr Murray, and, if due to 
ignorance, as he asserts, then, indeed, is the ignor- 
ance very widespread throughout the British Empire, 
and shared in by every European nation. When I 
put the question to people in the South, "What is 
our national instrument?" the almost invariable 
answer is, " Why, of course, the Bagpipe ! " 
Occasionally, the fiddle is put forward in hesitating 
fashion : the harp never. 

Take the heading at the beginning of this chapter. 
It is an ordinary cutting taken from one of the 
evening papers, and begins a plain matter-of-fact 
account of the 1904 International Rugby Football 
match, played at Inverleith, when the champions of 
the Rose and the Thistle met in friendly rivalry. 


To the old football player the words, though 
simple, conjure up the scene as real as when it 
spread itself out before his delighted eyes on that 
most glorious of days. The scene is an animated 
one. The grey metropolis of the Forth is looking 
its brightest. Twenty to thirty thousand people, 
gathered from all parts of Scotland, are there to 
watch the game. The peer rubs shoulders with 
the peasant : the lady of high degree with the shop 
girl. Every class in the community has its repre- 
sentatives in evidence at this great gathering. 
Doctors of Divinity, Doctors of Law, Doctors of 
Medicine, are here mixing freely with the humble 
city clerk, and the tidy apprentice and the rough 
labourer ; while the blacksmith fresh from his forge, 
and the pitman, still grimy from his underground 
labours, help to swell the throng. Here, too, you 
see the medical student, not always ''sicklied o'er 
with the pale hue of thought," giving the tip to his 
Professor : that dreaded examiner ! who to-morrow, 
perhaps, will send the poor devil down for another 
term, to do a little and much-needed further study 
on the bones. Presiding over all, is the Goddess 
of Youth and Beauty in the shape of crowds of 
gaily-dressed, sweet-faced, bright, healthy-looking, 
chattering girls, whose presence lends a fresh charm 
and a delightful picturesqueness to an already 
charming scene. Scotland's pride of nationality 
runs high on such an occasion, and she rightly 
puts all distinctive traits in the foreground. 

As the time of the contest draws near, a feeling 



of suppressed excitement spreads through the crowd, 
interfering with the smooth flow of speech. Questions 
are put and answered in monosyllabic jerks. Every 
head is turned instinctively towards the pavilion, and 
watches are anxiously scanned. And when on the 
stroke of the hour the Englishmen appear in 
spotless white, headed by a brass band, playing 
*'The British Grenadiers," a great cheer rises from 
the mighty throng. But this cheer, although hearty, 
is as nothing to the roar of welcome which greets 
the lads in blue — the lads who are destined, ere the 
day is over, to carry the Scottish colours once more 
to victory ! — as they march on to the field, headed 
by Pipers. The team is entirely composed of Scots- 
men, I presume — Highland and Lowland — and con- 
tains the pink of Scotland's players. The occasion 
is international and historic. The assembly of on- 
lookers is representative of Scotland at its best. 
Why, then, if the Bagpipe is not the national 
instrument, should it be chosen to lead the Scottish 
team on to the field on this great day ? Why 
should it's stirring notes rouse the enthusiasm of 
the multitude? Try and imagine the effect a fiddler 
or a harper at the head of the dark blues would 
have upon the crowd? It would then set them 
jeering, not cheering. The manly, the heroic, the 
picturesque, associated as these are with the kilt 
and the Bagpipe, would disappear with the dis- 
appearance of the Piper. The harper, of course, 
could not even march with the team ; he would 
have to hurry off in advance, to the middle of the 


field, and, sitting down upon his three-legged stool, 
draw the players to him, as if by hypnotism, or 
magnetism, or other necromantic ism ; a spectacle 
fit only to excite gods and men to laughter ! 

It is the "generally accepted" opinion — Mr 
Murray concedes this much — that the Bagpipe is 
Scotland's national instrument. 

To shew how true this is, allow me to quote 
shortly from the public speeches of two Scotsmen — 
Lowlanders, not bigoted, prejudiced Highlanders — 
and delivered before two very different audiences on 
two very different occasions. 

Colonel R. Easton Aitken, a well-known Scotsman, 
who puts in no claim to be called a Highlander, and 
is so far at least unprejudiced in his opinions on the 
Bagpipe, was presiding this year at the distribution 
of prizes in connection with the Glasgow School of 
Music. In opening the proceedings he said, " Most 
of you probably know more about music than I do, 
but as a Scotsman I claim to be a member of a 
musical nation which has given to the world songs 
which have become more than national. We also 
possess a very distinctive form of music, regarding 
which a certain difference of opinion is held. / refer 
to the Bagpipe, but granted that those who differ as 
to its being the national instrument are right ! still 
it has proved itself a very stimulating military in- 
fluence, and I have no doubt that the Scottish 
nation at large is proud of the Bagpipe and all 
the memories it conjures up." 

Now it is easy to read between the lines, and to 


know which side of the controversy — if it can be 
called a controversy — the gallant Colonel takes. His 
heart is with the Bagpipe. He has listened to it in 
camp and on the battlefield, and to him, as to so 
many other Scotsmen, it is the one very distinctive 
form of Scottish music. 

The "certain difference ot opinion" here men- 
tioned probably refers to Mr Murray's letters, which 
appeared in the Glasgow Herald shortly before the 
Colonel made his speech. 

Now the Colonel, being evidently a modest man, 
and not wishing to express himself too strongly 
upon a musical point before a gathering of musicians, 
gave too much weight to the certain difference of 
opinion, which was then being aired in the Press. 
"That those who differ as to its being the national 
instrument are right," I would not grant for one 
moment. But then I am a Highlander, and pro- 
bably biased, and also on this particular subject I 
have found the best informed musicians to be as 
ignorant as the man in the street, for the very 
simple reason that the Bagpipe is never mentioned 
in lectures. It has been systematically ignored by 
the learned as a rude and barbarous instrument, 
unworthy of their notice, and its history has yet to 
be written. The opinion of the expert, therefore, 
on the Bagpipe is of no special value, because it is 
without knowledge. The Pipe itself is, however, 
in evidence wherever a band of Scotsmen fore- 
gather ; and this is to me one of the best proofs of 
its national character, and of the estimation in 


which it is held, notwithstanding any amount of 
learned — or unlearned — dissertation to the contrary. 
In illustration of what I mean, take the St. Andrew's 
Day Celebrations in London this year as reported 
in the Scotsman newspaper. Lord Rosebery was in 
the chair, and made one of those delightfully racy 
speeches which become the social function so well, 
but which I refer to later on. ''The assemblage" — 
I quote from the report, — "which numbered between 
three hundred and four hundred, might be described 
as a sort of miniature ' Scotland in London.' A 
considerable proportion of those present were in 
Highland costume. Around the walls were hung 
numerous clan banners, and the skirl of the Bag- 
pipes {sic) was heard at frequent intervals in the 
course of the evening." Now, what gave this great 
and representative gathering, in the eyes of the 
newspaper correspondent, its distinctively Scottish 
character? Why, we have it in his description of 
the meeting. It was the Highland leaven that 
leavened the whole lump. Without the Bagpipe, 
and the kilt, and the clan banners on the wall, and 
the haggis — we must not leave out the haggis, 
"Great Chieftain o' the Puddin-race " — the meeting 
would be as any other meeting of Britishers. 

And as at home, so abroad, only more so. To a 
Scotsman landing on a foreign shore the sound of 
the Bagpipe is at once cheering and inspiriting. 
As its first strains fall upon his ears, the cry of 
"Scotland for ever!" rises to his lips. He feels 
that he is among friends, and not so far from 


home after all ; this is irrespective of the tune 

The fiddle, unless playing some well-known 
melody, can convey no such sensation. Nor can 
the harp. 

Speaking at Rockhampton on June 3, 1896, where 
he was the guest of the Scotsmen of that town, — no 
distinction here between Highland Scot and Low- 
land Scot, although there was a Mac in the chair ! 
— men grow wider in their views by travel, — Lord 
Lamington, the newly - appointed Governor of 
Queensland, and a man who cannot be accused of 
being either a Highlander or prejudiced, said, " I 
rejoiced on landing here to see well-known Scottish 
dresses, and also to hear the sound of the Pipes. 
(Applause.) Yesterday morning, I think it was, or 
the day before, I had occasion to thank those who 
gave that pleasantest of music to my ears from the 
balcony of this hotel. Some rather irreverent person 
in the street made a jeering remark. I do not 
know what it is to most people, but I know 
this — / -would rather hear the Pipes than any other 
instrument. Many a time, when in London, have I 
dashed down one street and up another to cut off 
perhaps some regiment marching to the sound of 
the Pipes. . . . Whilst others may prefer such 
airs as those to be heard at the opera, I can only 
say, in my opinion, that in everything the beautiful 
is strictly allied with the useful. And I maintain 
that the Pipes have done more strictly useful work 
in this world than any other instrument. (Applause.) 


Where the Highland bonnets have gone forward — 
whether at Alma, whether in India, — if there has 
been a pause in the rush, it has been the piobrach 
which has rallied these Highland regiments, and 
enabled them to distinguish themselves in the 
fierce onslaught on the enemy. (Applause.) Why, 
there is hardly a war, however small, in which you 
will not see the name of some well-known Highland 
or Scottish regiment. The Bagpipe is always to 
the front. Therefore I maintain — as we all of us 
do, I believe — that we should cherish our national 
instrument, which has played a great part in the 
history of our country." (Applause.) 

Those who differ from us on this point have their 
work cut out for them, and should lose no time in 
taking their coats off if they are in earnest, and 
mean to try and explode "the generally accepted 
notion that the Bagpipe is the National Instrument 
of Scotland." 

It is assuredly the only distinctive musical instru- 
ment which we possess, and at the present time, it 
deposed from its proud position, there is none other 
to take its place. 



VI TE have tried to prove in the preceding chapter 
— not unsuccessfully, we hope — that the Bag- 
pipe is the only distinctive musical instrument which 
Scotland possesses. 

Do other nations recognise the Pioh Mhor as 
distinctively Scottish, and not as merely Highland? 

This is the second test, and is also a very im- 
portant one. 

At a time when England and Scotland were still 
separate nationalities, although under one crown, 
Otway, the English poet, who wrote his first play 
in 1674, said on one occasion, " A Scotch song ! I 
hate it worse than a Scotch Bagpipe." 

The Bagpipe was at the zenith of its fame in the 
Highlands, and — with the exception of the bellows 
pipe — had largely died out in the Lowlands, when 
Otway made this spiteful remark. It was the golden 
age of the Piper in Skye. Many of our best 
Piobaireachd first saw the light there, while every- 
where in the Highlands at this time similar music 
was being written. We can compose no such fine 

The Autlior looks upon this Pipe as the most vahiable in his collection. It 
was bought for him hy Mr W. S. Macdonald, of Glasgow, and has a very sweet 

" A Kklic of Waterloo " 

Inscribed upon the silver plate is the following : — 

" Prize given by the Highland Society of Londcm to John Buchanan, Pipe- 
Major to the 42nd or Rl. Highland Regl. — .4djudged to him by tlie Highland 
Society of Scotland at Edinburgh, 2olh July, 1802. 


music for the Bagpipe to-day as the old pipers 
composed in those days, without any seeming effort. 
The name of MacCrimmon was familiar as a house- 
hold word wherever the soft Gaelic tongue was 
spoken, when of Lowland Pipers of fame there were 
none, and yet Otway writes of the Bagpipe in his 
day as Scotch. 

At the battle of Quatre Bras, when the Seventy- 
Ninth Highlanders had formed up to receive a 
charge of French cavalry, Piper McKay stepped 
proudly out of the newly-formed square, and, plant- 
ing himself on a hillock, where he could be seen 
and heard of all, played that well-known pibroch — 
grandest of war pieces — " Cogadh Na Shie," as 
unconcernedly as if on parade, with shot and shell 
flying all around him. A similar example of piper's 
bravery was given at Waterloo, under the eye of 
Napoleon himself, who might in all truth have said, 
"Ah! brave Highlanders!" instead of "Ah! brave 
Scots ! " when he heard the war-pipe sound, and 
saw the tartan wave, and witnessed with amazement 
his best troops dash themselves in vain against 
those thin walls of Highland steel ; but there was 
none of that hair-splitting, pettifogging spirit about 
this greatest of great soldiers, which some modern 
critics display ; those critics who would divide us 
into Highland Scot and Lowland Scot, and who 
unblushingly assert — or at least insinuate — that the 
Lowlander is unwilling to accept any gift which 
comes to him with the Highland taint upon it. 

To the French Emperor the Bagpipe and the kilt 


— characteristically Highland both — represented Scot- 
land and Scotland alone. 

Once again, when Mendelssohn, the great com- 
poser, came over to Scotland that he might study 
on the spot the native music, he spent three whole 
days passing out and in of the old Theatre Royal in 
Edinburgh, during a competition that happened to be 
going on there, listening to the Bagpipe, because to 
him it was the instrument par excellence of Scot- 
land ; it was here first, and afterwards in a visit to 
the Highlands where he again studied the Bagpipe 
amidst its proper surroundings, that he caught the 
inspiration for his '■'■Hebrides'''' overture and for his 
"Scotch Symphony." 

Now as with the English, and the French, and 
the German, so with other nations. I have myself 
visited many foreign countries, and met with many 
different peoples, and the invariable exclamation of 
the intelligent foreigner, on seeing or hearing the 
Highland Pipe, was ''Ah! Scotch!" 

To the educated foreigner, indeed, who often takes 
a broader view of our country than we ourselves do, 
Highland and Lowland are unknown. There is but 
one nation, Scotland; and but one people, the Scottish; 
and but one national instrument, the Bagpipe. 

We will now glance shortly at the other conditions 
laid down before proceeding to the subject proper. 
The Bagpipe is the only one of the three instruments 
mentioned which was not borrowed from Roman, 
Teuton, Angle or Dane, but which has sprung from 
the people, and grown with the growth of the nation. 


The fiddle, as we have said before, — a statement 
which we cannot reiterate too often, — was the inven- 
tion of an Englishman, a Churchman, who, after a 
time, made his home in France, where he ultimately 
died, and it is an Anglo-Saxon instrument. It is 
only of comparatively recent introduction in the High- 
lands, and it never attained any great popularity there. 

The harp, also an Anglo-Saxon weapon, was the 
one favourite instrument of the minstrel class : a 
class far removed from the common crowd. At one 
time, indeed, a most exclusive class, proud, haughty, 
and reserved : holding itself always in touch with 
royalty and aloof from the commonality. It never 
was in universal use in Scotland, although for a 
short time it may have been fairly common among 
the upper classes, especially in the West Highlands. 

On the other hand, the Bagpipe is Celtic, like the 
people who in Caesar's day inhabited the island from 
Land's End to John o' Groats. The little pastoral 
pipe of the Celt, made of " ane reid and ane bleddir," 
was in universal use in the Lowlands as well as in 
the Highlands at the beginning of the fifteenth 
century, as history informs us. The fiddle was only 
coming into use at this time in the Lowlands, and 
was not much thought of, and in the Highlands it was 
practically unknown. 

Now, this fact that the Bagpipe was in early use 
in the Lowlands, and a favourite with the common 
people, is fatal to Mr Murray's argument. "In the 
Lowlands," he says, " it never had a footing " — he has 
evidently not read "The Complaynt of Scotland," or 


Studied the old exchequer rolls. He agrees with 
Mr McBain of Inverness, who blindly follows 
Sir A. C. McKenzie, in the opinion that it came from 
England into the Highlands, but evidently thinks 
— in opposition to McBain — that // skipped the 
Lowlands on its way thither. Mr McBain tells us, 
indeed, that it came into the Highlands directly from 
the Lowlands^ where it had been in use for a hundred 
years and more, before the Highlanders knew 
anything about it. Who are we to believe ? The 
simplest way to get over the difficulty is to believe 
neither party, as both are hopelessly at sea on this 
question. The Pipe did not come from England into 
Scotland ; it was the common property of the Celt in 
England, and in Ireland, and in Scotland, in the 
early centuries, and did not require to be borrowed 
by the one from the other. 

In " The Complaynt of Scotland," a book written 
in the southern Lowland dialect in 1548 or early in 
1549, the names of the musical instruments and of the 
dances then in vogue are given, and the two first 
instruments on the list are two Bagpipes of different 
species. This alone, without any further proof, marks 
its popularity in the Lowlands. The fiddle, which 
Sir A. C. McKenzie would force upon us as a national 
instrument, is mentioned only seventh on the list, and 
the poor harp, which Mr Murray gives precedence 
to over the Bagpipe, is not recognised at all. 

We have historical proof that the Bagpipe was 
well known in Scotland while the twelfth century 
was still young, and if we cannot give written proof 


of a Still earlier use, it is because there is no earlier 
history of Scotland written. Where history fails 
common-sense steps in, and tells us that it must 
have taken centuries to evolve out of the simple 
Pipe of '* ane reid and ane bleddir " the rich full- 
toned Pipe that played at the Court of King David, 
and delighted the ear of many an old warrior, grim 
and stern, who had won his spurs on the field of 
Bannockburn, and that it was also first known in 
its simpler form to the humble shepherd — the only 
solace, indeed, of his lonely vigils — centuries before 
the first Scottish historian was born. 

This little pastoral Pipe, however ; this little Pipe 
of one reed, had become as early as the reign of 
King David — and probably much earlier — the Great 
Pipe, worthy of the historian's notice : the now 
famous War-Pipe of the Highlander, and was then 
— and then only — able to voice the feelings of a 
warlike race. It is in truth the greatest war instru- 
ment which the world has ever seen. To-day it 
stands pre-eminent on the battlefield, where it first 
became famous, and there such feeble-voiced instru- 
ments as the fiddle and the harp — its two great 
rivals — cannot be compared with it for one moment. 
But, lastly, the Bagpipe has assisted largely in 
forming the distinctive music of the country — 
Scotland's national music. Without the Bagpipe 
what would Highland music be? As other music. 
And without Highland music what would there be 
to distinguish Scottish music from English, or 
French, or German? The ''characteristic Lowland 


Scotch music " would still be Lowland Scotch no 
doubt, but without the characteristic. 

Mr Murray says, " My principal object in writing 
was to protest against the generally accepted view 
that the Bagpipe is the national instrument. Whilst 
the Highlander adopted it and made much of it, in the 
Lowlands it never had a footing ^ We have already 
shown that the Highlander did not adopt it, and 
that it had more than a footing in the Lowlands — 
where it was, indeed, the principal or favourite 
musical instrument with the peasantry for hundreds 
of years — even as early as the fourteenth century. 

" Our wealth of Scottish folk-music," he continues, 
" has no affinity with the Bagpipes (sic), and very 
many of these old airs were sung in our Scottish 
homes, long before the Bagpipe found its way from 
England to the Highland hills and glens, ^^ 

Again the same false assumption, for which there 
is not one jot or tittle of proof, that the Bag-pipe 
came from England. The Bagpipe did not come 
from England ; and Scotch folk-music has many 
affinities with Pipe music. Will Mr Murray give to 
the world the name of a single tune from his 
"Wealth of Scottish Folk -Song" that can be 
traced as far back as, say 1365, when the Pipe was 
already fashionable at the Scottish Court, and the 
Piper ranked high among the members of the 
king's household? "Hey Tutti Tuiti," said by 
tradition to have been Bruce's march at the 
Battle of Bannockburn, is undoubtedly an ancient 
tune, and I believe it to be as old as tradition says, 


but then it is a Bagpipe tune. The oldest part-song 
in the world also is formed on the same model, and 
has a drone bass in imitation of the Bagpipe. It is 
an English song, and is called " Sumer is icumen 
in," and dates from about 1250. What Scottish 
folk-song can be traced as far back as 1250? 

That the oldest songs in both countries should be 
so largely influenced by the Bagpipe is not to be 
wondered at, when we remember that the Pipe was 
a general favourite in England as well as in Scot- 
land at a time when song-making was in its infancy. 
It is well to remember here that musical instruments 
have always led the human voice, not vice versa, 
but while leading they have also from inherent 
imperfections and peculiarities of scale, etc., imposed 
limits, thus giving a distinctive character to the 
songs of the people. This is most marked in 
countries like Scotland, where in the early days but 
one instrument predominated. Its influence can be 
traced most clearly in Highland song, where the 
singer, like the piper, skips or slurs certain notes 
in the scale, irrespective of the character of the 
theme. It is the same, 

"In solemn dirg-e, or dance tune gay, 
In sad lament, or joyous roundelay," 

and it is difficult to understand on what grounds 

Mr Murray denies its influence in Scottish music. 

** In point of fact," he says with an air of authority, 

"but very few of the airs of even the Gaelic songs 

can be played on the Pipes. . . . The timbre 

of the Pipe makes the instrument impossible as an 


accompaniment to the voice, and its use all through 
has been unconnected with vocal music." Now, 
while the Great Highland Bagpipe is the proper 
accompaniment on the battlefield to the noise and 
din of warfare, it was never intended to be an 
accompaniment of song, and no sane writer has ever 
said so ; but it is only one of many Pipes, and of 
these others several go well to the human voice. 
At a lecture given by me this winter I had a choir 
boy — with a rare gift of voice — who sang that 
beautiful Christmas hymn, " Hark, the Herald 
Angels Sing," to the accompaniment of the 
Northumbrian Bagpipe, and the timbre of the Pipe 
and the timbre of the little singer's voice were in 
perfect unison. The French Mussette is another 
Bagpipe which goes well with the human voice ; so 
that it is not correct to say that "its use all through 
has been unconnected with vocal music." Hundreds, 
nay ! thousands of French Bagpipe songs were in 
existence once, and may be yet for all I know. 
And as to the bold statement that "but very few of 
the airs of even the Gaelic songs can be played on 
the Pipes," the exact opposite is the truth. Very 
many of the old Gaelic songs go excellently well 
upon the Pipes in the disguise of march, reel, and 
strathspey, while practically all Piobaireachd — the 
real music of the Pipe — is vocal. 

But as this subject — the influence of the Bagpipe on 
Highland music — is a large and an interesting one, 
it will require a chapter to itself. 



TN 1819, Dr. MacCulloch published his book called 
'■' "A Description of the Western Islands of 
Scotland." That he was prejudiced against the 
Highlands and things Highland, is to be seen on 
many a page of his book. When therefore he 
speaks favourably — which he seldom does — of such 
matters as Highland music and the Bagpipe, his 
opinions can be accepted unreservedly. 

At one time, he tells us, that according to report 
St. Kilda was famous for its music. The learned 
doctor found nothing to justify this reputation when 
he paid a visit to the island, there being neither 
Bagpipe nor violin in the place. His search here 
and elsewhere, however, led him into a learned dis- 
sertation on Scottish music, which is becoming to 
our argument at this stage. 

" The airs which are recorded as originating in 

this place," he says, "are of a plaintive character; 

but they differ in no respect from the innumerable 

ancient compositions of this class which abound in 

the Highlands." These are interesting, ^^ as they 



appear to he the true origin of that peculiar style of 
melody for which Scotland is celebrated.'''' The 
" Highland airs of acknowledged antiquity " he 
divides into two classes. " Pibroch, a distinctive 
class by itself, similar to nothing in any other 
country ; and airs of a plaintive nature often in a 
minor key. The more ancient appear to have con- 
sisted of one strain only : the second strain so often 
found attached to them at present is generally a 
recent addition ; wandering commonly through a 
greater extent of the scale, and not often a very 
felicitous extension of the same idea. In some cases 
these airs appear to be purely instrumental ; in 
others they are attached to poetry and song by the 
milkmaid at her summer sheiling, or the cowherd 
on the green bank. One peculiar circumstance 
attends nearly the whole, namely, that they equally 
admit of being played in quick time. Thus they are 
often also the dancing tunes of the country." In 
another place he says, " In Scotland the Bagpipe 
must be considered as the national instrument. By 
this instrument the characters of these melodies seem 
to have been regulated, as they appear to have been 
composed on it. In examining all the most ancient 
and most simple they will be found limited to its 
powers, and rigidly confined to its scale. The 
pathetic and the lively, the pastoral airs of the 
Tweed, and even the melodies of the Border, thus 
equally appear to have been founded upon the 

'' It will often, indeed, be found that the same 


air which is now known as a Lowland pathetic 
composition is also a Highland dancing tune." 

" To the peculiar limited powers of the Bagpipe 
therefore must probably be referred the singularities 
which characterise the national melodies of the 
Highlands. On that instrument they appear to 
have been first composed, and by that has been 
formed the peculiar style which the voice has 
imitated. In no instance, indeed, has the human 
voice appeared to lead the way in uttering a melody 
or the ear in conceiving one. They follow at a 
distance that which was originally dictated by the 
mechanical powers and construction of the instru- 
ments which have been successively invented." 

These are the opinions of an acute and accurate 
observer, formed on the spot, and at a time when 
the materials out of which to form a correct judg- 
ment were more plentiful. 

I have not yet ventured to quote any expert's 
opinion on the Bagpipe as a musical instrument, 
which may seem strange. But, as a matter of fact, 
the average trained musician knows as much or as 
little about the "Pipes" as the man in the street. 
This is not his fault, indeed, as I mentioned before, 
but is due to the fact that the Pipe is seldom, if 
ever, mentioned in lectures on music, and is almost 
entirely ignored in musical text-books. 

When, however, it comes to the question of what 
influencies were at work in the formation of our 
national music, then is an expert's opinion of the 
greatest of value. 


Now, Mr Hamish M'Cunn, than who no better 
judge of Scottish music exists at the present day, 
working along the same lines as Dr. MacCulloch 
— who you will see I am not putting forward as an 
expert — comes to much the same conclusion as 
the learned doctor. He acknowledges the large 
influence which the Bagpipe wielded over High- 
land music, and the preponderating influence 
which the latter exerted in the formation of our 
national music : with which conclusions I also am 
in agreement, but would substitute " Bagpipe 
music" for "Highland music," as it is surely 
unwise to ignore the influence of the Bagpipe on 
the Lowlander during the long centuries when it 
was with him too, the favourite musical instrument. 
Years of piping in the Lowlands must at least have 
prepared the soil for the Highland seed that was 
one day to fall there, and root, and flourish, and 
blossom into the glorious harvest of national song. 

The influence of the Bagpipe in the Highlands 
in days of old is undoubted : pibroch is its real 
business, as MacCulloch says, and all ancient 
pibroch is vocal as well as instrumental. " Pibroch 
of Donald Dhu," "Macintosh's Lament," " Mac- 
leod of Macleod's Lament," " I got a kiss of the 
King's hand," " My King has landed in Moidart," 
'' Bodach Nam Brigais," " Patrick Og M'Crimmon's 
Lament," " Cha till MacCruimein," "The Piper's 
Warning to his Master," are all well-known songs, 
and the very flower of pibroch. The influence of 
the pibroch was so great indeed in early times that 


the poet wrote his sonnet to its changing measures. 
'' Ben Dorain," a Gaelic poem written by Duncan 
Ban M'Intyre in the eighteenth century, is one of 
the last and one of the best examples of this style 
of Highland composition. One of the earliest is 
the *' Lay of Arran " by Cailte, the Ossianic bard. 
The ancient Erse composition known as " Chredhe's 
Lament," is, I believe, another, from which I take 
the liberty of quoting a few lines. 

The haven roars, and O ! 

The haven roars, 
Over the rushing race of Rinn-da-bharc ! 
Drowned is the warrior of Loch-da-chonn. 

His death the wave mourns on the strand. 

Melodious is the crane, and O ! 

Melodious is the crane, 
In the marshlands of Druin-da-thren ! 'tis she 
That may not save her brood alive: the gaunt wolf grey. 

Upon her nestlings, is intent, 

A woeful note, and O ! 

A note of woe, 
Is that with which the thrush fills Drumqueens vale ! 
But not more cheerful is the piping wail ! 

The blackbird makes in Letterlee, 

A woeful sound, and O ! 

A sound of woe, 
Rises from Drumdaleish, where deer stand moaning low! 
In Druim Silenn, dead lies the soft-eyed doe: 

The mighty stag bells after her. 

This lament, which I have arranged in metre 
form, as it falls naturally into it, is to be found in 
the "Book of Lismore." 


It is a lament for Gael, Crimthan's son, who was 
overtaken one day by the quick-rising storm, and 
sucked under by the swirling seas. 

To the writer's Celtic imagination, the mournful 
booming of the surf on the shore is but the wave's 
solemn requiem over the white body which lies 
entangled in the wrack beneath, tossing idly to- 
and-fro, with the swing of the restless waters. 

This is the whole story : a lover overtaken by 
the fate that ever follows closely on the heels of all 
such as ''go down to the sea in ships," and the 
tumultuous sea — the instrument of a cruel fate — 
mourning over its own handiwork. 

And this story or theme, told in a few simple 
words, is repeated, like the '■^ iirlar''' or groundwork 
of a pibroch, at least twice in the middle of the 
poem, and once again before the lament comes to 
a close. 

And here, too, as in pibroch, there are no pre- 
liminary trivialities : the teller puts his whole story 
into a nutshell, so to speak. True, there are em- 
bellishments — the variations of the pibroch — but 
these follow after and are rounded up, once and 
again with the one essential : the sea mourning 
over its dead. There also runs through this tale of 
woe, like a golden thread, the sympathy of nature 
for man in distress. The story opens abruptly to 
the accompaniment of the noisy sea, calling aloud 
in anguished voice at the catastrophe which has 
overtaken Cael. 

"The haven roars, and O! the haven roars," 


and it is with the sound of angry waters in our 
ears, as the foaming waves plunge along the 
weather-beaten shore, that we reach the end of the 
tale, and rising, close the book, with a sigh for 
Credhe the Desolate. 

A woeful melody, and O ! 

A melody of woe 
Is that the surges make on Tullacleish's shore 
For me, hard-hit, prosperity exists no more, 

Now Crimthan's son is drowned. 

In this very old and beautiful lament the writer 
in her sorrow turns to nature for consolation. 

She suffers! but she is not alone in this. Nature 
gives her a peep behind the veil, and shews her at 
every turning, sorrow keen as her own. 

Do not the very waves that have swallowed up 
the drowned man mourn his cruel death ? True, 
the crane watching over her little brood nestling in 
the lonely marshlands makes melody just now, but 
her singing will soon be turned into mourning ; for 
is not *'the wild dog of two colours intent upon 
her nestlings." 

Even the merry thrush in Drumqueen woods is sad 
as she finds her nest harried ; the tuneful blackbird 
wails in Letterlee ; and the hills give back a 
thousand echoes to the mournful belling of the stag 
bereft of his doe. 

There is a great deal of repetition in these old 
laments, and alliteration often — I might almost say 
always — takes the place of rhyme. Sorrow — the 
burden of the story — begins and ends the strain ; 


and the first line, sometimes even the first word, is 
also the last. 

This constant repetition, varied only slightly, 
gives a length and an apparent sameness in struc- 
ture to such pieces, which make them distasteful or 
wearisome to the modern reader. 

But to the lover of pibroch there can not be too 
much variation on one theme : no length is too 
great ; and there is a certain charm in what may 
be called the recurring sameness of the music, that 
has to be felt to be understood. 

If any one doubt this, let him make a study of 
pibroch for himself, then attend a few of the leading 
Highland gatherings : listen to the champions play- 
ing some old tune, such as " MacLeod of MacLeod's 
Lament" or "The Earl of Antrim's Lament," and 
if he does not fall under the spell of pibroch music, 
then is there something awanting in him. 

Now, if I am correct in thinking that " Credhe's 
Lament," like " Ben Doran " and many another of 
these old-world poems, is pibroch made vocal, then 
at least was this form of music familiar to the Celt 
long before the oldest written pibroch of authenti- 
cated date which we possess. 

And this would explain to some extent the 
wonderful completeness of the oldest known pibroch. 
There is no hesitancy, no doubt, no amateurishness 
about these old pieces, such as one would expect to 
meet with in a first attempt, but a roundness, and a 
finish, and a perfection of workmanship that is truly 


If the Bagpipe, as some say, was introduced into 
the Highlands about the fifteenth or sixteenth 
century, how are we to account for the early 
appearance of pibroch music there? The Macintosh's 
Lament was written, it is said, in the sixteenth 
century ; M'Leod of M'Leod's was certainly written 
in the middle of the seventeenth century, and these 
are not the oldest pibroch by any means which we 
possess to-day. If the Bagpipe was only introduced 
into the Highlands in the end of the fifteenth or 
the beginning of the sixteenth century, pibroch, 
with its scientific completeness, its complicated 
fingering, and its beautiful method of variations — 
these variations growing naturally the one out of 
the other, the simpler passing by gradation into the 
more complex — must in that case have " growed " 
with Topsy, and not have been born ; but this is 
absurd on the face of it. 

It is entirely against the theory of evolution in 
things great or small that such marvellous music as 
this, so classical in form, so advanced when we 
first meet with it, could have sprung to full stature 
in one day, or at the bidding of one man. 

Pibroch must of necessity have been of slow 
growth : the work of plodding musicians for cen- 
turies and centuries, as Mons. Guilmant said. 

Other countries practising the Bagpipe, yea ! 
even for thousands of years, have failed to produce 
anything like it, or anything worthy of the name of 

But when once the foundation had been fairly 


laid by the continuous efforts of many generations 
of Highland Celts, then a creative genius like 
M'Crimmon built upon this foundation, and gave 
to the world some of the most beautiful and 
original pieces of music, with a profusion and a 
celerity that seem to us, even to-day, little short of 

Now, to-day, although there are more pipers in 
Scotland than at any time since the '45, there is no 
writer of pibroch among them with whom I am 

Nor do I know of a single pibroch written in the 
present generation that is worth the playing, or 
whose fame will survive the death of its author. 

From the middle of the sixteenth to the middle 
of the eighteenth century was the golden age of 
pibroch. Of what went before we know little ; of 
what came after but little need be known. 

This gift of the old masters might well, indeed, 
be called "the vanishing gift." 



"XTOW pibroch music, or as the Highlanders call 
•'■^ it, " Ceol Mor,'' is essentially Highland. 

There is nothing like it in any other country in 
the world. 

Whatever merits, therefore, it possesses must be 
claimed for the Highlander. Under the fierce light 
of modern criticism — so called — the Highlander has 
had a poor time of it lately. 

The kilt has been taken from him, and the tartan 
proclaimed a modern fraud, and the Bagpipe has 
been held by the same authority to be but a 
borrowed instrument — borrowed from England too, 
of all places — with nothing Highland about it except 
the third or large drone. 

But the most rabid hater of the Sons of the Mist 
cannot deny their claim to pibroch music. 

He may sneer at it, as he has done at everything 
else Highland, but he cannot, with all his perverted 
ingenuity, father it upon any other race. The 
genuine Celtic Highlander alone appreciates it at 
its true value, because he alone understands it. It 


was written for him, and by him, and has always 
had for him a powerful fascination. Many of the 
tunes are rhymeful and haunting. They get into 
the crevices of the brain, and will not be dislodged 
nor are they easily forgotten, in after years — you 
have got to learn them, once having heard them, 
whether you will or not : they dominate the musical 
faculty for the time being just as the latest popular 
song controls the street boy's whistle, nor do they 
ever grow stale. 

In the old days there were schools or colleges 
throughout the Highlands where piping was taught. 
To these resorts, the chief generally, or one of the 
leading gentlemen of the clan, sent those youths 
who showed a decided talent for the *' Pipes." Here 
they were taught all the intricacies of pibroch dur- 
ing a course of lessons extending over many years, 
by one of the great masters of the art, — by a 
M'Crimmon, or a MacKay, or a MacKenzie, or 
a MacArthur, as the case might be, — and you may 
be sure that after so long an absence from home 
their return was looked forward to eagerly by one 
and all, from the chief in his castle to the poor 
squatter on the black hill. 

These young men left their native villages with 
perhaps a gift of fingering inherited from a race of 
pipers, and able to play tolerably well the simple 
airs known in their respective districts, but without 
any knowledge whatever of music in general, or of 
" Ceol Mor " in particular. 

Now, after seven or eight, or even ten of the 


best years of their life had been devoted to the 
study of their favourite instrument, they returned 
home fully trained musicians, and frequently with a 
reputation which had preceded them. They brought 
back with them, too, the finest of tunes learned at 
first hand from the composers themselves, and 
played them in the finest of styles — and how excel- 
lent that style was, is known only to a few players 

The skill acquired at these colleges — as the train- 
ing schools were called — and the superior knowledge 
of music gained during these years of hard study, 
gave the young piper a standing in the clan of 
which he was justly proud, and which he seldom 
abused. He was looked up to by his neighbours, 
and treated by all as a gentleman of parts ; and he 
never forgot that he was a musician. 

So that it was in no mere idle spirit of boasting, 
or in ignorant pride — as the narrator of the story 
imagined — that the piper of a regiment at Stirling 
once referred to himself, when there was a dispute 
as to whether the drummer boy should precede the 
piper on the march or not. "What!" he said, "is 
that little fellow who beats upon a sheepskin to go 
before me, who am a musician ? " 

We can understand then how these young pipers, 
trained in the best schools, and filled with the 
enthusiasm and inspiration of their teachers, exerted 
so powerful an influence upon the musical taste of 
the people among whom they settled down on their 


Their piping would be a revelation to the local 
players, who would be thus stimulated to further 
and better efforts. It would also be a never-failing 
source of delight to the listeners at the ceilidh or 
evening gathering. 

The bard, too, would find in the many new and 
beautiful airs fresh inspirations for his muse, and in 
this way all the old pibroch tunes also became 

And if this is true of the ''Great Music" of the 
Bagpipe, or Ceol Mor, it is also, but even in a 
greater degree, true of the " Little Music," or Ceol 

Nearly all the lesser Pipe tunes, whether marches, 
reels, or strathspeys, were sung in the old days to 

To give a complete list of such would be to fill 
pages of this book needlessly. 

The names of a few of the better-known songs 
composed to Bagpipe airs will not, however, be 
out of place. "Tullochgorum," "Highland Kitty," 
" Hech ! How! Johnnie, Lad," "Roderick of the 
Glen," "There Grows a Bonnie Briar Bush," 
"Cabar Feidh," " Blyth, Blyth and Merry was 
She," "Bonnie Strathmore," "There came a Young 
Man," "A Man's a Man for all that," "Scots 
Wha Hae " — these last two in spite of Mr Murray's 
criticism — " Lochiel's Awa' to France," "Highland 
Harry's Back Again," " Kate Dalrymple." 

The last three tunes, and indeed nearly all the 
others, are to be found in MacDonald's collection 


of " Quicksteps, Strathspeys, Reels, and Jigs," 
published about 1806. 

It is one of the earliest, if not the very earliest 
book of the kind published in Scotland, and I have 
taken the tunes from this old book to avoid spurious 
or modern imitations. 

I happened to play "Roderick of the Glen" — a 
tune not often heard now-a-days — on board the 
steamer Glencoe when crossing over from Islay last 

The captain, who was a fine old Highlander, 
and — as I soon found out — passionately fond of the 
" Pipes," came strolling up, as if by accident, to 
where I was playing, and listened gravely. The 
tune had an extraordinary effect upon him ; the 
tears came unbidden to the old man's eyes, and 
turning to me when I had finished, he said quietly, 
" Man ! I haven't heard that song since I was a 
laddie at my mother's knee : she used to sing me 
to sleep with it." 

This was good news to me, as letters were 
appearing at the time in the Glasgow Herald 
denying that Gaelic songs were sung to Bagpipe 
tunes, or could be put on the Pipe. I did not 
know until then that it was an old lullaby song. 
There is nothing in the name to suggest such, and 
it is given in the book as a quickstep. True, I 
had often played it at social meetings to slow time, 
and not as a march, but I had nothing to guide 
me in this beyond instinct : and here was Captain 
Campbell confirming my intuition. 


"Did your mother just croon it over to you?" 
I said to him. 

" Oh I no," he replied. " She sang it to words ; 
I can give you some verses of it now, if you would 
like to hear them : your playing has recalled them 
to my mind." 

And he was as good as his word. He sang to 
me, as we two stood close together under the storm 
deck, the wind the while whistling its accompani- 
ment outside, half-a-dozen verses in the dear old 
tongue, soft and mellifluous as the tune itself. He 
also sang me a beautiful old Gaelic pibroch called 
" Ciimha Fear Aros,'^ a lament for the laird of 
Aros : a very different tune from the one given in 
Caintairacht by MacLeod of Gesto ; resembling 
somewhat the Macintosh's Lament, but yet quite 
distinct from it. 

Let me close this short list of Pipe tunes that are 
also songs, with the names of two of the most truly 
beautiful and purely Gaelic songs known; two songs 
that "are also Pipe tunes." These are ^^Ho! Ro! 
Mo Nighean Donn Boidheach'" and '''■Mo Dileas 

So much for Mr Murray's dictum that "very few 
of the airs of even the Gaelic songs can be played 
on the Pipes." 

No one would for a moment dispute his assertion 
that the Bagpipe is unfitted as an accompaniment 
to the human voice if he means by Bagpipe, the 
Great Highland Bagpipe. But there are other 
Bagpipes besides it, several of which 1 have in my 

The Cuisleagh Cuil of Ireland. 

Bought through the late Mr Henderson, Bagpipe Maker. Glasgow. 

Inside the green baize cover was found the following unstamped receipt : — 

Glasgow, May 23rd, 1843. 
" .\rchd. Wilson Bought oft (sic) .Arthur Finnigan, Broker, N i 
" Bridge Gate, a Pair Union Pipes Silver Mounted at £;i o o 
" sterling. 

" Arthur Finnigan. " 


collection, and which make very good accompany ists 
to the human voice. 

The Great War Pipe of the Highlander on the 
other hand, as I have said more than once, makes 
a good accompaniment to the roar of battle — for 
which it was intended — when bullets are flying and 
men's patriotism burns brightly : or to the voice of 
nature in her wilder moods as heard in the storm 
on the mountain side, or in the booming of the 
surf by the lone sea shore, or in the roar of the 
torrent thundering down the glen. 

It is only in a drawing-room instrument, like the 
belloivs pipe of England and of La Belle France, 
that you can look for and expect to find in the 
Bagpipe a fitting accompaniment to the humati voice. 




TN the preceding chapters we have tried to prove that 
the "generally accepted view that the Bagpipe 
is our National Instrument " is based upon good 
sound reasoning and solid fact, and not a mere 
fanciful notion to be lightly exploded. We have also 
tried to show that the Bagpipe had a large — a 
determining — influence upon the character and style 
of Highland music. We also gave it as our belief, 
that centuries of piping in the South were not thrown 
away upon the Lowland Scot, and that to this 
influence almost as much as to the Highland airs 
finding their way to the Lowlands, was due those 
Lowland airs of markedly national character which 
so much resemble the Highland ones, that Dr. 
MacCulloch and many others supposed them to be 
nothing- more nor less than Gaelic airs altered to suit 
the southern ear, and not always improved by the 
tinkering to which they were subjected. We also 
tried to prove — and we hope not altogether in vain — 
that pipe-tune and Gaelic song were inextricably 
mixed together, the one indeed often passing into the 


Other : that the two forms of music were in reality- 
interchangeable, so that whether at feast or merry- 
making, if by any chance the Piper failed to turn up, 
there were always plenty of lads and lassies to sing to 
the dancers the live-long night all the well-known 
strathspeys and reels, as songs with words. 

That, in short, the ''''Port Phiob^'" or Pipe tune, 
became the '■'■ Port na Beul,'^ or mouth tune, and 
this is the reason why the Free Church, although it 
exterminated pretty thoroughly the Bagpipe itself 
(let this be written to its discredit), failed altogether 
to put down Pipe music ; and why it must fail (if 
it is determined to pursue the same evil policy in 
the future as it has done in the past), unless it is 
prepared also in addition to burning the Pipe and 
the fiddle, to cut the throat of every Highland lad 
and lassie who can sing the old songs. 

For this reason then, — in contradistinction to the 
views above quoted, — Gaelic songs, the music of 
which was written for the Pipe, and many of which 
have not yet reached the Lowlands, are to be heard 
here and there throughout the Highlands to-day ; 
the one thing left, in a priest-ridden country, to 
these simple folks of much that was bright, helpful, 
and innocent in the past ; the one thing preserved 
to them in this strange way from the tyranny of the 
Protestant priest. It is — to our shame be it said — 
in the Catholic districts that the old music, and 
the old dance, and the old traditions are best pre- 

Now the Bagpipe is not the only good thing pre- 


served from the old days which the Highlander has 
presented to his country. 

Scotland owes much to its Highlands, and to the 
primitive people who live there. It may be honest 
ignorance that makes an occasional Lowlander 
unwilling to recognise the Highland Bagpipe as 
our national instrument ; but there are gifts from 
the same source which he cannot avoid accepting, 
and for which he should write himself down " Your 
most obedient, humble servant," whenever he sees 
a Highland face, or hears the Highland accent, or 
listens to the tuneful roar of the Great War Pipe. 

But for the Highlander the old picturesque dress 
would ere now be a thing of the past, and the 
Scottish tartan would no longer wave. 

The old Aryan speech, too, would have long since 
died out — a language which some scholars are now 
inclined to think may have been the original Aryan 

But for the Highlander there would be no national 
dance. The reel, or strathspey, is to-day the only 
characteristic dance of Scotland. 

True, in Shakespeare's time there was a Scotch jig. 
He compares " a wooing, wedding, and repenting " 
to "a Scotch jig, a measure and a cinque-pace. The 
first suit is hot and hasty, like a Scotch jig, and 
full as fantastical." But the Scot has long ago for- 
gotten all about his own dance, and now he falls 
back upon the Highland fling when he wishes to 
show something distinctively Scottish to the inquisi- 
tive stranger. 


Again, visitors from all parts of the world who 
come to see Scotland naturally bend their steps to 
the Highlands. They, of course, spend some days 
in Edinburgh, as being perhaps the most beautiful 
city in the world ; and they give the Clyde a 
passing visit, not for its generous odours, which it 
gives off with too prodigal a hand, but for the 
sake of the wonderful industries along its banks ; 
and then it is "Ho! for the Highlands." 

It is Caledonia — the Scotland of the poets — which 
the traveller has come from afar to see. 

Sir Walter Scott is on his lips, and in his heart, 
as he whispers to himself, when first his eye rests 
upon the great mountains, 

" O ! Caledonia, stern and wild " 

The verv name of Caledonia is taken from a tribe 
of Picts who inhabited the country round Loch 
Ness, comprising Stratheric, The Aird, and Strath- 
glass, a district which is now, and has been for 
hundreds of years, the Fraser country and the home 
of the Chisholms. 

And when the poet, glowing with enthusiasm for 
his native land, word-paints it so that others may 
see and love it, as he sees and loves it, he seeks 
not for inspiration by the banks of the broad 
smooth-flowing Clyde, or of the winding Forth, or 
of the swift flowing Tay. 

He seeks it not in the flat Lowlands teeming 
with great cities, nor in the carse lands, rich and 
fertile, and beautiful as these may be. 

With true poetic instinct his eyes are drawn north- 


wards. On the wings of his imagination he is away 
to the Highlands, that land of poetry and romance, 
and he sees as through a golden mist, the birch 
glen and heath - covered mountain, and quick- 
running streamlet that to-day a child can cross with 
safety, and to-morrow is a roaring torrent, uprooting 
trees in its fury, and tearing the mighty rock from 
its base. And with his heart beating in unison 
with the mighty throb of nature's heart, an unerring 
instinct leads him to hall-mark Scotland for all 
men, and for all time, as the 

" Land of brown heath and shaggy wood, 
Land of the mountain and the flood." 

The glamour that the Highlands has cast over Scot- 1 
land's sons is well seen in tiie case of the Scot abroad. 

The home- sickness which affects him is but 
natural, and is shared by the exile from other 
countries. But the craving for the tartan and the 
Bagpipe which characterises the exiled Scot, whether 
he be a Highlander or a Lowlander, is most pro- 
nounced, and is seldom or never absent. In 
Johannesburg, on Burns' Night this year, as in 
past years, we expected — and our expectations were 
realised — to see cockie-leekie and haggis grace the 
board, and to hear the usual Burns oration. 

But why should the great War Pipe of the High- 
lands be in evidence on such an occasion ? 

Because to these exiles it represents Scotland as 
a whole, and not merely the Highlands. Because, 
in their eyes, it is the national instrument. Because 
it is eminently Scottish. 


And as abroad, so at home. Quite recently Lord 
Rosebery presided over a great gathering of Scots 
at the Holborn Restaurant, London. These Scots 
met to celebrate the Festival of St. Andrew. 

In the speech of the evening the noble Lord 
quoted from a book written by one of the "bloody" 
Cumberland's soldiers. 

In this book, the squalor of Scotland, in those days, 
and more especially the evil smells to be met with in 
Edinburgh streets, were most graphically described. 

" Malodours, which," as the speaker said, *'seem 
almost to reach from the book through the centuries, 
and strike the modern nose, as it bends over the 
page. In that very book they compare the music of 
the Bagpipes, to "which we have listened with so much 
pleasure to-night^ to the ' shrieks of the eternally 
tormented.' I venture to say that there is no part 
of this Empire where the sound of the Bagpipe is 
not welco?ned and halloived at this moment. (Cheers. ) 
There is no part of this Empire in which fond and 
affectionate hearts are not turning at this very 
moment with a warmer feeling than usual to the 
Land o' Cakes." 

And what is this land to which the speaker's 
heart warms ? 

The broad domains of Dalmeny, covered with 
luxurious woods and green pastures, and fertile 
farms, might well at such a time draw out all the 
love in this Scotsman's heart: might well on this 
night of nights mean Scotland for him. But no ! 
If he sees Dalmeny, 'tis but for a moment. His 


eyes are lifted to the hills beyond. The Coolins, 
and Ben Nevis, and Ben Cruachan, with a hundred 
other Bens, make mute but powerful appeal, to 
which his heart as powerfully responds. 

" Let me," he says, " before I sit down, quote a 
stanza which I think one of the most exquisite 
that has ever been written about the Scottish Exile, 
and of which strangely enough we do not know 
the author. I am sure I shall not quote it correctly, 
but I will quote it sufficiently for my purpose. 

* From the lone shieling on the misty island, 
Mountains divide us and a world of seas. 
But still our blood is strong, our heart is Highland, 
And we in dreams behold the Hebrides.'"" 

Skye and the Outer Hebrides evidently dominate 
the speaker's heart and brain, as his thoughts turn 
to the land of his birth. 

Can you want any stronger testimony than this 
to the powerful fascination which the Highlands 
exert over the Scotsman, be he Highland or Low- 
land, be he at home or abroad? In a gathering of 
Scotsmen anywhere, you cannot in truth exclude 
the Highlander : you cannot forget the Highlands. 
Long may the tartan delight the eye, and the Bag- 
pipe make itself heard at such meetings. 

Shorn of these two — the tartan and the Bagpipe 
— our social meetings would lose much of their 
charm, and Scotland would be deprived of all that 
to-day reminds us of our once distinctive nationality. 



" And they sewed fig- leaves tog-ether and made them- 
selves aprons. ' — Gen., chap. iii. ver. 7. 

" An' music first on earth was heard, 
In Gaelic accents deep, 
When Jubal in his oxter squeezed 
The blether o' a sheep." 

"Vl TE now come to the history of the Bagpipe. 
Everyone has heard of the famous " Breeches" 
Bible, but not everyone knows or remembers how 
the error, which cost the printer his life, crept in. 

It was somewhat in this way. 

The printer's wife, who was a strong believer in 
''woman's rights," was looking over some type 
which her husband had just set up, and saw the 
objectionable word " aprons." 

A most unbecoming dress for one thing, she 
thought. And so, her husband's back being turned, 
she slyly substituted the word "breeches" for the 
original word. 

The printer, who did not discover the mistake 
until after the Bible was printed, and many copies 


of it had been sold, was seized by the authorities 
and thrown into prison. 

He was tried for the serious crime of altering the 
text without authority, and, worse still, of altering 
the text with the deliberate intention — for so it 
seemed — of putting woman on a level with her lord 
and master, man, if not even of making woman his 

He was unanimously found guilty, and condemned 
to death ; but as some sort of compensation to the 
poor man, who should know it by this time, his 
better-half, by this one act of insubordination, has 
gained for both herself and him a certain unenviable 

She was a German, this meddlesome woman who 
wanted to wear the breeks. 

If she had been Highland, the sentence would no 
doubt have run thus: "And they sewed fig leaves 
together and made themselves kilts." 

This would be a more correct translation, and 
one with which but little fault could be found. 

There would also be this double advantage in it ; 
it would have put woman on a level with man, 
which was really the printer's wife's intention, and 
it would have settled once and for all the much- 
vexed question of the antiquity of the kilt. 

The antiquity of the language, however, is still — 
thank God ! — unchallenged. 

The poet's assertion that the Bagpipe gave 
first utterance to it in Eden may be disputed, 
but not its antiquity ; some good scholars, as I 


have said before, now believe that Gaelic — 
the much-despised Gaelic : Dr. Johnson's " rude 
and barbarous tongue" — was the original Aryan 
speech. But a little story which appeared in the 
Edinburgh Dispatch lately, supports the poet's con- 
tention thus far, that the Bagpipe — whether or not 
it was heard in Eden — speaks at times in this 
ancient language to certain people. 

The story, shortly told, was that of a servant girl 
from the Highlands just come to town. It was her 
first place. She had never been from home before. 
She arrived at night, feeling home-sick and de- 
pressed ; everything was strange and cheerless to 
her. The lady of the house, hoping to brighten her 
up a bit, told her she would soon feel at home and 
be quite happy, as the Bagpipe was played every 
night in the square by a young man who lived 
close by, and was taking lessons on it. 

Next morning, in reply to a kind enquiry, the 
maid informed her mistress that she did hear the 
young man play, ''But, ma'am," she added sadly, 
*' his Bagpipe was not speaking the Gaelic." 

Which meant, I suppose, that this young man, 
vulgarly speaking, "couldn't play for nuts," and so 
failed to touch the proper chord in the young 
Highlander's breast. 

Now, while the claim of Gaelic to be one of the 
oldest of languages is allowed, the counter claim of 
the Bagpipe to be an old Highland instrument has 
been denied. I dissent entirely from such pernicious 
doctrine. There is no proof of this latest craze. 


The Pioh^ as the Gaelic-speaking race invariably 
calls the Bagpipe, is a Celtic instrument, and this 
at once stamps it as Highland. 

Piobmhala (pron. Peevaala) is the full title of the 
Bagpipe : it is made up of piob^ a pipe, and mala, 
a bag, both Celtic words. 

Piob Mor is the special designation of the great 
War Pipe of the Highlands, distinguishing it from 
the smaller Reel Pipes and others, such as the 
Lowland Pipe. 

The Piobmhala is to be found in many countries, 
and is in most of these still a rude and barbarous 
weapon, with little or no music of its own. In 
Italy, for instance, there are not more than three or 
four real Bagpipe tunes, and yet the Italians have 
been playing the Pipe for two thousand years. 

In the hands of the Celt only has it come to 
anything like perfection ; and the Highlander alone, 
of all Celtic peoples, has put the finishing touches to 
it without destroying its original character. Other 
nations, in trying to perfect it, have invariably 
killed it ; in tampering with its peculiar scale and 
tone, they have destroyed its originality, which is 
its charm. 

The Celt alone has made it both useful and artistic. 

He alone has had the genius to elaborate the 
intricate, but strictly scientific system of fingering, 
which adds so much to the beauty of the music. 

He alone produced from the Pipe that which may 
be called the first classical music heard in the 
world : I mean Piobaireachd. 


Now, if we are to credit the ancient historians, 
who are all agreed upon this point, the Celt was 
always more or less of an enthusiast or visionary : 
subject to sudden moments of exaltation as of 

A delight in poetry and music — these twin sisters 
— and in nature, ear-marked him from other nations, 
according to these old writers, at a very early period 
in the world's history. 

It is therefore nothing strange that he should 
have invented the Piob or Pipe for himself. It 
would be strange indeed if he had not done so. 

But he was never much of an historian, and has 
accordingly left behind him little to help us in our 
search into the origin of this same Pipe. We can 
learn a good deal about the Celt himself in pre- 
historic times from the remains he has left behind 
him in round barrow and kitchen midden. By 
means of these we can trace his primitive wander- 
ings through the different countries of Europe, and 
locate the different colonies which he left behind, 
as he kept ever moving onwards ; now east, now 
west, now south. 

From the bones found in the burial mound we 
can tell what sort of a man he was physically, and 
more than guess at his mental powers. From the 
same source we learn what was his height, and 
what his strength, and what his comeliness : for it 
is not true to say with some that " beauty is but 
skin deep " : we can even deduce the colour of his 
hair and eyes. 


The remains of the kitchen midden, on the other 
hand, reveal to us the food which he ate, the animals 
which he followed in the chase, and those which he 
had domesticated ; the wild fruits which were gathered 
and used by him, and those he cultivated, and many 
another thing that but for these semi-imperishable 
remains would have existed for us only as matters 
of controversy or conjecture. 

In these survivals we have history as it should 
be written : history without a bias. 

Little did the old Celt think that he was writing 
history for posterity, when he reverently laid his dead 
to sleep in the round barrows. Little did he think 
that his kitchen midden, which the modern inspector 
of nuisances would sweep away as a pestilence, 
would prove a mine of wealth to his descendants, 
hungry for information about the old life. 

But when we come to trace the Bagpipe, the Celt's 
favourite instrument, we have no such guide at our 

We search in vain for a specimen of the early 

Made of perishable materials : of thin hollow 
reed and quickly rotting skin, the Piohmhala has 
left not a wrack behind in burial mound or refuse 
heap. We have no prehistoric Bagpipe to show. 

We must therefore go for our information to 
written history, and to the tradition or myth which 
represents for us the earlier or unwritten history. 

But, first of all, what is a Bagpipe? Of what is 
it composed? 


The earliest description of a Bagpipe in Scottish 
literature tells that it was then composed of " ane 
reid and ane bleddir." 

Such a pipe is seen on the following page. The 
earliest mention of it in Roman history tells us the 
same thing. In the first century before Christ, the 
Romans came across a Celtic race who lived on the 
banks of the Danube, and who used an instrument 
composed of "ane reid and ane bleddir," to which 
the Roman historian gave the name of Tibia Utri- 
cularis ; tibia being the Latin name for reed or 
chanter, and utriculum meaning a little bag or 

These two, then, a reed and a bladder, are the 
essentials of the Bagpipe. When they became 
wedded into one is unknown. The Pipe without the 
bag is much older of course than the Bagpipe. 

The Shepherd's Pipe, as it was called, now forms 
the chanter of the Bagpipe, and is one of the oldest, 
if not the very oldest, musical instruments in the 
world. Its history is full of interest, and makes 
delightful reading, but it is only as forming an 
important part of the modern Bagpipe that it claims 
our attention here. 

Round this simple little instrument — the Shep- 
herd's Pipe — there has gathered a wealth ot story 
and poetry, and romance, greater than round any 
other musical instrument. 

A favourite at all times with the primitive races, 
it was gradually introduced into the ceremonial of 
the tribe, and thus acquired a semi-sacred character; 


and in time came to be regarded as a special gift 
from tiie gods. 

This tendency to attribute a Divine origin to music 
was, however, all but universal among the ancients. 
I know only of one exception. The Jews gave 
the credit of the invention to man, for do we not 
read in Genesis that "Jubal : he was the father of all 
such as handle the harp and the Pipe," or the 
*' organ," as it is usually translated? This text 
reminds me of a little incident which occurred not 
long ago, and with the relating of which this chapter 
may fitfully close. 

Late one Saturday night a postcard arrived for 
me, and written upon it was, " Preach to-morrow 
from Gen. 4th and 21." Nothing more. The 
minister knew that I was studying the history of the 
Bagpipe at the time, and I immediately concluded 
that he had discovered in the text something about 
the "Pipes" worth knowing, and so I determined 
to go and hear the sermon. The following morning 
found me in church right enough, but alas ! for the 
information : all that we were told was that Pipe 
was a better translation than organ, as the latter 
word was too suggestive of the modern organ with 
its wonderful combination of pipes and pedals. 
Some time afterwards I met the preacher, and said 
to him, " By-the-bye, I got your postcard. It 
suggested Bagpipes to me, but you had nothing 
evidently to say on the matter. What did you 
send it for?" 

"Well, you see," he replied, "your seat had been 


empty for many, many Sundays, and we thought it 
was time that you were putting in an appearance." 
The minister was giving a course of sermons at the 
time to non-churchgoers. 

Many years ago, the town-piper of Falkirk was 
waiting to be hanged. The execution was to take 
place on the following morning. He had been 
found guilty of some trifling offence — horse-stealing 
or something of that sort — and as it was his last 
night on earth, he was allowed to have one or two 
brother-pipers in, just for company's sake. The 
night passed pleasantly and swiftly, in dancing and 
piping, and quaffing of the nut-brown ale. The 
condemned man himself was in the middle of a 
tune — a gaysome lilt — when the early morning light 
suddenly shot down through the bars of his prison 
window, and reminded him of his coming fate. 

'*I play no more," he said, while the gloom 
gathered around him, and reluctantly, but reverently, 
he laid down his Bagpipe upon the bench beside him, 
for the last time : the Bagpipe with the tune upon 
it still unfinished — a fitting emblem of his own 
unfinished life ! He forgot his sang froid for a 
moment ; for a moment, but only for a moment, 
his gay demeanour deserted him, and he cried 
aloud in his agony, **Oh, but this wearifu' hanging 
rings in my lug like a new tune." A few minutes 
later, he was marching to the scaffold with jaunty 
step and head erect, the fear that held him prisoner 
for a moment, gone. 

Let me confess it here, that I may have less to 



confess hereafter ; the greater part of the sermon 
preached from Gen. 4th and 21, on that memorable 
Sunday morning, when I went to church to get 
information for my book, fell upon deaf ears, so far 
as I was concerned. The text had aroused thoughts 
within me which surged through my brain, and 
rung " in my lug like a new tune," with a per- 
sistency, too, not to be denied. And the refrain 
was always to these same words, 

" An' music first on earth was heard 
In Gaelic accents deep, 
When Jubal in his oxter squeezed 
The blether o' a sheep." 



" Imagination is one of God's chlefest gifts to man ; to 
the Celt first, to the world afterwards, through the Celt." — 

/^ENTLE reader, it has been said, with what truth 
I know not, that there are more false facts 
than false theories in this world. 

If you are one of the many who profess to love 
fact for its own sake, and look askance at fable? 

If you are one of those who care not for the house 
beautiful, but only for a night's shelter from the 
dews of heaven ? 

If you are one of those who consider flowers as 
an extravagance, and the monies spent upon them 
as worse than wasted, because the five per cent, 
comes not back to you in hard cash? Then may 
you skip the two following chapters without loss, 
and with a possible profit to yourself. 

At the same time it is perhaps worth while 
remembering that there are false facts many in this 
world, and true imaginings not a few. I am about 
to make an excursion into Mythland, where imagina- 


tion, which has hitherto been kept under with a 
tight curb, is given free play, and where theory- 
flourishes, while known facts for the time being will 
be at a discount. 

Although we do not hold this as proven, yet we 
believe that underneath many of these old-world fables 
many rare — because little suspected — truths lie hidden. 

Mythland, indeed, reminds us very much of the 
Halls of Laughter, on entering which the stranger 
finds his advances met half way by the most extra- 
ordinary looking beings, unlike anything he has 
seen before, who excite his mirth by their comicali- 
ties. Right in front he sees a man with head 
flattened out in pancake fashion, supported upon 
the smallest of bodies, with the most diminutive 
pair of legs attached. On the right hand is surely 
Don Quixote come to life again ! with his solemn 
mien and thin lanthorn-shaped jaws and pursed-up 
mouth; "a bout of linked sweetness long-drawn 
out." While on the left is a third creature, with 
the ceann cearc, or hen's-head, perched upon a 
" corporation " of sufficient dimensions to satisfy the 
most greedy of London aldermen. These hideous- 
looking caricatures of the " human frame divine," 
peering out from every niche and cranny in the 
Hall, beck and bow and nod, and turn now to 
right and now to left, with every movement of the 
astonished onlooker, whose gravity and sense of 
decorum, long undermined, at length give way in 
peels of laughter, which, strangely enough, find no 
echo in all that grinning crowd. 


This awakens him to the truth that has hitherto 
eluded his observation. He himself is the ^^ Dens 
ex maclmia^^' the sole author of the show: the sole 
cause of the mirth. Behind every queer figure 
stands himself; every feature, every movement, is 
his own ; his gentlest smile has been reflected back 
in broadest grin ; the laughter cannot be but silent 
in that shadow-land, of which he is the father. 

By means of numerous mirrors, of different con- 
cavities and convexities, cunningly inserted into the 
draped walls, the man's own face has been shewn 
to him in fifty different ways ; the truth has been 
so cleverly disguised as to be unrecognisable even 
to himself. 

In the mirror of tradition or myth, then, we often 
find reflected for us in the same way much of the 
prehistoric lore, previously learned from anthropology 
and other learned ologies : the truth, distorted it is 
true, sometimes beyond recognition : and in this way 
our knowledge of old-world affairs is further con- 
firmed and strengthened. 

Now there are two myths, both found in early 
Greek literature, which may perchance shed some 
light on the origin and development of the Bag- 
pipe ; and it is with some such hope that we in- 
troduce them here. 

The story of Pan and the story of Athene's 
chanter are — apart from any important knowledge 
to be gleaned in their perusal — entitled to a chapter 
of their own in any work upon the Bagpipe, and 
will not, we are sure, be thought out of place. 


In juxtaposition these two old-world deities — 
Athene and Pan — might well stand for Beauty and 
the Beast in the children's fairy tale. The uncouth 
hairy body of the old sylvan god, making a rare 
foil to the enchanting beauty of Athene : both 
passionately fond of dancing and music, and both 
noted for their performance upon the Pipe. 



" 'Twas ever thus since first the world began ! 
The adoration of his fellow-man, 
Proclaims the genius hero first, then God — 
Ruling his maker, man, with iron rod. 
'Twas thus with Thor, the strong, and Piper Pan, 
And all the ancient gods, now under ban." — 


T)AN was one of the most popular gods in the 
heathen world. He was an universal favourite 
with the Greeks, and also — under a different name — 
with the Latins. 

His divinity was, however, only first acknow- 
ledged by the Greeks about the year 470 B.C. He 
was worshipped by the country-folk — by the shep- 
herds in Arcadia and round about — long before 
this, but he only became known to the learned 
dwellers in Athens shortly after the battle of 
Marathon ; and his country charms made him at 
once popular with that fickle people. 

With his ruddy cheek, and his hearty laugh, and 
his jovial unsophisticated manners ; with his mouth 
dropping honey fresh from the comb, and his breath 


sweet with the odours of the violet ; no ascetic he, 
but of jovial tastes — as the wine-stain still fresh 
upon his lips from late revels shewed — and carrying 
with him into the jaded town two gifts worth 
having, the fresh airs from Nature's wilds, and 
the gift of exquisite music, this hairy creature fairly 
captivated the volatile Greek heart. 

We need not here repeat the story of Pan and 
his Pipes. It has been told by many writers, and 
well told too. None, however, excels Mrs Elizabeth 
Browning's version in the exquisite poem beginning 
with these well-known lines : 

" What was he doing-, the Great God Pan, 
Down by the side of the river ? " 

She also tells the story of his death with a charm 
inimitable in the more ambitious poem entitled, 
'' Pan, Pan is dead." 

We may perhaps — in spite of all this — be forgiven 
for trying our hand, not at the story itself, but at 
the prologue to the story of Piper Pan. 

The beginning of the tale takes us back to a very 
remote past : to a time when the Aryan race, 
hitherto one and undivided — with its home in the 
great central plain of Europe — was beginning to 
break up, by pressure from within, into a number 
of separate tribes or nations. 

At first there was only one possessive pronoun in 
the language, Meum^ or mine. But just about 
the time our story opens up there appeared a 
most unwelcome stranger, a troublesome little fellow, 

This Photograph shews (from left to right) 

The Pan Pipe, the Single Tibia of the Romans, 


Tibia Pares : 

The latter got from a shepherd boy in North Africa. 


called "Tuum," or thine, who claimed acquaintance- 
ship with "Meum," and demanded a share of his 

He had been heard of in several places, more or 
less remote, but had so far left the Celt unmolested. 
The rumours of his appearance had been gravely 
discussed by the seniors of the tribe in council, 
because from the very first he was noted as a 

Wherever he appeared speedy quarrels arose, and 
much shedding of blood often followed. But all 
mention of him was strictly avoided in public, and 
most of the people were as yet ignorant of the im- 
pending danger which, Damocles like, hung over 
their heads. 

Formerly the patriarch of the tribe, as he stretched 
himself lazily in the door of his tent at break of 
day and narrowly scanned the horizon for sign of 
other life than his own, looked in vain. The world 
lying around him, far as the keenest of visions 
carried, was all his own. There was no sign of life 
in that vast region to disturb the roseate dawn, nor 
sound nor movement outside the sleeping camp. 

Fresh pasture upon fresh pasture lay waiting for 
the coming of his flocks and herds, and of his alone. 
Peace and contentment reigned within and without. 
And as it was, so it had been, for untold centuries. 

But in process of time the natural increase of 
population, and the rapid increase of sheep and 
cattle, brought about changes which were distasteful ; 
imposed restrictions which were galling to a race 


hitherto free as the wind — free to roam about from 
year to year, and from place to place ; free to 
wander wherever its fancy led it, unchallenged of 

When, therefore, for the first time in the history 
of the tribe the smoke of a stranger's camp-fire was 
perceived like a thin blue streak staining the deeper 
blue of the far-distant horizon, the wise men foretold 
that the day of trouble was at hand, and their fore- 
bodings were, alas ! soon realised. Messengers were 
sent out to spy upon the intruders, and great was 
the excitement when these brought back word that 
little "Tuum," born of rumour, was settled there, 
and had come to stay. 

" Tuum ! tuum !" said the tribesmen, for the word 
was soon in the mouth of everyone. " What is this 
new word, and what does it mean ? " 

"It means," said the elders of the tribe, "that 
the time has come for us to trek." 

And so tents were struck, the waggons were 
loaded with the household necessaries, the women 
and little children were carefully stowed away on 
the top of these, and, last of all, the patient oxen 
were yoked to, and these simple shepherd folk, 
giving up all that meant home to them, wandered 
away out into the wilderness rather than submit to 
the unwelcome encroachments of little "Tuum." 

Which, put into plain language, means that the 
cradle of the Aryans became too small, in the 
fulness of time, to hold the race now grown to 


" The deeds of the times of old," said Duth-marno, 
'* are Hke paths to our eyes." "A tale of the times 
of old," sings Ossian. 

As this prologue takes up a tale of the times of 
old, "a tale of the years that have fled," we will 
begin it in the good old-fashioned way, beloved of 
our grandfathers, and dear yet to the youthful 

Once upon a time, a little shepherd boy, whose 
ruddy locks and light blue eyes bespoke him a Celt 
of the Celts, sat by the side of a river, paddling 
with cool feet, in the clear waters running below, 
while his flocks grazed peacefully along its green 

He was listening to and wondering at the music 
which the soft winds made, playing in and out of 
the reeds, that grew in the bed of the river. 

He had often before listened to those sweet sounds 
and wondered. Fairy music they called it at home 
and among his playmates, but the explanation was 
not a satisfying one to this boy of enquiring mind. 
And so, on this particular morning, of which we 
write, with the sun shining brightly out of a cloud- 
less sky, and leaving not a single dark nook or 
cranny anywhere for fear to lurk in, the boy, taking 
his courage in his hand, stepped boldly down into 
the water, and seizing hold of a reed which had 
been broken off by some stronger gust of wind 
than usual, he pulled it up by the root, and putting 
his mouth to the hole in the fractured stem he 
blew a sharp quick breath across it, and instantly 


there floated away upon the still summer air the 
first note of human music. 

Eagerly seizing another and yet another reed, he 
blew again and again, and always with the same 
result ; but also with — to him — a strange difference. 
Or did his ear play him false? For surely the 
notes were of varying quality, some high and some 

He soon discovered that the low notes came from 
the longer reeds and the high notes from the shorter 
reeds, and so, putting together a number of these 
reeds of different lengths, he produced the first 
wind instrument in the world : one which is known 
to-day as the Pandean or Pan Pipe. 

It was this instrument which gave the world 
afterwards the idea of the Bagpipe drones, and of 
the combined pipes of the more complex organ. It 
did not take very great thought, or research, to 
further discover that the different notes got from 
this combination of reeds could also be got from 
one reed by notching holes at uncertain intervals 
along its course. 

This accordingly was done, and the Shepherd's 
Pipe came into being. 

Now the shepherd's occupation, at all times a 
solitary one, gave the boy the very opportunities 
which he required for study. Nature was his 
teacher. The sighing of the wind in the tree-tops, 
the murmur of the running stream over the shallows 
at the ford : these were his studies. 

His notes he learned from the feathered songsters 


of the grove, and in his own poetical way — the 
Celt's way — he called the little instrument Piob 
(pronounced in the soft Gaelic tongue, peep), after 
the peep, peep, of his teachers, the little birds. 

Practising constantly, steadfastly, cheerfully, the 
boy became a clever musician, and at length, falling 
in love with his own music — as who wouldn't — and 
neglecting his herds and his flocks, he wandered 
away among the neighbouring tribes, piping as he 
went, and was everywhere received with open arms 
by these rude children of nature, for the sake of the 
splendid gift which was his — the gift of music. A 
never-ending wonder it was to them ; a never-ending 
source of delight. And if after a time, when he 
was taken from them, they deified the boy, can 
you blame them ? 

Now this boy, with all his quiet ways and gentle 
manners, cherished another ambition than that of 
becoming a musician. One night, when sitting on 
his father's knee, and supposed to be fast asleep, 
he learned from the talk of the elders, sitting round 
the camp fire at the end of the day, as was their 
wont, that long, long ago, part of the tribe to 
which he belonged had broken away — after a fierce 
family quarrel — from the main body, and disappeared 
over the mountains to the south. That a messaere 
once came through in some mysterious way, many 
years after, saying that they had prospered, and 
that they were living in a beautiful country, well- 
wooded, and full of green pasture-lands, where 
droughts were unknown, because through it all 


there ran a great river of purest waters. But tor 
many years nothing further had been heard of the 
wanderers. To visit his long-lost relations in their 
new home, a home which always appeared to him 
in dreams as Fairyland : this was the ambition 
which the little shepherd boy secretly cherished. 

It was therefore with great delight that he 
received a message one day to return home, as his 
people had determined, on account of the persistent 
encroachments Oi strangers upon their pastures, to 
go in search of a new country, and of those 
relatives who had trekked over the mountains long 
years ago. 

He arrived just in time to join the last of the 
waggons, as it was going out from the old home. 

Of the long and wearisome journey over difficult 
country ; of his piping with which the tedium of the 
way was beguiled; of the hundred and one dangers 
from storms and floods, from wild beasts and 
treacherous foe; of the terrible winter months spent 
perforce wandering in the mountains of Noricum, 
where they got lost in the snow, and where man 
and beast died off as in a murrain ; of these and 
many other privations endured, what need is there 
to tell ? Suffice it to say that one morning in 
spring, when the earth had put off its winter gar- 
ments, and the little yellow flowers, coaxed into 
new life by the warm sun, peeped out cautiously 
from the crevices of the rocks, and a fluty mellow- 
ness in the twitter of the mountain linnet, recalled 
the fuller throated song of summer, the tired way- 


farers arrived at the end of their toilsome journey. 
As they emerged from the passes which had engaged 
their attention for days, a gladsome sight met their 
eyes. At the foot of the mountains, rolling one 
into the other like the billows of some giant ocean, 
green fertile valleys spread themselves out before 
them, while in the distance a mighty river, shimmer- 
ing in the soft morning light, went winding its 
sinuous way through bank and brake, by bush and 
fell, looking for all the world like some huge silver 
snake guarding the land. While the leaders stood 
gazing upon the magnificent panorama— the realisa- 
tion of their hopes by day and by night, for weary 
months past, more than fulfilled — the scouts, who 
always preceded the caravan, brought in the joyful 
intelligence that in the valley below there dwelt a 
people bearing the same name as themselves, and 
the country, they were told, was called Pannonia, 
after them.. 

These Pannonians, then, were their long - lost 
relatives. The great river in front was the Danube; 
and the country, still thinly populated, which 
stretched out before them, beautiful as the Fairy- 
land of the little piper-boy's dream, was to be their 
future home. 

When the two peoples met, there were great 
rejoicings on both sides. 

Time had taken all the sting out of the old feud, 
and warm hands were clasped, and loving embrace 
met loving embrace. What questions were put and 
answered, what marvels recounted, what treasures 


shewn, what memories revived, it matters not to us 
here. But of all the wonders each had to tell or 
to shew the other, none equalled in marvel the 
piping of the little shepherd boy. He was the hero 
of the hour. 

In this beautiful country then, by the banks of 
the Danube, the gifted one lived and dreamed, and 
piped and taught, for the remainder of his days. 
And when he died in the fulness of time, his 
honoured remains were laid to rest beside his 
father's, to the mourning of a whole nation. 

Now, as the years went by, while many things were 
forgotten, the memory of the piper's performances on 
the Pipe remained ever green ; the marvel of his 
playing grew and evermore grew; until in time the 
personality of the player was altogether lost in the 
divineness of his gift. Hero worship, in short, 
raised him to a place among the immortals. 

And when we first meet with our little shepherd 

boy in History, he is already known as the Great 

God Pan. 

" What was he douig, the Great God Pan, 
Down in the reeds by the river ? 
Spreading ruin and scattering ban, 
Splashing- and paddling with hoofs of a goat, 
And breaking the golden lilies afloat, 
With the dragon fly on the river. 

He tore out a reed, the Great God Pan, 
From the deep cool bed of the river ; 

The limped water turbidly ran, 

And the broken lilies a dying lay, 

And the dragon fly had fled away, 

Ere he brought it out of the river/' 


The god then fashioned a Pipe out of the reed, 
and playing upon it with power, he fairly startled 
the world with the sweetness of his music. The 
picture drawn for us by Mrs Browning, of the 
pause which took place in Nature's workshop, as the 
strains of the first music fell upon listening ears, is 
too charming to be omitted ; and with the last verse 
of the poem I will close this prologue, with full 
apologies to the classical scholar for the many 
liberties I have taken with the different texts in 
my treatment of Pan the Piper. Mrs Browning 
places the piping out of doors. This is as it should 
be, in the fitness of things. Piercing sweet, and 
blinding sweet, would not be sweet, indoors. 

" Sweet, sweet, sweet, O Pan ! 

Piercing sweet by the river ! 
Blinding- sweet, O Great God Pan ! 
The sun on the hill forgot to die, 
And the lilies revived, and the dragon fly 
Came back to dream on the river." 

As it was in the days when the world was 
young, so is it in these jaded days of syren and 

It is not given to every man to hear, nor hearing 
to understand ; but nevertheless, the old music once 
so beloved of the Immortals can still be heard 
whenever a piper tunes up. Standing — like the 
great Dr Johnson — with "one fond ear to the 
drone," the intelligent listener marks not time's 

Once under the spell of the master, what does it 



matter to him that the sun has set, that the flowers 
have faded, and the dragon-fly has long since 
folded its gossamer wings in sleep ? 

He heeds not these things : he marks them not : 
his thoughts are elsewhere. He is back in the old 
days ; and he sees his forefathers clad in goatskins 
leading the sheep with sweet music to the green 
pastures beside the still waters; or transported on 
the wings of the so "blinding sweet" music, he 
finds himself standing at the portals of Mythland, 
and there he catches a glimpse of a still older life 
within as he eagerly watches the gay crowds of 
"nimphes, faunes, and amadriades," disporting them- 
selves on the green sward in the cool of the evening 
the while Pan pipes. 



" The thoughts of men true to the divine are the key to 
the thoug-hts of God ; and here in the Greek Myths especially 
we have the Greek fancy, not an unfaithful one, of the Gods' 
fact. Read candidly, they speak worthily and truly." — 

Rev. James Wood. 

T)ALLAS ATHENE was at one time a very real 
■*- personage, in the eyes of the uncultured Greek 
youth especially; but she was also held to be very 
real by the best and more sincere of the cultured 
classes. She was to the Greeks what Minerva was 
to the Latins, but a great deal more. She was 
originally an adoption by the nation from some 
outside race — introduced by the Phoenician or other 
trader; — but the Greeks, when the nation was at 
its best, made the Goddess as we know her, their 
very own, by the lavish and loving care bestowed 
upon her. Painter, and poet, and sculptor, vied 
with each other in depicting her many charms. A 
vision of all fhe wisdom and virtues of a charming 
sisterhood, and the greatness of the greatest of the 
gods, foregathered in one sweet body : this was 


Perpetual youth and ever-sweet maidenhood, wis- 
dom "beyond rubies," and beauty never fading, 
imperial strength combined with an infinite patience; 
these were a few of her attributes. 

To the cesthetic Greek mind Athene was indeed 
the embodiment of all that is pure, and modest, 
and lovely in woman, and brave and noble in man. 

Her virgin heart alone yielded not to the bland- 
ishments of love ; but yet she was no prude ! 

She constantly interested herself in the affairs of 
men, and interfered at times in their quarrels^ — -only, 
however, to right the wrong, and she always strove 
to lighten the burden of the suffering and the heavy- 

Strong in her heaven-born armour, she never 
used her god-like powers to oppress; but merciful 
withal, and full of compassion, she went about 
like a knight-errant of old, succouring the op- 
pressed and down - trodden. Like a breath of 
sweetest purest air — which, indeed, she was, and 
this is why Ruskin calls her "Queen of the Air" 
— she swept into the sick-chamber, and dispelled 
the ill vapours, and infused fresh courage into the 
hearts of all those nigh unto death. She gave 
breath — which means endurance — to the runner and 
the wrestler, and strength to the warrior; but she 
was also the patron of the peaceful arts of letters 
and of agriculture. 

If the following story shews that she had her 
little weakness — a woman's weakness — one only loves 
her the more for it. 


The Greek goddess Athene, so the story runs, 
discovered the secret of wind music : the music 
which had hitherto lain hidden in the little reeds 
growing by the marsh lands of Phrygia. 

She made herself a beautiful chanter or "aulos," 
as the Greeks called it, out of the leg bone of a 
hart. The hard, smooth bone out of which she 
fashioned it gave it a more permanent form, and 
one which lent itself to artistic decoration, such as 
is seen on the blow-pipe of the little Egyptian 
Bagpipe shewn here, better than any mere cane, 
however excellent. 

This form of pipe, possibly this very *' aulos" 
of Athene, suggested the name ''tibia" to the 
Romans : a name which they applied to all chan- 
ters, whether made of reed or bone, because of this 
first one, which was made from the tibia or shin- 

The Goddess seems to have kept her secret to 
herself until she had perfected her play : when, 
proud of her invention and of her skill in piping, 
it seemed right to keep the secret a secret no 
longer, and with this intent she sent out invitations 
to all her acquaintances among the gods to come 
and hear her play upon this, the first instrument of 
its kind in the history of the gods or of man. 
The meeting-place was on Mount Ida, near by 
where flows the sacred fountain. The gathering 
was, I presume, somewhat of the nature of a 
modern afternoon party, which is called together 
by Lady So-and-So, one of the leaders of fashion. 


to hear some famous scientist discourse upon the 
latest discovery in frogs' spawn, or to listen to 
some new singer wrestling with the top D. 

On the day appointed, no distant relatives having 
died in the meantime, and none of the gods being 
from home on business, or ill, the expected guests 
turned up punctually, as well-bred people always 
do. Zeus himself was there, and the outspoken 
Here, and the exquisite Aphrodite surrounded by 
her admirers, and many others. Athene charmed 
the company with her sweet music, as she could 
not fail to do ; and when the piping was over, and 
the applause had died down, expressions of opinion 
on this new art which had delighted them so were 
invited, and were freely given. 

But while the gods to a man — to descend from 
the clouds for a little — expressed themselves as 
wholly charmed with the performance, the ladies, 
as is not uncommon where one of their own sweet 
sex is concerned, qualified their praise with ominous 
nods, and wrinkling of foreheads, and shrugs of 
lovely shoulders, which hinted at something behind 
the praise. 

Was it ever otherwise ? Did woman ever find 
perfection in one of her own sex? Is this wherein 
woman, " lovely woman," is so much wiser than 
man ? 

" Most excellent," said Here, " your playing is a 
perfect revelation, and how sweet you looked!'" at 
which latter part of the sentence a ripple of quiet 
laughter went round the circle of lady critics. 


"An exquisite gift! such style f" said a second, 
with a lift of the eyebrows and a marked emphasis 
upon "style" ; and again that ripple of musical 
laughter ! 

"Your piping was entrancing, Goddess fair, hut is 
not the blowing very severe upon your cheeks?'''' said 
a third, glancing at the company roguishly, and with 
a movement of the eye-lid, which in an ordinary 
mortal might easily be mistaken for a wink. 

And so the pretty critics chattered on, one after 
another giving her opinion, each new comment 
punctuated with fresh bursts of merriment, the while 
the graceful Athene stood, with heightened colour, 
in perplexity and wonder ; until at length Aphrodite, 
the " Queen of Love," who, herself beautiful, was 
also perhaps a little jealous of Athene's good looks, 
said, " It is not the music, Athene dear, which has 
set these giddy ones a-laughing. The music is 
everything that is beautiful. But have you seen your 
own face while piping? Your cheeks are like 
this " : saying which Aphrodite puffed out her own 
lovely face to unnatural dimensions ; at which the 
laughter broke out afresh, some of the younger gods 
joining in the mirth thus provoked by her who was 
voted easily the wit of the party. 

Now, Athene was but a woman after all. Her 
one weakness was feminine vanity. She shewed 
too great a concern for her beauty, which was too 
assured, too pronounced, to be easily slighted, and 
Aphrodite's action rather than her words annoyed 


So flying to the sacred fountain, which stood 
close by, she looked down into the clear waters 
the while she piped, and there she saw mirrored 
as in polished silver her face, so altered, with its 
pursed -up lips and blown -out cheeks, that she 
scarcely recognised the picture as her own. 

Everything was in an instant clear to her as 
noonday sun; the laughter! the innuendo! the 
"becks and nods, and wreathed smiles!" and, in 
a sudden pet, she flung far out into space — far as 
her strong young arm could fling it — the little Pipe 
which had brought her to this impasse, and regis- 
tered a solemn vow that she would never, never 
touch the accursed thing again. 

Now, it happened upon this very day — the day 
on which Athene challenged the admiration of the 
gods, with such a doubtful result — that Marsyas, 
the Phrygian, was on his way home, and was 
taking: a short cut across the shoulder of Mount 
Ida. When more than half-way up the ascent — the 
sky being then clear of clouds, and of a lovely 
blue — he saw the lightnings begin suddenly to play 
round the top of the mountain, and he shrewdly 
guessed that a meeting of the gods was being 
held there, with Zeus presiding, else why this 
shaking of his thunderbolts? So being a wise man, 
and not reckless of his life, he immediately turned 
aside and took the longer way home, round the 
base of the mountain. He had not gone very far 
on his new course when his sharp ears were 
assailed with the sound of distant Pipe music. 

A Bagpipe of " Ane Reed and Ane Bleddir." 

Above is a full-sized chanter covered with silver of Indian design ; at one time 
belonging to Pipe-Major Gregor Fraser of the Gordon Highlanders. 

Below is a Chinese chanter sent from Wei-hai-wei by A. N. Fkaser, 


Startled at so unusual an occurrence in such a 
lonely place, he dropped suddenly behind a huge 
moss-grown boulder, with the quick instinct of 
the wild animal, which still lurked underneath his 
hairy skin, and crouched, and waited. 

Nearer and nearer came the mysterious sounds, 
and louder and clearer they ever grew ; but of the 
musician, there was not a sign that the quick eye 
of the shepherd could detect. The thing was 
altogether uncanny, and got upon his nerves. The 
hair upon his satyr's legs stiffened with fear ; his 
goat's beard shook ; his teeth chattered as with in- 
tense cold ; terror clogged his feet, else would he 
have fled. But just then he spied Athene's Pipe — 
the Pipe with the music in it — come rolling down 
the hill. 

It struck the top of the rock behind which he 
lay, and rebounding, dropped at his feet, breathing 
forth the strangest, sweetest music this shepherd 
had ever listened to. 

The possibilities of the future with such a Pipe 
in his possession opened up a delightful vista to 
his hopes and ambitions ; for he was already 
famous as a musician. He saw himself already a 
piper of fame : the shepherds of the plain gathered 
round him at night, listening to the new art in 
open-mouthed wonder; the shy, soft-eyed nymphs 
showering favours upon him as they danced in the 
twilight to his music. So, taking up the "Magic 
Pipe " tenderly, he placed it in his bosom, and 
rising from his lair invigorated and refreshed, he 


Started off eagerly for home. Connecting in his 
own mind the meeting of the gods on Mount Ida 
with the "aulos," which had come to him so 
mysteriously, he murmured to himself, as he 
trudged stoutly along: "A gift from the gods I a 
gift from the gods ! " and the little reed the while 
made music at his heart. 

Yes, dear old Marsyas — first of pipers — it is a 
gift from the gods, and a fatal gift, too! Better 
throw it away from you while there is time ; throw 
it away before it exercises its full fascination on you, 
and your head strikes the stars, and you come to 
sudden, signal grief. No? 

Then, know that it will bring you two things — 
Fame and Death. No doubt many men before 
you have bravely courted death — even seeking, as 
Shakespeare puts it, "the bubble reputation at the 
cannon's mouth," for the thing which they called 
Fame! And why, if this be your choice, should 
not you? 

'Tis better to be great in something, however 
small, than only "middling this and middling that" 
in larger matters. 

Now, it happened unto Marsyas, as foreseen by 
him ; his fame as a piper quickly grew, and 
spread, and reached other countries. At all the 
gatherings where he competed he won the prize 
with ease, until at last he felt, and — better still — 
knew that no man was his equal, and through this 
knowledge he got what is vulgarly known as 
*' swelled head." 


His ambition — fed upon the pride which grew with 
each fresh victory — impelled him in an unguarded 
moment to challenge the gods themselves. 

He accordingly sent a message to Apollo offering 
to pit his Pipe against the god's own invention 
and favourite instrument, the cithara or lyre. 

The challenge, which caused no little stir and 
indignation in the upper circles, was accepted, and a 
mighty gathering, wherein the sons of gods mingled 
with the daughters of men and found them fair, 
assembled at the appointed time and place to witness 
the great contest. After a long trial, in which the 
goatherd played as he had never played before, the 
judges — as was only to be expected, they being of the 
*' upper ten " — gave the victory to Apollo, and poor 
Marsyas, the hitherto unbeaten one, for his presump- 
tion in daring to challenge the gods, was tied to a 
tree and flayed alive. And so in this way, the gift 
which brought Marsyas fame brought him also a 
cruel death. 

There are many points of likeness between this 
story of Marsyas and the story of Pan, only in the 
contest of Pipe versus Lyre between Pan and Apollo, 
Midas, the Phrygian king, who was judge, decided 
in favour of the Pipe, and was presented with a pair 
of ass's ears by Apollo, who was very angry with 
his judgment. 

The oldest-named Pipe tune in the world is called 
after this incident, "King Midas has Ass's Ears," and 
was composed by the king's barber, to whom of all 
men living the poor king confided his dread secret, 


for the very good reason that he could not hide it 
from him and also have his hair cut. 

In both stories, the instrument is the Shepherd's 
Pipe, and is opposed in both by Apollo's lyre. 

In both, the players are goatherds, as the hairy 
legs and the goat's beard shew. 

In each case the instrument is invented and made 
by the gods. In the one case, however, Pan, the 
god who made the Pipe, also makes the music on the 
Pipe which he had made — he is himself the piper ; 
while, in the other case, the man Marsyas got the 
Pipe from the gods with the gift of music in it : 
Athene's Pipe invited no exertion on his part, it could 
play by itself. Here it seems to me that we have the 
first suggestion of a Bagpipe. 

I have been in the habit, when lecturing upon this 
subject, of illustrating my theory in the following 
way. I use a simple Bagpipe without drones, which 
I conceal under my Highland cloak, the latter 
representing the minstrel's cloak of olden days. The 
chanter, which I first slip through one of the button- 
holes before inserting it in the bag, is all that the 
audience sees. Through a very short blowpipe I 
quickly fill the bag, and having done so, I let the 
blowpipe drop inside the cloak. I then play upon the 
chanter, which is the only part of the Pipe in view of 
the audience, without any apparent effort, a complete 
tune, such as the " Reel of Tulloch " or "The Lads 
of Mull." 

Now, if instead of a small bag I used a large sheep or 
goatskin bag, such as you see on the opposite page, 


and a very light reed made of straw, such as the 
early pipers fitted their Pipes with, I could easily, 
with one fill of the bag, play six or eight tunes in 
succession without any visible exertion. 

Some such playing the Greeks must have heard 
at a very early period : long before the idea of the 
Bagpipe caught on with the nation : and even at 
first such piping must have seemed little short of 
miraculous. The player was some wandering 
minstrel who found his way into Grecian terri- 
tory, his Pipe and minstrel's cloak his only pass- 

Or the story of the magic Pipe may have been 
brought back by some soldier home from the wars, 
or by some merchant returned from distant markets. 
In whatever way the story arose, it would be passed 
on from father to son, the marvel of it growing 
with each telling, the details as the years sped, 
getting mistier and mistier ; until one generation 
would forget that the piper first blew into the bag 
before playing, and the next forget that there was 
a bag, and a third forget that there was a piper. 
And when the Pipe alone was remembered ! of 
course it played by itself. 

According to the imagination with which each of 
us is gifted, will this suggestion of mine appear wise 
or the reverse. I make a present of it to my 
antiquarian friends, and only hope that one day a 
drawing of a Celt piping on such a Bagpipe to a 
crowd of wonder-eyed Greeks will be found, engraved 
on burnt brick or other material, in some of the 


ancient ruins now being explored round about Athens 
or elsewhere. 

The usual interpretation of the contest between 
Marsyas and Apollo is the very obvious one, that 
it was a contest for supremacy between wind and 
stringed instruments; and the result shewed that the 
Greeks preferred the stringed instrument. 

Ruskin, however, draws from this incident a 
different meaning altogether. He says, "Whatever 
in music is measured and designed belongs therefore 
to Apollo and the Muses ; whatever is impulsive and 
passionate, to Athene ; . . • but the passionate music 
is wind music, as in the Doric flute. Then, when 
this inspired music becomes degraded in its passion, 
it sinks into the Pipe of Pan and the double Pipe of 
Marsyas, and is then rejected by Athene." Ruskin 
evidently forgot here that Marsyas only got the Pipe 
after Athene rejected it, a thing which he immediately 
afterwards remembers. " The myth which represents 
her doing so, is that she invented the double Pipe 
from hearing the hiss of the Gorgonian serpents ; but 
when she played upon it, chancing to see her face 
reflected in water, she saw that it was distorted, 
whereupon she threw down the flute which Marsyas 
found. Then the strife of Apollo and Marsyas 
represents the enduring contest between music in 
which the words and thought lead, and the lyre 
measures or melodises them, and music in which 
the words are lost, and the wind or impulse leads, — 
generally therefore between intellectual, and brutal 
or meaningless music. 


"Therefore when Apollo prevails, he flays Marsyas, 
taking the limit and external bond of his shape 
from him, which is death, without touching the 
mere muscular strength ; yet shameful and dreadful 
in dissolution." 

Now Ruskin when he wrote the above was not 
thinking of the Bagpipe : he knew nothing about 
the Bagpipe, and yet unknowingly he supplies a 
link in my chain of reasoning as I will immediately 

For there is, according to my interpretation of 
the myth a great deal more meaning in it than 
either of the above interpretations gives. The con- 
test was in my opinion, a contest between Town 
and Country, and this is very important with regard 
to the claim recently put forward, that the Pipe is 
an invention of the Greeks, when we recall the fact 
that the old Greek state or colony, was little more 
than a state town, or city, with little or no jurisdic- 
tion beyond its own walls, and surrounded on all 
sides by hostile peoples of different nationalities. If 
the Pipe, therefore, came from the country to the 
town, as we learn from this myth, it came to the 
Greeks from an outside source. 

I hope to prove also that this Pipe of Athene's 
was a Bagpipe, and — this by the way — that Marsyas 
was not really flayed alive, but was merely stripped 
of his clothes. 

Apollo then represents the city, the Greek colony. 
He is the dandy about town ; tall, handsome, 
effeminate, scented. With his minstrel's cloak, 


which is made of richest stuff and dyed of the most 
costly dyes, thrown carelessly over his left shoulder, 
he looks the ideal of grace and breeding. His 
instrument is the lyre ; a feeble tinkling thing, 
suitable enough for the ladies' boudoir, or as an 
accompaniment to the voice in song, but fitted only 
for the sweep of delicate fingers : a maiden's weapon 
and not suited to turbulent times or peoples. 

Marsyas, on the other hand, represents the coun- 
try : the outside world, and is entirely awanting in 
anything like Greek culture. He is strong and 
muscular, stout, healthy, ruddy-cheeked ; rude and 
unsophisticated, and smelling, not of sweet scents 
distilled from rarest flowers, but of the hillside and 
the sheepfold. His minstrel's cloak is a new goat- 
skin fresh from its late owner's back, and smelling 
fresh of the rennet. He has newly donned it to 
grace the occasion. His instrument is "the rude 
and barbarous Bagpipe," sprung from the soil, and 
as yet unknown to the dweller in town. 

Marsyas no doubt has a bet with Apollo on the 
event, — or he differs sadly from the goatherd of 
Theocritus' time — and this it is which gives rise to 
the story of the flaying of him alive. 

That such contests were of every-day occurrence 
we know from the testimony of many writers. 

That much betting also took place at these friendly 
trials of skill is also certain. 

The best ewe in his flock, a carved bowl, a carved 
stick, the goatskin on his back, the Pipe he played 
on ; anything and everything the goatherd possessed 


he risked in bets during a singing or piping con- 

Read any of the old Greek pastorals if you doubt 
the truth of the above. 

Here is an extract — the translation by Calverly — 
from Theocritus : — 

" Daphnis the gentle herdsman, met once as rumour tells 
Menalcas making- with his flock, the circle of the fells. 
Both chins were gilt with coming beards : both lads 

could sing and play : 
Menalcas glanced at Daphnis, and thus was heard to 

say : 
'Art thou for singing, Daphnis, lord of the lowing kine, 
I say, my songs are better, by what thou wilt, than 

Then in his turn spake Daphnis, and thus he made 

reply : 
' O shepherd of the fleecy flock, thou pipest clear and 

high ; 
But come what will, Menalcas, thou ne'er wilt sing 

as 1/ 

Menalcas — 
* This thou art fain to ascertain, and risk a bet with 

Daphnis — 

' This 1 full fain would ascertain, and risk a bet with 

I stake a calf: stake thou a lamb.' " 

But Menalcas — to his credit be it said — answered 
" No ; the flock is counted every night, and the 
lamb would be missed ; it is not mine to give, it is 
my father's ; but I will stake my Pipe of nine holes, 



which I have made myself, and joined together with 
beautiful white wax, against yours. 

To this Daphnis consents, and they get a passing 
goatherd to act as referee. They lay their Pipes aside 
on this occasion, and each in turn tries his hand at 
extempore song. When finished, the goatherd gives 
judgment as follows : — 

" ' O Daphnis, lovely is thy voice, thy music sweetly sung: 
Such song is pleasanter to me, than honey on my 

Accept this Pipe, for thou hast won. And should there 

be some notes 
That thou could'st teach tne, as I plod alongside of my 

goats ; 
I'll give thee for thy schooling this ewe, that horns 

hath none : 
Day by day she'll fill the can, until the milk o'er-run.' 

Then how the one lad laughed and leaped and clapped 

his hands for glee ! 
A kid that bounds to meet its dam might dance as 

And how the other inly burned, struck down by his 

disgrace ! 
A maid first parting from her home might wear as sad 

a face." 

In the same boastful spirit Marsyas, I have no 
doubt — confident in his own skill — bet his new goat- 
skin coat against Apollo's fine town-made cloak, that 
the judges would decide in his favour ; but, as we 
have seen, he lost. With sad face, and downcast 
eye, the hitherto victorious one turned to leave the 
scene of his discomfiture, first promising to send back 


his goatskin when he got home. Apollo, however, 
insisted on having the bet settled there and then : the 
judges held this to be the law, and so poor Marsyas, 
stripped of everything by the attendants, fled from 
before the face of the jeering crowd naked and 
ashamed. This was the flaying alive of Marsyas. 

The other part of the myth, in which we are told 
that the blood of Marsyas formed a river down which 
his Pipe was carried for many a weary mile ; but 
which ultimately cast them up, — notice the plural 
here I — one on each bank, symbolises the spread of 
the "Pipe" m Arcadia. 

Marsyas' Pipe was afterwards found and brought 
to Apollo, who made it his own instrument thence- 
forward ; which conclusion to the story proves, in 
short, that the City Greeks adopted the Shepherd's 
Pipe, although reluctantly, and only after it had 
spread throughout the country districts of Greece. 

This latter part of the myth is borne out by a small 
bronze statue of Apollo which was discovered some 
time ago, in so far at least as he is there represented, 
with a lyre strapped on in front and a Bagpipe 
behind: the Bagpipe still taking an inferior position 
to the lyre in the Greek's estimation. 

Now, Ruskin tells us that Athene was the author 
of the double Pipe, which she invented tc represent the 
hissing of the Gorgonian serpent. 

We know that this Pipe, after the death of Marsyas, 
fell into Apollo's hands. This is the myth, but 
history now comes upon the scene and tells us that 
Apollo's Pipe, which was the Greek Pythaulos, was a 


Bagpipe. And further, that it was used to represent 
the hisses and the groans of the "wounded serpent^ at 
the Pythonic games, which were held annually in 
honour of Apollo. If you have followed my argu- 
ment so far, you will understand why I believe 
that in the myth of Athene and her Pipe — the Pipe 
which played by itself — we have the earliest sugges- 
tion of a Bagpipe. 



"\"\ TE shall now leave the flowery mazes of Myth- 
land, — that realm of fancy and imagination — 
and descend to the safer, if more prosaic paths of 
written History, in our search after further informa- 
tion on the Bagpipe. 

If I have not already wearied you with my idle 
excursions into the dim and misty past as we have it 
represented in Greek myth ? If you do not reckon 
me one of the people " who" — as the Psalmist says — 
— "imagine a vain thing?" I shall ask you once 
more to accompany me to the sunny South : to the 
land of romance, and song, and piping : "to the land 
which the old Greek has revealed to us : a land full of 
wonder and beauty, full of grandeur and majesty, 
haunted by the echoes of human laughter and tears : 
where truth and fiction still live in loving union 
together, and truth borrows grace from fiction, and 
fiction gathers dignity from truth." And in this 
country I shall introduce you to a man who knew 
more of pipers and of piping than any other man of 
his day and generation. Some of you will immedi- 


ately recognise in him an old friend : to others he will 
be a comparative stranger : while to a few he may be 
wholly unknown, as his writings — and how delightful 
these are! — have been too much neglected both at 
school and college. 

It is of Theocritus the Greek poet that I would 
write. He is the great authority on the Piob or 
Shepherd's Pipe : the great delineator of Greek pas- 
toral life in the old days. What he did not know of 
the shepherd and his Pipe is not worth knowing. 
While his writings are worthy of being read for their 
own sake, the poet is at the same time the prince of 
good fellows, in whose charming company the cares 
and worries of daily life are forgotten. 

Should it ever be your unhappy lot to suffer from 
brain-fag, while the needful holiday is still in the far 
distance, try what a study of the old Greek poet's 
Idylls will do for you. If your Greek has gone musty, 
there are several good translations to choose from. 
Of these, I prefer the one by Lang, in the "Golden 
Treasury " series, for the sake of its scholarly intro- 
duction. There is also a metrical translation by 
Calverly : a delightful book in its way: a poet's trans- 
lation of a poet. And if you wish a more literal 
rendering of the Greek, you will find it in " Bohn's 
Library." But the charm of the original infects all 
three, and for us, in this way, Theocritus becomes 
thrice eloquent. 

Here, without doubt, we have a writer who can 
describe for us things and men as he saw them two 
thousand years ago. In his Idylls, there is no stilted 


artificiality : naturalness overflows in every line : the 
laughter of bygone years still echoes through his 
pages ; the tears still wet them. With curtains 
drawn to shut out the slushy, sloppy streets, and 
feet made comfortable in well-toasted slippers, you 
can — with this little book in your hand — enjoy the 
pleasures of a country life while seated comfortably at 
your own fireside. 

The poet, who makes the most fascinating of guides, 
will put back for you the hands of the clock of time 
two thousand years and more. In the twinkling of an 
eye he will transport you from this cold, bleak climate 
of ours, dark with winter fogs, or moist from dripping 
autumn skies, to a land of perpetual sunshine and 
blue ethers, and midsummer spice-laden airs and 
passionate flower-blossoming. Basking in the sun- 
shine of his geniality, you will forget to shiver at the 
cold. The winter blast, rocking without and making 
the shuttered window creak and groan like some dis- 
embodied spirit in pain, will blow past unheeded, as 
you walk arm-in-arm with the poet through the streets 
of Syracuse, the city of his birth : the city he most 
loved — "sunniest of sunny cities, and Greekest of 

Or passing out through the city gates into the 
country beyond — that country which he knew and 
loved so well, and where he spent so many happy 
days — you will find your cares fall from your 
shoulders, like a cast-off garment, as you wander 
with him in the meadows, already brilliant with 
" bells and flowerets of a thousand hues," where 


first he met the little girl piping to Hippocoon's 

In these Idylls the poet has caught and made 
captive for us the warm spice-laden breezes 
that ever float up from the blue waters of the 

The sunshine of cloudless skies he has enticed 
into his pages, and it still warms the figures of 
Demeter and his love-feasters, of shepherd and 
shepherdess, of piper and singer, so that they, 
too, look out of the page at you with laughter in 
their eyes and smiles on their lips as real as when 
in life. So life-like, indeed, are this poet's creations 
that, as Mrs Browning once said of those of another 
and greater poet, if you were to put real men and 
women beside them, the best stop-watch in the world 
could not detect the least difference in the beating 
of their hearts. 

But — you may well ask the question ! — what has all 
this got to do with the Bagpipe ? Not much, 
perhaps, but I was led to study Theocritus because 
more than one writer — in a more or less vague sort of 
way, certainly — had referred to Theocritus as being 
the first author to mention the Bagpipe. 

Well, I have searched for Sumphonia^ the Greek 
word for Bagpipe, in the original text, and again in 
the three different translations mentioned above, and 
I have completely failed to find it. 

Pythaulos, and Bumbaiilos, two other names given 
at a later date by the old Greeks to the Pipe, are 
also conspicuous by their absence. In short. 


Theocritus, who was born about 300 B.C., does not 
mention the Bagpipe at all. 

But I learned two things from my research. 

I learned anew, and with increasing emphasis, the 
beautiful truth which is embodied in the saying of the 
old philosopher, *' If you offered me the choice of 
Truth in the one hand, or the Pursuit after Truth 
in the other, I should choose the latter." 

I did not find any reference to the Bagpipe in 
*' Theocritus " — the truth which I was in pursuit 
of — but the pursuit itself was a delight and a 
treasure, and through it I spent many weeks of 
unadulterated happiness some years ago, wandering 
in the company of one of the world's great masters, 
utterly indifferent to the sleet and snow and biting 
cruel winds that so often brought the short days of 
a particularly stormy winter to a close. 

I learned also this important fact, that the Bagpipe 
was unknown to Theocritus and — by implication — 
to the Greeks of the third century B.C. 

The Idylls are filled with descriptions of pipers 
and piping. 

The first Idyll opens up with these words — 

" Sweet are the whispers of yon pine that makes 
Low music o'er the spring, and goatherd, sweet 
Thy piping ; thou art matched by Pan alone." 

While the last Idyll sings somewhat after this 

fashion — I have not the book before me ! 

"Oh that my father had taught me the care of 
sheep, that I might sit in the shade of the wide- 
spreading tree, or in the cool of the overhanging 
rock, and there pipe away my sorroivs. " 


Every page, indeed, betrays an intimate acquaint- 
ance with the different instruments used by the shep- 
herds or goatherds of his time. There are three 
different kinds of Pipe mentioned by the poet, and 
these are called Aulos^ Aulos-calamus , and Syrinx. 
We have a minute description given of these various 
forms, even to the number of holes in each, and to 
the kind of wax and thread used in binding the 
reeds together. We also find continual references tc 
piping contests in the Idylls, so that it is impossible 
to believe that the most important of the Pipe family 
could be overlooked, by the poet whose delight was 
in m.inute word-painting of pastoral scenes. This 
careful recorder of the old simple, kindly, country 
life — with those keen eyes of his that missed not the 
twittering of a single leaf on the tree : with those 
keen ears of his that heard voices in the murmur of 
the bratling stream, and in the whispering of the 
flowers, as they bent and nodded to the gentle breeze 
— could never have so completely overlooked the 
King of Pipes if it had been in existence in his day. 
Even against his will it would have forced itself upon 
his attention during those constant country rambles 
in which he so delighted. For, what does this poet 
write about ? It is not of the city and its busy life — 
although occasionally he ruffled it at court with 
the best of the young bloods : luxury and wealth he 
rarely mentions. His theme is the country, with its 
simple joys and sorrows, where money counts for 
little, because there is so little of it to count. 
Nothing is too small for him to take notice of! 


The grateful shade of the pine tree ; the singing of 
the lark in the blue ether ; the restless moaning of the 
sea by the lonely shore ; the cool sound of the waters 
falling over the face of the rock ; the sweet scent of 
verbena, and lily, and wild thyme ; the lowly goat- 
herd contesting for the piper's prize, dressed in a new 
goatskin, with the fresh smell of the rennet still 
clinging to it ; the little girl piping in the field to 
encourage the harvesters in their work ; the midnight 
revel at the neatherd's cabin ; the poor fisherman in 
his hut of wattles, dreaming golden dreams down by 
the marshes — almost the only gold he mentions. 
These are the subjects he delights to dwell upon : 
always, however, coming back to piping, piping, 

We may take it, then, that in Theocritus' time, 
say 270 B.C., the Bagpipe was unknown to the 
Greek, whether of the town or country. This 
is something worth knowing, something worth 
remembering. When the Bagpipe was introduced 
into Greece the people had no name ready for it, 
and so they christened this instrument of many 
sounds Sumphoiiia, or the many-sounding one. 
The Romans came to know of it much later than 
the Greeks. They received it from two sources — a 
Celtic and a Greek source — as I hope immediately to 
prove. We must therefore look for the origin of the 
Piob-Mhor elsewhere than in Greece or Rome. 



TN that grandest of all Classics, the Bible, we find 
the earliest historical reference to the Bagpipe. 

The Bagpipe is mentioned in both the Old and the 
New Testaments, under the titles of Sumponyah and 
Sumphonias respectively — the accent being upon the 
y and the i. 

'Zvjut.ipcoi'La — a Greek word which had been in use for 
nearly three hundred years before the advent of the 
Bagpipe in Greece, and which meant harmony — was 
the name which the Greeks gave to the little Shep- 
herd's Pipe when they had enlarged it, and made 
various improvements upon it, and fashioned it to 
their own mind. 

These improvements were so considerable, and 
altered the tone, and, indeed, the whole complexion 
of the little Pipe so completely, that they entitled the 
makers to call the instrument thus transformed by a 
Greek name, although they were only improvers and 
not the inventors of the Bagpipe : and in this way the 
diminutive Pipos became the great Sumphonia. 

Nor were the Greeks selfishly disposed to keep the 


knowledge of the new instrument to themselves, but 
on the contrary, they freely spread its fame abroad, 
and so brought the hitherto little-known Bagpipe into 
repute among the different peoples with whom they 
came in contact. And if philology be at all a safe 
guide, they introduced it into Syria, Persia, Palestine, 
Egypt, and the countries to the east and south-east of 
the Holy Land ; for in those different countries, in the 
second and first centuries B.C., we find it always called 
by its Greek name of Sumphotiia. 

The Greeks then, it must be acknowledged, were 
great disseminators of the Bagpipe, but this is not 
equivalent to saying, as some writers quite recently 
have said, that the Greeks invented the Bagpipe, and 
that Arcadia was its home. The Greeks were re- 
ceivers, before they became givers. Civilisation and 
all that this term implies — Celtic music, for example, 
and the different arts and sciences in their rude and 
primitive forms — first flowed into Greece, ere she gave 
the world its own back again, disguised, it is true, 
often beyond recognition in its new and beautiful 
Greek dress. 

In short, these gifts from the outside became en- 
nobled and purified in their passage through the 
alembic of the Greek mind, and the delighted nations 
received their own once more, but enhanced in value 
a thousandfold. 

In this way the Bagpipe, although only an adopted 
instrumeiit, fared well at the hands of the Greek. 
The simple single-reeded Shepherd's Pipe, with its 
scale of three or four notes, and its bag made of the 


Stomach or bladder of a goat, — the original Pioh of 
the Celt — became the many-sounding, many-reeded 
powerful Sumphonia of the Greek, with a whole goat- 
skin for a bag. This enlarged Pipe, which soon 
became the favourite instrument of priests and kings, 
the Greeks endowed with a surpassing vitality, so 
that it has survived the choppings and changes of 
time for two thousand years and more, and we can see 
it to-day in all its pristine glory, perambulating our 
streets and alleys, still a very real live symphony, 
voicing for us in these degenerate days — but only 
very occasionally, I grieve to say — the old Greek 

This Bagpipe, a fine specimen of which is shewn in 
the photograph opposite, and which is called by the 
Italians in the south of Italy Zampogna — the old 
Greek word, but slightly altered — is better known as 
the Calabrian Shepherd's Pipe. The set in the photo- 
graph was unearthed — after a good deal of trouble — 
in Rome some eight or nine years ago, and presented 
to me by a Falkirk friend, and is said to be very old. 
The drones were crumbling into dust when I first got 
them, but a liberal application of oil and eucalyptus 
checked further decay. Its neighbour is said to be 
in the Oxford Museum. 

The ancient Greek Sumphonia^ then, was a Drone 
Bagpipe in the strictest sense of the word. It was 
simply a collection of drones of different lengths — 
several of them pierced with holes like a chanter — in 
harmony with each other, and inserted into an air- 
tight bag ; the chanter when present being a separate 


entity. When the chanter-player was absent, the real 
piper droned along pleasantly by himself. This 
ancient form of Drone Pipe is still to be seen and 
heard in Southern Italy, in Sicily, and in Greece ; 
and nearly every summer our own country is visited 
by one or more bands of strolling Italian pifferari^ as 
these pipers are called. The photograph opposite is 
one which I took in front of my own house. It shews 
a characteristic group of these Italian performers, 
and also shews their method of playing upon the 
Zampogna. The chanter is in the hands of the 
pompous-looking individual on the extreme left of the 
picture, and next to him is the zampognatore, or 
piper proper. Notice the enormous size of the 
drones ; they are the largest that I have ever 
seen, but in spite of this they gave forth low soft 
music. The woman with the tambourine, and the 
little rogue with the bird-cage, are unnecessary 

I took a photograph of another group of Italian 
pipers some weeks earlier than the one shewn here. 
It was to complete a series of magic-lantern slides 
which I was anxious to shew next evening at a 
Bagpipe lecture. Being in a hurry, I sent the film 
to be developed by my daughter, knowing that she 
would do it quicker than the average photographer, 
and set off hopefully on my afternoon's round. 
When I got back in the evening, all impatient to 
know the result, the first question I put was, " Has 
Nelly done my pipers?" 

"There is a note from Nelly: it has just come: 


you can read it ! " said my wife. And what I read, 
with sinking heart and falling face, was this — 

'* Dear mother, — Break it gently to father. He has 
drowned his pipers." I read no further, but turned 
to the picture. The explanation of the phenomenon 
flashed upon me in a moment. Taking sea-waves in 
Tiree the week before, I had omitted to turn off the 
last film, and there, in the midst of the angry waters, 
with nothing but their heads shewing through the 
salt sea-spray, the poor pifferari looked out at me 
with reproachful eyes. Sure enough, I had drowned 
my pipers. But to return to the Greek Bagpipe ! 
The chanter, which still remains divorced from the 
drones, has a much wider range of notes now than 
it had in days gone by. This is partly due to a 
peculiar method the player has got of pinching the 
reed with his lips when playing, and partly due to 
the addition of extra notes ; and although it has very 
little music of its own, and that little of a very ancient 
order, the extended scale unfortunately lends itself to 
all kinds of modern airs, which are accordingly played 
upon it by these strolling players with great vigour, 
to the inglorious accompaniment of tambourine, 
triangle, cymbal, and drum, and to the utter disgust 
of all genuine lovers of the Bagpipe. But as to the 
thing itself — the SumpJionia ! — modern improvements 
have passed it by, leaving it untouched and primitive 
as when it was played upon before the golden image 
set up by the great King Nebuchadnezzar, and when 
at its call the princes and the mighty of the land 
bowed down and worshipped. 

Italian Pifkerari. 


As a good deal of misapprehension has arisen 
over the meaning of the word Sumphonia — a mis- 
apprehension which has acted prejudicially in the 
past to the claims of the Bagpipe — a few words 
of explanation may not be thought amiss at this 

Sumphonia is first met with in Plato {h 429 B.C.), 
where it means harmony, or symphony. For over 
two hundred years it retained this meaning. The 
harmony might be one of voices, or of instruments, 
or of a combination of these two. But about the end 
of the third, or beginning of the second century, 
B.C., the word came to mean a specific musical 
instrument — the Bagpipe ; it being the thing which 
produced the harmony; and this latter meaning it 
has ever since retained. 

Polybius, who flourished exactly one hundred 

years after Theocritus, is the first writer next to 

Daniel to use the word in its new meaning. To 

those classical scholars who did not recognise when 

the change took place, or did not perceive that the 

change was a permanent one, the word became a 

stumbling-block, and so arose those misconceptions in 

the Bible and elsewhere which have gathered round 

Sumphonia. In this way Sumponyah in Daniel iii. 5 

(which is just the Greek word for Bagpipe transcribed 

into Aramaic) was translated dulcimer — a stringed 

instrument. "To you it is commanded, O people, 

nations, and languages, that at what time ye hear 

the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, 

dulcimer'''' — i.e., Bagpipe — "and all kinds of music, 



ye fall down and worship the golden image that 
Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up." 

There was some excuse for the old divines going 
astray on this occasion, because when the Bible was 
first translated, the Book of Daniel was supposed to 
have been written in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, 
who ruled over Babylon some six hundred years 
before the Christian era, and at that time if the 
word Sumphonia existed at all, which is more than 
doubtful, it did not mean a musical instrument, and 
could not therefore be the Bagpipe. 

But the context shewed those old divines that 
a complex instrument of some sort was intended, 
and taking the first meaning of the word, — a con- 
cord of sounds — what instrument was more likely 
to be meant than a many-stringed instrument like 
the dulcimer, which gave to the sweep of the 
fingers or to the tappings of the plectrum a har- 
monious combination of sounds ? 

It was a very good guess on the part of the old 
translators, but it was nothing more than a guess, 
and one which we, to-day, know to have been mis- 

All classical scholars are now, however, agreed that 
the Book of Daniel was not written for at least 
three hundred years after the reign of Nebuchad- 
nezzar, and this knowledge, which was not available 
to the earlier critics, has cleared up many dark 
problems in the book, including the true meaning 
of the word Sumponyah. It is quite incomprehen- 
sible to me why, under these circumstances, the 


translators of the revised Bible should have left the 
word dulcimer in the text, and only timorously- 
inserted *'or Bagpipe" in the margin. 

Now, arguing from this word alone, and seeing 
that it is a Greek word, which only came into use 
some one hundred and fifty years after Nebuchad- 
nezzar's time; and that it was first used by the 
Greeks in the sense of Bagpipe about 170 B.C., I 
am at one with those Biblical scholars who believe 
the Book of Daniel to have been written — in part 
at least during the reign of Antiochus (175-168 B.C.), 
and, in corroboration of this view I would point 
out that a large part of Daniel is devoted to an 
account of the Syrian monarch and his doings, — he 
is the "Little Horn" in the book — and it is in con- 
nection with this same Antiochus, King of Syria, that 
Polybius first mentions the Bagpipe. Polybius thus 
divides the honour with Daniel of being one of the 
two first writers to mention the "Pipes" in history, 
and both give it the same title of Sumphonia, which 
shews that the Jews were familiar with the Greek 
Bagpipe in very early times. It is also more than 
probable that Antiochus, who was a great propagator 
of everything Greek, first introduced the Pipe into 

Now this Antiochus was a grevious thorn in the 
side of the Jewish nation, and there is no doubt that 
he treated it badly on more than one occasion. The 
Jews could only retaliate upon him by giving him a 
bad character, which they accordingly did. In spite 
of this bad character, which has stuck to him ever 


since, the king was a strong man in many ways, and 
a good ruler over his own people. He was also a 
good soldier, and a man of refined tastes, and ener- 
getic to his finger tips. He was, however, an 
undoubted mischief-maker : a genius run to seed, 
and his prototype is to be seen to-day in the person 
of a very high and mighty European potentate 
who is also a constant "thorn in the flesh" to his 

Epiphanes, he called himself, or God manifest. 
"Yea, he magnified himself even to the Prince of 
the host " ; but his contemporaries called him Epi- 
manes, or the madman, playin-g in Greek fashion 
upon the word Epiphanes. 

Now in reading Polybius, one is left in doubt as 
to whether the Syrian monarch did not himself play 
upon the Bagpipe, as well as keep pipers. The 
Bagpipe which his piper proper played upon was a 
Drone Pipe, exactly like the present Greek and 
Calabrian Pipe, and a second player blew the chanter. 
This much we learn from one passage, where we 
are told that the king was in the habit of stealing out 
at night with his pipers, and if he came upon a 
band of young men enjoying themselves in a quiet 
place, he would creep near them, unseen, and with a 
sudden blast upon " the chanter and Bagpipe," so 
startle them that they fled as if the devil were behind 
them. Which latter statement also points to the 
fact that the Bagpipe was of very recent introduction 
into Syria, and but little known as yet among the 


In another passage of his book, Polybius tells us 
that Antiochus danced to the music of the *' Pipes." 

Antiochus, you will perhaps remember, had esta- 
blished games at Daphne, on a scale of unparalleled 
magnificence, so as to eclipse the world-famed Roman 
games held in Macedonia ; and on this occasion, the 
ceremonies were opened by a procession headed by 
the king in person, which took a whole day to pass a 
fixed point, and which even to-day beggars descrip- 
tion in its magnificence. 

It w^as during this festival, which lasted thirty days, 
and at one of the costly banquets given nightly by 
the king, — and when men had well drunken — that the 
incident about to be related occurred. I will give it 
in the words of Polybius, as translated by Shuck- 
burgh, who, clever scholar and great authority though 
he be, misses the meaning of the Greek word Sum- 

"And when the festivities had gone on for a long 
time, and a good many of the guests had departed, 
the king was carried in by the mummers, completely 
shrouded in a robe, and laid upon the ground as 
though he were one of the actors. Then at the signal 
given by the music" — i.e.^ by the Zu/x^Wa, or Bag- 
pipe ! — "he leapt up, stripped, and began to dance 
with the jesters, so that all the guests were scandalised 
and retired. In fact, every one who attended the 
festival, when they saw the extraordinary wealth dis- 
played at it, the arrangements made in the processions 
and games," — all conducted by the king in person — 
"and the scale of splendour on which the whole was 


managed, were struck with amazement and wonder 
both at the king, and the greatness of his kingdom ; 
but when they fixed their eyes on the man himself," — 
stripped! — "and the contemptible conduct to which 
he condescended, they could scarcely believe that so 
much excellence and baseness could exist in one and 
the same breast." 

So much for Antiochus and his *' Pipes." 
Mentioned once in the Old Testament, the Bagpipe 
is also once mentioned in the New Testament. This 
occurs in the parable of the Prodigal Son. Now 
the Master always illustrated His object lessons from 
the daily life around. His illustrations, which were 
addressed to the poor and the illiterate, commended 
themselves to the simplest intelligence, and were 
forcible in proportion to their simplicity. The very 
titles of these parables shew this. We have, for 
example, the parable of the Sower and the Seed ; the 
parable of the Lost Sheep ; of the Unjust Steward ; of 
the Marriage Feast ; of the Prodigal Son. He spoke 
of things which were familiar to His hearers: of things 
which were being enacted daily under their very eyes; 
and for this reason any inaccuracies would at once 
be detected by His audience. When, therefore. He 
introduces the Bagpipe and the chorus or dance as 
the outward signs of the joy felt over the return of the 
prodigal, we may take it that the Bagpipe and the 
dance in conjunction were well known to the common 
people among the Jews of Christ's time : a fact which 
has been boldly denied by more than one writer. 
Those responsible for the revised edition of the 


Bible, which I do not wonder has "fallen flat," have 
here again failed — it seems to me — to do their duty. 
They have translated the words, ^ ' tJKova-e crvfKpwvla^ 

Ktti x^P^^y' o**' ^s ^^^y ^^^^ *" ^^^ Latin, '■'■ andivet 
symphoniam et chorum,'' into the emasculate sen- 
tence, "and he heard music and dancing," when it 
should have been "and he heard the Bagpipe and 
dancing." Not as a scholar — which I do not profess to 
be — but as a lover of fairplay, and a Highlander who 
has some regard for this old and "semi-barbarous" 
instrument, I must enter my protest here, and assert 
that the Bagpipe deserves better recognition in the 
future from critics and translators than it has had 
vouchsafed to it in the past. 

It should no longer be entirely slurred over in the 
New Testament, or marked only by a marginal refer- 
ence in the Old ; and Greek scholars should recognise 
by now, that Sumphonia in the pages of Polybius, 
means a musical instrument, and only one musical 
instrument, the Bagpipe. 



TT is a curious and interesting fact, that tradition 
associates piping with two of the greatest events 
which ever happened in the world's history : the 
Nativity and the Crucifixion. And it is more than 
passing strange, that Christ Himself should supply 
those, who like myself believe in the tradition of the 
shepherds piping on Christmas morn, with a very 
important link in the chain of evidence. 

As I pointed out in last chapter, it has been 
asserted that the Bagpipe was unknown to the Jews, 
or at least that there was no evidence that it was 
known, and that it could not therefore be the instru- 
ment which these poor shepherds played upon. 

Christ's reference to it in the parable of the Prodigal 
settles the question for all time : it shews clearly, that 
in His day the Bagpipe was well known to the pas- 
toral peoples in Palestine, and further, that it was an 
instrument of some repute, otherwise it would not be 
found in the home of the rich and great. 

Now, with regard to the traditions which have 
gathered round the birth and the death of our Lord, 

The Zampogna of Italy : the Old Simphonia of 
THE Greeks. 

Bought in Rome and presented to the Author by Mrs Aitkicn 
of Gartcows, Falkirk. 


sacred and profane writers are at one in asserting that 
strange and hitherto unheard of phenomena marked 
these events. 

The world, which was satiated with and heartily- 
sick of its owm licentiousness, was expecting and 
eagerly watching for the advent of a deliverer, and 
the expected at length came to pass, but not in the 
expected way. No earthly, no human pomp and 
glory, found room for display in a cold rude 
manger. The simple birth was a distinct disappoint- 
ment to the Jews, with their love of phylacteries 
and fondness of outward display. It was different, 
however, with nature. 

We read in the Gospel of St. James of strange hap- 
penings which took place at the birth of Christ : of 
how the world stood motionless in awe and wonder ! 
Of how the song of bird, and the lowing of calf, 
and the bleat of lamb, was hushed ; and the chatter 
of women was turned into silence. And there were 
workmen lying on the earth with their hands in a 
vessel and — to give the very words of St. James, 
they are so extraordinary ! — " those who handled 
did not handle it, and those who took did not lift, 
and those who presented it to their mouth did not 
present it, but the faces of all were looking up ; and 
I saw the sheep scattered, and the shepherd lifted up 
his hand to strike, and his hand remained up ; and 
I looked at the stream of the river, and the mouths of 
the kids were down and were not drinking ; and 
everything which was being propelled forward was 
intercepted in its course." 


To the shepherds on the plains of Bethlehem a 
glimpse of the real glory of the event was shewn ; 
wonderful sights were seen, and angel voices spoke 
glad tidings. To these lonely midnight watchers, 
guarding their flocks from the attack of wild beast, 
or roaming thief, the hush and the darkness were 
suddenly broken into. A great light shone round 
about them, and out of the midst of it came a voice 
like a trumpet call — the voice of the Herald Angel 
proclaiming " Peace on earth, to men of goodwill." 
Quickly these two phenomena came, and as quickly 
they fled, and once more all was still on the 
plains, but for the tumultuous beating of over- 
joyous hearts, and once more all was darkness but 
for the glorious light which shone within, never 
more to be quenched. 

As the great, the all-absorbing, truth dawned upon 
these simple folk in all its radiancy, they felt their joy 
too great to be "pondered in their hearts" ; it must 
have some outward expression, and what better way 
than Christ's way in the parable of the Prodigal 

So, tuning up their Bagpipes, while the wondering 
sheep gathered around, they gave vent to their 
surcharged feelings in sweet strains of praise that 
startled for the second time on that eventful night 
the starry silence of the skies. 

This beautiful tradition is still kept alive in the 
Roman Catholic Church. 

In Rome, or in any of the great cities in Italy, 
it is the habit of the people to erect at Christmas time 


a grotto representing the manger in which Christ was 
born. In it they place a live ox and a live ass, 
while Mary is represented by a young woman with 
a babv in her arms. 

Some distance beyond is a green patch with 
shepherds piping ; these pipers are always present ; 
they represent the shepherds on the plains of 

At Christmas time, too, the shepherds come down 
in numbers from the hills to the towns, and there 
they stand all day long playing before the little 
shrines of the Virgin and her Child, which are to 
be seen at the corners of the streets. 

An Englishman once — with more money possibly 
than sensibility — a well-groomed, pompous English- 
man ! — said with a sneer to one of these humble 
players, "Who are you playing to?" The shepherd 
pointed to the shrine of the Virgin Mary. ** What ! " 
said the Englishman, "do you think a grown-up 
woman could enjoy such wretched music as yours ? " 
"Ah!" said the poor man, " ?/ is to the child I 
am playing ; children are easily pleased." 

In my experience, nothing pleases the little ones 
more than the Bagpipe. 

I remember once coming home late for dinner. I 
found the house quiet and deserted. The mother 
had gone out with the children to some entertainment. 
Nobody seemed to expect me, so, tired and worried, I 
threw myself down before the fire to rest. At that 
moment my eye fell on one of the many Bagpipes 
which I keep lying about. " Ah ! " I thought, " now 


for a tune ! it's the very thing I want. Fiat justitia^ 
mat ccelum. Should the heavens rain, I will have a 
tune." So, taking up the Pipe, I soon played my- 
self back into a comfortable state of mind. I had 
scarcely laid the instrument down when a knock at the 
door announced the nurse. " Please, sir, do you 
want anything to eat?" "My sensations decidedly 
tend that way," I said ; " but where have you been? 
Where is everybody?" "Out, sir; I am left alone 
with baby, and when she discovered that her mother 
had gone out, and the rest of the children with her, 
she got into a state of panic, and it has been the 
cry with her ever since, ' Hold baby's hand, nuss ! 
Hold baby's hand ! ' But this is what I wanted to 
tell you, sir. You had not been playing many 
seconds, when she said to me, ' Let doe baby's hand, 
nuss ! 'Oo can doe now ! Baby's doin' to seep ! ' 
and she did go to sleep while you were still 
tuning up." 

I could not resist the temptation of having a peep 
into the nursery, and stole upstairs on tip-toe, and 
there lay the little one — the lately, wide-eyed, terror- 
stricken one — with a smile upon her lips, sound 
asleep ; dreaming, perhaps, of the piper-shepherds 
on the plains of Bethlehem : a little pink spot upon 
her sweet cheek alone hinting at the late storm, 
through which she had passed. 

Children as a rule do love the Bagpipe, as I have 
had innumerable opportunities of proving; but it may 
be, as the poor Italian piper said, only " because they 
are easily pleased." 



"VTOW! if the world were awe-struck at the Nativity, 
^^ it was thunder-stricken at the Crucifixion. "For 
three hours," St. Matthew tells us, "there was dark- 
ness over all the land." And when the weary spirit 
of the Crucified One, with "a loud cry," passed into 
the beyond, "behold the veil of the temple was rent 
in twain from top to bottom ; and the earth did quake, 
and the rocks rent ; and the graves were opened ; and 
the sleepers awoke." 

When the Jewish mob, filled with insensate passion, 
cried aloud for the blood of our Lord, and its prayer 
was granted, then did the Christian religion become 
firmly established. 

Then did the old gods, tottering, fall each from 
his golden chair. 

Then did the oracles become for ever dumb. 

Then did the Pipe fall from the nerveless fingers 
of the dying Pan. 

There is a tradition, first mentioned by Plutarch, 
who wrote a few years after our Lord's death, record- 
ing strange happenings which he attributes to Pan's 


death, but which are supposed really to have occurred 
at the Crucifixion. 

It would have given a too great prominence to the 
small, and — from the heathen point of view — insig- 
nificant body called Christians, to attribute any such 
extraordinary events as then happened, to the death of 
their leader : the heathen gods in such a case would 
be altogether eclipsed by the new and as yet little 
known God, Christ. And so Plutarch tells the story 
in his own way, with a bias towards heathendom. 
Can we blame him heavily for this : for being faith- 
ful to the gods of his fathers, and to the religion 
instilled into his mind by his parents from his youth 
upwards? To understand the story which Plutarch 
tells, you have to read between the lines, keeping St. 
Matthew's narrative in view. The old order is pass- 
ing away, and this is the heathen writer's descrip- 
tion of an event in which he may be said to have 

One day, — he tells us — a sailor who was steering his 
ship through the narrow windings of the ^gean Sea, 
heard a voice commanding him in imperious fashion, 
to cry aloud when he arrived at a certain place, 
" Pan, Great Pan, is dead ! " 

An eerie message to deliver, and got in an eerie 
way, but the unseen voice shall be obeyed ! This 
brave mariner accordingly, when opposite Palodis, 
which was the appointed place, stepped on to the 
poop of his ship, and raising his voice, cried aloud, 
in stentorian accents, "Pan, Great Pan, is dead!" 
And while his cry still reverberated from shore to 


shore, and from rock to rock, there went up from 
all nature a cry of deepest agony and distress. 

'* And that dismal cry rose slowly, 
And sank slowly through the air ; 
Full of spirits melancholy 
And eternity's despair ! 
And they heard the words it said — 
Pan is dead— great Pan is dead — 
Pan, Pan is dead." 

The sorrow was real, and the cry of anguish was 
the cry of a thousand breaking hearts. Pan was a 
great favourite with man and beast. His music was 
divine. To dance to it once was to dream of it for 
ever. The woodland creatures well may mourn, 
for now that Pan is dead, no longer will nymphs 
and swains dance in the cool of the evening to the 
piping of the great piper. No longer will the birds 
of the air and the beasts of the field gather round 
to listen to the god's sweet music. No more will 
his merry strains be heard at feast or harvesting. 
There is none to fill Pan's chair. 

No wonder, then, if at such a time, sounds of 
universal mourning fill the grove and echo through 
the vale. 

The sun heard the cry in high heaven, and fled 
shuddering to its rest through lowering banks of 
golden cloud ; the sea was troubled and turned to 
blood ; the air grew dark and sulphurous. 

And again, and again, and yet again, that mourn- 
ful sound as of universal weeping, and of wailing, 
and of great lamentation, rose out of the darkness 


and swept over the land, and sped along the 

The awful scenes, as depicted in the pages of 
Plutarch, might well stand for a representation of 
Dante's " Inferno." The very earth rocked on its 

" And the rowers from the benches 
Fell, each shuddering-, on his face — 
While departing influences 
Struck a cold, back through the place : 
And the shadows of the ships 
Reeled along the passive deep — 
Pan, Pan is dead." 

In the last verse, Mrs Browning places the tradition 
before us in exquisite phrase, wresting it from its 
heathen setting and giving it its proper Christian 
interpretation. She tells us why nature was thus 
convulsed : why the sun was darkened, and the veil 
of the temple was rent in twain. 

" 'Twas the hour when One in Sion 
Hung for love's sake on a cross — 
When His brow was chill with dying 
And His soul was faint with loss : 
When His priestly blood dropped downward, 
And His kingly eyes looked throneward — 
Then, Pan was dead." 

With the passing away of the old god in such 
tragic fashion, much that made life worth living in 
those so distant times also departed. With much 
that was dissolute and false, much also that was 
wholesome and true, such as the Sumphonias et 


choritm of St. Matthew, was swept away in the cata- 
clysm of events succeeding the Crucifixion, and a 
great blank was left in the lives and thoughts of 
men, which for a time, not even the new God — 
Christ — could fill. The old music of the Bagpipe, 
about this time retired from the notoriety gained in 
town and village on the plains, to the quiet and 
exclusion of the everlasting hills, and we hear little 
more of it for three hundred years or more ; truly, 

" The old order changeth, yielding place to new, 
And God fulfils Himself in many ways 
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world." 



■1/[ANY people to-day believe that the Romans 
-*■ -'• were the inventors of the Bagpipe. Many 
people also believe that the Celt borrowed it from 
the Romans. 

Both beliefs, fostered largely — I am sorry to say — 
by expert ignorance in the past, are erroneous. 

The Bagpipe was first introduced to the Greeks 
in the early half of the second century, B.C. 

Two hundred years later it was still unknown 
to the citizens of Rome ; which fact settles once 
and for all their claims to its invention. 

Granted that the Bagpipe came from without, 
its earlier introduction into Greece is what one 
would expect when the history of the two peoples 
is kept in mind. Greece was a mighty world-wide 
power, while Rome was still in swaddling clothes, 
and she naturally — pushing out her colonies, now 
here, now there — came first in contact with the 
Celt, and with the Celt's instrument, the Bagpipe. 

Her dominions extended from Italy — the southern 
half of which she occupied — and Sicily on the west, 


to India on the east ; from the countries round 
the Black Sea on the north, to Alexandria and 
the Nile Valley on the south ; and at every point 
she came in contact with new peoples, including 
three separate Celtic nationalities ; civilising and 
being civilised ; teaching and being taught. 

It was not until hundreds of years after, and only 
when Grecian influences were on the wane, that 
Rome rose to greatness. Then, and then only was 
she able, largely out of the ruins of ^^ Magna 
GrecicB'" to build up for herself that mighty empire, 
which at one time looked like lasting till the crack 
of doom. 

It is no wonder then, that Greece first adopted 
the Bagpipe, or that the Romans, finding it in Sicily 
and Calabria after they became masters in these 
places, retained it in their service, but without 
improving upon it in any way, and have kept it 
even to the present day as the Greeks left it, and 
with the old Greek name of the harmonious one 
still attached to it. 

But what of the Celt borrowing it from the Roman ? 

This contention is easily disproved by the follow- 
ing references to the Bagpipe, taken from Roman 

Mr MacBain, of Inverness, quotes the Rev. Mr 
MacLachlan, of London — a well-known Gaelic scholar 
— as being on his side, when he denies that the Pipe 
was known to any of the early Celtic nations ; but 
history is against Mr MacBain in this one, as in 
others of his many fallacies on the Bagpipe. We 


have a history of two events of different dates to 
help us in coming to a decision on this question. 

The first event is one taken from the recorded Hfe 
of the Emperor Nero, which makes it pretty certain 
that the Bagpipe was unknown to the citizens of 
Rome up to the year a.d. 67. 

Nero's reign was drawing to a close. The emperor 
had staged many a fine play for the Romans, but 
none so grand, from the spectacular point of view, as 
that upon vv^hich the tragic curtain had just been rung 
down. In this scene, Rome, the Empress City of 
the world, was to be seen in the background in 
flames, while in the foreground, illuminated by the 
glorious blaze of the doomed city, stood Nero, 
gloating over his own handiwork, and dancing as 
he fiddled. But now the curtain is being run up 
for the last time, and it is in connection with the 
closing scene in that pageant of horrors, that the 
Bagpipe as a Roman instrument first comes on 
the stage. 

Utterly sickened by their ruler's licentiousness 
and accumulated cruelties, the citizens of Rome at 
length rose up against him. Blood for blood, 
was their cry ; and Nero, seeing that they really 
meant mischief, turned coward, and fled for his 
life to a friend's house, some four miles out of the 
city. But the infuriated mob, thirsting for fresh 
excitement — the killing of an emperor was some- 
thing new — were close upon his heels, and the 
conscience-stricken man, now half mad with fear, 
sent a trusty servant to meet his pursuers and give 


a message from him, in the hope of appeasing their 
righteous anger, and of staying their further advance. 
His message — a silly one at best ; a most unkingly 
message ! — was in effect : " Give me another chance ; 
spare my life this time, and I will provide you with 
a treat — a something quite novel, and which you 
have never witnessed before : I will play you a tune 
on the latest and most marvellous of wind instruments, 
the Bagpipe." 

Now, whatever else Nero may have been, he was 
no fool. He knew his people well, and he knew — 
none better ! — that the love of novelty was a ruling 
passion with the lower Roman orders. Many a 
time and oft had he kept them in good humour 
with his raree shows, even when he had to make 
the streets of Rome run with blood. The one 
essential, however, to success in these old Roman 
days was the novelty of the display — it must be 
something new. 

And so, when the poor wretch believed that he 
could buy the bloodthirsty crowd off with a tune on 
the Bagpipe, we may be sure that the Roman ear 
had not been tickled with it before. In short, that 
the Romans and the Bagpipe were complete strangers 
to each other up to the closing days of Nero's reign. 
These events happened in a.d. 67. 

But in 35 B.C., almost one hundred years before 
Nero's death, one of the Roman historians tells us 
that he heard this instrument, still strange to the 
Romans, played upon by the Celts inhabiting the 
mountains of Pannonia. Which again disposes 


pretty effectually of the belief that the Celt borrowecf 
it from the Romans, and also proves that it was a 
Celtic instrument long before it became a Roman 
one. As a matter of fact, the Bagpipe found its 
way into Rome by two doors. It came in from the 
north through the Celts, and from the south through 
the Greeks. From the north through Pannonia and 
Umbria, and from the south through Calabria and 

The Celts of Pannonia and Umbria were both 
powerful tribes in their day. It took the Romans 
two long and hard campaigns to subdue the former. 
The latter lived in the mountains to the north-west 
of Rome, and although only sixty mJles from the 
walls of the Eternal City, retained its independence 
for many a long day ; and those two Celtic nations 
used the Bagpipe, while the Roman players were 
for many a long year after, blowing upon the tibia 
pares or impares, with painfully distended cheeks 
and paralysed lips — a butt for the jester's wit. 

This Pipe from the north was a one-drone Bagpipe 
with a chanter. The Romans called it Tibia Utricu- 
laris^ but the Celts called it Pioh, or, in full, 
Pivalla^ and to-day, while the Roman name of 
Tibia Utricularis is forgotten, the Celtic name sur- 
vives in the Italian Piva. The Romans called the 
piper in the old days Utricularius ^ but the Celt 
called him Piobaire (pron., Peeparuh), and to-day 
the Italians have dropped Utricularius and call their 
pipers Pifferari. 

The Pipe, which came to the Romans from the 


south, was a many-drone Bagpipe without a chanter, 
the llvij.<pwvia of the Greeks — the Zampogna of the 
Itah'ans, and the piper was called Zampogiiatore. It 
was also called in the south the Corna-Musa^ and 
the piper was then called Suonatore de Corna-Musa. 
To-dav, however, the word for pipers all over Italy- 
is Pifferari — the old Celtic word only slightly altered 
— and this is but right where a Celtic instrument is 
concerned, and is a good example of the survival of 
the fittest, for I do not suppose that the Umbrians 
ever used the name. Tibia Utricularis for Piob^ nor 
did the Pannonian youth who were drafted into the 
Roman army. 

These two Italian Pipes, both of which are shown 
in the illustrations which adorn the pages of this 
book, are as distinct now — the one from the other — 
as when different races inhabited the land. Their 
geographical distribution has remained the same for 
over two thousand years — so slow does the world 
move. And so conservative are the nations — even 
those which plume themselves upon their radicalism 
— that the old Celtic name of the Pipe survives in 
the north, and the old Greek name survives in the 
south of Italy, although the people to-day are of one 
race throughout the Peninsula — and that one a 
race neither Celtic nor Greek. 

But, once more, we still find the Bagpipe flourish- 
ing in those countries where the old Greek and the 
old Roman found it. In Pannonia, now repre- 
sented by Bosnia, Servia, and part of Bulgaria ; in 
Roumania; round about Constantinople, where the 


Boii, a powerful Celtic tribe, once flourished; and in 
Umbria — from whence came my Tibia Utriciilaris — 
it is still kept alive by the shepherds in the hills. 

Thousands of years have left it the same simple, 
rude iustrument that it was in early days, and the 
stranger to those countries may still hear among the 
mountains the same simple, primitive strains which 
greeted the ears of the astonished Greek soldier when 
he first passed through the Straits of the Dardanelles 
or coasted along the shores of the upper waters of 
the Adriatic. 

It is certain, then, that the Romans were not the 
inventors of the Bagpipe, and that the Celt did not 
borrow the instrument from the Romans, but lent 
it to them. 

Quite recently, I heard the statement put forward 
in all seriousness, that we Highlanders got the Bag- 
pipe from the Egyptians. I was spending a few 
days last summer at Culfail, and when there I had 
the pleasure of meeting the kind and genial Laird 
of Melford, Captain Stoddart M'Lellan. 

He displayed great enthusiasm over the Bagpipe, 
and all matters Celtic, and we became friendly for the 
day, owing to our tastes being in accord. 

While discussing the Piob-M/ior, or Great War- 
Pipe of the Highlands, he suddenly asked me, 
"Where do you think the 'Pipes' came from 
originally ? " 

I answered cautiously, "Where?" 

"From Egypt, of course!" he replied. "It is 
the Sistrum of Egypt. I was at a meeting lately in 

The Celtic Piva or Bagpipe of Northern Italy. 

The ancient Tibia UtricuUiris ot the Romans a very old Pipe, as the worn 
finger holes of the hard wahiut chanter shew. 

The gift of Mr Sutherlanu, Solsgirth, Dollar. 


London of pipers and one or two others interested 
in the Bagpipe, and we came to the conclusion 
that it came originally from Egypt." 

I did not tell him that the Egyptian Pipe was 
nothing more nor less than the Greek Sutiiphonia, 
a borrowed instrument, but I said, "You are 
acquainted, I believe, with Eastern peoples, and 
speak several of their languages, and you have 
also studied, more or less, Egyptian hieroglyphics? 
Have you ever seen a Bagpiper in hieroglyphic ? " 


" Then, why ascribe its origin to the Egyptians ? " 

" Well, you see, we came to that conclusion in 
London," which was no argument whatever, but the 
best which the gallant Captain could advance. 

This craze, on the part of Highlanders especially, 
to find a far distant or outside origin for the Celtic 
Pipe, is more than puzzling to me. I cannot 
understand it at all. It was due at first, I think, 
to the mistake of the Lowlander, taking the old 
Highlander's blarney about its Roman origin, or 
its Scandinavian origin, or its Egyptian origin, as 
his real opinion and belief, while all the time the 
blarney was invented for the amusement of the in- 
quisitive stranger. 

The Sistrujn and the Sumphonia of the Egyptians 
are two distinct instruments. 

The Sistrum consisted of a long narrow box bent 
in horse-shoe shape, with the two ends fixed into a 
carved handle. Three or four metal rods were run 
through the box in loose sockets. When shaken, 


this instrument produced a harmonious jingling 
quite pleasant to the ear. 

There is, I believe, one reference to this Sistrum 
in Greek, under the title of Siimphonia^ although I 
cannot at this moment recall where the reference is 
to be found. The Greek writer who gave this name 
to the Sistrum, must have used the word before it 
was applied to the Bagpipe, and when it meant 
only a harmonious combination of sounds such as 
the Greek instrument gave forth when struck. 
There is no other connection between Sistrum and 
Bagpipe that I am aware of, and if the Egyptians 
invented the Pipe for themselves, history and tradi- 
tion are silent on the matter. The Greek Bagpipe 
was introduced into Egypt and was made familiar 
to the dwellers in Alexandria and surrounding 
districts by Antiochus among others, and Prudentius, 
the historian {b a.d. 300) informs his readers that 
the Egyptians of his day used this same Pipe to 
lead the soldiers on the battlefield. 

In a magazine article which appeared lately, 
called "Arcadia, the Home of the Bagpipe," the 
writer claims the invention of the Bagpipe for the 
Greeks. This is entirely opposed to the teach- 
ing of the Greek myth which we have been con- 

There, the Bagpipe was the invention of one not 
originally a Greek : it was played on by an outsider, 
the Satyr, Marsyas ; and if Marsyas, as many good 
scholars say, is no other than our old friend Pan, 
the Pipe judge — Midas of the long ears — was also 


an outsider, and Arcadia was certainly not the 
original home of the Bagpipe. 

From what race was the Greek likely to borrow 
the Bagpipe ? The Greeks themselves tell us — and 
who should know so well? — that they borrowed their 
music largely from the Celt. The very fact that both 
Greek and Roman had various designations for Pipe 
and piper, while the Celt had only one, seems to 
me also to point to the latter as the inventor. 

But while I hold, as much more than a "pious 
opinion," that both nations got the Bagpipe from 
the Celt, it would be unfair to say that the Greeks 
and the Romans did not make any attempt to 
invent it for themselves. 

The severe strain upon the piper's cheek and 
lip muscles was realised to be a serious drawback 
by both peoples from a very early period, and the 
" faces " made by the poor players was for long a 
favourite butt with the court jesters. 

To remedy this defect, both the Greeks and the 
Romans hit upon the same plan. Support was 
given to the tired muscles by means of an ingeni- 
ously arranged combination of leather straps, which 
were fastened to the head, and was called by the 
Romans the " little cap." The remedy, however, 
proved worse than the disease. The straps on the 
face were held to be more ludicrous than the blown- 
out cheeks, and, as a matter of fact, the female 
players, who were the best judges in a question of 
beauty, refused to wear the " little cap," and one 
cannot help sympathising with them. 


The invention, then, of this cap, was the two 
great classical nations' sole contribution towards the 
solving of the problem, which the Celtic shepherd 
accomplished by putting the Pipe in a bag. 



T TOW did the Bagpipe first find its way into 
■^ Britain? 

It followed in the footsteps of the Celt. There 
were two main Celtic invasions of Great Britain in 
the early days, with a considerable interval between 
the two, and many minor incursions during the 
centuries that followed. 

There was also, for a long time, a constant going 
and coming carried on between the Celts in their 
new-found island home, and their friends and rela- 
tives who were left behind ; and in this way the 
old traditions and customs peculiar to the race were 
kept alive : they had all things in common, so to 
speak, because the Celt of one tribe shared his 
knowledge with the Celt of another tribe ; and this 
is not difficult to believe, when we remember that in 
those days there were no people so wedded to their 
own ways, so conservative in their habits, or so 
clannish towards each other as the Celtic peoples, 
and none so gifted with imagination or so musical. 
So lasting, indeed, are those racial characteristics, 


that, even to-day, it is possible for a man of great 
authority on the fine arts — like Sir Hubert Parry 
— to say in all sincerity, that in spite of the advances 
which the world has made since the old days of 
Vv^hich we write, the Celtic leaven still leavens the 
lump. "Celtic music," he says, "is the most 
human, the most varied, the most poetical, and the 
most imaginative in the world. " 

While written history then is silent as to the 
precise date of the introduction of the Bagpipe into 
Britain, we need not despair of fixing an approxi- 
mate date for ourselves. There is little doubt that 
it arrived on our shores long before the Roman 
invasion, and this deduction we can safely make, if 
we can prove — which we have already done in the 
preceding chapter — that the Celt knew of the Bag- 
pipe long before the Roman — we are not speaking 
here of its invention — and if we can prove that the 
different Celtic tribes kept in touch with each other 
long after they had broken away from the main 
body. In this latter case, if the Pannonians. or the 
Umbrians, or other Celtic body played on the 
Bagpipe — as history asserts that they did — their 
pipers would spread the custom among the other 
Celtic tribes, if these had not got a knowledge of it 
for themselves at the fountainhead. 

Now, if you examine any good map of the ancient 
world, you will at once see how well Celt kept in 
touch with Celt. You will there find a range of 
Celtic colonies, extending in an almost unbroken 
succession — like so many links in a chain — from 


the shores of the Black Sea to the English Channel, 
so that the different offshoots remained each within 
easy hail of the other, and communication between 
the most distant tribes would be easy and compara- 
tively uninterrupted. 

Along this Celtic chain, the Bagpipe travelled, 
and it is from these same old Celtic resting-places 
that my collection of Bagpipes has been gathered, 
and in these countries to-day, almost without excep- 
tion, the Bagpipe still flourishes, And, indeed, I 
have found this combination of Celt and Bagpipe 
so persistent, that I have come to say, "Tell me 
where the old Celt settled, and I will tell you where 
to look for the Bagpipe." 

The Pipe, after spreading over the greater part of 
Europe, had at first a very chequered career, more 
especially in the large centres of population, for it 
was ever a favourite with the scattered pastoral 
peoples. It was, in fact, a useful weapon to the 
shepherd, and all but indispensable, because "As 
sheepe love pyping, therefore shepherdes use the 
Pypes when they walk with their sheepe." But in 
the town, fickle fashion ruled, and as the Pipe's 
main use was now to while away time for the 
"Weary Willies" of society, it had its continual 
ups and downs, now basking in the sunshine of 
royalty, now treated as a pariah and an outcast. 

It is not our intention to deal here with the 
many ups and downs which fell to the lot of the 
Bagpipe during its long career, but we would only 
remark, that the higher the wave of popularity on 


which it was borne, the deeper was the succeeding 
trough of neglect into which it fell. Take the 
following — one example out of many — in illustration 
of this. When at the height of its fame in the 
seventh and eighth centuries, the Bagpipe might 
be heard at all important games and high festivals 
throughout Europe — wherever, in short, men were 
gathered together, even when the gathering was one 
of war; but from the ninth to the eleventh centuries 
the same instrument — without rhyme or reason per- 
ceptible — fell into complete disuse, and was almost 
unheard of in town or court. The usual revival 
followed this long period of repose, beginning in the 
eleventh century, and continuing well on into the 
thirteenth century, in the early years of which an 
event took place which had ultimately an important 
influence upon the Bagpipe in France. 

In a secluded valley far away among the mountains, 
a little boy was born of humble parents. Colin 
Muset was his name. As he grew up he developed 
a genius for piping, and soon far outstripped his 
only teachers — the poor shepherds around. Stories 
of the boy's marvellous playing leaked out, and at 
length reached the court of France, and the ears 
of the king himself, who sent for Colin, and find- 
ing that his skill was even greater than report had 
made it out to be, offered him a post of honour in 
the royal household, which Colin accepted. 

And here, surrounded by the royal favour, he 
lived and taught, and made popular the Pipe, and 
was loaded with honours and riches. There is no 


doubt that Muset was a piper of note. He was the 
MacCrimmon of the thirteenth century. He also 
made great improvements in the construction of the 
Bagpipe, altering the scale and improving the reeds, 
and he is said to have been the first inventor of the 

Another great revival took place about the time 
of the Louis' — Louis XIV. and XV. During these 
two monarchs' reigns, a regular craze for piping and 
the pastoral life spread like an epidemic through- 
out Europe — kings and queens neglecting the affairs 
of State, and shutting up their palaces, retired with 
their courts to some sweet, sylvan glade, far removed 
from the busy haunts of men, and putting themselves 
on an equality with their subjects, competed with 
them as shepherds and shepherdesses ; each fair 
lady, in quaint, rustic fashion, striving to be more 
beautifully dressed than the other, while their royal 
lovers competed with each other upon the Shepherd's 
Pipe. The Pipe was the little Bellows- Pipe or 

Here they led the simplest of lives — a healthy, 
bracing life — during the summer months. With no 
shelter from the storm but the spreading bough of 
the greenwood tree, and no bed but the soft, warm 
moss, and no covering but the forest leaves, and no 
roof but the blue vault of heaven : with no food but 
the simple fruits which the earth produced, and the 
warm, frothing goat's milk, fresh from the pail, and 
the clear water from the purling brook — the only 
wine with which they quenched their thirst — an ideal 



life was lived, while, for a time, the burdens of State 
and the cares of society were left to look after 
themselves. Pastoral plays, written for the occasion, 
were enacted nightly, and pastoral music for the 
Bagpipe was composed in spates. 

Their duties over for the day, these amateur 
shepherds filled in their spare time with piping and 
dancing. An artificial life, it might be in many 
ways, but a charming one. 

This revival reached its height in the reicrns of 
Louis XIV. and Louis XV., only to be followed 
once again by a gradual decline, which has lasted 
in France and the Continent to the present day, 
leaving traces, however, which are still apparent in 
the different countries, of the influence the Pipe once 
wielded over men's lives. 

In Germany, for example, although the Bagpipe 
is now all but confined to the museums, it has 
been perpetuated on canvas in the sixteenth cen- 
tury by the great painter, Albert Durer, among 
others, and immortalised in stone at Nuremberg, 
etc. Albert Durer's picture is too well known to 
require further notice here. His piper, short 
kirtled to the knee, might well pass for a kilted 

At Nuremberg there is a fountain which is over 
three hundred years old, surmounted by a life-size 
piper, dressed in his old minstrel's cloak, with a 
one-drone Bagpipe on which he is playing, thrown 
over his shoulder, and through its chanter the sweet 
clear waters have flowed all these years. 

The Hungarian Bagpipe : 

A one-droned Pipe bought in Buda-Pesth. 


I shew here a Bagpipe from Buda-Pesth ; a poor, 
feeble, one-drone Pipe, reeded with straws, serving only 
to show that the Hungarians were once acquainted 
with it, and that it can have made little or no 
advance in their hands for hundreds of years. In 
Bulgaria — part of old Pannonia — the Pipe might 
still almost be called the national instrument, and 
is very common. It, too, is a very rude and 
homely instrument, although much superior to the 
Hungarian. The set of Bulgarian *' Pipes" shewn 
is distinguished by the peculiar leaden crook at 
the end of the chanter, and by the lead orna- 
mentation, which is only to be found in this country 
on very old Bagpipes. In France piping still goes 
on in one or two places, but the days of its glory 
have long since fled — days recalled to our memory 
as we wander through the picture galleries of Paris, 
by the frequent brush of the artist, who loved to 
depict pastoral life in the old days, with the piper 
always presiding over the dance. 

Chaliimeau was the French name for the Shepherd's 
Bagpipe, but the Bellows-Pipe they named Musette. 
I have three different forms of French Bagpipe, 
which are photographed here. The first two — one 
from Auvergne, the other from Bretagne — are blown 
by the mouth — the third is the famous Musette, or 
Bellows-Pipe of France, and is made entirely of 
ivory, with silver keys attached to the chanter, 
which has two octaves ; the Pipe has six drones. 

The first Pipe — the French Shepherd's Pipe or 
Chalumeau — came to me in rather a nice way. 


You will notice that it has a drone placed along- 
side of the chanter, like its next neighbour, the 
Brittany Pipe ; but it has also a second drone, 
inserted i;separately into the bag — evidently an 
after-thought on the part of its possessor. It is made 
of ebony and ivory, and a kind of spotted cane. The 
termination of the chanter is quite peculiar, and is 
an exact miniature, in bone, of the end of the large 
Calabrian pipe. The decoration is of lead, and 
a small mirror inserted into the stock is very 
" Frenchy " in appearance. 

This curious little Pipe is evidently in a transi- 
tional stage. The original drone is the one which 
lies alongside the chanter, where the drone in early 
days was always placed. The advantage, however, 
of having the drone removed where it would not 
interfere with the fingering was evidently apparent 
to its owner, but his conservatism prevented him 
from altering the old arrangement, and so he simply 
added on a second drone. 

I said above that this French Bagpipe came to 
me in rather a nice way. It also came with quite 
an interesting story attached. 

Mademoiselle D was a Frenchwoman, endowed 

with all that vivacity and nameless charm which is 
so characteristic of her race. 

She had lived long enough in Edinburgh to learn 
something of the Highlander, from frequently seeing 
detachments of Highland soldiers marching in and 
out of the Castle. She told me that she loved the 
kilt, and adored the Bagpipe. I had the honour and 

A very old specimen ot 

A Two-Drone French Chalumeau 

From Avignon, in France. 
The g-ift of Mademoiselle D'Artout. 


pleasure of finishing her Highland education, by 
teaching her some Highland quicksteps. 

One day when shewing her my collection of 
Pipes, I pointed out to her the French Musette, 
with its beautiful ivory chanter, and its ivory case of 
drones, and she was astonished as well as gratified 
to think that the French had such beautiful "Pipes" 
in the old days. But she was more astonished to be 
told that the Bagpipe was still played in France. 

"But no!" she said. "But yes!" I answered. 
"In Picardy among other places, and in Brittany, 
and," I suggested, "probably also in Auvergne, where 
we are told that the purest Celtic race of to-day exists." 

" Ah ! " she said, " I may be going back to France 
some day, to the district of Auvergne, and I will 
listen for the Pipe. I promised long long ago, to go 
back if ever my old nurse's daughter should happen 
to get married, and she is now quite grown up." 

In the following year, the expected wedding took 
place in Avignon, south of Auvergne. Mademoiselle 

D , true to her promise, was there ; and when she 

returned, she brought back with her the little Bag- 
pipe, with the two drones, which you see in the 

Her story of the marriage reads like a description 
of an old Highland wedding. The bride's and bride- 
groom's parties came down from the hills in two 
separate processions, meeting for the first time that 
day at the church door. The one was headed by a 
fiddler, and the other by a piper. As Mademoiselle 
D walked up to the church where the wedding 


was to be held, the first thing she heard was the 
sound of the '* Pipes" ; her delight was unbounded. 

So, when the ceremony was finished in church, she 
spoke to the piper, and arranged with him to buy the 
Bagpipe, and take possession of it after the festivities 
were over. She also saw, at the dance, two little tin 
plates being handed round. The collections were for 
the musicians. The whole scene, in short, as related 

to me by Mademoiselle D , reminded me of the 

weddings of my boyhood's days. 

The invention of the bellows, as an adjunct to the 
Bagpipe, spread to other countries from France : 
unless, indeed, it was invented independently by 
each of these, which is very improbable. 

The Bellows-Pipe found its way into Germany, 
Austria, Hungary, Roumania, and other countries 
by the banks of the Danube. 

It also penetrated into England, Lowland Scot- 
land, and Ireland; but the barrier of the Grampians 
stayed its further course in Scotland. It proved a 
costly innov^ation — as all so-called improvements have 
done, and are likely to do — by, for one thing, lessen- 
ing its usefulness ; and there followed, in the track of 
this improvement, the inevitable decline, and gradual 
disappearance of this emasculated instrument, until 
to-day it is little more than a thing of the past. 

A ship's captain from Falkirk, who sailed regularly 
to the Black Sea, and who promised to look out for 
foreign " Pipes" for my collection, met a Roumanian 
piper one day, playing upon a Bellows Pipe in 
Bucharest, but being very Scottish, he did not 


recognise it as a Bagpipe at all, because it was not 
blown by the mouth. 

The reason for the decay of the Bellows Pipe is 
not far to seek : what it gains in sweetness, it loses 
in power ; and it is no longer, as I said before, a 
useful instrument. With its correct sharps and flats, 
and its numerous keys, giving the scale a greater 
range of notes, it lends itself to other than Pipe 
music, and is thus at once brought into competition 
with more precise, more powerful, and more modern 
instruments ; and it fails naturally, in the inevitable 
contest, to hold its own. 

It has died out in France and Germany, and on 
the Continent, with the exception, perhaps, of 
Roumania. It certainly still lingers on in these 
Islands; in Northumberland, in Aberdeenshire, and 
in one or two parts of Ireland ; but it has long lost 
the power to excite the admiration and enthusiasm 
of men, as the good old-fashioned, old-world High- 
land mouth-blown Pipe does. 

We shall now quit the Continent — sketchy and 
altogether incomplete as our remarks on its Bagpipes 
have been — and devote the remaining portion of this 
book to the Pipe in Great Britain, and, above all, 
to the King of Bagpipes — the great War Pipe of 
the Highlands. 

It would require several chapters to do justice to 
the History of the Bagpipe in England ; but a few 
lines must suffice here. 

The earliest reference to the English Pipe is one 
in an illuminated manuscript entitled " St. Graal," 


written in the thirteenth century. The Piper is drawn 
with the bag held in front of him, as it always was 
held at first — the chorus has the bag not only carried 
in front, but held clear of the body of the player, 
according to one writer — there are tivo chanters^ and 
one large bell-mouthed drone attached to the bag. 

The Celt in England refusing, like his brother 
Celt in Scotland, to bow the knee to the invader, 
was driven back slowly into the marshlands of 
Wessex and the fens of Lincolnshire, and across 
the borders into Wales and Scotland, where for many 
a long day he was able to keep the foe at bay. 
Here he lived the old life, keeping up the old 
customs which he had refused to give up at the 
bidding of the world, and the old music : and it is 
from these places of refuge that the Celts' special 
instrument, the Bagpipe, emerges later on. 

Having once made its appearance, however, 
it soon became one of the most popular of instru- 
ments in England ; for we find the piper installed 
at the English court as an honourable member 
of the king's household as early as the fourteenth 

The Bagpipe was also much sought after by the 
officers of the English navy in days gone by ; and 
this partiality of the English sailor for the "Pipes" 
was continued as late as the seventeenth century, 
when notices were to be seen all over the country, 
calling upon pipers to join the navy. To-day, the 
old custom still survives, and there are pipers on 
board several of H.M. battleships. Lord Charles 

A Beautiful Specimen of the French Chalumeau 

Made in the 17th Century. From the Basque Country. 
Presented to the Author by Mr Sutherland of Solsgirth. 

A Beautiful Specimen ot 

The Musette, 


French Bagpipe of the 17TH Century. 

This Pipe is made entirely of ivory, and has got a chanter of two octaves. 
The drones, five in number, are enclosed in an ivory case, like the old shuttle- 
pipe of Northumberland. 



Beresford had the well-known piper, M'Crae, with 
him in the Mediterannean when in command of the 
fleet there, a few years ago. The sailor finds 
no instrument more to his taste when dancing 
" Jack-a-Tar," and no music trips more sweetly off the 
chanter than "The Sailor's Hornpipe." 

The Bagpipe was never, so far as we can deter- 
mine, used by the English as a war instrument on 
land. They used it, however, as a peace instru- 
ment in religious services very generally at one time. 

A piper frequently made one of the church choir; 
and Chaucer, who makes the first literary reference 
to the Pipe in England, tells us that a bagpiper 
— what more fitting companion could the saints 
have? — marched, or rode, in front of the bands of 
pilgrims on their way to some favourite shrine — a 
frequent sight in those days — cheering on the weary- 
footed with his gay music. 

-Chaucer's picture of the lusty miller puffing and 
blowing on the Bagpipe, and rousing lone echoes 
on the dusty road as he heads the long line of 
pilgrims, marching from Southwark to Canterbury, 
and Beckett's shrine, will live as long as the English 
language itself. 

Not only was the Bagpipe used in religious services 
in early England, but the priest was himself occasion- 
ally a piper. Brand, in his "Popular Antiquities," 
says : "I know a priest — this is a true tale that I 
tell you, and no lye — which, when any of his friends 
should be married, would take his Backe-Pype and 
so fetch them to church, playing sweetly afore them: 


and then he would lay his instrument handsomely on 
the aultare till he had married them and said masse: 
which thing being done, he would gently bring 
them home again with Backe-Pype." 

Let me finish this quaint picture of the olden 
times, and at the same time shew how similar were 
the customs in Scotland, by giving you a Scotch 
story of a priest, who was also a piper, and not 
afraid to use the Bagpipe on solemn occasions. 

The Rev. Mr M 'Donald, of Ferintosh, was a 
famous piper in his day. He, however, began his 
ministrations as piper where his English brother 
left off. He did not play the company to church, 
but after he had married the couple, and got the 
company safely back to the hall of feastings, he 
would take up his Bagpipe and play to the dancers 
until a certain hour, -which he first fixed upon, 
when he would send the people home to bed, locking 
the door behind him, so that they could not renew 
the festivities when his back was turned, even if so 

Not many years ago the pipers of a Highland 
regiment took part in the performance of a sacred 
cantata in York Cathedral, and their playing had 
a beautiful effect, according to the reports in the 
daily papers, and was much admired by the English 

Shakespeare, Spencer, Milton, and several other 
great writers, also mention the Bagpipe in England. 
From drawings of the time, we learn that the Pipe 
was composed at first of a simple chanter, or of a 

The Northumbrian Small Pipes : 

The gfift of Mr Marshall, Newcastle-on-Tyne. 


chanter and one drone, similar to the Scotch and 
Irish Pipe of the same period. 

There are engravings of the Bagpipe in many 
parts of England, as, for example, on a screen at 
Oxford, of date, 1403; in Henry VII. 's chapel; at 
Cirencester, Hull, Beverly, and many other places. 
In Exeter Cathedral there is a carving in stone of 
the choir, with a piper in their midst. The date is 
the fourteenth century. 

The Drone Pipe, as it was called, was in use in 
Lincolnshire until quite recently. It was also in use 
in Northumberland until the middle of last century, 
when it was superseded by the Northumbrian or 
"Small Pipe." 

The form of Northumbrian Pipe which I shew on the 
opposite page, has a closed chanter, and is quite pecu- 
liar to Northumberland. It is, in fact, the only example 
of the closed chanter in the world. This form of Pipe 
is a great improvement upon the older Pipe, with open 
chanter, a specimen of which I also shew here. 

The open chanter is an older form of instrument 
than the closed chanter, and is at best but a poor 
peepy-weepy sort of Pipe. 

As a writer in 1796 says — " It slurs the notes, 
which is unavoidable from the remarkable smallness 
of the chanter — not exceeding eight inches in 
length — for which reason the holes are so near each 
other that it is with difficulty they can be closed, so 
that in the hands of a bad player they (sic) 
become the most shocking and unintelligible instru- 
ment imaginable." 


The modern Northumbrian Pipe, with chanter 
closed at the bottom, is free from these defects, as 
it plays all its tunes in the way called by the Italians 
staccato, and cannot slur at all. 

Both these Pipes — the last survivals of the Bag- 
pipe in England — are, I need hardly say. Bellows 

The drones in Northumbrian Pipes are sometimes 
enclosed in a case, like that of the French Musette, 
and the Pipe is then known as the Shuttle Pipe. 

The Bagpipe at one time occupied an important 
place in the Irish economy also. 

It was the war instrument of the Kernes and was 
a two-drone instrument in the sixteenth century ; it 
was blown by the mouth, and was identical in every 
way with the old Northumbrian and Scotch Bagpipe. 

The Irish piper, also, was a man held in high 
esteem, and ranking as a gentleman. 

The story of M'Donel, the Irish piper, is said to 
be quite authentic. 

When he went abroad he had his horse to carry 
himself to the place of entertainment, and a servant 
to carry his Pipe. 

One day a gentleman who was having a large 
company to dinner engaged M'Donel's services to 
entertain his guests. 

With more than questionable taste, considering 
the standing of the piper, he had a table and a 
bottle of wine on it, and a chair set for him on the 
landing, outside the dining-room door. 

The piper's pride was roused when he saw the 

The Great Irish Pipe 

With double bass regulator and 27 keys. 

This Pipe is made of ebony and ivory with brass mountings, and was said to 
have been a gift from the late Queen Victoria to one Ferguson, a blind piper in 


reception prepared for him; so quickly filling his glass, 
he stepped into the room and drank off the wine, 
saying — "Mr Grant, your health and company." 

'' There, my lad, he said to the servant appointed 
to wait upon him, " is two shillings for my bottle of 
wine, and a sixpence for yourself." 

He then mounted his horse and rode off in state. 

But, with the adoption of the bellows by the Irish 
piper a rapid decline in public estimation came 
about ; and to-day there is not one piper of any note 
in all the Green Isle. I shew here several different 
forms of Irish Pipe, which explain themselves better 
than I could do. 

The large set, with no fewer than twenty-seven 
keys on it, is said to have been a presentation by 
late Queen Victoria to one Ferguson, a blind piper, 
who played in and out of the large hotels in Dublin 
in the early part of last century. Such a Pipe would 
cost anything from ;^30 to ;^5o and upwards, and 
it came to be known as the Irish Organ. When 
played on as an organ, the chanter was put out of 
use by having the neck of the bag twisted tightly, 
and the piper devoted both hands to the keys of 
the regulators. 




"Who being- a Gentleman, I should have mentioned sooner."— 
Burt's Letters, 1730. 

T KNOW no man," writes J. M. Barrie, " who 
is so capable on occasion of looking like twenty 
as a Highland piper." 

Dr M'Culloch, who wrote nearly one hundred 
years earlier, says the same thing, but in somewhat 
different fashion. 

" The very sight of the important personage, — the 
piper — the eye of pride, and the cheek of energy, 
the strut of defiance, and the streaming of the 
pennons over the shoulder, form in themselves an 
inspiriting sight." 

No book on the Bagpipe would be complete 
which did not devote a chapter to the piper. 

The piper, as Captain Burt said, was a Gentleman 
in the old days, and a very important member of the 
clan. None was more useful than he in piping 
times of peace ; none more in evidence when the 
glen resounded to the tocsin of war. The clan piper 
was frequently a cousin or near relative of the chief's, 


and held his lands in fee simple, and never needed 
to soil his hands with manual labour. 

He was often an educated man, and a much- 
travelled one, as it was his duty to follow his chief 
to the wars. 

He was welcome in the best company, and was 
treated as an equal by the gentlemen of the clan, 
and had every reason for holding his head high, and 
"looking like twenty." 

His house was generally superior to his neigh- 
bour's : his croft, too, was much larger than the 
ordinary croft. The lands on Boreraig, in Skye, 
held for several generations by the MacCrimmons, 
pipers to M'Leod of M'Leod, is now divided, if I 
am not mistaken, into seven crofts, supporting seven 

A general who had been through the late war in 
South Africa, speaking in public recently, said that, 
next to being a general, he would be a bugler boy. 
Well, if I had my choice, I would, next to being the 
king's physician, be a piper in a Highland regi- 
ment, or — if it were only possible — the clan piper in 
the olden days. 

The stately carriage of the piper in times gone by 
was proverbial. The blow-pipe, which was at first 
very short, and is so still in all other Bagpipes, was 
lengthened by the Highlander to allow of the 
piper marching with head erect. 

And why shouldn't he carry himself with a proud 
air? He could look back upon a long line of 
ancestors, who gained by their own skill the reward 


due to it, and whose courage on the battlefield has 
never been questioned. 

Leaving out of account the three pipers of royal 
birth — Antiochus of Syria, Nero of Rome, and King 
"Jamie," the poet king of Scotland — there is still 
much to be proud of from the piper's point of view, 
and the remaining records have quite a respectable 
air of antiquity. 

The very first piper mentioned in Scottish history 
is already, i.e.^ in 1362, a member of the king's 
household. He is also of high rank in the 
household — some seventh or so, if we are to 
judge by his position at the Welsh and English 

When trying to estimate the antiquity of the 
Bagpipe in Scotland, it is important to remember 
this fact, that the piper, early in the fourteenth 
century, was already a man of mark, the associate 
of men of birth and education, he himself being 
probably the most learned of the lot. 

For it is not a matter of conjecture that the 
piper was thus early assuming the duties of 
the minstrel, just as the minstrel had previously 
usurped the duties of the bard. 

Now, when we remember how men devoted half 
a lifetime, and more, to the acquiring of the special 
knowledge without which they could not become 
bards, and that to this we must add the weary years 
devoted to the piper's special calling, it will be seen 
that his education was no sham but very real, and 
there is little doubt that King David's piper owed 

The Piper in Camp : 

" A quiet afternoon." 


his influence in the royal household as much to his 
general knowledge as to his skill in piping. At 
court he was the " Poet Laureate" — the composer 
and singer of songs, the reciter of old-world tales, 
the storehouse of ancient traditions, the repositor of 
genealogies — a royal almanac, in short, consulted by 
high and low. With an unbridled tongue, licensed 
to speak the thoughts which came uppermost, no man 
was safe from its lash, not even royalty itself ; and 
it is on record that old King Hal once put out the 
eyes of a minstrel who ventured for the second time, 
after full warning, to lampoon his sacred person. 

Combining the duties of bard and of minstrel in his 
own person, the piper-bard stood forth on the battle- 
field as a separate entity, wielding more influence 
over the fortunes of the fight with his impassioned 
War Song than twenty good claymores. To offend 
so powerful a personage was to waken up some fine 
morning and find oneself famous in scathing epigram 
or humorous verse — the laughing-stock of the world — 
a kind of celebrity which the real Highlander even 
to-day dreads and avoids like the plague. 

The Clan piper never carried the Bagpipe himself; 
to do so would be considered menial : this custom 
he brought down with him from the golden age of 
minstrelsy. He never handled the " Pipes," except 
when playing on it, and had a boy ( gille-piobaire ) 
to carry it for him. When finished playing, he 
handed it back to the gille^ or, as one writer affirms, 
"threw down the Pipe disdainfully on the ground," 
to make it clear to his audience that any merit in the 



performance was due to the player, and not to the 

Is it likely, then, that the Piper, if he came from 
the outside — from England, as Mr M'Bain says — 
would be found, immediately on his arrival, in this 
exalted position of king's Piper? What could a 
stranger know of the minstrel's or bard's duties at 
the Scottish Court? 

If it is a far cry from the little soft -voiced 
shepherd's Pipe, made of " ane reid and ane bleddir," 
to the great, loud-sounding king of war instruments, 
it is also, I should say, a far cry from the shepherd's 
cot, the birthplace of the Pipe in the Highlands, as 
elsewhere, to the king's palace, where we find it 
naturalised in 1362. 

We have a good example of the slow growth of 
the Bagpipe in the Bulgarian or Spanish Pipe, which 
is as crude and primitive to-day as it was in the days 
of the Romans ; and common sense surely asserts 
that the Piper's skill could only keep pace with the 
improvement of the instrument, and was of no mush- 
room growth, nor the work of one generation, but 
of many. 

Let those therefore, who argue that the Bagpipe 
is a late introduction in the Highlands explain the 
post of king's Piper, already instituted in the four- 
teenth century, and explain how Poibaireachd, that 
most complicated and classical species of music, was 
so speedily evolved, by the early Piper in the High- 
lands, out of his new-fangled Pipe — almost as soon, 
indeed, as he had fingered the chanter. 


Captain Burt's story, mentioned previously, is so 
apropos to the Piper and his claim to the title of 
musician, that we quote it here in full. 

The incident mentioned happened about 1720, 
nearly 200 years ago. 

•' The captain of one of the Highland companies," 
writes the gallant Englishman, "entertained me 
some time ago at Stirling with an account of a dispute 
tha'- happened in his corps about precedency. This 
officer, among the rest, had received orders to add 
a drum to his Bagpipe as a military instrument ; for 
the Pipe was to be retained, because the Highland- 
men could hardly he brought to march without it. 
Now the contest between the drummer and the piper 
arose about the post of honour, and at length the 
contention grew exceedingly hot, which the captain 
having notice of, he called them both before him, 
and in the end decided the matter in favour of the 
drum, whereupon the piper remonstrated very warmly 
— " Ads wuds, sir," says he, " and shall a little rascal 
that beats upon a sheepskin take the right haund of 
me, that am a musician!" 

The two jolly captains, one or both English, made 
merry over the piper's claim to be called a musician, 
because they were ignorant of the history of the 
piper, and of the long and severe training he had to 
submit to before he became a finished piper. Other- 
wise they must have known that the piper had 
authority and custom on his side. The piper, at all 
events, was not afraid to remonstrate warmly with 
his superior officer on the injustice of the decision 


come to : he respected himself if no one else did, 
and carried his head high accordingly. 

Six or seven hundred years ago, we learn from old 
records, the piper belonged to the Guild of Min- 
strelsy. And why was he admitted to this close 
corporation ? Because he was a musician ! On two 
occasions, at least, history informs us that the king's 
permission was granted to his piper to go over the 
seas to study music. 

This guild was a very powerful body, with 
branches all over Europe. 

It had courts, appointed by royal charter, at the 
different centres ; these being managed by regular 

The head officer was called Le Roi, or king, and 
he was assisted by four officers. 

These courts had jurisdiction over the members, 
dealing out fines and imprisonments, and the mem- 
bers could elect to be tried by these courts for any 
misdemeanours short of murder or serious crime. 
They were elected every year with great ceremony, 
and existed down to the end of the seventeenth 

Many privileges were granted by successive 
sovereigns to the members of this guild, until it 
became overweaning in its pride. The heads of the 
order always rode on horseback, and had each a 
servant to carry his instrument, whether harp. Bag- 
pipe, viol, crowd, or fiddle, as the case might be. 

Large sums of money were given to them when 
they had to appear at court in connection with some 


great function, such as a royal marriage ; and many 
enjoyed annuities from the king. 

They had the right of entry into the king's palace, 
and — by implication — into the knight's castle, and 
claimed as a right both meat and drink and a bed 
from gentle or simple wherever they went. 

There are many entries in the Exchequer Rolls of 
Scodand which shew that English pipers frequently 
appeared before the king at Linlithgow Palace and 

Some people have arguod from this that the Bag- 
pipe was not much known in Scotland, or there 
would be no need for English pipers at the Scottish 
court. But these frequent appearances simply shew 
that, although Englishmen, yet, as members of the 
Guild of Minstrelsy, these pipers claimed, and were 
not denied, *'the right of entering into the king's 
palace." And the Scottish minstrels as frequently 
returned the compliment by visiting the English 

The leading members of the guild — for there were 
graduations of rank, all of which were known by their 
dress — were distinguished by a specially beautiful 
short mantle and hood made of the finest materials, 
and embellished in the most extravagant manner 
with rich embroideries. 

One writer, a poet, who was evidently left out in 
the cold by the guild, and jealous in consequence, 
advises knights to dress more plainly, as in their fine 
feathers they are apt to be mistaken for minstrels. 


" Now Ihei beth disgysed 
So diverselych i-dig-ht, 
That no man may know 
A mynstrel from a knight 
Well my : 
So is meekness fait a down 
And pride aryse on hye." 

The pride here complained of by the poor poet was 

soon to have a fall, when, unfortunately for him, the 

ranks of the starving poets would be still further 

augmented ; but not just yet. 

It took many repressive enactments by successive 
sovereigns before the once powerful guild was 
stripped of power and pride of place. 

On one occasion, at least, a minstrel rode into the 
royal presence unmolested. Here is the statement of 
the fact. 

"When Edward II. this year (1316) solemnised the 
Feast of Pentecost, and sat at table in the great hall 
of Westminster, attended by the peers of the realm, 
a certain woman dressed in the habit of a minstrel^ 
riding on a great horse ^ trapped in the minstrel 
fashion^ entered the hall, and going round the several 
tables, acting the part of a minstrel, at length mounted 
the steps to the royal table, on which she deposited 
a letter. Having done this, she turned her horse, 
and saluting all the company, she departed." On 
the doorkeepers being remonstrated with for admit- 
ting a lady, they replied "that it never was the custom 
of the king's palace to deny admission to minstrels, 
especially on such high solemnities and feast days." 

The minstrel's cloak and the minstrel's trappings 


on the horse evidently rendered the bold rider 
inviolate, etiquette assenting. 

We also read in an early Irish record, of date 1024, 
that " the piper in Ireland had the right of entry into 
the king's house by night or day, and the privilege of 
drinking of the king's beer." 

In the Scottish Exchequer Rolls there are numerous 
payments to pipers and other minstrels, not always 
princely in amount ; and an idea has got abroad that 
these pipers were badly paid. 

I have said before that they were better paid than 
were the priests, and the following account shews 
how handsomely the minstrel was paid at times, and 
how high he stood in the esteem of the great and 

In the year 1290, two of England's royal daughters 
got married — one in May, the other in July. 

To both ceremonies came minstrels from many 
countries, playing upon many instruments. 

On the first occasion 426 minstrels attended, includ- 
ing three " Roys," or kings — viz., King Grey of 
England, King de Champaigne from France, and 
King Cawpenny from Scotland. 

The bridegroom presented a sum equal to ;^i500 
of our money to be distributed among the minstrels, 
each of the kings receiving ;^50 as his share. 

On the second occasion there were six kings. 
These included our three friends above mentioned, 
now designated as " Le Roy Robert," **Le Roy de 
Champaigne," and *' Le Roy Cawpenny" — the latter 
a characteristic name surely for a Scotchman. Each 


of the six kings received the same sum again of 

In all, on this occasion some ;^3000 of our money 
was distributed amongst the minstrels. 

Now, many people always associate the harp, and 
the harp alone, with the minstrel ; but the term is a 
generic one, and means a musician — a musician of 
any sort. 

The word "harper," in the same way, grew in 
time to mean any musician ; and so the harper's seat 
in Mull, and the harper's croft : and the harper's 
window at Duntulin, in Skye, probably applied 
equally well to the piper or the fiddler, and does not 
necessarily mean that harpers, as distinguished from 
pipers or fiddlers, filled these seats. 

In England, of course, the harp, which was an 
Anglo-Saxon instrument, and the favourite one, was 
the constant companion of the minstrel there, and thus 
got so closely associated with his calling in people's 
minds that minstrel and harper became synonymous 
terms. And the following three incidents, which I 
mention to shew the great immunity accorded to the 
minstrel in the olden times by friend and foe alike, 
and which happened to the Saxon, centre naturally 
round the Saxon weapon, the harp. 

Every one is familiar with the story of King Alfred 
and the harp? of how he once played the harper or 
minstrel, and passed through the Danish camp in his 
disguise, unmolested ; and of how afterwards he 
turned to good account the secrets which he picked 
up from the Danes. 


But there is a much earlier instance of the same 
kind, which occurred somewhat as follows, about 
450 A.D. 

Colgrin, the leader of the Saxons, was besieged by 
the British in the town of York. 

He had agreed to surrender on a certain day if no 
help came to him, as the water supply had been cut 
off, and the food supplies were running terribly short, 
and he had all but lost hope of some expected 

At this juncture his brother, who was the bearer of 
news from the outside, came boldly up to the British 
lines, having first, however, '■^shaved his head and 
face, and assumed the minstrel's cloak." In this 
disguise he passed up and down through the British 
lines singing and playing to the unsuspecting 
soldiers. When night arrived he got into the moat 
and played an air, which was immediately under- 
stood by the soldiers inside the fortifications. By 
means of ropes he was lifted over the wall, and gave 
his brother the joyful news that reinforcements were 
on the way, and would be at the gates in three 

All idea of surrender was then over, and the British 
had ultimately to raise the siege. This story would 
lead one to infer that the minstrel in the fifth century 
shaved in a peculiar fashion to distinguish him from 
the common crowd, as well as wore the minstrel's 

The third incident is perhaps better known, because 
of the flavour of romance with which the two central 


figures are surrounded. The story of Blondel's suc- 
cessful adventure in quest of King Richard has 
always been a favourite tale with the English people. 
During one of the many wars waged by England on 
the Continent, Richard was taken prisoner, and his 
captors managed to smuggle him away so secretly that 
none of his friends, although they hunted "'high and 
low," could learn of his whereabouts. His faithful 
minstrel continued the search after all the rest had 
given up hope of ever finding the king. With his 
harp for sole companion, he visited every keep and 
stronghold on the road, and under the frowning walls 
of each he sang always the first verse of a song which 
had been a favourite of the imprisoned monarch, and 
waited often and wearily for the reply, which seemed 
as if it would never come. But one day — the day of 
days it was ever after to the brave and patient Blondel 
— out through barred window floated the second verse 
of the song in the well-known and beloved voice of 
his lord and master ; and the faithful harper's search 
was at an end. 

This story shews that the minstrel's cloak was a 
protection to its wearer in foreign countries, as well 
as at home ; and as far back as history goes we find 
the same sense of security nestling under its xg'is, 
and the same honour and respect accorded the 
wearer of it. 

These three stories — and I could give many more 
such — point to the delight with which music inspired 
the early inhabitants of these islands ; but nothing 
can shew how great was the respect accorded to the 


musician in those days better than the story of 
Blondel, which also demonstrates that the enemy's 
country, and even the enemy's camp, /;/ times of war ^ 
were open to the visits of the man with the shaved 
head and the minstrel's cloak. 

But, again, the minstrel took a much higher stand- 
ing in the estimation of the people than the priest; 
and we have seen that he was better paid. It was in 
these early days that the seed of strife was sewn 
between piper and priest, as the priest naturally grew 
jealous of the attentions paid the piper. When the 
glory passed away from the guild, and its member- 
ship no longer protected the piper, and he was classed 
with the "vagabond," then did the priest, who was 
rapidly acquiring fresh power, and a big hold over 
the people, do everything in his power to stamp out 
the poor musician who had so long robbed him of 
fat fees. 

And what the Roman Catholic priest began so 
well in the South in the fifteenth century, the 
Free Church priest in the Highlands finished 
handsomely in the nineteenth century; so that it is 
no uncommon experience to meet with Highlanders 
to-day in Argyleshire and Inverness-shire — I speak 
of the two counties which I know best — who shut 
their ears in horror (or pretended horror !) — at the 
sound of the Bagpipe, and call the piper "a bad 
man." So much for the teaching of the Free 
Church. This may seem an exaggerated statement 
to make, but it is, alas ! sober truth, to which 
many can testify, and is in accord with my own 


experience, gained during many holiday wanderings 
through the Highlands and Islands. 

Only last June I was staying in one of the smaller 
Western Islands, and there I became acquainted with 
one, Mrs M'Phee, a decent, God-fearing woman, 
albeit a little gloomy and severe, and with Highland 
manners which could not be improved upon, who 
looked after our golf clubs. On the last day of my 
stay in the island, feeling that the modest fee charged 
by her for cleaning the clubs was rather less than 
her due, I took my Bagpipe, and accompanied by 
a friend, started off to walk to her house, which was 
almost two miles from the hotel. 

She lived in a very lonely spot, with no neigh- 
bours near, and I felt sure that a tune on the 
"Pipes" would be welcome, and would cheer her 
up a bit. When I told her of my mission, she — 
to my utter amazement — told me that she did not 
want to hear the "Pipes." "No! no! whateffer." 
At first I believed that she was only bashful, and 
began to play, but she soon undeceived me by her 
behaviour, and shewed that she was in deadly 
earnest. Her face grew black as night, and the 
children, who crowded behind her, as she stood in 
the doorway and struggled to get a peep at the 
" piper," she drove back into the house with strong 
Gaelic epithets. While I struggled along, piping 
under these adverse circumstances, Mrs M'Phee 
entered into a long and earnest talk with my friend, 
paying no attention whatever to poor me. 

My performance otherwise was received with 


chilly silence, and when I had finished there was 
not one word of thanks forthcoming. It was not 
in the cheeriest of moods that I walked to the 

links for my last game, and on the road, Mr 

repeated the conversation that he had had with 
Mrs M'Phee, or rather which Mrs M'Phee had had 
with him, for she did all the talking, the while I 
inwardly blessed the cause of it all. 

She told him that she did not approve of the Bag- 
pipes, or of any secular music '' whateffer," and 
looked upon all such as part of the devil's wiles 
to draw away people's thoughts from heaven, and 
all that sort of thing. And she finished off with 
a very pointed rebuke to myself, saying, as she 
watched me fearfully out of the corner of her eye, 
'* My father was a great piper, oh yes ; and he won 
many prizes, and he played on the ' Pipes ' until 
six years before his death, whe7i he became a good 
man, and destroyed his * Pipes ^^ and I don't want 
any of my children to learn them. The eldest one 
— ah! Bheist!'" — this to the boy as she caught him 
looking over her shoulder and listening, " he is too 
fond of the chanter already." It was heart-breaking 
to me to find such prejudice and fanaticism in 
the Highlands, the old home of the Bagpipe : 
its innocent music condemned as ungodly ; its 
cheery companionship refused ; the piper shunned 
as a leper. 

I often wonder how Mrs M'Phee's children amuse 
themselves in that lonely spot during the dark and 
idle winter months, and think how much brighter 


the house would be for an occasional tune on the 
despised Pipe. 

Fond of music as these children are, what sub- 
stitute does the Free Church mean to provide for 
them when they leave home and become dwellers 
in the great city with its "sins and sorrows?" 
Once free to follow the bent of their own fancy, 
music they will have, and in that day will music 
of the Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay type be as healthy, or as 
good for them, as that which their own Church 
denied them at home ? 

I said before, that the Priest gave the Piper a 
bad name once, and in some places it has evidently 
stuck to him ever since. He called them " Profli- 
gates, low-bred buffoons, who blew up their cheeks 
and contorted their persons, and played on harps, 
trumpets, and pipes for the pleasure of their lords, 
and who, moreover, flattered them by songs and 
ballads, for which their masters are not ashamed" 
— this is evidently the sore point ! — " to repay these 
ministers of the Prince of Darkness with large sums 
of gold and silver, and rich embroidered robes. ^ 

At times the piper did his best to earn this sorry 
character ; but the old proverb, *' As drunk as a 
piper," is, I think, misread. It came into existence 
in an age when the piper was a gentleman — as the 
Highland Clan piper always was — and it only meant 
that a piper could get as drunk as a gentleman, or 
get drunk, and still be a gentleman. In other 
words, that he could always play, stopping short in 
his drinking before the maudlin stage was reached. 


*• As fou as a fiddler," on the other hand, meant 
the beastial form of drunkenness, of which no gentle- 
man ever could be guilty. The old Crovvder, in 
short, never was a gentleman, and did not know 
how to drink genteelly. He was a sot, and kept on 
swilling as long as a drop of liquor was left, or 
until the fiddle dropped through his listless fingers. 
I speak, of course, of the old days, long since gone, 
when the Guild was breaking up. From my own 
small experience of pipers and piping, I can bear 
testimony to the fact that drinking and piping go 
very badly together ; and the piper who drinks im- 
moderately has no reputation to lose, for he cannot 
win at competitions. There is a story told by Mr 
Manson which seems to contradict this : — 

William M 'Donald, a well-known piper in his day, 
could play, drunk or sober, " so well," to quote this 
writer, "even when rivals had given him too much 
drink, that he always got a prize at competitions." 
I could not understand this at all, because in my own 
case, a single glass of beer or wine puts my fingers 
out in piping, and I was therefore more than pleased 
to learn from Mr John M 'Donald, of Inverness — 
himself one of the finest Pibroch players of the day — 
that the story is not true. 

William M 'Donald, who was his uncle, was not 
born in Badenoch as Mr Manson says, and he was 
a life-long teetotaller; so that the story of his brother 
pipers making him drunk is a libel on both parties. 
The story of Wm. M 'Donald's son, who was piper 
to the Prince of Wales, giving up his situation and 


burning his Bagpipe from religious scruples — as the 
good Mr M'Phee did — is, I believe, quite true. Of 
course, there were always pipers and pipers. When 
the Guild of Minstrelsy was at length suppressed, 
the pipers in the South, in common with the 
Harpers, were denounced as vagabonds, and were 
liable to be whipped, and to be put in the stocks 
for following what had hitherto been a respectable 
and strictly legal calling, and in this way they 
were forced to herd with tlie lower classes, who 
were themselves outside the pale of society — often, 
even, outside of the law, but who sheltered and 
favoured the poor musicians, and it is no wonder 
that the character of the latter rapidly degenerated. 
But the Clan Piper, not exposed to such de- 
grading surroundings, maintained his dignity and 
his character of gentleman to the last ; and 
never, above all, forgot that he was a musician. He 
never gave himself up to riotous living, or to 
beggary, like the crowd of disrobed minstrels, and 
his descendants to-day, I am proud to say, main- 
tain well, on the whole, the old character of 
"musician and gentleman," so worthily held by their 



'T^HERE are more frequent references to the Bag- 
pipe in Early England than in Early Scotland, 
not because the Pipe was first introduced into 
England, but because English records were made 
earlier, and are fuller and more complete, and were 
better preserved, as M'Bain says, than Scottish 

Scotland was too much occupied with the sword 
in her young days to take up the pen, and perhaps 
with nation-making on hand, she had too little 
leisure ; her early scholars also thought the small 
details of everyday life too trivial to be recorded, 
and in this way the Bagpipe was neglected, and 
the historians of England stole a march upon her. 

Indeed, but for the fact, firstly, that a Welshman 

in the twelfth century — who visited Scotland with the 

express object of studying its musical system — wrote 

a book, giving a list of the musical instruments used 

by the Scots ; and, secondly, that the expenses of the 



Royal Household in the fourteenth century were 
jotted down and preserved in the old exchequer rolls, 
we would be without any certain proof to-day that 
the Bagpipe was known in Scotland before the middle 
of the fifteenth century, when M'Vurich, the bard, 
reviled it in song ; and the claim of those who say 
" it came, of course, from England into Scotland," 
would be as strong now as it is weak, and would be 
much more difficult to disprove by men who, like 
myself, believe in the Celtic origin of the Bagpipe. 

The history of the Bagpipe in Scotland is similar 
to its history elsewhere in Celtdom : it is a story of 
gradual progress from small beginnings. 

The historian who first mentions the Pipe in 
Panonnia agrees, in his description of the instrument, 
with the writer who first describes the Pipe in 
Scotland, although fifteen hundred years separate 
the two. 

The early Bagpipe in both countries was found to 
consist of a simple reed and bladder ; and out of this 
little Pipe the Great War Pipe of the Highlands has 
been slowly, but surely, evolved. We in the south 
did not get it put into our hands a ready-made instru- 
ment of one drone, nor did the Highlander in the 
north begin with the " Great Pipe" of two drones, as 
the Inverness School asserts. The little Bagpipe of 
"ane reid and ane bleddir," the original Pipe of the 
Celt, survived alongside of its more powerful and 
useful offspring, the Drone Bagpipe, almost to our 
own day ; and in 1548 the author of the " Complaynt 
of Scotland" places this little Pipe second in a list of 


seven instruments well known to the Scottish peasant 
of that period. 

The first instrument on the list — in order of merit 
and popularity, I presume — is a Drone Bagpipe; the 
second is "a Bagpipe of ane reid and ane bleddir;" 
the third is the Jew's Harp or Trump, an instrument 
very common in my young days ; and the seventh is 
the Fiddle. 

There is no mention of the harp whatever, which is 
surely strange if the harp were in such universal use 
among the common people as recent writers would 
have us believe ; and the Fiddle — Sir A. C. 
M'Kenzie's Scotch Fiddle — comes in a bad seventh. 

There is an old tradition still in existence, which the 
poet Burns heard at Stirling and elsewhere, that the 
Pipe was played at Bannockburn, and for believing 
in which he was laughed at by the wiseacres of the 
next generation, who said that there were no Bag- 
pipes in Scotland for at least two centuries after 1314, 
the date of the battle. The truth is, that although 
there is no historical reference to the use of the Bag- 
pipe on this occasion, we now know, what the writers 
of twenty years ago did not know, that the Pipe was 
a well-known instrument in Scotland at the time the 
Battle of Bannockburn was fought, and for some 
centuries before. 

Now, if Bagpipes were used at Bannockburn, as 
tradition asserts — an assertion which our later and 
fuller knowledge of the facts strongly supports — they 
were Highland Bagpipes, because we learn from 
history that the Highlander was the first to discover 


their stimulating effect in battle, and was the first, 
since the days of the Romans, to substitute the Pipe 
for the drum in war. From the beginning of the 
fifteenth century and onward, numerous references — 
owing to the advancement of letters — shew how 
universal its use was throughout Scotland in early 
times. We know that it was always a favourite with 
the herd boy ; but the very fact that King David II. 
kept a piper, and that King James I. was himself a 
piper, must have increased its popularity with the 
upper classes as well. And so we learn without sur- 
prise that soon after King James' time every burgh in 
Scotland had among its recognised officials a piper, 
dressed in the town's livery — often gay with bright 
colours and tassel decorations, and with a cock of parti- 
coloured ribbons in his bonnet — whose duty it was 
to open and to close each day with a tune on his 
"Drone." So popular, indeed, was the Bagpipe 
with us in the olden days, that whenever a piper 
turned up at the Township — be it morning, noon, or 
night — work came to a standstill : the weaver left 
his shuttle, the tailor his bench, the blacksmith 
his forge, the hind his plough, and with the 
lassies, who were never far away, flocked to the 
village green, where dancing was begun, and 
generally carried on until nature, worn out, called 
a halt. 

In that most delightful of songs, " Alister 
M'Alister," we have the best description of the 
impromptu dance to be found in literature. So ex- 
cellent, indeed, is it, and so impregnated with the 


spirit of the times, that I offer no apologies for giving 
it here in full : — 

Oh, Alastair MacAlastair, 
Your chanter sets us a' asteer, 
Then to your bags, an' blaw wi' birr, 
We'll dance the Hig-hland Fling. 
Now Alastair has tuned his pipes, 
An' thrang as bumbees frae their bikes, 
The lads an' lasses loup the dykes, 
An' gather on the green. 
Oh, Alastair, etc. 

The miller, Hab, was fidgin' fain 
To dance the Highland fling his lane. 
He lap, as high as Elspeth's wame. 

The like was never seen. 
As round about the ring he whuds, 
An' cracks his thumbs, an' shakes his duds, 
The meal flew frae his tail in cluds. 

An' blinded a' their een. 
Oh, Alastair, etc. 

Neist rauchle-handed smiddy Jock, 

A' blackened ower wi' coom an' smoke, 

Wi' shauchlin' bleare'ed Bess did yoke, 

That slav'rin gabbit queen. 
He shook his doublet in the wind, 
His feet, like hammers, strak the grund ; 
The very moudiewarts, were stunn'd. 

Nor kenn'd what it could mean. 
Oh, Alastair, etc. 

Now wanton Willie wasna blate, 
For he got baud o' winsome Kate, 
" Come here," quo' he, " I'll show the gate, 
To dance the Highland fling." 


The Highland flhig he danced wi' glee, 
And laps as he were gaun to flee. 
Kate beck'd an' bobbed sae bonnilie, 
An' trip't sae neat an' clean. 

Oh, Alastair, etc. 

Now Alastair has done his best, 
An' weary houghs are wantin' rest, 
Forbye wi' drouth they sair were pres't, 

Wi' dancin', sae, I ween. 
I trow the gantrees gat a lift ; 
An' roun' the bicker flew like drift ; 
An' Alastair, that very nicht. 

Could scarcely stand his lane. 
Oh, Alastair, etc. 

It is rather interesting to learn that the miller in 
England, as well as in Scotland, was often the 
village piper. 

In Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales," the piper is a 
miller to trade, and King Jamie's piper is also a 

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

Its popularity, however, did not begin and end 
with the dance. King James also writes : — 

"The Bagpipe blew, and they outdrew 
Out of the townis untald." 

shewing that it was used in Scotland as a marching 
instrument, just as in England; and all processions 


in those days, whether of pilgrims or of the ordinary 
people to or from fairs, markets, weddings, or funerals 
— even the Royal processions from Church on Sunday 
— were headed by the piper. 

From this we see that the Bagpipe was once 
popular throughout the length and breadth of Celtic 
Scotland, and was not peculiar to the Highlands. 
No doubt the adoption of the bellows helped to hurt 
the growing popularity of the "Pipes" in Lowland 
Scotland, as it had certainly done in England and 
in Ireland, for when the original Great Pipe became 
whittled down to suit the ears of drawing-room dames, 
it lost more than its loudness. It lost its usefulness 
and its individuality. But it was only after the Low- 
lander had developed into the peaceful trader, to 
whom the flash of a broadsword or the "skirl of 
the Pipe " was hateful, and after the Highlander 
had developed into the soldier of fortune who found 
the very spirit of battle in the Pipe's wild war- 
notes, that the Great Bagpipe began to be looked 
upon as a purely Highland instrument. 

It was this retrograde development of the Pipe 
into a household weapon by the Lowlander, and 
the forward development by the Highlander of the 
same Pipe into a still louder and more powerful 
instrument — an out-of-doors instrument — fitted for the 
clamour of battle, that brought the Bagpipe its 
lasting fame. It seems almost like the irony of fate 
that a pastoral instrument — the most peaceful of in- 
struments — first invented by shepherds to beguile 
their lonely vigils with — to lead gentle sheep to the 


fresh pastures — should become the delight in war 
of the fierce soldier. 

Who could foresee that this little shepherd's Pipe, 
of "ane reid and ane bleddir," a poor thing at 
best — a feeble-voiced, soft-toned, primitive, droneless 
instrument, should one day blossom out into the 
Great War Pipe of the Clans, with its loud clarion- 
voiced call to arms? 

Now, so long as the Bagpipe consisted only of 
chanter and bag, not much improvement was possible 
or could be expected : its usefulness was greatly 
curtailed, and it never could — and never did — be- 
come an instrument of any note. The noise of 
combat drowned out the little Pipe, and the old 
historians, if they knew of its existence, thought 
it unworthy of notice. 

The Greeks learned this lesson very early, and 
the Pythaulos — a drone Bagpipe — was the result. 
In the evolution of the primitive Pioh, then, the 
first and greatest improvement of all was the addition 
of the drone. The drone Bagpipe, once invented, 
became in turn, to the eager, open-mouthed listeners, 
a teacher of concord or harmony, and the oldest 
part-song in the world, called, *' Summer is a cumen 
in," is a song composed to a Bagpipe tune in 
which the men's voices droned a bass of one note 
— the keynote — right through the song, just as the 
drone of the Bagpipe did. 

After the first drone was added, it required no 
great stretch of genius or imagination — Celtic or 
otherwise— to add a second, or a third, or a fourth 


drone for that matter to the Pipe, and no country- 
could justly claim the Bagpipe as its own, because 
of such addition; so that the Highlander who, accord- 
ing to Mr M'Bain, only added the third drone to the 
newly-borrow^ed two-drone Bagpipe, had no right 
whatever to claim the instrument as a Highland 

When on the subject of the drone, I may here 
say, that in this country, as we learn from the de- 
scriptions of old writers, confirmed in many instances 
by drawings of the actual Pipes, the second drone 
was added early in the sixteenth century, and the third 
drone about the middle or end of the eighteenth 
century, although the present three-drone Bagpipe 
did not become general, especially in the Highlands, 
till well on in the nineteenth century. 

In his preface to the Piobaireachd Society's first 
collection of tunes, published in 1905, the writer 
disputes the above view, and holds that the three- 
drone Bagpipe was the Highland Pipe from the first, 
and in proof of this somew-hat bold assertion he 
quotes from a fifteenth century satire on the Pipe, 
composed by one Niall Mor MacVurrich. From 
this Gaelic poem the following quotation — translated 
first into English — is taken : — 

"The first Bag(-pipe) — and melodious it was not 
— came from the time of the Flood. There was 
then of the Pipe but the chanter, the mouth-piece, 
and the stick that fixed the key, called the suinaire 
(drone?) But a short time after that, and — a bad 
invention begetting a worse — there grew the three 


masts, one of them long, wide, and thick," etc. 

Now, taking for granted that this poem is 
authentic, and the translation correct, it may still 
only refer to the two-drone Pipe where the second 
drone — as we constantly see it in old pictures — was 
added, "long, wide, and thick," and the two drones 
with the mouthpiece would represent the three 

No doubt there were three-drone, and four — nay, 
even five-drone Bagpipes before the eighteenth 
century, but the three-drone Highland Pipe of to- 
day was not much used in the Highlands until the 
nineteenth century. In my young days the Inverary 
Gipsies, who were — many of them — great pipers, 
never used any but a one-drone or two-drone Bag- 
pipe, and it is not quite fair for the writer of this 
preface, or for the Piohaireachd Society, which is re- 
sponsible for its publication, to belittle the one-drone 
or the two-drone Bagpipe, and praise only the 
modern form of Highland Pipe, as if it were the 
real and only Simon Pure. "It has been frequently 
stated," we are told, "and repeated in most of the 
recent works on the subject," — not that there are any 
ancient or recent works on the subject, except Mr 
Manson's book, which was published in 1901 — "that 
the bass drone was added to the Bagpipe early in the 
nineteenth century, or, in any case, not fifty years 
earlier." The ^' Seanachas Sloinuidh" — M'Vurich's 
poem — "disproves that assertion, and even should 
it not"' (there is evidently a doubt in the writer's 
mind) " it is impossible to believe that at the time 


the greatest of the Macrimmons composed their 
masterpieces, they should have played on an im- 
possible and incapable instrumenty Now, as a 
matter of fact, the two-drone Bagpipe is not an im- 
possible or an incapable instrument at all, and if 
the great Macrimmon wrote his "masterpieces" 
with a three-drone Bagpipe at his elbow, it was 
not from the third drone that he drew his inspira- 
tion, but from the Pipe as a whole. Indeed, for 
practising purposes, and in the dance, the big drone 
is no improvement, and in holiday time I fall back 
on the older form of two-drone Pipe as being easier 
to play on, and easier to dance to, for those at least 
who are not accustomed to Pipe music. 

To say that the full-fledged instrument is the only 
original Highland Bagpipe is to say that the High- 
lander did not invent it for himself, but borrowed it 
— as Mr M'Bain says he did — and such "impossible 
and incapable " claims put forward in its favour by 
rash friends, lend weight to the verdict of those 
hostile critics who say that the Highland Bagpipe is 
neither ancient nor Highland. 

Of its age I treat elsewhere. That it is a genuine 
Highland instrument I have no doubt. And if the 
invention of the Bagpipe has been denied to the 
Highlander, I must be honest, and say, "right away 
here," that for this misapprehension he has himself 
only to thank. He was the first to start the stories 
which gave the credit of it now to this nation, now 
to that. He did not value the instrument, in later 
days at least, as he should have done. After the 


Rebellion of 1715, the Highlands began to be opened 
up to the outer world, and the Highlanders were 
forced to meet English-speaking strangers, whose 
surprise and, in many instances, contempt for what 
they saw, was but half v^eiled. And so Donald, to 
be on "the right side of the laugh," began to dis- 
parage everything distinctively Highland. 

We have seen that the Clan piper himself was 
not always above displaying this same poor spirit in 
the hope of standing well with the stranger. He 
was no doubt a gentleman of parts, and a musician. 
It might be beneath his dignity to carry the 
"Pipes" himself. He had a boy — the gille Piohaire 
— to perform this office for him. But he did not 
need to throw the "Pipes" on the ground disdain- 
fully when the tune was over, to show his English 
friends that the Bagpipe, in his opinion too, was 
but a sorry instrument for so great a musician. 

There is no man so thin-skinned as your real 
Highlander fresh from his native hills, and the 
Highlander was never so thin-skinned as just after 
the '45, when, deserted by his leaders, he, in con- 
sequence, lost the old confidence which he previously 
had in himself, and in things Highland. He thought 
the world was laughing at him, and the fear of being 
laughed at was as gall and wormwood to him. 
Accordingly, when the Sassenach quizzed the dress, 
or language, or Bagpipe, Donald was ready to go 
one better, and like poor doubting Thomas, disown 
and curse what in his heart he loved more than 


When the great Dr. Johnson called his language 
"the rude speech of a barbarous people," Donald 
acquiesced by his silence in a dictum born of 
ignorance. Only here and there, like the voice of 
one crying in the wilderness, was a protest raised. 
In like manner he has been stripped of his kilt 
without a murmur. And Mr M'Bain, who would 
take from him the last and most precious of his 
three great possessions, without caring how much 
pain his words carried to many a loyal Highland 
heart at the time they were written, walks the streets 
of the Highland capital to-day in safety. O, High- 
landers ! of a surety ye are a long-suffering race. 

This is why I say that Donald was himself to 
blame for the spreading of false stories about the 
origin of the Highland Bagpipe, 

When Pennant, or Martin, or M'Culloch, or other 
inquisitive traveller, one hundred to two hundred 
years ago (these visitors being really interested in 
things Highland), began to question Donald — in all 
good faith — about the origin of the Bagpipe, Donald 
(suspicious and sensitive, and understanding but im- 
perfectly the language in which he was addressed), 
anticipated hostile criticism by attributing the origin 
to the Dane, or Northman, or Roman, or Greek. 
And so the opinions of the Highlanders — I speak 
especially of the days after the '45 — are not worth 
the paper they are written on, and are wholly mis- 

Does history afford us any help in our research? 
Have we any reliable data to go upon ? I think so, 


and the dates, so far as known to me, although 
few, I will give you later on when I come to talk of 
the antiquity of the Bagpipe in Scotland, 

Now, of all Bagpipe playing peoples, the High- 
lander, as I have said before — if we except the 
Roman and the Alexandrian — was the first to sub- 
stitute the Pipe for the drum in war; and was alone 
in resisting the addition to his Pipe of bellows and 
keys. He perfected it as far as possible on the old 
lines, and refused to assimilate it to modern in- 

A "semi-barbarous instrument" it began, and a 
"semi-barbarous instrument" it has ever since re- 
mained in the Highlanders' hands. To modernize 
it, even if this were possible, would mean its decay. 

The Highlander long ago believed in himself, 
and looked down upon the more effeminate Low- 
lander. He was not ashamed but proud of his 
language, and of his dress, and of his music. His 
Bagpipe was perfect in his eyes. It did not admit 
of improvement. No bellows for him ; no modern 
scale ; no keys on the chanter. 

A war instrument he made it, and a war 
instrument he meant to keep it; and so, to-day, thanks 
to this belief Un himself and in his Pipe, the people of 
vScotland — almost alone among peoples in this — can 
boast of a national music, and a national instrument. 

The history of the Bagpipe in the Highlands — 
as apart from Scotland — is, in reality, the history of 
the Highlander, and would require a book to itself. 
No event of any importance took place in the old 


days that was not recorded on the Bagpipe; whether 
the death of the Chiefs piper, or the birth of the 
Chief's son and heir ; whether the little Clan fight 
in some out-of-the-way corner, or the Jacobite death- 
strugfofle at Culloden ; it was the onlv record the 
Highlander possessed of these events ; and we can 
safely wander along the highways and byeways of 
Highland history with no other guide in our hands 
than Bagpipe music. 

•'The Desperate Batde," 1390; '' Pibroch of Donald 
Dhu" and ^'Ceann na Drochit Mor,'' 1427; '' Blar 
na Leimie,' 1544 ; " Ceann na Drochit Beg,'' 1645, 
and fifty other Pibrochs I could name, had each their 
separate tale of battle for the Highlander. Play, 
even now, to one of the old school, well versed in 
Pibroch, "The Desperate Battle," or "The Massacre 
of Glencoe," and watch his face. In the waves of 
feeling which come and go with the music, you can 
read, in the first case, of the fierce love of battle, 
which still smoulders beneath the calm exterior, and 
in the second, the whole tragedy enacted on that bitter 
night of shame and treachery. 

And so to-day the history of the rising in '45 is 
summed up for us Highlanders in three tunes : — 
"The Prince's Salute," "Hey, Johnnie Cope," and 
"Culloden Day." 

After Culloden, the Bagpipe became once again 
more of a national instrument, and less distinctively 
Highland, and its records are those of a whole 
nation, not of one part only. 

Its strains are no longer confined to the hills 


and glens of its native home. Its gay streamers 
float proudly on many a foreign shore. Its fame 
has already gone forth on the heights of Alma ; 
in the streets of Lucknow; at Bloody Quatre Bras; 
and on the stricken field of Waterloo. Ever in the 
van of battle ; ever in the thickest of the fight, its 
proud bearer courts the post of danger and of death 
as his own peculiar right, sanctified by length of 
years. And when his name is missing at roll-call, 
look not for him on the outskirts of the battlefield; 
waste not your time hunting behind boulder, or 
peering into sheltering hollow, but make straight 
for the front, where the fight waxed fiercest, and 
the dead lie thickest, and there you will find him 
sleeping with his comrades : surely the bravest 
among man}^ brave ones, for of all who lie there, 
he alone went forth unarmed to battle and to death. 

For many years I hunted high and low for the 
" Great War Pipe " of two drones, but without 

The Bagpipe shewn here is a facsimile of one 
that lies in the Edinburgh Museum, without — un- 
fortunately — any history attached to it. There is no 
''combing" on the drones, and the terminals are 
more or less pear-shaped, and the ferules are made 
of lead. The chanter is of the same bore as the 
present full-sized Highland Pipe, and the only 
difterence between this Pipe and the modern one — 
with the exceptions mentioned above — is the absence 
of the large drone. This Bagpipe is made of 
hawthorn, is very light to carry, and is the one I 

The Hrkat Two-Dronk War Pipe of the Highlands: 

Ornamented with lead, to be seen in the Edinburgh Museum. 


personally take with me when going from home. I 
had the offer of a very nice two-drone set made out 
of boxwood — a genuine eighteenth century set — not 
many months ago. It came up from Wales, but 
the owner did not know the value of it, and before 
he had made up his mind what to ask, I picked 
up a set in England for a tenth of the first price 
he mentioned. I had some pleasant experiences 
when on the hunt for the old Highland Pipe. 
Once I found myself stranded for the night at a 
small village on the West Coast, with no means of 
getting away before morning. 

To wile away the time, I asked an old school- 
fellow who resided there, and one or two of his 
friends, to spend the evening with me at my hotel. 
After all the local gossip — much of it going back 
over twenty years or more — had been discussed at 
interminable length, and the night was still young, 
conversation began to flag, in spite of the jogging 
of an occasional tumbler of toddy, and my spirits 
sank at the prospect of the long night before me. 
But just a little before ten o'clock, my friend was 
called out of the room, and after some mysterious 
whisperings with the pretty barmaid behind the 
door, he returned to announce in a sort of shame- 
faced way, that a particular friend of his was down- 
stairs wanting to see him, and might he bring him 
up ? 

"He is only a piper, although a good one, doctor. 

But perhaps you wouldn't care to have him in the 

room with you ? " 



A piper ! I wouldn't care to have him in the 
room with me ? For me, everything was changed 
in a moment. '' Bring him up, by all means," I 
said, and placed a chair for him on my right hand. 
He was quite a gentlemanly lad, and modest for 
a piper, and I had my reward before long for 
the poor entertainment — all I could offer him — 
when shouldering my *' Pipes," he opened up in 
masterly fashion with that fine Pibroch^ '■^ Moladh 
Mairi^'^ or, "The MacLachan's March," of which I 
am very fond, largely for its own sake, but partly also 
because my mother was a MacLachlan. After this 
auspicious beginning, we two piped alternately, 
while the others smoked and listened, and the even- 
ing which threatened at first to be too long, but 
which ultimately proved itself all too short, came 
to a pleasant termination in the small hours of the 
morning. And when I asked the young player to 
whom was I indebted for so much good music, he 
replied : — 

" I am piper at Skibo Castle to Mr Carnegie. 
He is away in America just now, and I am on 

With books as cheap as they are to-day, I am no 
great believer in Free Libraries, but I shall not for- 
get that once I was under obligation to Mr Carnegie 
because, being a wealthy man and able to afford it, 
he had the good taste to keep a Piper. 

On another occasion, when yachting with my 
friend, Mr Southerne of Solus, in the "Alcyone," a 
well-known Clyde boat, and a most comfortable 


one, we were driven early one evening by stress 
of weather into Loch Torriden, Loch Broom being 
our real destination. I had accepted my friend's 
invitation to spend a fortnight with him cruising 
among the Western Isles, principally in the hope 
of picking up an old set of " Pipes." 

My search, so far, had resulted in failure, so you 
can imagine the delight with which I listened to 
the store-keeper at Loch Torriden, as he told me 
that there was an old piper — a very old man, well 
over ninety years of age — living down by the shore, 
not more than two miles away, who had been a 
good player in his day, and who had still in his 
possession the original old Bagpipe of two drones 
upon which he used to play. My informant, who 
was a most intelligent man, was quite sure that 
there was no big drone. Away I went in high 
glee with Mr Southerne — who is almost as enthu- 
siastic in the search after Pipes as myself, and who 
has added two of the most valuable Bagpipes to my 
collection — feeling assured at last of success. 

After a stiff walk over the hill by the very 
picturesque but narrow and uneven track which did 
duty for a road, we soon dropped down — or scrambled 
down, for it was a very steep descent — upon the 
piper's home, which we had no difficulty in finding, 
as it was, indeed, the only house in the place. 

The daughter, an old woman with thin grey hair, 
and wrinkled, sallow skin, came to the door, and 
blinked feebly at the two bold strangers, who had 
so unceremoniously invaded her retreat. But after a 


word of Gaelic from myself— a word which has often 
stood me in good stead in the Highlands — and a 
tune on the " Pipes," she became quite communi- 
cative, and informed us, in a queer mixture of 
English and Gaelic, that her father was not at home, 
and that the old Pipe had been burnt in the fire, 
two years before, by her brother, at the request of 
the minister. 

A lonelier spot than this where the old piper lives 
you could not imagine, nor a bleaker. 

The one redeeming feature is the glorious ex- 
panse of sea in front — its clear blue waters at 
flood-tide swelling up almost to the door of the hut; 
and the glorious sunsets — one of which we watched 
with delight — to be seen from the little window, 
which looks west across the bay. Otherwise, there 
was nothing here to soften the asperities of life, or 
to relieve its monotony. And yet, the one little 
earthly source of comfort and consolation left to 
these lowly dwellers by the lone sea — the chanter 
which the old man had loved all his life, and 
fingered so fondly and so often, and to which he 
had confided all his little joys and sorrows in the 
past, was taken from, him, and burnt before his 
eyes, by his own son, at the instigation of the 
F.C. minister. The old maiden lady looked sad as 
she told us the story of the burnt Pipe ; otherwise 
she complained none, but ever and anon she cast 
a wistful glance at the well-appointed Bagpipe 
under my arm, and her looks were eloquent of 



"You like the Pipes?" I said. 

"Oh, that I do," she answered in Gaelic. 

"Would you dance if I piped to you?" I then 

She peered at me closely out of half-closed eyes, 
as if not comprehending my meaning — as if trying 
to read my thoughts — half afraid that I must be 
laughing at her. But when I quietly repeated the 
challenge, it touched my heart to see the tears well 
up in those dim eyes, and the blush of pleasure 
struggle through the tan on those thin cheeks. 

She looked down at her feet, with a coy move- 
ment of her short skirts, eminently feminine. The 
feet were hopeless. The heavy, clay-covered boots 
were sizes too large, and there was not the vestige 
of a lace in either of them, so that the hard, fire- 
baked tongues curled down in front. 

As she stood on the large flat stone by the side 
of the door, raised above the muddy pools of water 
which lay everywhere around, waiting, with sad, 
impassive face for the music to begin, she looked 
a pathetic sight. Standing there, without one femi- 
nine grace to relieve the hard, bony, angular, 
weather-stained and weather-beaten frame ; without 
one trace of colour in her dress to relieve its drab 
monotony ; without one line of beauty on her face, 
to tell that she had once been young, she seemed, 
indeed, but the veriest anatomy of a woman — the 
empty husk, out of which the joyousness of being 
had long since fled. 

But under the influence of the music, a perceptible 


change was quickly brought about, and she became 
transformed. The poor, bent back grew erect ; the 
dull, expressionless face lighted up; the frail-looking 
body, keeping time to the music, swayed gently to 
and fro ; the clumsily shod feet began to move 
about — at first with a dreamy, uncertain sort of up- 
and-down motion, more like a woman walking cloth 
or tramping clothes, then with more and more con- 
fidence as memory wakened up under the spell of 
that king of Strathspeys, " Tullochgorum,'' until at 
length we saw evolved as out of chaos, some beautiful 
old-world steps, smooth and graceful in movement, 
and quite unknown to the modern lightning-speed 

Once before I saw the same steps danced by an 
old lady of eighty, in Skye — Miss M'Leod, of Caroline 
Hill — whose offer to teach me some thirty-two difter- 
ent Strathspey steps, which she said she could dance, 
I have ever since regretted not accepting. 

When the dance was over, it was time for Mr 
Southerne and myself to be getting back to the 
yacht; so I paid the old lady a well-deserved com- 
pliment on the pretty steps she shewed us, and we 
bade each other a kindly good-bye. How little it 
costs to give pleasure to a fellow-creature at times, 
and yet how often we miss the chance? On this 
occasion I felt pleased to think that we had managed, 
with so little effort, to add a few happy moments to 
the life of this lonely woman, whose chances of 
amusement were so few. I like to think of the old 
piper's daughter, not as we first saw her, when she 


came blinking and winking at us out of the smoke, 
a worn-out, wizened woman, spiritless and dejected- 
looking, but as we left her on that day, standing 
upon the flat stone in front of the cottage, looking 
years younger, and waving us a smiling farewell ; I 
like to remember her as we saw her from the crest of 
the hill for the last time, bathed in the warm glow 
of the setting sun, with the light of the dance still 
in her eye, and a look of happy wonderment on her 
face at something which Mr Southerne had whispered 
into her ear- -or ? 

Well I I was not looking, and so could not swear 
to it. 

I hurried back to the Manse to have it out with 
the old vandal, but found him from home, so I 
discussed the situation with his housekeeper, a stout, 
pleasant-looking old lady, who sympathized with me, 
but could not vmderstand what I wanted with an 
old set of Bagpipes when I had such a nice one 
under my arm. 

" I am very fond of the Bagpipe myself," she 
said, "and I like no dance so well as the "High- 
land Fling." 

Here was a chance to avenge the burning of the 
Pipe, so I immediately proposed a reel. 

" O ! indeed, sir, I am much obliged to you, but I 
am too stout : but there's Christina in the kitchen. 
She comes from Inverness, and is a fine dancer." 

Christina, a fair-skinned bonnie lassie, with a 
wealth of golden hair, and straight as a lath, came 
tripping out at the first call, every movement full 


of grace. She wasted no time in idle pretence when 
she learned from the housekeeper that we wanted to 
see her dance, but turned to me, and said quietly, 
"Can you play the ^ Semi Truis?''^'' 

In reply, I struck up the tune, and if her move- 
ments in walking were graceful, her dancing was 
superb. After a short rest, she danced the " High- 
land Fling," and again we were forced to applaud, for 
— as the old teller of tales would say — if the '■'■Sean 
Tritis''' was good, the "Highland Fling" was better. 
In the meantime some young men from the village, 
which was a good way off, attracted by the sound 
of the Bagpipe, joined us, and soon I had three or 
four sets dancing together, under the very manse 

My revenge would have been complete, if only the 
minister had come back in time to see his staid 
housekeeper dancing, on his own lawn, with an 
abandon which savoured of anything but the Church, 
while Mr Southern, her partner — an absolute stranger, 
too ! — endeavoured, but in vain, to encircle that 
ample waist. 

Christina, during this time, was doing great 
execution among the young men of the village — 
in fact, she fairly danced herself into the heart 
of more than one susceptible that night, and I 
felt that it was time to be moving yachtward, 
when I saw Mr Southerne — all-forgetful of his dear 
wife at home — disputing Avith one of the natives 
as to the possession of the ruddy-cheeked, ruddy- 
haired, laughing, dancing nymph of the manse, who 


in all she did, was but obeying nature, if perhaps 
disobeying the mandates of the Free Church. 

In the autumn of 1893 I found myself at Tongue, 
in Sutherlandshire, on the old quest. Tongue was 
famous at one time as a piping centre, and gave 
more pipers to the British Army than any other 
district of Scotland, excepting Skye. I found pipers 
in plenty, but no Bagpipe older than myself. After 
being entertained with some excellent Pipe music 
in one house where no fewer than five brothers 
fingered the Chanter, I, in return, was asked to 
give a tune on the Northumbrian "Small Pipe," 
which I had with me, as I generally found that 
the sight of a strange Pipe gave a jog to the 
memory, and set people a-talking, but on this 
occasion, the Tongue — I apologise — refused to wag. 

No sooner had I strapped on the bellows, and 
given it a squeeze or two, than a young girl, who 
had hurried in from the shearing, astonished to 
hear piping at such an hour — a delicate -looking 
girl, with a sweet face, and a glorious head of rich 
brown hair (who being an only daughter, was 
evidently the pet of the family) burst out laughing. 

'■^ Fan Samhachy''' said the mother, sharply. "Be 
quiet ! " 

But although the poor thing made convulsive 
efforts to obey the warning voice, and stuffed the 
corner of her apron into her mouth in the brave 
attempt, she bubbled over, every time I began to 
play, with uncontrollable laughter — in which I had 
to join, so infectious was it — until at length she was 


ordered out of the house ; but the others present 
remained grave and stern as judges. 

Time and again, peeping timidly round the corner, 
the irrepressible one tried to come back — for, Eve- 
like, she was curious to hear the strange little in- 
strument — but never got further than the door. 
The Bellows-Pipe was too much for her keen sense 
of humour. At every fresh attempt she broke down, 
and at last turned and fled from the rising wrath 
ot her angry mother, who was afraid lest I should 
" think her very rude.'''' 

Now, about the same time that I was picking up 
my experience in the little village of Tongue, a 
great "lady out in India found herself in somewhat 
similar plight to this crofter lassie, and the Bag- 
pipe was again the cause — shewing anew how true 
it is that ' ' one touch of nature makes the whole 
world kin." 

The following story is told of herself by Lady 
Dufferin : — 

*'The Maharajah entertained us right royally, 
and every meal is a banquet ; his pipers played for 
us at dinner, and walked round the table after- 
wards. They are really rather good, but they played 
several different tunes in the room." I suppose the 
writer here means that they stopped at the end of 
each tune, and started again without leaving the 
room, not that they played different tunes at one 
time — "and the Bagpipes groaned in such a fearful 
manner at the beginning of each, that in spite of 


the viceregal gravity of D.'s face, / could not help 

On another occasion, her good manners were also 
severely tried, and the Bagpipe was again to blame. 

"Another Punjaub Chief, Nabha, let his pipers 
play to us at luncheon. It was very amusing to 
see them, as the whole costume is Scotch, but pi7ik 
silk tights have to be worn to simulate the delicate 
complexion of the ordinary Highlander's knee." (The 
italics are mine.) 

I like Lady Dufferin's description of the High- 
lander's knee, although it puts a different complexion 
upon it. English tourists who wear the kilt in Scot- 
land to distinguish themseh^es from the natives, 
might, perhaps, take a needful hint from the pink 
silk tights of this Indian Chief, and so bring the 
over-delicate complexion of their knees — which is fre- 
quently painful to contemplate — more into harmony 
with the dress and its surroundings. 



TT is a great pity that piping and dancing have 
-^ been so much discouraged in the Highlands in 
recent times. The sources of amusement in the long 
winter evenings left to these people, living often in 
lonely townships — frequently cut off from all com- 
munication with the outside world for a great part 
of the year — were never too numerous, and it 
would have been a wise and a generous policy on 
the part of their spiritual guides to have left them 
undisturbed, and added to them wherever possible. 

But to-day, the choice of entertainment for the 
Highlander lies between these two things — theologi- 
cal discussion, and whisky — both good, no doubt, 
in moderation, but both dangerous, and apt to lead 
to quarreling when abused. For over fifty years, 
the Free Church, carrying out, as I have said before — 
perhaps, also, unconsciously? — the earlier policy of the 
Catholic clergy, has been the sworn foe of piping 
and dancing. 

For over fifty years the Free Church priest 


has done his best to stamp out other innocent 
amusements, such as the telling of old tales, and 
the singing of old-world songs at the Ceilidh^ until 
to-day, all sounds of mirth have fled the land and 
left it desolate. 

I have piped to the children standing in the 
market-place, and they have not danced ; I have 
mourned to them — over the loss of strathspey and 
reel — but they have not wept. It is difficult to 
believe that changes so sweeping could have taken 
place in so short a space of time, but it is true. 
Some years ago I passed through the Caledonian 
Canal on board the S.Y. " Ileen," owned by Mr 
Salvesen of Lathallan, and I was very much struck 
with the number of people we met v/ho had seldom 
or never heard the Bagpipe. 

The Strathspey and reel, and "Highland Fling" 
seemed also to have fallen into complete neglect, 
and to be all but forgotten. 

Whenever I got a few children together, I 
questioned them on these matters, and was more 
than astonished at their ignorance of Highland 
music and dance. Some of the children could 
dance a polka or a waltz, or even a schottische, to 
the accompaniment of a concertina, but could not 
dance a single reel step, even to the music of the 
Great Highland Bagpipe. I tried always to wean 
them from the Lowland abomination ; I tried always 
to interest them in the dance of their forefathers ; 
and at several places in the neighbourhood of Inver- 
garry, I taught the little ones a reel step or two 


wherever I could get a few together — whether on 
the public road, or in the fields, or by the river 
side. It was quite refreshing to note the quickness 
with which they picked up the old steps, and to 
mark the evident delight with which they listened 
to the old music. 

One beautiful afternoon we started off to visit 
the Falls of Gary, and while walking by the side 
of the river, I saw a little school, which stood on 
an eminence some distance back from the stream, but 
on the opposite side, dispersing for the day. One 
blast of the Pipe was enough to draw the whole 
school trooping down through the meadows to the 
river side, and from the opposite bank, cries of: 

"Please sir, a tune!" "Please, sir, a tune!" 
came quickly in pleading accents from a score of 
little throats. 

"Give me a song, first," I said, "and I will give 
you a tune." 

"What song would you like, sir?" 

" A song about Prince Charlie." 

"Who was Prince Charlie?" queried the spokes- 
man of the party, a tall, red-lipped, red-cheeked, 
shapely laughing girl, with stray sunbeams in her 

"You know well enough who Prince Charlie was, 
and I want a song about him," I replied. After a 
hurried consultation, and much whispering in groups, 
and shaking together of litde heads, the leader stood 
forward and shouted bravely across the swift-flowing 


Stream — " We can't sing any song" about Prince 

I at once took "we can't" to mean '*\ve daren't," 
and said — "What ! you call yourselves Highlanders, 
and live in the beautiful Highlands, and don't know 
who Prince Charlie was, and you can't sing a song 
about him? You should be ashamed of yourselves! 
Why, I live in the Lowlands, but yet I can tell you 
a lot about Prince Charlie, and I can sing you a song 
about him too ; and I love his memory after all these 
years. My forefathers bled and died for Prince 
Charlie, if yours did not." 

" Have you four fathers, sir?" piped in a little girl; 
" I have only one." "And quite enough too," put 
in a second mite ; at which they all laughed heartily. 
No dullards, evidently. And — this I said to myself — 
they know of, and can sing about, Prince Charlie, 
in spite of their assumed ignorance. So, as a last 
shot, I asked once more for a song, and promised — 
in as solemn and mysterious a manner as I could 
assume — that I would not tell the " Meenisther." 

Again there was a clustering together of little heads 
in consultation, but this time I was to be rewarded for 
my perseverance. Falling back to right and left, the 
group disclosed my Nighean Ruadh standing erect 
like a queen in their midst. Stepping slightly in 
advance of her companions, she sang in a clear voice, 
and with many blushes which became her well, that 
beautiful old song, "Come o'er the stream, Charlie, 
brave Charlie, dear Charlie," leaving the chorus to be 
taken up by the others. 


It was a glorious day altogether — an Indian summer 
day — and the warm sun shone brightly overhead, 
lighting up the beautiful glen rarely. Seated by the 
banks of the murmuring river, lazily enjoying the 
warm air which came floating down the glen laden 
with the smell of larch and spruce, my thoughts insen- 
sibly went back to the days of the '45, and I thought 
of Prince Charlie as he was before continuous misfor- 
tune tried the temper of his spirit, and found it 
awanting. I remembered him only as the brave 
young soldier, hardy and temperate, kindly and true, 
gallantly fighting for a crown that was his own, as 
surely as anything can be called one's own in this 
world. And the refrain of the old song, "Come o'er 
the stream, Charlie" (in which perforce we joined), 
sung by these little children as they sat round their 
leader on the grassy banks of the Gary, with the 
rushing sound of its black, quick-hurrying waters for 
an accompaniment, went to my heart, and — I am not 
ashamed to say it — brought the tear to my eye. I 
responded with a Jacobite air on the " Pipes," and 
the ice being now fairly broken, and the fear of the 
" Church" put behind us — after some dancing, which, 
I am sorry to say, did not include the reel, as none of 
them could dance it — we sang and piped to each other 
alternately until the lengthening shadows warned us 
to start for the Falls if we were to get back before 
dark. For some miles through the glen, these 
children — always separated from friends and myself 
by the swollen stream, which was that day in spate — • 
followed the piper, altho' he was not what you might 


call a brilliant performer ; and it was always the same 
soft, childish, pleading cry that floated across the dark 
waters — "Just one other tune, sir; just one other 

And yet this day of innocent pleasure for old and 
young alike, and the children's evident delight in 
the dear old music, would be denied them if the 
" Meenishter" had his way. But, in spite of the Free 
Church, I am glad to think that the so-called 
reformers in the Highlands, who reformed on Knox's 
principle — " Pu' doun the nests, and the rooks will 
flee awa' " — have not quite eradicated — have not 
eradicated at all — the love of the Celt for Bagpipe, 
and dance, and song. It is still there, ready to assert 
itself on the smallest encouragement, in spite of the 
repeated attempts of clerical bigotry to stamp it out. 
I had a capital example of this one day while waiting 
on the Ileen, as she made her slow way through 
one of the many locks on the canal. On the hillside, 
due north of the lock, and not very far away, a little 
thatched cottage peeped down timidly at the passer-by. 
It looked old enough and Highland enough for any- 
thing ; so being anxious to throw away no chance 
of finding an original Highland Bagpipe, I ascended 
the hill and knocked at the door. No welcome 
**//?c i stoi'' fell upon my ears in answer to my 
summons, but, after some delay, a man with a very 
pale face and black bushy whiskers, appeared in the 
doorway, and eyed us suspiciously. I greeted him 
in Gaelic, but he only stared at me : he knew no 
Gaelic. Campbell was his name. He was a shoe- 




maker to trade. He knew nothing about the Bagpipe, 
and he had never seen an old set of " Pipes," nor had 
he heard the sound of the Bagpipe itself for years. 
Strathspey and reel had ever been strangers to him. 
His children, the eldest of whom was a nice-looking, 
intelligent boy of six, had never seen a Bagpipe, nor 
even heard of the Highland fling. Not a healthy 
state of affairs, surely, in a Highland cottage — no 
Gaelic, no kilt, no Bagpipe, no Highland fling. I 
began at once to teach the little ones something of 
these matters, and finished off the lesson with a 
practical demonstration — Air Ure, one of my friends, 
dancing to them, while I piped. Then by dint of a 
little coaxing, and the expenditure of a few pence, I 
got the children themselves formed up in line, and 
in an incredibly short space of time my friend and I 
had them going through the figure of eight — at first 
without, and then to music — "as if to the manner 

When the smaller ones were tired, I took Johnnie, 
the eldest, and taught him one or two strathspey 
steps, which he was soon able to dance to the music 
of the Pipe, along with other steps of his own, extem- 
porised on the spot. 

The old love of the Pipe and the reel was here, 
evidently, in the blood. Before our arrival, Johnnie 
knew nothing of the Bagpipe or of the Highland 
fling, and yet after one short lesson of ten minutes 
or so, he learned to wriggle and throw his feet about 
in most precise fashion, and even to extemporise 
steps for himself, keeping ail the while most excellent 


time to music, the like of which he had never heard 
until that moment ; and he heeled and toed, and 
curved his arms gracefully over his head, as he spun 
now to right, now to left, and gave an occasional 
little "Hooch!" at the psychological moment, as if 
he had danced and "hooched" all his life before. 

When we reached Fort Augustus, the Royal Mail 
steamer Gondolier^ crowded with passengers for 
Oban and the South, could be seen coming down 
Loch Ness, and the Ileen was detained above the 
lock until she first passed through. This, it seems, 
is the custom. Here we met with a poor Highland 
crofter and his family, who had just been dispossessed 
of their croft, and who were now travelling west in 
search of a new home. Why they had thus been 
suddenly thrown out upon the cold world I did not 
learn. They carried their household goods with them, 
strapped on their backs. The father, who told me his 
simple story, without any grumbling against the hard 
fate which dogged his footsteps, groaned under the 
weight of a heavy kitchen table and two wooden 
chairs ; the mother, who stood patiently in the back- 
ground while her goodman recited his w^oes, was bent 
double beneath a huge bundle of linen wrapped up 
in a couple of red and black bedcovers ; while the 
children were laden down to and beyond Plimsoll's 
mark with pots and pans, and the minor household 

They were footsore and travel-stained ; and little 
wonder, as they had been on the road since daybreak. 
The little ones looked tired and hungry, and when 


I learned that they were of my own clan — bad luck 
to it ! — I got my friends interested in them, and we 
feasted them upon milk and scones from a little 
wooden stall which stood close by for the convenience 
of travellers by the different boats passing through 
the canal. The milk and scones disappeared in 
princely fashion, but before famished appetites were 
appeased the Gondolier had entered the lock. 
And while she was still in the deeps, and the gates 
were being closed, a brilliant idea came to me, who 
am generally rather slow in seizing the occasion, and 
I acted instantly upon it. 

Why not get up an impromptu dance, with the 
assistance of my companions, and make a collection 
for the poor wanderers ? There was only one objec- 
tion to the carrying out of the idea. Two of my four 
friends knew little or nothing about the strathspey, 
and the other two owned only one step between them. 
But when I divulged my scheme, they, like the good 
fellows that they were, immediately consented to give 
an exhibition ; and they kept their word. 

Hurried orders were given by everybody to every- 
body, and in a moment all was excitement and bustle. 
The directions reduced to paper v.'ere delightful in 
their simplicity. Jump high enough, and "hooch" 
smartly, and do an occasional figure of eight. 

There was time for a little practice before the boat 
rose to view, and I took advantage of it, as I must 
confess I fell nervous about dancing before an 
audience. It happened exactly as I feared it would. 
The reel went fairlv well until the rising boat brought 


US within ken of the people on board ; but then, with 
all eyes turned upon them, my scratch team broke 
down — the gyrations of arms and legs grew more and 
more erratic; the " hoochs," losing all regard for time 
or fitness, degenerated into wild shouts ; the figure 
of eight got into knots, wdiich none could disentangle. 
Gray accused Becker ; Salvesen made a brave attempt 
to put both right, although he was a bit off the rails 
himself ; while Ure, true to his kindly nature, tried 
to throw oil on the troubled waters, and keep the 
dance going, by leaping higher and higher, and shout- 
ing bravely like a quarter-minute fog-horn at sea. The 
look of wonder and amazement which spread over the 
faces of the crowd on board the steamer as their eyes 
fell upon the wild war-dance of the Highlands — 
danced by five men, including the piper, with never 
a kilt between them — was most entertaining to watch. 
Under the gaze of so many eyes, all vestige of a 
dance soon disappeared, and the exhibition degener- 
ated into something not unlike a football scrimmage. 

With tears of laughter running down my cheeks, 
it was impossible for me to play any longer. And 
so, dropping the Pipe, I stepped forward and apolo- 
gised for our poor show, and shortly explained its 

I then took off my cap, and first calling for a 
contribution from each of the four dancers — I called 
it a "fine" for their execrable performance — I passed the 
cap on board the boat ; and, thanks to warm hearts 
beating behind loud checks, and kindly natures 
lurking behind fierce eye-glasses, I had it returned 


to me with over twenty-seven shillings in it, which 
comfortable little sum I handed over to my poor 
clansman, and sent him on his way rejoicing. 

In that very clever and very charming book, 
"South Sea Bubbles," by "The Earl and the 
Doctor," the authors had an experience among the 
children in Raritonga and Samoa very similar to mine 
in the Highlands. They tell the story to show how 
difficult it is thoroughly to uproot old customs among 
primitive peoples. 

The Earl and the Doctor went to church in 
Raritonga one Sunday afternoon in the exalted com- 
pany of the king. The congregation was particularly 
attentive, "but it was really painful to see both men 
and women dressed according to the lowest style of 
European ' go-to-meeting.' Where on earth did 
the earlier missionaries pick up that curious idea of 
the necessary identity of piety and ugliness? 

"In front of us sat a grave and reverend elder, with 
the most broad-church cut of black coat and white tie, 
and a mighty pair of spectacles, looking exactly like 
a very bilious Scotch precentor. He kept his eyes 
steadily fixed on his hymn-book during the singing, 
and bore his ' burden ' by keeping up that prolonged 
humming drone so popular as an accompaniment in 
these seas. 

"This hum is by no means unlike the drone of a 
Bagpipe. I have an indistinct recollection of 
attending a cottage dance somewhere in the High- 
lands long, long ago, when, for want of better music, 
one man played the Jew's (or Jaw's?) harp, and two 


or three others kept up a prolonged monotonous 
nasal drone very like that of my (black) friend in the 
front benches. 

"The warm-hearted, sensible Highland lady and 
gentleman who represent the mission at Raritonga 
are very different people from the typical missionaries 
of the South Pacific. 

" By no means believing that they can wash the 
black-a-moor (or rather brown-a-moor) white by a 
sudden application of Calvinistic white-wash, they 
try to make him as good a brown-a-moor as they can, 
and their labour has certainly not been in vain. How 
easily this white-wash cracks and peels off may be 
seen or heard by any one who keeps his eyes or ears 
open." Dancing, I may explain, had been put down 
for a longtime by the missionaries, more thoroughly 
even at Raritonga than in the Highlands ; and this 
fact is necessary to remember in order to comprehend 
how the missionaries' white-wash at times cracks and 
peels off. 

'' One fact which we heard from a ' high personage' 
rather tickled us. A short time ago a native drum 
was brought to Raritonga from one of the neigh- 
bouring islands, and the very moment the first finger 
taps were heard, all the girls, down to the wee chiels 
ten or eleven years old, began to wriggle and squirm 
like so many galvanised frogs, shewing plainly that 
the old dancing blood still ran in their veins." 

The old paganisms are not to be stamped out so 

" The Gawazee of Egypt and the Gitana of Spain 


have kept to their old dances, in spite of priest or 
mollah, for many an age, and so it will be here. If 
any real improvement is to take place, I should 
propose that each ball should be attended bv the 
missionary and his wife." 

This good advice I pass on to the F.C. ministers 
in the Highlands and Islands, with the earnest hope 
that it may be accepted, and acted upon. 

" What right has an English or French mis- 
sionary" — or Highland missionary? — "to say to a 
whole race, ' You shall not dance, you shall not 
sing, you shall not smoke, under the possible penalty 
of eternal damnation in the next world?'" What 
right, indeed ? 


SKYE IN 1S76. 

" My heart is yearninjj- for thee, O Skye ! 
Dearest of islands ! 
There first the sunshine g'laddened my eye 

On the sea sparkling ; 
There doth the dust of my dear ones lie. 

In the old graveyard." — Nicholson. 

A CHAPTER on Skye — the home of the 
-^"^ MacCruimeins — will not, I hope, be thought 
out of place in any book on the Bagpipe. 

Skye ! at one time the land of romance and song : 
the pipers' paradise, the fountain-head for many 
generations of all that was good and worthy in piping 
and Pipe music. 

Skye ! the birthplace of many of our finest 
Piohaireachd — the pibroch of rude, wild nature, with 
the living breath of the great North Sea in it — the 
Pipe tune filled with the echo of breaking waves, as 
they churn themselves into ragged foam in the great 
sea-caverns below — the melodious Skye song, with 
the sound of the rowlocks in it, and the irriom 
of the boatmen as they sail by on summer seas, and 
the cry of the sea-birds, and the sigh of the south- 


west wind — the ' lament,' with the sadness and the 
sorrow in it, and the slow, stately movement of the 
mighty ocean in it — the lone ocean that plays ever 
round the island (now in calm, now in storm), waiting 
patiently for that great day when its secrets shall be 
disclosed, and " the sea shall give up its dead." 

What Highlander can listen unmoved to Bagpipe 
music "with the story in it," such as we have in 
"The Lament for the Children," "The Lament for 
the Only Son," "Macintosh's Lament," or "The 
Lament of the Sisters" ? 

Or again, knowing the circumstances under which 
" MacCruimein's Lament" was composed, the heart 
must indeed be of stone that fails to respond to that 
saddest of sad refrains, " Cha till! Cha till! Cha till 
mi tiiille^" when heard sung — as it ought always to 
be sung — in the old soft Gaelic tongue. 

'* ISIacCruimein will Never Return" is the Highland 
emigrant's song above all others — the song with the 
bitter cry of the exile in it, the song that makes vocal 
the dumb moan of the despairing heart as the loved 
shores recede with each blast of wind that hurries 
the ship onward. There is a story attached to this 
pibroch, as to so many others, 

During the Rebellion of 1745, MacLeod of MacLeod 
led a military expedition from the Isle of Skye — and 
it was not to help Prince Charlie either. The night 
before sailing, MacCrimmon the piper, who formed 
an important part of the expedition, had a peep into 
the Book of Fate. A dream came to him in the 
stillness of the night ; 'and in his dream he beheld 


the shrouded figure of a man stand before him — a 
dead man, with pale wan face, and shrouded up to 
the eyes. And as he looked, the face seemed to him 
strangely familiar, and the dreamer awoke with a 
start. It was his own face that shewed above the 

The story varies, and the second sight came through 
a friend gifted with the power. But what does it 
matter through whom comes death's summons, when 
it does come? 

It was the strong presentiment of something evil 
going to happen to him, and the yearning and love 
for his island home, which he was forced to leave on 
an expedition in which his heart was not, that wrung 
from MacCrimmon the agonising cry, " " Cha till! 
Cha till! Cha till mi tuille." And to this circum- 
stance we owe one of the most beautiful Highland 
songs ever written. 

Not ^^ Au revoir!'" sang the "Pipes" on board the 
wherry on that fateful morning, but "good-bye!" 
And his friends, left weeping on the shore, and 
remembering the "second sight," too surely knew 
that they were looking for the last time on the passing 
of the great Piper, and that his " Farewell" was indeed 
"For Ever." 

I once heard " MacCrimmon's Lament" sung at a 
Highland gathering in Glasgow, and while I live I 
shall not forget how vividly it recalled to my mind 
the whole scene of that last leave-taking. Those 
who have read this book so far will not, I feel sure, 
think me over-imaginative ; but on this occasion my 


ima^^ination ran riot, and I felt as if the sorrow and 

the burden of that bitter parting had fallen upon me. 

I was the piper under the death warrant ; I it was 

who was leaving the "dearest of islands," every stone 

of which I loved ; I it was who was playing the 

"Farewell" which my tongue refused to utter: for 

me the women and children on the shore were waving 

farewells and weeping. 

The spell of the singer lay long upon the meeting 

— long after the last note of the song had died away 

in silence — but at length the well-deserved applause 

thundered forth, and woke me from my reverie ; and 

it was with a tear in my eye and a sob in my throat 

that I turned to my companion and whispered in his 

ear the words which stand at the head of this chapter 

— words which, I need hardly say, are taken from 

the best song ever written by a son of Skye. Walter 

Smith called it Nicholson's one genuine song — 

" My heart is yearning for thee, O Skye, 
Dearest of islands." 

I lived for many years in Skye, and made my 
first home there, and during my stay I learned to 
love the island — and I love it still — with the love 
of a Nicholson. Can I use a stronger expression? 
Pleasantest of companions was the late sheriff— a 
Celt of Celts, a Highlander of Highlanders ; and oh! 
how he loved the land of his birth. 

On more than one occasion I have sailed with this 
loyal Skyeman up Loch Snizort and round about 
Lynedale and Greshornish, and past grim Dubeg, 
and listened to his grave deliberate talk, so full of 



pawky humour, while the rowers pulled lazily at the 
oars, or the wind gently wafted us over the clear 
blue waters. 

Now he would quote from his own writings, or 
retail some old-world lore picked up in his journey- 
ings through the Highlands ; or, again, he would 
sing songs in his own quaint way. " Kate Dalrymple" 
he was never tired of; giving the chorus nasally, and 
scraping upon an imaginar_y fiddle across his left arm, 
dividing the honours of the song equally between 
Bagpipe and fiddle ; but always, whether talking, 
or singing, or story-telling, he kept looking to right 
and to left, and drinking in vrith greedy eye and ear 
every sight and sound of his beloved Skye. Songs 
of his own composition, too, he often gave us by 
request. Of these his favourites were "The British 
Ass," "Skye," '^ Ho ! Ro ! Mhorag," and "The 
Isles of Greece." Of these songs, and of the singer, 
Dr Walter Smith, Preacher and Poet, wrote: — "A 
bright, breezy ditty is "The Beautiful Isles of 
Greece," and it was good to hear him sing it. 
' British Ass' has received the imprimatur of the 
great Association for which it was written. . . 
There is no march so delights the Scottish Brigade 
of the British Army as ' Ai^ns O Mhorag !' But 
the triumph of his verse is the exquisite — 

' .My heart is yearning' for thee, O Skye ! 
Dearest of islands !' 

Which breathes throughout the sweet pure air of the 
Coolins by the sea. I would give a good deal to 
have written that song — 10 have been capable of 


writing it. Many a time I have felt my eyes grow 
dim as he sang it ; and the last time not less than the 
first. It is indeed a very scanty wreath we are able 
to lay on his grave, but this one rich blossom will 
perfume all the rest." 

Nicholson studied for the Church, but soon gave up 
theology, thinking — in his own words — '* the uniform 
of the esteemed Free Church, of which I am a member, 
too strait for me.'' And, thanks very much to the 
teaching of this same strait-laced Church, Pipe music 
in Skye in the seventies — I talk of last century — was 
a negligible quantity, and. the quality was even 
more so. 

A stranger in those days might travel round the 
island and never hear the sound of the Bagpipe. 
From Dunvegan to Portree there was not a single 
piper — unless Skeabost's man-servant could be called 
one, the piper whose silence on the Sunday morning 
the late Professor Blaikie lamented — and except at 
the Skye gatherings, when pipers from the mainland 
came to compete, I may say that during the six or 
seven vears which I lived on the island. I never either 


saw a Piper or heard a Piper play. 

Two amateurs of the " upper ten," who could afford 
to defy the "priest," occasionally blew the bag; but 
of the crofter class I met with none who could finger 
the chanter. 

The attitude of the Free Church in the Highlands 
towards all forms of innocent amusements, including 
piping and dancing, has much to answer for. It has 
taken all the colour out of the people's lives, and at 


the close of the day the tired workers have nothing 
to look forward to but dreary theological discussions, 
fittingly carried on in blinding peat-reek. 

The narrow policy of their spiritual guides has 
taken the very colour out of the people's clothes, so 
that on Sundays the church pews are filled with 
solemn, gloomy-looking faces, staring at you out of 
rusty blacks and rusty browns, and on week-days the 
potato-drills are sprinkled with uninteresting crouch- 
ing bundles of coarse, dull drabs, out of which 
every vestige of bright, cheery, healthful humanity 
has been well-nigh crushed. 

The Rev. Roderick MacLeod, known sometimes 
as "The Pope of Skye" — uncle to the great Dr. 
Norman MacLeod — was returning late one evening 
from a long tramp over the hills, when he met one 
of his elders, and stopped to talk to him. After the 
ordinary salutations had passed between the two men, 
the minister, rubbing his hands, as if highly pleased 
with himself, said — "Well, John, I have burnt the 
last Bagpipe (or fiddle) in the parish. What do you 
thiok of that, man ? What do you think of that?" 

" It may be as you say, Mr MacLeod, and it may be 
for good," replied John, "but you have not stamped 
out all the music in the island yet ; to do that, Mr 
MacLeod, you will have first to cut all the mavis' 
throats in Skye." And good, honest John was right. 

The minister's boast however, was not far off the 
mark, and the Bagpipe was then, and for many a 
long year after, pretty completely stamped out in its 
old home. 


Nor was the Free Church minister who lived near 
Dunvegan in my day a whit behind the Rev. Rory 
in his display of intolerance towards the music of 
the Pipe. And what these two — narrow-minded 
men, shall I call them? — were doing for the Winged- 
Isle, others of the same creed, and equally bigoted, 
were doing for the rest of the Highlands. 

Once, when Miss MacLeod of MacLeod was 
giving an afternoon tea party to the children on the 
estate, she engaged an old piper to go round with 
his Pipe and gather the children together from the 
widely-scattered townships, and march them down in 
a body to the Castle grounds. The Free Church 
minister on the following Sunday actually denounced 
the dear old lady from the pulpit, for doing so. 

He took for his text "The Scarlet Woman," a 
name suggestive to the poor people, who sat silently 
listening to the impertinent tirade, of everything that 
is vile and worthless. 

A more refined, charming, altogether delightful 
old lady than Miss MacLeod of MacLeod I have never 
met. She lived her whole life in Skye, and could 
not be tempted south, summer or winter, in order 
that she might have more to spend on the poor. The 
heavy-laden found in her a friend. She forgot not 
"the widow and the fatherless " ; she nursed the sick 
with a tenderness not always to be learned in hospital; 
she was the confidant of half the parish. When she 
had more than usual difficult}' witli a case, she took 
me into her counsels, and I felt honoured at such 
times to be allowed to work with her, and proud that 


I could be of some assistance to her in her great 
lifelong work of charity. Whatever I prescribed on 
such occasions, whether medicines, jellies, soups, or 
wines, she ungrudgingly supplied. 

Nor did such services to the poor round about the 
door satisfy this large-hearted woman. 

Some reports appeared in the newspapers about 
this time commenting on the high mortality among 
the newly-born children in St. Kilda — the loneliest 
and most remote part of her brother's vast domains — 
and she consulted me in her distress, for she was 
deeply affected by these reports. When I suggested 
to her that the cause was a preventable one, she said 
quietly, " I shall go out to the island and see for 
myself." And she did ! sailing across the treacherous 
stretch of waters that separates St. Kilda from Skye 
in an open boat. There she lived for several months 
— this fine, delicately-brought-up, high-strung lady, 
with hair white as the snowflake, making her bed with 
the poor islanders, and eating of their simple fare. 
And when she returned from her self-imposed mission 
she again sent for me, and taking me up to the roof 
of the Castle, where we would be undisturbed, she 
told me in triumph that the cause was what I had 
more than suspected, and that she had saved several 
little lives while nursing on the island. 

The last time I met this dear old lady is indelibly 
impressed upon my memory. I got a letter one day 
shortly before leaving Skye asking me to meet her 
at a certain hour at a poor widow's house about a mile 
and a half out of Dunvegan. With a horse in front 



of me that could trot, I was there rather punctually. 
It was a real Skye day : the wind bellowed and thun- 
dered, and the rain came down in torrents. The 
black, bleak-looking moorland in front of the cottage 
was mostly under water, and there, stepping carefully 
along from tussock to tussock, holding her thin black 
dress carefully up out- of the wet, battered and buffeted 
by wind and by rain, in thin house shoes out of which 
the water poured at every step, was the Lady of the 
Manor, on her errand of mercy. My heart filled with 
admiration and love as the whole truth dawned upon 
me. This high-born lady was in rags, or little better, 
that the sick might be tended, and the hungry fed, 
and the naked clothed. And yet the F.C. priest, who 
was, no doubt, at that moment — for it was early in the 
morning, and such a morning! — sitting snug in 
his warm parlour toasting his feet at a comfortable 
fire — had once dared to denounce her, whose shoe 
latchet he was not worthy to unloose, for entertaining 
the little children with a tune on the Great Highland 
Bagpipe. Assuredly the Pioh-mhor has fallen upon 
evil days in its old home in Skye ! 

In 1883 I left Skye for Falkirk, and, with the 
exception of one flying visit paid to it in the following 
summer, the island and I remained strangers to each 
other for eighteen years. 

In 1902, however, I again visited Skye, while on 
a cycling tour through the Highlands in company 
with my eldest daughter, and we spent a very pleasant 
week there, visiting places new and old. We made 
Kyle Akin our headquarters, putting up at the King's 


Arms Hotel, where Mrs M'lnnes, the genial hostess 
— an old Skye friend of mine — made us most welcome. 
We cycled round the island by easy stages, going to 
Edinbane (my daughter's birthplace), via Broadford, 
SHgachan, and Portree, and returning to Kyle Akin 
by Dun vegan, Struan, and Carbost. 

I am glad to say that things are different to-day in 
Skye from what they were in 1S76. 

At Struan, where we spent a night, and got up a 
reel dance, in which the young men from the hill 
joined, we met Mrs M'Lean, the lady of the Manse, 
and from her v^e learned with pleasure that the 
people were rapidly emancipating themselves from the 
grievous thraldom of the Free Church in such matters 
as music and dancing. 

This is as it should be : the Highlander ought 
not to give up his old customs and habits, w^hen good 
and innocent, at the call of Church or State. As 
our forefathers fought for the restoration of the kilt 
and the tartan, so should we iight for the restoration 
of the old dance and the old music, and go on fighting 
until the Highlands becomes once more the land of 
dance and song. 

With the most picturesque dress in Europe, seen 
to most advantage perhaps on the ball-room floor or 
on the field of battle ; and a wealth of song that is our 
very own, and which, for a certain sweet, quaint 
pathos which it possesses, is difficult to match ; and 
the Bagpipe, that is now the national instrument of 
Scotland ; and a dance — the His^hland flin<^ — as 
truly characteristic of the nation to-day as the Pipe, 


why should we copy the South in our pleasures and 
dress, to the utter neglect of these? 

I had, unfortunately, only one short week to spend 
in the island ; but I learned enough in that time to 
assure me of the truth of Mrs M 'Lean's statement. 

''Pipe to us," said the children, and the Pipes 
were scarcely shouldered when I had around me an 
eager, happy crowd. 

At Kyle Akin each night we had a dance, in which 
the visitors, old and young, joined, and I took care 
to make it as Highland as possible. 

It was on this visit that I met the " MacWhamle," 
who rated against the idle, lazy, contented poverty 
of the Skyemen. Remembering this against him, 
we determined to take notes as we went along with 
which to refute him on our return. 

We arrived at Kyle Akin one Wednesday afternoon 
in the second week of September, and cycled away 
the following morning after breakfast. The day was 
gloriously fine, and the wind, which was but slight, 
was in our favour. The road was simply perfect for 
the first eighteen miles. Revelling in the scenery 
and the freshness of the heather-scented air, we sped 
along joyously. We had not gone many miles 
when we saw a boy coming along the road 
towards us. 

" Look out for rags and hunger," I said ; but we 
were agreeably disappointed. The boy was busy 
with a huge "jelly piece," which he seemed to be en- 
joying heartily, and returned my salutation pleasantly. 
He was a sturdy little chap, with bare feet, certainly, 


but a grand pair of legs over them, and looked very 
comfortable and clean in a nice suit of homespun. 
A little farther on, we came upon three children 
chasing a pet sheep out of the corn ; and their gay- 
laughter, as they shouted and ran hither and thither 
in high glee, after the errant one, fitted delightfully 
into the gay feelings inspired by the bright sunshine 
and beautiful scenery. Down by the shore, washer- 
women were busy at work, and they gaily waved us 
a wet welcome and farewell in "one breath." 

Just before entering Broadford, we came up with 
a little country cart. A smart little pony in a set of 
bright new harness ambled along between the shafts. 
The body of the cart was painted green, and the 
wheels bright red. It was spotlessly clean. A young 
lad drove, while seated on the straw in the bottom 
of the cart, was a group of chubby, red-cheeked, 
well-dressed children, looking so happy and contented, 
and evidently enjoying the ride as only children can. 
" Where," we asked, " is the idleness, and misery, and 
poverty pictured by Mr MacWhamle?" so far we 
only saw comfort, and happiness, and content. And 
so it was all through our tour. We conversed with 
everyone on the road ; we entered many of the 
houses and saw few signs of grinding poverty such 
as you meet with constantly in the slums of all 
great cities ; we questioned, and were answered 
brightly and pleasantly ; we piped, and they danced ; 
if we gave pleasure, it was assuredly returned to us 
fourfold, and when our short acquaintanceships came 
to an end, we felt each time as if we were leaving 


old friends. And how pleasant the flattery with 
which our healths were drunk at parting, and how 
polite the manners. " Here's to your health, young 
leddy" — Donald's cap at this point is raised for a 
moment, showing the innate gallantry of the man, 
and then quietly replaced, showing his sturdy inde- 
pendence — " you are a Skye-woman, and you are 
the one that can dance whateffer, may your life be 
happy whereffer you go, and may you often come 
back to see us." "And here's to your health, sir, 
and you pipe very well too, and you are not 
ashamed of your native land, etc., etc." 

No Irishman could improve upon this. 

When we left Kyle-Akin, our intention was to go 
as far as Sligachan, and rest there for the night, 
visiting Loch Coruisk on the following day. The 
journey from Sligachan to Coruisk and back takes 
a full day, which, as it happened, we could ill 
afford, and knowing that Broadford was not much 
farther from the Coolins than was Sligachan, I en- 
quired of an old man who was standing in the Post 
Office when we called there for the inevitable post 
card, if there was not a road to the famous Loch, 
other than by Sligachan. 

We were delighted to learn from him, that there 
was such a road, although "a hilly one," and that 
if " the leddy " — this with a polite bow — was not 
afraid of an extra fifteen miles run to a place called 
Elgol, and a sea journev of four or five miles at the 
other end, we could do Coruisk much more easily 
and expeditiously than by the wearisome tramp over 


the hills from Sligachan, and also save a day of 
precious time. 

The idea fitting in to our plans well, we at once 
acted upon it, and following the directions of our 
now self-appointed guide — who was most courteous 
to us, although we were complete strangers to him — 
we turned off the Portree road sharply to the left, 
just under Ross's Hotel, and cut across country to 
Elgol by Strathaird. This part of Skye was all new to 
me, and we were richly rewarded for our enterprise 
in invading unknown territory, by a most lovely 
run through Suardal. 

To describe the beauties of land and sea which 
everywhere met our delighted eyes on this never- 
to-be-forgotten day is outwith the scope of this 
book, and far beyond the power of my poor pen. 
Some miles out of Broadford, we came upon 
" Cill Chriosd," the quiet burial-place of the Mac- 

It is situated just a little way off the main road 
in the very centre of the beautiful Strath, and is 
guarded on the south by a fresh water loch of the 
same name, Loch Cill Chriosd, while to the north, 
keeping watch and ward over the sleepers, Ben na 
Cailleach rears its tall head to the skies. Basking 
in the warmth of the soft September sun which 
shone brightly out of a cloudless sky, Cill Chriosd, 
as we saw it on that day, looked an ideal place in 
which to rest when life's weary strife is o'er. With 
the exception of a solitary fisher, who stood waist 
deep in the water silently plying his rod, nor sight 


nor sound of life was there in all that vast expanse 
to disturb its still repose. Here I read on the tomb- 
stones the names of several old friends who were 
alive and in their prime when I bade farewell to 
Skye ; and even since the day on which I stood there 
with uncovered head, another once well-known and 
kind-hearted Skyeman, Donald M'Innes, has been 
added to the number. 

The road, as far as Torran, where we came again 
within sight of the sea, proved almost as ideal as 
the Kyle Akin road of the morning, cart ruts and 
loose stones being noticeable by their absence. 
At Torran, we sat down on a hillock by the road- 
side, and, it being now past mid-day, we lunched 
off chocolate cake. For drink, we enjoyed the clear 
water from a tiny rivulet that gurgled close by, and 
for dessert, we had a tune on the Bagpipe, then 
filled with a lazy content, and the joy of idleness, 
we turned to admire the scenery. A quiet sense 
of repose covered the land. On our left, the 
picturesque township of Torran lay simmering in the 
mid-day sun ; in front, huge Blaavin, sloping down 
grandly to the very edge of the water at the head of 
the loch, slumbered peacefully ; at our feet, the blue 
waters of Loch Slapin danced and sparkled in the 
autumn breeze; while on our right, Ben Dearg spread 
its mighty red-stained shoulder far up the lonely 
glens, Srath Mor and Srath Beag. The Great Glen — 
Srath Mor — forms a continuation on land of the 
sea valley, and looking at it from Torran, it curves 
slowly to the right in a great semicircle, and 


gradually disappears among the mountains, a noble 
and imposing spectacle. 

On the opposite side of the loch, we could follow 
with the eye for a mile or two, the road to Elgol, 
as it wound itself ever upward round the mountain 
side, its steep gradient warning us that to C3^cle up 
would be impossible, and to cycle down might be 
somewhat dangerous. 

While we sat enjoying the quiet and beauty of 
the scene, a young lad came whistling merrily up 
the hill. Of him I enquired if there were any 
Pipes or Pipers in Torran, and was told that there 
was " not one since young M'Kinnon the shepherd 
left. He played the Pipe ferry well : Oh yes ! he 
was a ferry goot piper whateffer." 

1 have seldom heard the Highlander — the West 
Coast Highlander at least — soften the v into / as 
this lad did : " Tonalt " is not often met with out of 
English novels, or I have been fortunate hitherto in 
missing him. 

As there was evidently nothing to be learned in 
Torran that would be helpful to me in the writing 
of my book, we resumed our journey without 
visiting the township. After a pleasant run on the 
level round the head of the loch, we came to the 
foot of the hill, where — as we feared — we had to 
dismount and walk, which was perhaps as well, the 
surface being very rough in parts. A fast spin 
down the other side of the hill — the road here again 
being excellent — made up for lost time, and brought 
us to the lodge of Strathaird. 


Here we stopped for a few minutes, and made 
friends with the " keepers," through their children, 
whose pockets we stuffed with sweets, and after 
another long climb we arrived at the gates of Elgol — 
for the place is guarded by a wall and gates on its 
landward side, and protected by nature on the 
opposite side, where it shews a bold, precipitous 
face to the sea. 

Elgol, meaning, as I was told, "the cold spot," 
was anything but a cold spot on this bright Sep- 
tember day. 

Its position, perched on a cliff high above the 
sea, is not unlike that ot one of the beautiful cities 
on the Mediterranean. 

When we arrived there, it was to find the fields 
all astir with shearers — men, women, and children — 
busily cutting down the golden grain ; and one of 
these, a smart, sailor-dressed lad, came forward and 
spoke to us as we stood with uncertain hand upon 
the gate. He seemed to understand our errand before 
we spoke, and led us promptly to the head-man of 
the village, who lived in a large two-storied, well-built 
house, with slated roof, standing on the edge of the 
cliff — a house much superior to any of its neighbours. 
A profusion ot oars and sails and tarry rope giving 
off a delightful aroma in the warm sun, announced 
the calling of the master — MacLeod was his name, 
if I remember aright. 

Standing on the edge of the plateau, just behind 
the house, where we discussed terms, the view we 
had was simply magnificent. 


Such a wealth and profusion of wild beauty and 
grandeur on land and sea as spread itself out before 
our astonished gaze, it would be difficult to equal 
the world over. I speak as a traveller who has 
visited many strange countries, and seen many 
wonderful sights. 

Nature was in befitting silent mood here, as if 
resting satisfied with her handiwork ; and well she 
might feel satisfied. Beyond the faint murmur of the 
sea rising up from the foot of the cliff, as it caressed 
with gentle touch, the golden tresses of sea-weed 
floating lovingly upon its breast, and the distant call 
of the sea-mew, no sound broke the deep silence. 

A flock of gulls lazily swinging to and fro at the 
foot of the cliff, looked, from the heights on which 
we stood, like drifting snow-flakes. 

Not a breath of air was stirring. 

The great Coolins across the bay tower'd aloft, 
huge in their giant repose. 

There was not a cloud in the sky, nor a speck of 
mist on the mountain's side, to veil the clear, clean, 
sharp-cut peaks, as they pierced the blue ether. 

Viewing the fair scene from right to left, Elgol 
looks down upon Camasunary, with its pleasant 
white-walled shooting lodge and sheltered bay — in 
which, on the day of our visit, two yachts, looking 
no bigger than sea-birds, lay at anchor — and upon 
Loch Scavaig, whose blue waters play ever round 
her feet ; and northwards to where the Coolins sit, 
nursing Coruisk in their lap ; and out west — over 
Minginish headlands on to the great Atlantic, and 


down once more upon Eilean Soay guarding the 
entrance to the bay ; and south to where Rum and 
Canna lie sleeping, and Ardnamurchan wages eternal 
battle with the waves. And still farther south by 
west — so clear was the air on this particular day — 
the many peaks of the mountain range extending 
from Morar to Morven, through Strontian, Kilmalieu, 
and Kingairloch could be seen silhouetted, faint but 
clear, against the opal sky. 

It was under such weather conditions that we 
visited the famous Loch Coruisk, but the want of 
cloud and mist took away largely from the solemnity 
and mystery of the place, and I preferred the scene 
as I had seen it many years before, on a day when 
the heavy wind-driven mists were rolling grandly 
off the sides of the mountains, and the lofty peaks 
were buried in black thunder-clouds. 

Slipping, and sliding, and stumbling over loose 
stones, we made our way to the shore by a steep 
path fit only for goats, and while we were launching 
the boat— no child's play, I can assure you, pushing 
the ancient-looking, heavy, water-logged thing through 
the loose shingle, and over innumerable boulders 
of black slippery rock — a smart breeze sprang up. 

Our boat was an old fishing boat, its only seat, 
the beam in the centre. It was not one whit better 
equipped, or more seaworthy than that from which 
the great Dr. Johnson dropped his spurs into the 
sea more than a hundred years before when coasting 
round Skye. The men sat in the bottom of the 
boat, the steersman sat aft on the gunwale, while 


my daughter and I occupied the seat of honour in 
the centre. Before starting, we took on board for 
ballast, a number of large stones. 

The wind, which kept growing in force, being dead 
against us, the men had to row for a good hour, but 
at length trusting to catch a slant of wind coming off 
the mountain side, the primitive lug-sail of brown 
cotton, and indifferently patched, was hoisted on a 
rude primitive mast, which was "stepped" primitive 
fashion in a heap of loose stones. 

A curious little incident happened on the way out. 
My daughter, who was born in Skye, as I have said 
before, and who spoke Gaelic as a child fluently, had 
unfortunately completely forgotten the old tongue 
during her eighteen years' sojourn in the south. 
Just as we were approaching the mouth of Loch 
Scavaig, and the old boat, in spite of much creaking 
and groaning, was slipping along splendidly, a 
sudden squall struck her so heavily that she heeled 
over until the gunwale was under water, and I — who 
knew a little about boats — thought we were going to 
the bottom. I was piping at the time, and my hands 
being occupied (as I continued playing with a 
seeming indifference to what was happening — an 
indifference which I was far from feeling) I was shot 
along the seat, with my daughter on the top of me, 
and if I had not managed to stop our precipitate 
flight to leeward, by getting my outstretched foot 
against the gunwale of the boat, it is a matter of 
speculation as to whether my researches into the 
history of the Bagpipe would have been continued 


or not. As v/e slid along the seat, my ^'' Nighean don 
Boidheach,'" in the excitement of the moment, called 
aloud to the men in Gaelic, ^^ Hic-i-stoi! Hic-i-stoi! ^'* 
and immediately coloured up to her eyes with a 
most becoming blush. The three sailor lads, who 
had quickly lowered the sail, looked round in gentle 
wonder, but said nothing. 

We took to the oars after this for a time, and the 
wind soon dying away as quickly as it had risen, 
we rowed the remaining part of the journey to the 
accompaniment of " The Macintosh's Lament," 
which I piped at the request of our skipper, John 

I had just got to the last variation — the Crumluath — 
when two torpedo-boats, which had been lying close 
inshore, hidden behind the Islands, shot out past us 
at a tremendous pace, throwing up huge cataracts 
of white foam as they tore along, stern first. I 
immediately changed from the "Lament" to the 
Sailor's Hornpipe. Jack hitched up his trousers as 
he heard the well-known tune, saying by his action 
as plainly as words could say, "you're piping to us, 
and we would dance to you if we dared, but we're 
on duty," and smiling "good-bye!" was swiftly 
carried out of sight. 

We saw Coruisk this day without a ripple on its 
surface, reflecting back the clear blue sky as from a 
mirror of polished silver. The bright sunshine pene- 
trating, revealed every crack and crevice on the steep, 
scarred sides of the grey-black rocks as they rose 
abruptly from the water's edge ; and there was not 


anywhere — look high or low — a patch of mist the size 
of one's hand, to soften the stern outlines, or to deepen 
the mystery of that loneliest of lonely spots. 

When walking round Loch Coruisk, I said to 
Nelly (my daughter) : 

" What was that you said to the sailors when the 
squall struck us ? " 

"Oh, yes; did you hear me, father? Did you 
hear me? It was Gaelic!" and again she blushed 
with pleasure at the remembrance. 

'' I know that," I answered. " But what was it?" 

"I told them to 'Hurry up.'" 

"You told them to 'Come in,'" I replied, "'///c- 
i-stoi is not 'Hurry up,' but 'Come in,' and it is 
no wonder that the men v/ho were already ' in,' 
looked astonished at your imperative call." 

Now here, under the influence of congenial sur- 
roundings — the surroundings of her childhood's 
days — a language which has been in abeyance for 
eighteen years is suddenly recalled ; but the special 
part of the brain concerned having grown "rusty" 
for want of use, gives off in the hurry and excite- 
ment caused by the sudden approach of grave 
danger, not the words wanted, but the first that 
come to hand — the words which had been oftenest 
heard, or oftenest used in infancy, and which had 
made the deepest impression on the palimpsest of 
the young brain — the words of welcome which greeted 
the ear of every stranger knocking at the door of a 
Highland cottage, '''' Hic-i-stoiy 

Hospitality was the failing of the Highlander in 


days gone by. Its over-indulgence spelt ruin to many 
a good family in those days, and the law itself had 
at one time to be put in operation to protect him from 
the consequences of his own over-generous impulses. 
In those days there was no suspicious peering out 
from behind half-closed doors when rat-a-tat-tat 
wakened the slumbering house dog. "Come in !" 
rane out frank and free at the first summons. 

That he knocked at the door, shewed him to be a 
stranger. That he was a stranger, made him welcome. 
These were his credentials. His rank or business 
was of secondary consideration. The time of calling 
mattered not. Morning, noon, and night, ^^ Hic-i- 
stoi'' was to be heard all over the Highlands, and 
the children, listening, took the words to heart, and 
stored them up for future use. If they occasionally 
sprang unbidden to the lips, as in the present in- 
stance, is it to be wondered at? 

I have said that hospitality was a failing of the 
old Celt ; and a grand failing too ! 

No doubt it was often taken advantage of, and 
abused by the lazy and the "ne'er-do-weel"; seldom, 
if ever, by an avowed enemy. This it is which 
makes the treachery of the Campbells at Glencoe all 
the more glaring. " Hic-i-stoi'''' said the simple, 
trustful people in the glen, when they saw the 
Campbells shivering at their doors — the bleak 
winter night fast closing in and a snow-storm 
coming on. And the Maclans took them in out 
of the cold, and feasted them, and rested them, 
sharing their very beds with them. 


In the mornino;, when the Campbells moved out 
down the Glen, muttering in'^ their] coward . beards, 
there were no good-byes — not even one innocent 
child's voice to cry after them — " God-be-with-you." 

Fire and sword had done their work thoroughly 
and well. The desolation of death filled the glen. 
And when the news, which spread like wild-fire, 
broupht incredulous friends on the morrow to the 
scene, they saw before and around them, nothing 
but blood-stained hearths and blackened rafters and 
smouldering ruins, where but yesterday was sweet 
smiling home with its welcome " Hic-i-Stoi." 

We sailed back to Elgol in sunshine, the men 
rowing leisurely over a sea smooth as glass and 
matching in colour the brilliant hue of the finest 
sapphire. The wind, ashamed of the trick it had 
played us on the way out, hid itself away for the 
rest of the day. 

We heard of three pipers in Elgol, but as they 
were still on the Clyde yachting, we had no oppor- 
tunity of judging their playing. 

We found the Elgol men a smart, intelligent lot of 
fellows, quick and decided in their movements. There 
was also an independent, manly bearing about them, 
which spoke volumes in their favour. They were all 
dressed in navy-blue cloth, sailor-fashion, spoke 
English fluently and correctly, without forgetting 
their Gaelic, and were not content — O delighted 
shade of MacWhamle !— with even a millhand's wage 
for a day's work. 

These young fellows, with frank, fearless eyes, 



that looked through and beyond you — with that 
look begotten of long days and nights spent in " going 
down into the sea in ships " — make their living in the 
South during the summer months as yachtsmen, 
and know every inch of the Clyde as well as, or 
better than, their own native lochs. 

We left Elgol, with regret, at 6 p.m. for Broad- 
ford, with one and a half hours in which to do 
fifteen miles. It was our intention, owing to the 
roughness of the surface, and steepness of Loch 
Slapin Hill, to throw ourselves upon the mercy of 
the "keepers," and stop for the night at Strathaird 
if darkness overtook us ; and something of this in- 
tention was probably in my mind when I took a leaf 
out of the " Unjust Steward's " book, and borrowing 
" striped balls " from my daughter — what the Ameri- 
cans call "suckers," gave to the children. 

But although the first seven miles, owing to the hilly 
nature of the road, took us just one hour to cover, 
we did the last eight miles in half an hour, and, 
tired but happy, ran into Mr Ross's hotel at Broad- 
ford, two minutes before the dinner gong sounded, 
having spent what turned out to be the most enjoy- 
able day in our week's tour round Skye. 

Broadford has well been called the Manchester of 
Skye. The dwellers therein are proud of the title. 
A Broadford lady once told me this, and I remem- 
ber well how she stiffened and drew herself up to 
the full height, and minced and affected her accent 
as became a citizen of this "no mean city." She 
spoke as if the Lowland title conferred some honour 


upon the little town and its inhabitants, and gave 
them a superior standing over the rest of Skye. 

Broadford has always had too free communication 
with the South to be characteristically Highland, and 
its ways and manners are largely those of the 
Southron. I learned nothing in its streets that I 
could not just as easily have learned in Falkirk. It 
is too refined to flaunt its knowledge of Gaelic and 
the Bagpipe in the face of the stranger. 

It was, therefore, without any keen regrets that 
we started on the following morning at ten o'clock 
for Portree and Edinbane. Portree was only twenty- 
six miles distant, and we arranged to lunch there 
before going on to see our old friends at Edinbane ; 
but alas for good intentions ! the wind went round 
to the north, and blew so hard that we had practi- 
cally to walk the twenty-six miles; lunched at 1.30 
p.m. at Sligachan instead of at Portree, and only 
arrived at the latter place at 5.20 in the evening. 

Some distance out of Broadford, feeling out-of- 
breath, and somewhat tired with the constant struggle 
against the wind, we sat down to rest by the way- 
side, near the delightful little village of Luib. Here, 
sheltered by a soft, brown, turf dyke from the north 
wind, and bathed in sunshine, we lay and dreamed, 
watching from under half-closed lids, the fleecy 
clouds chasing each other across the bright blue 
sky, and listening to the moan of the waves in the 
bay below as they leaped over each other in haste 
to escape from the scourge of the bitter north wind. 

Our quiet retreat was discovered before long by 


the village children, who drew near boldly and fear- 
lessly but in perfect silence. Having found out 
long ago the secret of unloosing little tongues, we 
soon learned all that was interesting about Luib ; 
but most interesting of all to me was the news that 
there was a piper in the village called Murdo M'Innie. 

Leaving my daughter to look after the by cycles, 
I made a bee-line over some very rough ground for 
Murdo's house. It was a neat little thatched cottage, 
but the walls I noticed were built solidly of stone 
and lime, and more substantial looking altogether 
than I was accustomed to see in the old days. 

It was whitewashed outside and in, and looked 
dazzlingly white in the bright sunshine. It had a 
register grate in the room, which jarred upon me at 
first as being out of place ; but thanks to the grate 
there was in the house itself just that soup9on of peat 
reek flavour which greets the visitor's fresh sense of 
smell so gratefully on a first visit to the High- 

The whole place was as neat and tidy as a new 
pin. Why was MacWhamle the discontented not here 
to see how goodly and pleasant the Skye crofters' 
lot can be? 

The door stood open, but I chose to knock. 
^^ Hic-i-stoi" flashed out the quick response. I en- 
tered without more ado, and there stood Murdo — 
frank of face and frank of manner, beaming a 
welcome upon the stranger. 

" I have just heard that you are a piper," I said to 
him after the usual greetings had passed between us. 


"Oh! no indeed, sir," answered Murdo, "I'm not 
much of a piper." 

"But I hear you can play a bit," I replied, "and 
I've come for a tune ! " 

" It's not much of a player I ever was," said he, 
"and it's a long time since I played, and you can't 
have a tune whatever, for my bag- is burst." 

The bag of his Pipe is what Murdo refers to here. 

I liked Murdo for his bashfulness, a most un- 
common failing in a piper, as I have observed more 
than once. "But," I said, "I have a set of Pipes 
here," pointing to the little bundle in waterproof 
under my arm — at which Murdo smiled a little 

So did the boatmen at Elgol when I offered them a 
pibroch instead of the bottle of whisky which they 
asked to have thrown into the bargain, and — worse 
luck for them — accepted my offer, not believing that 
I could give them a tune. 

I soon had the Pipe together, and after I had 
tuned the drones, I handed it to Murdo. He had 
barely taken a turn once up and down the room, 
before an old woman ran in at the door, and hold- 
ing up her hands in astonishment, exclaimed in 
Gaelic, "Gracious goodness, what's up with you, 
Murdo ! " then seeing me for the first time, said 
nothing more, but incontinently fled. The old 
woman was followed by a bright-eyed laughing girl, 
who did exactly the same. Using the very form of 
speech of the old woman, she gave vent to an ex- 
clamation of astonishment, " Yeeally Graishy^* and 


ran away with the sentence unfinished, on catching 
sight of the stranger. Then, as the music rose and 
fell in that little room, lad after lad dropped in, till the 
house could hold no more. These lads needed no 
invitation — the door stood open, wasn't that enough ! 
they spoke no word, but sat and listened in quiet 
wonder to the piper. In the meantime I had sent for 
my daughter, who was received in silence and shewn 
to a seat in the window by one of the young men, 
who politely made way for her. When Murdo, who 
played with great spirit, and no little touch of good 
fingering, had blown his cheeks into a state of 
paralysis — largely from want of practice — he had to 
stop. I then — as a farewell — played "M'Leod of 
M'Leod's Lament," an old tune written in 1626. 
What possessed me to play so sad a tune I do not 
know. I had not well begun when an old man 
came quietly in at the door just as the others had 
done. I nodded to him and went on playing, but 
I noticed that he alone went up to my daughter and 
shook hands with her in a grave and dignified 
fashion, then turned suddenly away, and going 
quickly to the back of the press door, where he was 
out of sight of the others, he wiped his face with a 
towel that hung there. Coming in fresh from the 
field, this seemed a natural enough thing to do on 
the part of the old man, and I thought nothing 
more of the matter. 

After a smoke and a few words of praise to Murdo 
for his piping, and of encouragement to him to 
follow it up, and never again to let the bag rot, I 


said good-bye, and came away. But Murdo "would 
see me across the moor to the road. My daughter 
walked a little in front, and did not hear what Murdo 
said as he gave me his history in pocket edition. 

"The old man who came in last is my father," 
said Murdo. " We live by ourselves. My mother 
is dead, and my only sister died three years ago. 
And since then the Pipe has been silent in the 
house, and that's how the bag is in holes. You 
broke the silence of three years to-day." 

" I'm sorry, Murdo," I said, " if I have awakened 
painful memories unwittingly, but three years is a 
long time to mourn for the dead, with life so short. 
I think you should have looked sooner to the " Pipes " 
for comfort, after the manner of your forefathers ; 
and I will see to it that you get a new bag if you 
will promise me to continue the piping so well 
begun to-day." 

To which Murdo replied simply, "I promise that." 

As we rode along the side of the Loch, my 
daughter said to me " Father ! who was the old 
man who came in last, and why did he cry when 
he shook hands with me?" 

He was really weeping then, when he went behind 
the door ! 

The sound of the Pipe in the house after so 
long a silence had overcome him — flooding his brain 
with half-forgotten memories, and his heart with 

Five minutes before she spoke, I would have 
answered her question readily enough, with " Wh)' 


of course, it was the * M'Leod of M'Leod's Lament,' 
played with the proper feehng, that affected him." 
But now, I told her Murdo's story instead, and 
for some time after, we rode along the shore in 

This day's journey, although short, was the only 
toilsome one in our tour, and we crawled rather 
than rode up to the Portree hotel ; but after a most 
delightful high tea, in which freshly caught herring 
and freshly laid eggs with ham piping hot, figured 
largely, we started off as fresh as ever for Edinbane, 
fourteen miles to the north-west. 

The way — every stone of which I knew — was 
beguiled by stories of the various driving accidents 
which befel me in the old days, and a short hour 
and a half brought us to the hospital, just a little 
after dark, where we were kindly entertained for the 
night by Dr. and Mrs Sandstein, and where my 
daughter had the pleasure of sleeping in the room 
where she first saw the light. 

At Edinbane, as indeed all along the road, I 
noticed a great improvement in the crofters' houses ; 
the rudely-thatched, badly-built, dry stone house of 
my day, having given place to neat cottages, built 
of stone and lime, with large windows and properly 
built chimneys, and all nicely slated. 

The Crofters Act is surely doing good. 

A few of my old friends who heard of our arrival 
came to see us off in the morning, and their 
enthusiasm was delightfully refreshing. They, one 
and all, expressed surprise at Nelly's having grown 


SO much. Said John M'Kinnon, "the Marchand," 
to her, "And you are little Nelly! Well! well! 
And do you remember how you used to call to me 
in Gaelic from the nursery window in the morning, 
and say, ' Iain JMach Kinnie, I am your sweetheart.' 
Well ! well ! who would think that little Nelly 
would grow such a big leddy." 

Alas ! " the Marchand," who was ill at ease and 
depressed that day over a telegram Avhich he had 
just received, saying that his son was coming home 
from Calcutta ill, heard next morning before we left 
of his boy's death, which took place on board ship 
when one day out at sea. 

John M'Farlane also, was very amusing about Nelly. 
He swore he could tell her anywhere by her 
likeness to her mother. " And when you left here, 
you were just the size of that "- -pointing half-way 
to the ground — "and now you are a great big 
leddy, taller than your mother " — which was quite 
true — " but not so plump," which — publish it not 
in Gath, whisper it not in the streets of Askelon — 
was also quite true. 

John, like the rest of our kind Skye friends, was 
forgetting that "little Nelly" had been away from 
her island home for over eighteen 3'ears, but their 
warm remembrances were very welcome to us, and 
after all, it was really " little Nelly " that they knew. 

Next day we rode to Dunvegan about mid-day, 
and lunched there. While I was playing " Lord 
Lovat's Lament" in the churchyard, round the tomb 
of Thomas Fraser of Beaufort, who was father to 


the famous Simon, Lord Lovat, of the ** Forty-five," 
Dr. Sandstein, who was to drive me over to Bore- 
raig, the farm which the MacCrimmons held for 
so many years, arrived at the hotel, and went off 
without me, believing that I had gone on by myself. 
As it was now raining heavily, we thought it better 
not to attempt Boreraig, and so made straight for 
Struan, where we spent the night. Next day, although 
it was Sunday, taking advantage of beautiful weather, 
we cycled to Kyle Akin, a distance of 60 or 70 miles. 
At Struan, we got up a dance in the kitchen of the 
inn, at which several young men from the hills 
joined. One of these, a splendidly built fellow, and 
handsome looking, was an excellent dancer, and also 
played very well upon the " Pipes." The Bagpipe 
was also very much in evidence at Kyle Akin during 
the remainder of our stay, where we had nightly 
dances in which visitors and servants joined heartily. 

I had a call on the morning after my return, from 
one of the natives called John McRa. Hearing that 
I was interested in the Bagpipe, he said that he 
would like to show me some relics which he had in 
his possession. He had, among other things, an 
old chanter belonging to his grandfather, Donald 
McRa, and a silver medal won in 1835. 

This same Donald had won the championship in 
1 791, and in 1835 when over eighty years of age, 
the old man again went south to compete for 
supremacy. But although he did not win the gold 
medal, he was awarded a special silver medal for 
his pluck as well as for his skill. 


This same Donald McRa married a Fraser, and 
had two sons, John and Sandy, who were both 
pipers in the 71st. John afterwards became piper to 
Charles Sobieskie Stuart Wells, whose remains lie 
buried in the Fraser country. 

Donald was a teacher of Bagpipe music, and one 
of his pupils was the famous player, M^Kae f Pa fan- 
heg-vounderledi ), piper to the Earl of Seaforth. 

The grandson took me to his house, a neat, well- 
furnished cottage, where he unfolded to me his 

He also told me stories of Angus Mackay, and of 
the MacCrimmons, and of many a piper long since 

One of the last of the famous MacCrimmons, ac- 
cording to John, died in the old Fort of Glenelg, 
after the American War. Another MacCrimmon, 
named Bruce, went as piper to Louis Philippe, 
after the battle of Waterloo. John rambled on in 
this way of old-world affairs for quite an hour, and 
I came away quite delighted with himself, and his 
house, and his treasures. 

My impressions formed during this short visit to 
Skye, point to the conclusion that the Bagpipe is 
once more coming to the front in its old home, and 
that one day ere long a new race of MacCrimmons 
may arise to delight future generations with their 



A GREAT deal of idle discussion has centred 
round the musical instrument called by early- 
English writers, the "chorus." 

What is a chorus? 

The old Greek scholar would have answered this 
question by saying, "The chorus is an organised 
band of dancers and singers." 

The ninth century Anglo-Saxon scribe would just 
as readily have answered, "The chorus is a musical 
instrument used by the Britons, and called by them, 
Pioh-mala or Bagpipe." 

While the twentieth century musician would tell 
us that, " The chorus is a body of singers, singing 
in concert." 

Now each of these three answers, although differ- 
ing the one from the other, would be correct, and 
in refusing to recognise this shaded meaning, a good 
deal ot confusion and misrepresentation has been 
introduced into the discussion by writers in the past. 

It is the old story of a word which has acquired 
different, and apparently contradictory meanings, at 


various stages in its march down the centuries. 
And so, when one authority tells us that it means 
" M/'>r," and another equally learned authority tells 
us that it means ^^ that,'' both may be right, or both 
may be wrong — it all depends on a date. 

The story of the word *' chorus" is, in fact, the 
story of the Greek word, '■'• sumphonia,'''' over again. 
Curiously enough, too, both words at an early stage 
of their history were closely connected. From the 
chorus came the symphony. And both words, after 
many centuries of divergence, came to mean the 
same thing — a musical instrument — the Bagpipe. 

" Chorus," however, no longer means Bagpipe, 
and has gone through a greater number of trans- 
formations than '^ sumphonia" which is still the 
name in Southern Italy and Greece for the Pipe. 

" Chorus " meant originally a dance, to the 
accompaniment of singing. Next, a body of singers 
without the dance. Then a dance, danced to in- 
strumental music: after many centuries, a Bagpipe ; 
and now — back to a former meaning — a band of 

The two words, ^^ siimphonia'' and "chorus," are 
almost interchangeable indeed, and were so often 
used together — ^^ Aiidivit suviphonicum et choru?n" 
said the Master — that to name the one was to 
suggest the other; and in history, "chorus" might 
w^ell come to mean the Bagpipe. The dance that 
was danced to the Bagpipe, became the Bagpipe 
Dance, and after a time, the Bagpipe itself. I 
know that the word has been derived from the Latin 


for skin^ of which the bag was made, but I prefer 
the origin suggested here. 

We hav'e fortunately more than one description 
of the British Chorus on record, and these shew 
conclusively that it was not a dance nor a crowd of 
singers, but that it was a imnd instrument^ consisting 
of two reeds inserted into a bag made from the skin 
of a goat, doe, gazelle, or other animal. The reed 
inserted into the neck, we are told, was the blow- 
pipe, the second reed was the chanter, and was 
generally fixed into the mouth of the beast, the head 
having been left attached to the skin for this purpose. 

In an old drawing in the British Museum, a copy 
of which I have seen, the bag is made out of an 
entire pig's skin, and the chanter comes away from 
the pig's mouth. 

From another old drawing we also learn that the 
bag of the "chorus" stuck out in front of the 
player, and was squeezed by both arms against the 
breast. All the older forms of Bagpipe, indeed, 
were held by the players with the bag in front, and 
not under the arm like the present Highland Bag- 

The idea of the Pig-Bagpiper, which is so often to 
be seen in old pictures, and on sculptured stones, 
as at Melrose Abbey, has probably been taken from 
a ** chorus" of this kind — the dead pig played upon, 
suggesting to the sculptor, a living pig piping. 
When " fooling" however, minstrels often assumed 
strange garbs, dressing themselves as apes, bears, 
pigs, etc. Nothing, indeed, was too grotesque, in 


pipe or in dress, or in speech, for the old piper, 
who, like his neighbours, acted the clown or the 
mummer on occasion. 

This "chorus," so often mentioned in English 
records, was also a Scottish instrument — one of three — 
which Giraldus Cambrensis (b. 11 18) found in general 
use among the Scots at the time of his visit. It was 
also the instrument with which King James whiled 
away the lagging hours on the night of his assas- 

If we can prove then, that this British instrument 
of the ninth century was a Bagpipe, its " introduction " 
into Scotland must have taken place several centuries 
earlier than the earliest date yet fixed upon by the 
modern antiquarian. 

It will take more than dogmatic assertion, or an 
antiquarian's reputation, to explain away the follow- 
ing facts, w^hich, to my mind at least, prove con- 
clusively that the Saxon " chorus " was no other 
than the British Bagpipe, known as the Piob-mala. 

And now for the proof. 

In a Latin "Commentary on the Scriptures," 
written in the ninth century, the "chorus" is de- 
scribed as a musical instrument consisting of "a 
single skin, with two pipes — a single-reed Bagpipe 
— the description is perfectly clear, and fits no other 
instrument of ancient or modern times. 

In a second "Commentary on the Bible," written 
about 1320, the writer is arguing on this very point, 
and he says that the word "chorus" in Psalm cli., 
verse 4 (Psalm cl., verse 4 in the modern edition) 


— means a concert of singers, and "-not a Bagpipe." 
The words in italics clearly shew that there was a 
Bagpipe known to this writer, and to others in his 
day by the name of "chorus." The denial also 
shews that some previous translator had read the 
word "Bagpipe" into the psalm — a translation 
from which our writer very wisely differs. 

Now, when one reads the psalm carefully, it really 
looks as if the Psalmist, when he used the word 
"chorus," had meant a musical instrument. It is 
of instruments that he is speaking. " Praise Him 
with the sound of the trumpet; praise Him with the 
psaltery and harp ; praise Him with the timbrel and 
chorus; praise Him with stringed instruments and 
organs; praise Him upon the high-sounding cymbals." 
The French seem to have recognised this, and have 
translated the w^ord as "flute," while we have turned 
the same word into " dance." 

I do not myself however, for a single moment 
believe that the "chorus" of David, the Psalmist, 
was a Bagpipe, although the word meant a Bagpipe 
in the ninth century. This would be as illogical as 
to assert, with some, that "chorus" never meant 
Bagpipe, because it now means a choir of singers. 

That there may be no mistake, however, about 
the fact that the word, "chorus" meant a Bagpipe 
at one time, I will give you the learned com- 
mentator's own words, literally translated : — 

"Some say," he writes, "that 'chorus' is an in- 
strument made from a skin ; and has two reeds, one 
through which it is inflated, and the other through 


which the sound (music) is emitted, and is called in 
Gallice, chevrette.'' 

Now there is no ambiguity about the above descrip- 
tion of the *' chorus": it can mean only one thing: 
but it proves also that the "chorus" of the early 
fourteenth century, was one and the same instrument 
as the " chorus " of the ninth century : an instrument 
composed of a skin (or bag) with two pipes : that 
it was, in short, a Bagpipe. 

The further fact that it was called by the Gaelic 
peoples '* chevrette " also strengthens the proof. 
Because the word ^^ chevrette"" comes from chevfe, a 
she-goat, or from chevrette, a doe, the skin of both 
these animals being most commonly used for the 
bag. Now Chevretter — the name given to the man 
who played upon the " chevrette,^'' was a common 
name for Bagpiper in the fourteenth century. 

In the reign of Edward II., for example, the 
Exchequer Rolls shew a payment to " Jauno Chev- 
retter,'^ or to John the Bagpiper. 

This last is another link in a chain of evidence 
which is, to my mind, complete, and which leaves 
no doubt that the instrument called "chorus" was 
a Bagpipe. 

It was a droneless Bagpipe, and very primitive : 
the more advanced Pipe was known as the "Drone 
Bagpipe," or simply " the Drone." 

I do not deny that this term ^' drone" may at 

times have meant a Bagpipe without a chanter : the 

melody made by perforations, or vent holes in the 

drone itself, as we have it in the Italian " Zampogna " 



of to-day — of this I am not quite sure. But from 
ancient drawings, we learn that it generally meant 
an ordinary one-drone Bagpipe. Take the two 
following as examples out of many, from a period, 
when drawings and cuts tell us that the Pipe was 
a one-drone Pipe. 

"■ Forming part of King James's household were 
Jame Wedderspune Fithelar, and Jame that plays 
on the droned In 1505, there is also mention made 
in the Exchequer Rolls of a payment to the " Inglis 
piper with the Drone." 

If further proof is wanted of the fact that the "chorus" 
was a Bagpipe, you can get it from the pages of 
Dauney, where there is an argument, which proves 
that Choraules, or players on the "chorus," and 
PythauleSy or players on the Pythaulos and Utri- 
cularii, or players on the Roman Pipe, always 
mean Bagpipers. 

Ten years ago, I wrote to a friend in Newcastle, 
to see if he could buy or borrow for me, an African 
Bagpipe which had been exhibited at a meeting of 
some learned society — I forget what — by Dr. Bruce, 
the great antiquarian of Newcastle. 

I got back a letter, with some notes on the Bag- 
pipe taken at the meeting. The Pipe itself had 
gone amissing, to my great disappointment. 

The letter said : — 

"May 31, 1895. 

" I only got your letter yesterday, and have had to 
rummage my MSS. to find the information you ask. I 
perfectly remember the Bagpipes (sic) which Alderman 


W. H. Richardson of Jarrow gave to Dr. Bruce. I 
made a full examination of them at the time, and enclose 
you a copy of the notes I took. 

"1 do not know what became of them. The last time 
I saw them was at Backworth, at a Pipe contest, after 
which we supped at Mr Forster's, where the Doctor and 
I both tried to play them, but were unsuccessful in 
getting notes fit to hear, and they had an abominable 
smell. — Yours sincerely, 

J. S." 

The Pipe contest here referred to, was for players 
on the ** Northumberland Sma' Pipes" : a competition 
which Dr. Bruce initiated, and which was carried 
on for several years with considerable success, but 
which is now — I fear — defunct. 

Whether the supper at Mr Forster's, or the 
"abominable smell," had to do with the dis- 
appearance of the "Pipe" on this famous occasion, 
I cannot tell, but it has not been heard of since. 

I hunted Newcastle everywhere for the Pipe on 
three or four separate occasions, but was always 
unsuccessful in my search. 

The notes kindly sent me I give below : — 


" Alderman W. H. Richardson, of Springwell Paper 
Mills, Jarrow, presented to Dr. Bruce a set of African 
Bagpipes which he had purchased from a band of 
itinerant negro musicians when on a journey about Oran, 
in Africa, for esparto grass, 

" I had the opportunity of examining and trying 
them, and found that the bag was made of the skin of 
a doe gazelle, which had been cured with castor oil, and 
had a most rancid smell. The tail hole and the skin of 


the hind leg's had been turned inside and fastened up, 
the two udders left untouched. A small part of the 
skin of the fore legs had been left, and the ends closed 
by affixing the extremities of the gazelle's horns therein, 
between which was an aperture for the blow-pipe, the 
latter made from the thigh bone of a flamingo. The end 
of the neck was closed by a wooden patrass with two 
holes, into which was inserted two reeds, each about 
five inches long, with four holes each. 

"The reeds played in unison, and as near as could be 
were F, G, A, or Bb and C of our scale. The ends of 
the reeds had portions of a gazelle horn for the bell, 
and were ornamented with beads, small coins, brass 
chain, a shirt button, and a small leather case, empty 
then, but supposed to have held a charm, which would 
be probably a verse of the ' Koran.'" 

Four weeks ago, while working up the subject of 
this chapter, I was fortunate enough to acquire two 
sets of African or Egyptian Bagpipes. The larger 
of the two faces this page, and you can compare 
it with the clear description given above of the lost 
Newcastle set. 

At the same time the notes might well stand for 
a word-picture of the old British " chorus," the in- 
strument which we have just discussed, and which 
history tells us was in common use in the early 
centuries throughout Great Britain. 

In some parts of Africa the negro plays his 
Bagpipe in a peculiar fashion. He plays it while 
lying full length on the ground, with the bag under 
his stomach. 

He utilises the weight of his body to force the 
wind through the chanter. This leaves both hands 

African or Egyptian Bagpipe : 

The bag^ made from the entire skin of some small animal ; consisting of a 
blow-pipe and double bell-mouthed chanter. It is decorated with two rows of 
coloured beads. 



free to manipulate the reeds, and in this he has an 
advantage over the old piper of the "chorus," 
whose hands must have been much hampered by 
the bag, which stuck out in front. 

Captain Dalrymple Hay — now, I hope, Major, or 
Colonel Hay — who, at one time, was Adjutant to 
the 4th V.B. Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders, 
once promised to get me a set of African Bagpipes. 
He learned that the Africans had a Pipe, when out 
in the bush on a six weeks' shooting expedition with 
a friend. 

One hot, sultry evening, the two friends were 
seated, one on each side of their tent, tired of each 
other's company for the time being. 

Suddenly both got up, and made a simultaneous 
rush for the bush. 

This display of energy was called forth by the 
sound of the Bagpipe in the distance. 

Surely there must be some Scotsman at hand ; 
and the sight of a new face, and the sound of a 
new voice, was yearned for at that moment by the 
two friends. 

But alas ! when they got to a small clearing in 
the midst of the forest, from whence proceeded the 
welcome sounds, there was nothing but, as the 
Captain put it, "A dirty nigger lying on his belly 
on a dirty pigskin, and grinding forth unintelligible 
noises, not unlike the real thing at a distance." 

" If I had known you collected Bagpipes," he 
added, " I would have secured that one for you. 
But I am going back to Africa in a year or two, 


and I will get you a set, although I have to shoot 
the nigger." 

To which I have only to add, that neither of the 
sets in my possession has come from the gallant 

This chapter was written early in 1905, and I 
believed that the subject, so far as I was concerned, 
was finished ; but in the autumn of 1906 I was 
called suddenly to Ireland, and picked up some 
fresh information there. 

Mr Kennedy, of Baronrath, Straffan, near Dublin, 
at whose house I stayed for a few days, on learning 
that I was interested in the Irish Bagpipe, kindly 
shewed me an article on Irish music and musical 
instruments — an eighteenth century article, written 
by one Ed. Ledwick, LL.D., author of a volu- 
minous work (which quickly went through two 
editions) called "The Antiquities of Ireland." 

This article is interesting, and is worth quoting 
from if only for its clear description of the Irish 
Pipe. But it is also strongly confirmatory of the 
above views on the "chorus," and it is the work of 
a scholar. 

The learned Doctor opens up in no unhesitating 
fashion, thus : — 

"The Piob-mala or Bagpipes, the 'chorus' of the 
Latin writers of the Middle Ages, do not appear of great 
antiquity in this island. 

" Cambrensis does not mention them among the Irish 
musical instruments ; though he asserts that both the 
Welsh and Scots had them. 

" The ' chorus,' so denominated by the Latins from 


having the hag- of skin, seems to be a very ancient 
instrument. It was probably introduced into Britain by 
the Romans, and among; the Saxons by the Britons. In 
England it retained its original form and power to the 
eleventh or twelfth centuries. In subsequent ages it re- 
ceived several improvements, a ' chorus ' was added, con- 
sisting of two side drones, in which state it still remains 
among the Highland Scots, and in this state it probably was 
introduced into Ireland, some time prior to the fourteenth 
century ; for we find it is a martial musical instrument of 
the Irish kerns, or infantry in the reign of Edward III., 
and as such continued down to the sixteenth century. 
Having obtained this instrument from Britain, the Irish 
retained iis origijial name, and called it Piob-?nala, or Bag- 
pipe. It had the loud, shrill tone of the present Highland 
Pipes, being constructed on the ancient musical scale. 

"The chanter had seven ventages as at present. The 
lower sounded the lower D in the treble, and the upper C, 
The first drone was in unison to E, the second hole in the 
chanter, and the large drone an octave below it. This 
seems to have been the state of the Bagpipes throughout 
the British Islands to the close of the sixteenth century, 
when considerable improvements were made, by taking the 
pipe from the mouth and causing the bag to be filled by a 
small pair of bellows on compression by the elbow. This 
form, Mr Walker (Hist. Mem. of the Irish Bards), asserts 
they received from the Irish, by whom they were no longer 
denominated Piob-mala, but Cnislean or Cuisleagh-Cuil, 
i.e., the Elbow Pipes, or Elbow Music. Under this de- 
nomination they still remain among the people, and are at 
present Tuuch improved, having no longer the loud martial 
sound of the Erse Piob-mala, but more resembling a flute, 
and are reduced to the modern scale. . . Their com- 
ponent parts in the Irish language are the Bolg or Bag ; 
the Bollogna Cuisli or Bellows ; the Feadain or Pipes ; and 
the Anan or Drones, so denominated from their resemblance 
to horns, whence anan sometimes in Irish signifies the 
Base in music. 


"Don't be afraid, I am not about to antiquarianize. " — Sala. 

tt-VTORTH-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 piobrach tunes or rude melodies, very litde 
known, and still less admired." 

These words of wisdom were penned over two 
hundred years ago by an English traveller who 
had visited Scotland. And exactly one hundred 
years later, a fellow-countryman of his laments over 
Scotland's "barbarous music." "The Bagpipe," 
he says, "is a sorry instrument, capable of little 
more than making an intolerable noise." 

The "semi-barbarous," incapable Pipe here men- 
tioned, is the Highland instrument of which I am 
about to write. 

The Piob-mhor, or Great Highland Bagpipe has 
indeed, always had its detractors, as well as its ad- 
mirers, and a kind of desultory warfare over its value 
as a musical instrument has been waged between 

Old Bill of 1785 : 

Orig^inal given to the Author hy Mr Gt.EN. Bank Street, Edinburgh. 
It is interesting as shewing what were the favourite tunes with the old pipers 






To begin at Eleven o'CIock forenoon, of TUESDAY, 30th Auguft, 178.5. 

CandtdaUM lumu and Country. \ 

a. Cean Drochaid Beg, 

I. Faittc a' Pbrionfai'. 
]. F&ilie SKir Sheunuis, 

3. Cumhadh Mhic an Leathain, 

4. Failte a' Phrionfai', 
S- Thetime, 

6. Glaif-mheur, 

7. Moladh Mbani't 

8. Faille a' Phrionfai', 

9. The fame, 
10. Comhadb Mhic Chruimean, 

Siyjlifh Tran/latioit. 
I. A Salute by Profeffor M'ARTHUR. 
/ ffea4f of the Lil/le Bridge, <<r Ifu^ To be played by John M 'Gregor. fen., from Fortingall, who 
\ CamervH't Gathtring, \_ won the firft Prize at Edinburgh last year. 

. A Piece by Peter M^Jregor, who won the firft Priie at Falkttk Competition. 


TiuArrmtlorlVtltO'iit—kSaiai^ John Cumming, Piper to Sir James Grant of Grant, Bart. 
_. ^ ,^„ ij> ti' I (Robert M'Iniyre. Piper to John M'Donald, Efq., of Clanro- 

Tht_M*Lean'i Lanunf, John Cumming, 

Robert M'lntyre 

Alexander Lamont,Piper to John I^mont, Efq. of LamonL 

A/avokrite Pita, Coiin M'Nab, Piper to Francis M-Nab, Efq. of M-Nab. 

(A Pie«in praife of Mary, or the) ., , , ^„„„, 

\ I 1 /tM\T LI I tJ i. i' Alexander Ijmont. 
\ Laird 0/ J>rLaehJaH s March, \ 

Cohn M'Nab. 

Donald Gun, Piper to Sir John Clark of Pcnnycuick, Bart 

{T/u Lamentation of Patrick More > ,, ,, .,,, . , , „ , 

,,,-- . ■' /■ Donald M'lntyre, fen, of Rannach, 

A HIGHLAND DANCE after Act 11, 

tt. The Grants March, 
I %. Faille a' Phrionfai', 
ij. The fame, 

14. Piobrachd Ereanach, 

15. Failte Shir Dheorfa, 
16 Failte a' Phrionfai', 

IJ. Teachd am Phrionfai' gu Mui- 

18. Failte a' Phrionfai', 

19. The fame, 
to. Glaif-mhfur, 

ACT in, 

Donald Gun, 
Donald M'lntyre, fen. 
] Dougald M'Dougnl. Piper to Allan M'Dougal, Efq. of Hay- 
\ field. 
. t ' 1 m 1 1 John M'Pherfon from Badenoch, Piper toColonel Duncan, 

A, In,h l\ir<ul,. \' .MTherfonofCluny 

In Praist of the Laird of CaUandar, Dougald M'Dougal. 
John Pherfon 

\The Landing in Moydart, Hugh M'C.regor, from the ftewartry of Monlcath. 

MalcolniNM'Phcrfon from Breadalbane. 
Hugh M'Gngor 
Malcolm M'PhcrTon, 


ai. LeannanDhooBilChruaimeich 

t» Failte a' Phnon£ai, 

ay The fame, 

■4. Leannan Ghioll Chruaimeich, 

35. Failte a' Phrionfai', 

a6. Cean Drochaid Mhoir. 

37. Shiflealach Strath Ghtais, 

aB. Failte a' PhronEai', 

a^. Piobrachd Sliabh an t Siora', 

30. Faille a' Pbiionfai', 

Donald's Love, 

The Stem Laett Swuthtart, 

Great Bridge, 
Chifhotm'l Mareh, 

SiMrriffmuir, a Pibrath 

f Donald FilTier from Breadalbane, who won the fecondpnze 
\ lift year. 

Archibald M'Gngor from FortingaL 

Donald Fifher. 

Archibald Macgregor. 

Aleiander M'Gngor, from Fortingal. 

John M'Grigor from Glenlyon' 

Alexander M'Gngor. 

John M'Grigor. 

(John M'Grigor jun. a boy of twelve years of age, fon to the 
above John M'Grigor from Fortingal, who won the 
Prite laft year. 
Donald M'Lean of Edinburgh, 


ji. Failte, a' Phrionfai, 

3>. Cumhadh Eoin Ghaitbh, 

jj. Siubhal Mhic Allain. 

J4. PiobrachdMhicDhonailDhuibh 

35. Failte a' Phnonfai', 

36. The fame, 

37. Siubhal Mhic Allain 

38. Faille a' Phrionfai', 

39. The fame, 

40. Cumhadh an Aoin Mhic, 

41. Glaif-mheur, 

4], Faille a' Phnonfai' 

43- The fame, 

44. Cean Drochaid Mhoir, 

4$ Sliabh an t Siora', 

46- Failte a' Phrionfai', 

4}. The Came, 

48. Moladh Mbarat', 

Lamentation of Rough yohn, 
Cianramai^t March, 

Camtrcm't Galheringt 
Clanraneiift Marth, 

Lantemtation for an only Sort, 

Headoftht Great Bridge -a Pibrach, 

In Praise of Mary, 

The boy John M'Grigor. 

Donald M'Lean 
/ Donald M'lntjrc jun. from the cftatc of Sir Robert Meruies 
\ of that Ilk. in Rannach, Perlhfliirc. 
(Paul M'Innesfrom Lochabar, P^>erioJuhn Cameron, Efq; 
( of Callart. 

Donald M'lntyre jun, 

Paul M'Innes. 

Allan M'Iniyre of Edinburgh, 
JJohn M'Pherfon jfrom Strathfpey, late Piper to the AthoU 
{ Highlanders. 

Allan M'lntyre 

John M'Pherfon, 

l)uncan Steuan from Ranrutch. 

John Dewar from the eflaic of Sir Robert MeniteS. 

Duncan StcuarL 

John Dewar. 

Ronald M'Donald, from Cullodcn. 

Roben M'Dougal from Fortingal, Perthfliire. 

Ronald M'Donald. 

Robert M'Dougal. 


The whole to conclude with a Piece by Profeffor M'ARTHUR 



those two for more than a hundred years. To this 
perennial source of strife, there has been added in 
recent years other knotty points which have formed 
the subject of keen debate — such as the origin of the 
Pipe, the date of its introduction into the Highlands, 
its influence — if any — upon the music and folk-song 
of the country. Within the last dozen years or so, 
its Celtic character has been traduced, and doubts of 
its genuineness as a Highland instrument have been 
sown broadcast over the land by Highlanders them- 

This is not as it should be. Genuine Highland 
relics of the olden days are getting rare, and should 
be carefully hoarded up — not thoughtlessly discarded, 
as it has been too much the fashion of late to do. 

It was not until the middle of the eighteenth 
century that such doubts arose. Until then, the 
Bagpipe, although mentioned by several writers, was 
always spoken of as it it were indigenous to the 
country. There are authentic references to it — if 
not in the first century — in the twelfth, fourteenth, 
fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries, and 
we get no hint anywhere from these that the Pipe 
was not Highland — that it was a modern introduction 
from England or the Continent. Giraldus Cambrensis 
(b. 1118) simply mentions it as in his day a well- 
known Scottish instrument. M'Vurich the Bard, in 
his satire (written in the fifteenth century) upon the 
Highland Pipe, would have scored more heavily than 
he has done if he had had the slightest suspicion that it 
was an English instrument which he was girding at. 


It has been reserved for the modern critic — 
drawing largely upon his own imagination I sus- 
pect — to discover the foreign extraction of the 
Highland Bagpipe. And if we are to believe the 
teaching of what, for convenience sake. I call here 
the " Inverness School," it is worse than foolish- 
ness any longer to hold the hitherto cherished belief, 
that the Bagpipe is an ancient Highland instrument, 
or that it was ever dear to the old Highlander's 
heart. We are told, in short, by the learned authority 
of the North, that the Bagpipe was not known in the 
Highlands until the sixteenth century, and that, with 
the exception of the large drone, it is an English 
instrument pure and simple. 

The kilt, as an ancient Highland dress, has long 
been discounted by the same authority, but I feel 
sure that many people, not Highland, would miss 
both kilt and Bagpipe, if they were allowed to die 
out. And yet, if, as Mr M'Bain of Inverness says, 
they be not relics of a past age, then are they value- 
less, and the founding of Highland Societies at 
home and abroad for the study and preservation 
of these hitherto supposed old Highland character- 
istics is a piece of worthless sentimentality, and the 
exclusive use of the " Pipes" as a military weapon 
by Highland regiments is little better than a pious 
fraud. Nor does the third, and in some respects, 
the most important characteristic of the Highlander 
in days gone by, fare much better in the North. 

Do away with its originality, and you do away 
with the high antiquity of the Gaelic tongue. 


This is exactly what is being attempted to-day, 
with perverse ingenuity, by a few Gaelic scholars. 
In a recent Gaelic dictionary, for example, published 
in Inverness, the author goes out of his way to 
trace the Celtic root-word Piob^ to the Latin Piva^ 
while the latest scholarship in the South tells us, 
on the contrary, that this is certainly not the case, and 
that Piva is most probably derived from the Celtic 
word, Pioh. 

On every possible occasion, Gaelic words are 
thus being traced to other languages, but never 
other languages to the Gaelic, if it can be avoided. 

For my own part, I should prefer, with Dr. 
Johnson, to look upon the language of my ancestors 
as " a rude and barbarous tongue," but old; rather 
than think it a modern thing of shreds and patches, 
culled from other languages — a poor conglomeration 
of Latin, Greek, and French. 

Of outside modern criticism on these matters, we 
have abundance and to spare, but such is generally 
vitiated by a total want of acquaintance with the 
subject; and it seems to me, that if we had the real 
opinions of the old Highlander on these things, 
which we are now told are but recent introductions, 
this would be of much greater value in helping us to 
arrive at a correct decision. 

" By their fruits ye shall know them," was written 
of old, and it is not by the spoken word, but by 
the accomplished deed, that we can get a glimpse 
into the heart of the old Highlander, and learn 
there something of his true thoughts and feelings 


upon the subject of his music, his language, and 
his dress. 

It is a happy chance for those who, like myself, 
believe in the antiquity of the Highland Bagpipe and 
dress, that "the deeds of old" have been occasionally 
recorded, as in these we find reasons for "the faith 
that is in us." 

When the old Highlander stood on the field of 
battle, sword in hand, the shyness that clogged his 
tongue at other times disappeared, and his manhood 
boldly asserted itself. Proud of his chief, proud of 
his clan, proud of his country, proud of the old 
speech and dress, but, above all, proud of the War 
Pipe whose martial strains had so often roused his 
ancestors to battle, he no longer hid his passion 
for these things behind a cloud of words, but 
blazoned it forth in the face of the world. This is 
no exaggeration, as the following tale — which "is a 
true one, and no lye " — proves : — 

The good old town of Falkirk was early astir one 
fine morning in the second week of April, 1779. 
The people in the streets were all agog with excite- 
ment. A rumour had arrived the night before that 
a large body of Highlanders had broken out into 
open rebellion at Stirling Castle ; that they had been 
overpowered and disarmed after a terrific struggle 
and much bloodshed, and that they were to be sent 
under armed escort to Edinburgh for trial, on the 
following morning. But when the Highlanders 
appeared, the Falkirk "bairns" were grievously 


These men were not prisoners ; they had not 
mutinied. As they marched along, their proud bear- 
ing told its own tale. 

They were armed to the teeth. 

Pipers played at their head. 

They had no escort. 

Dressed in kilts of brown, crotal-dyed ; averaging 
5 ft. 7A ins. in height, hard, bronzed, and wiry-look- 
ing, with muscles taut as steel, the two companies 
made a sight worth looking at, as they swung 
gaily up the Tanner's Brae, and past the West 
Port, with heads erect, and with that quick 
springy step born only of many years spent among 
the mountains. 

Falkirk had seen no such sight since Prince 
Charlie and his men had overrun her High Street 
thirty years before. 

But although rumour on this occasion had proved 
a lying jade, there was some excuse for it. Jacobite 
emissaries had got at the ears of the simple High- 
landers in Stirling, and had whispered that the 
Government was playing false with them ; that in 
spite of their having enlisted only for foreign 
service with Highland regiments, they were to be 
kept at home, and drafted into Lowland regiments, 
where they would be forced to march to strange 
music, and speak English, and wear trousers; to all 
of which the Highlanders answered grimly, "We 
shall see," but refused to take any action in the 
matter, trusting to the assurances given by Captain 
Innes, the officer in charge. 


On their arrival at Leith however, the men were 
told very abruptly that they were to be turned over 
to the 8oth and 82nd — the Edinburgh and Hamilton 
regiments, and at once the heather was on fire. 

The Highlanders refused to submit to this in- 
justice, and flying to arms, entrenched themselves 
on the shore at Leith, and refused to yield. 
Soldiers were sent down from the Castle at Edin- 
burgh, to quell the insurrection, and a fierce conflict 
ensued, which was stopped only by the intervention 
of a well-known Highland officer who appeared on 
the scene, and spoke in Gaelic to the mutineers, 
but not before Captain Mansfield, of the South 
Fencibles, and nine men, were killed, and thirty-one 
soldiers wounded. 

At the trial of the three ringleaders — and this is 
the point to which I wish to draw your attention — 
one of them, hailing from Caithness, pleaded through 
his agent that he had only enlisted into the 71st, or 
Eraser Highlanders ; that Gaelic was his native and 
only tongue ; that the kilt was his only dress ; 
and that he wouldn't know how to put on trousers. 
After being sentenced to be shot, they all received 
a free pardon from the King, who thus gracefully 
acknowledged the original injustice done to the poor 

Nineteen years before, almost to a day, the Eraser 
Highlanders were retreating sullenly before the 
enemy at Quebec. The General, in a blazing 
temper, rode up to the Eield-Officer, and complained 
of the disgraceful behaviour of his corps. The 


angry soldier was told very plainly that he himself 
was to blame for the disaster, in forbidding the 
Pipers to play that morning : — 

" Nothing encourages the Highlanders so much in 
the day of battle, and even now they " — the Bagpipes 
— "would be of some use," said the Field-Officer. 

"Then, in God's name, let them blow up," said the 
General. And at the first sound of their beloved 
Pipes, the Highlanders — who but a moment before 
were retreating — rallied, and shoulder to shoulder 
as in the old days, rushed straight at the foe, and 
drove him before them, as chaff is driven before 
the wind. 

Here, then, we have, at last, the opinion of the 
old Highlander, expressed in no uncertain fashion. 
In defence of his dress and of his language, he is 
willing to lay down his life on the shores of Leith. 
But at Quebec, in defence of his favourite war in- 
strument, the Great Highland Bagpipe, he is ready 
to risk that which he values a thousand times more 
than his life — his honour. It is impossible for me 
to believe that my forefathers would have staked 
life and honour in such gallant fashion for a mere 
whim, or in defence of " newly-borrowed plumes." 

To the Highlander who believes otherwise, I would 
only say, "Go, tell it to the Marines." 

Murray, in that monumental work which he is 
bringing out just now, called, "A New English 
Dictionary," defines the Bagpipe as "a musical 
instrument of great antiquity and wide distribution^ 
consisting of an airtight wind-bag, and one or more 


reed-pipes, into which the air is pressed by the 
performer;" and with this definition, every authority 
on the subject is in accord. 

I have tried to shew its antiquity from history. 
The Greeks have known it for 2100 years, and the 
Latins for 1900 years, and these two peoples only 
borrowed it from the Celt, or other stranger. 

The illustrations in this book give a good idea 
of its imde distribution. If I had in my collection 
the " Volynska,^' of Russia — a Pipe very similar to 
the Egyptian — and the Afghan Pipe — both of which 
I hope still to get — it would prove, without any 
written or oral demonstration, that in its distribution 
it is wide, extending from our own Hebrides on the 
West, to India in the East, and from St. Petersburg 
in the North to Cape Town in the South. 

It is also the same to-day as yesterday in 
essentials, and is composed of the same simple 
materials — ^^ an air-tight wifid-bag, and one or more 
reed pipes."" 

The Piob Mhor, or Great Highland Bagpipe, is a 
good example of the survival of the fittest. 

Like the different Bagpipes of the world, it started 
from the tiny Shepherd's Pipe, and its development 
was slow and gradual in the Highlands. 

To prepare the way for a better understanding of 
the Piob Mhor, I shall recapitulate shortly. 

The Greeks had a one-drone Bagpipe very early, 
called Pythaulos, or Apollo's Pipe. They also had 
a many-drone, chanterless Pipe, named Sumphonia. 
This latter, is, I believe, the very first Bagpipe 

Bulgarian Pipf. : 

The gift i)f Mr Rankine. Rosebank. 
The chanter ot this Pipe is decorated with lead, and ends in a pecuhar knee made 

cif lead. 

A Second Spanish Bagpipe : 

Shewing a small additional drone. It is more modern and niucli better finished 

than the preceding one. 


mentioned in history, and dates from 176 B.C. 
In the Sumphonia^ two of the drones were pierced 
with holes, and were played upon like a chanter, and 
made the melody. The first Roman Pipe specially 
mentioned in history (a.d. 54) was a two-reeded 
droneless Pipe, and we have the same form per- 
petuated for us in the Egyptian Pipe of to-day, a 
specimen of which graces the opposite page. 

The Italian Shepherd's Bagpipe (or Pivci) is still 
a one-drone Pipe, as is also the Gheeyita, or 
Shepherd's Pipe of Spain, and the Bagpipe of Bul- 
garia. The chanter of the Spanish Pipe is furnished 
with only seven holes, the thumb-hole being awant- 
ing ; but in a very modern set, of which I shew a 
drawing here, there is the thumb-hole, and also an 
attempt at a second drone. It seems improbable, 
however, that the two drones, judging from their 
comparative lengths, are in harmony, unless, indeed, 
two or more octaves separate them. 

The workmanship of these two last-mentioned 
Pipes is very defective ; the ornamentation is of the 
meagrest and cheapest ; the sliders of the drones fit 
very imperfectly ; and the reeds are of the rudest 
construction. In fact, they shew little or no im- 
provement upon the original Bagpipe, which those 
three peoples had given them, long centuries ago. 

The German Bagpipe — the Schalmei, Dudel-sac, 
Sac-pfeiffe, Shepherd's Pipe — for it is known by these 
and other names — grew into a variety of curious forms 
— the arrangement of the drones especially shewing 
great ingenuity. It was the favourite instrument of 



the German shepherd from the very earliest of times. 
It became, ultimately, more or less of a monstrosity 
— the huge bell-shaped ends attached to both 
chanter and drones making it a burden to the player 
and a most unwieldy instrument. The bell of chanter 
and drones was probably derived from the ancient 
Pipe with animals' horns for terminals. The addition 
of the bellows in the German Bagpipe — which took 
place about the same time as in France — was alone 
wanting to complete this chameleon-like monster, 
and having attained to perfection (in the eyes of 
its admirers), it speedily declined, and is now practi- 
cally defunct. Nor do I think that the innumerable 
German bands which have sprung up in its place are 
an unmixed blessing. 

In France, the Ckalumeau — a one-drone Pipe — 
attained its highest popularity when its would-be 
improver turned it into a Bellows-Pipe — the Musette, 
with four, five, and six drones — which, after a short 
existence as the plaything of the Louis, also fell 
into disfavour, from which it has never recovered. 
In England, where the improver was also at work, 
the Bagpipe has died out, except in the north-east 
corner, where the "Northumbrian Small Pipes" still 

Everything possible in the way of improvement 
has been done for this Bagpipe. The scale has 
been modernised ; keys providing sharps and flats 
have been added ; the scale has been lengthened 
out almost to two octaves, and, by a very ingenious 
arrangement, the drones can be changed from G to 


D, to suit the two keys of the chanter. But what 
is the result? Alas for the theorists! its constitution 
has been so weakened by all this tinkering- that it 
can hardly eke out sufficient breath with which to 
sing its own death-song. 

I first heard this little instrument played at 
Choppington by one of the foremost players of the 
day. He was anxious to impress me with its merits, 
and he opened up in his best style with his 
favourite piece, which was (Heaven help us ! ) the 
"Viennese Waltz." When the Bagpipe is reduced 
to playing rubbish such as this, the sooner it 
sings '''■Nunc Dimittis^^ and retires gracefully from 
the stage, the better. 

In Ireland, where the improved Bellows-Pipe has 
come to the greatest perfection of all, it has fared 
no better. 

I venture to say that there is not one person in 
Ireland, now that Professor Goodman, of Trinity 
College Dublin, is dead, who can tune the double 
bass Regulator Pipe, to say nothing of being able 
to play upon it. This is the Pipe which is shewn 
on the opposite page, and described in another place. 

A judge of Pipe music, who was present in 
Dublin some years ago at the Irish Mod, told me 
that not one out of the five or six pipers — all they 
could get together, from the whole of Ireland ! — who 
entered for the competition, had his Bagpipe tuned. 

And as the playing, too, was of a very inferior 
order, the effect upon his ear, he said, was anything 
but pleasant. 


Now, the lesson I draw from all this is, that any 
attempt at improving the Great Highland Bagpipe 
must prove futile. It is all very well in theory, 
but in practice we have before us the fate which 
has invariably overtaken the improved Pipe in this 
and in other countries. 

It is an undisguised blessing that the Highlander 
resisted all such improvements in the past, pre- 
ferring to use the bellows which God gave him to 
the poor substitute provided by man, and also re- 
fused to have the old-world scale of the chanter 
altered to the modern scale. 

The Highland Pipe of to-day, if we except the 
addition of a few holes to the chanter, is the un- 
expurgated edition, so to speak, of the original 
Shepherd's Pipe, when once the " burden," or 
drone, had been added to it. And here, in passing, I 
may mention that the addition of the drone led to a 
new style of music. Singing in unison, which was 
the almost invariable custom in the Highlands in 
olden times, and is common to this day, was, 
practically speaking, the only method at one time 
in vop-ue in this and other countries. 

But the drone accompaniment added so great an 
additional charm to Bagpipe music that it was 
copied by the early vocalists, and part singing grew 
out of it. Quite a number of the oldest English 
part-songs have a drone bass in imitation of the 
Bagpipe ; and you can provide no better bass yet 
to the good old song of "The Phairson Swore a 
Feud," than the nasal drone bass. Any other 


accompaniment to really old Highland airs is all 
but an impossibility. 

But it was of the Great Highland Bagpipe, the 
Pioh Mhala, or Piob Mhor, that I intended writing ; 
of its age, construction, peculiarities of scale, etc. 

The Great Highland Bagpipe is par excellence^ 
the King of Bagpipes, because it has hitherto refused 
to be modernised. It is the type from which the 
Pythaula of the Greeks, and the Piva of the Latins 
was derived. 

It is almost as primitive in construction as when 
the shepherds piped on the plains of Bethlehem on 
that first Christmas morn. 

The workmanship is better certainly, and the 
scale more extensive, and the tone richer and fuller 
owing to the use of stronger and better constructed 
reeds and the larger bore, but otherwise it is very 
little altered. It is now invariably furnished with 
three drones ; the two small ones being in unison, 
and pitched one octave higher than the large drone ; 
but in everything else, it is just the old primitive 
Piob^ Piva, Chalumeau^ or Shepherd's Pipe. 

The scale of the chanter is still the old Eastern 
scale of neuter thirds. 

It has survived until now, because it has persis- 
tendy turned a deaf ear to the critics who said, 
*' With a few keys added and a truer scale, you 
would be a much superior instrument." 

To these tempters, it has hitherto said " My 
defects are my own, and have given me my indi- 
viduality. Without them I would be just a common 


modern instrument of eight notes, witii no flexibility, 
stiff and formal : and with nothing distinctive or 
characteristic about me, unless it were the mono- 
tonous drone. 

" In competition with modern instruments, I would 
be nowhere. The Eastern scale is my charm, and 
gives a variety to the music otherwise impossible, 
even if at times, it does offend the modern ear ; and 
without it, I would soon be accorded a fitting repose 
in the antiquarians' rubbish heap." 

The vitality of this semi-barbarous instrument is 
surpassing, only because it has been true to itself 
in the past, and will last, only so long as it is true 
to itself in the future. With so many theoretical 
advisers about, it must not forget the lesson — a 
lesson as much required to-day as ever — learned 
from a contemplation of the untimely end to which 
the improved Bagpipe in the past has come. 

The scale of the Bagpipe differs from that of all 
other instruments of the present day. 

It is an old-world scale, and is still in use by one 
or two of the Eastern nations. When we call it a 
scale of neuter thirds, we mean that there are no 
proper sharps or flats in it. 

The drones are in the key of A major, and are 
tuned to A of the chanter, which practically makes 
A the dominant or key note, but the tunes for the 
Bagpipe are written indifferently in G (one sharp), 
D (two sharps), and A (three sharps). 

The scale extends from low G to high A, an 
octave and one note, and as there are no keys, or 


Other method of taking in or leaving out a sharp in 
the transition from the key of A to G, or from the 
key of G to D, there is none of the three keys 
correct according to modern notation. Nor are they 
correct when measured by the modern scale. But 
by using this ingenious old-world scale without 
sharp or flats proper, the seeming difficulty — nay ! 
at first sight the impossibility — of playing a tune in 
G at one moment, and in A the next moment, 
without adding to, or taking away from the sharps, 
is cleverly got over : because as there are no sharps 
or flats in the chanter scale, you cannot take away 
from what is not ; and yet you get an effect almost 
identical with the effect of transposing from one 
key to another, as is done in the modern method 
by taking in or leaving out extra sharps or flats pro- 
vided for the purpose. 

But there is — there must be, a decided difference 
in the two methods ; and it is this very difference in 
the Bagpipe scale which makes the music so delight- 
fully original and refreshing to the trained ear. 

If I have not made myself clear to you, first play 
upon the piano from the Pipe score such tunes as 
'< Highland Rorie," '* Roderick of the Glen," " High- 
land Laddie," or the modern tune of '' Elspeth 
Campbell," and then play the same tunes over on 
the chanter. On the piano, the discord is all but 
unbearable, while on the chanter, it is hardly per- 

"Highland Rorie," for example, opens upon A 
for the first two bars, then suddenly repeats the same 


upon G, and so on. It is this sudden transition 
from one key to another without any alteration of 
the scale, which gives Bagpipe music its quaint 
piquant flavour. 

Marching tunes are written principally in A and 
D, while G lends itself more to Piobaireachd, and 
especially to laments, such as " The Lament for 

the Children," by Patrick Mor MacCruimein, and 
" MacLeod of MacLeod's Lament." 

The tune in D, I must confess, I do not like, the 
" burden " the while booming along in A ; it grates 
upon my ear. 

Many good pipers, however, do not share this 
objection with me, but I am quite sure of this, that 
it is the tune ending in D which ordinary people 
cannot tolerate, and which gives them a distaste for 
the Pipe. The composers of D tunes, however, seem 
aware of the fault of a too prolonged or too-often 
repeated discord, and they try to avoid this by 
touching lightly and as seldom as possible on the 
D, although it is the key note for the time being. 

There is no doubt that the practising chanter is 
mainly responsible for so many tunes being written 
in this key, as there is no drone to warn the com- 
poser that he is writing for it as well as for the 
chanter. In the Northumbrian Pipe this difficulty is 
got over by changing from the drones in A, or rather 
in G, to D. 

In spite of the prejudice I have to D lunes 
however, I acknowledge that there are many good 
ones, more especially dance tunes. 


But to return to the instrument itself, tiiere is no 
doubt, as I have said more than once, that this neuter 
third scale, and the monotonous drone accompani- 
ment, while giving it a distinctive character among 
musical instruments, also detracts largely from its 
reputation in the eyes of the musical critic. And 
when to these peculiarities you have a performer 
who, although fairly capable otherwise, does not 
know how to keep his instrument in tune, then 
indeed does listening become perforce a pain and a 

But a well-tuned Highland Bagpipe in capable 
hands is difficult to beat. It can still charm and 
delight the ordinary listener as well as the highly- 
cultivated musician. 

To any one who wishes to have a scientific 
explanation of the Bagpipe scale — a flight too high 
for me to attempt — I would recommend the article on 
it in the appendix to Mr Manson's book. I have 
only given you my own impressions, in homely 
language, and the conclusions which I have formed 
after a long and intimate acquaintance with the 
subject, and have studiously avoided anything which 
might savour of the expert, seeing that I am not 
learned in the theory of music. 

If I have lingered too long over the old-world 
character of the Great Highland Bagpipe chanter, 
trying to prove that it should on no account be 
altered to suit modern requirements, it is because 
there is a real danger of some such attempt being 
made in earnest one day, when, if it should succeed, 


then good-bye to the ancient Pipe of the Highlands. 
The expert knowledge and common-sense of our 
Bagpipe-makers have kept things right so far. A 
speaker at a Highland gathering held this year at 
Johannesburg (and a Highlander himself to boot !) 
devoted a large part of his speech to the argument 
that "a more correct scale, and the addition of a 
few keys to the chanter, would make the Highland 
Bagpipe a much better instrument," and his remarks 
were received by his Highland audience with 
applause. Now, not one writer in one land, but 
many writers and speakers in many lands, are 
asking thoughtlessly for these so-called improve- 
ments. I hope I do not boast when I say that I 
have some little knowledge of improved Bagpipes ; 
I play a little upon the Northumbrian, the Lowland, 
and the Irish " Pipes," and I possess practically all 
the music which has been written for the English 
and Irish Bagpipes ; but I always, after dallying 
with the improved instrument, return to the Great 
Highland Bagpipe with an increased zest and a 
keener sense of its superiority over all others ; and 
I would not give one good pibroch for all the Bellow- 
Pipe music in the world. 

Leave the Great Highland Bagpipe as it is then 
I say. 

Improve the piping by all means. 

Teach the piper to tune his instrument properly ; 
to use only good reeds ; to stick more to the old 
music, especially pibroch ; to avoid modern rubbish, 
such as waltzes and polkas, and the music of other 


instruments cut down and altered to suit the " Pipes.'''' 
If this were done we should hear less of Bagpipe 
reform in the future. The Bagpipe, in fact, needs 
no reforming — will stand no reforming. The piper 
may. And the reformer ? Let him study the 
instrument more closely, and listen oftener to its 
music, so that his ear may get used to its old-world 
scale, and all will be well with the Great War Pipe of 
the Highlands in the years to come. 



The Antiquarian is "too often a collector of valuables that are 
worth nothing:, and a recollector of all that Time has been glad to 
forget."— " Tin Trumpet," by Horace Smith. 

"lifR MacBAIN'S three-drone, or Great Highland 
■^ -*■ Bagpipe, the only " Simon Pure," dates no 
further back than the eighteenth century. 

It is not of it that I would speak in this chapter, 
but of the Highlanders' War Pipe, the '^ Piob 
Mhor,"" the "Great Pipe," which George Buchanan, 
the Historian tells us led the Highlanders on the 
field of battle in his day — i.e., in the early part of 
the sixteenth century. 

Have we any dates to help us in our research ? 

The Inverness school apparently can find none, 
and its disciples, along with their leader, are re- 
duced to feeble guessing. 

The leader of this school, who has apparently got 
a few followers in the South who allow him to do 
their thinking for them — if it can be called thinking 
— says that, " like the potato, the kilt and the Bag- 
pipe are recent introductions in the Highlands." 


These three things are evidently bracketed together 
to trip up " the unwary." But because the potato 
and the gramophone are recent introductions in the 
Highlands, that is no proof that the kilt and the 
Bagpipe are modern. 

Every school child knows how the potato got into 
this country. 

No Highlander ever claimed it as a Highland 
invention or discovery, but most Highlanders do lay 
claim to the kilt and the Bagpipe as Highland out- 
and-out ; and they are quite within their rights in 
doing so. To bracket the three things together — 
one modern, and two ancient — as Mr MacBain has 
done — is at once to introduce into the discussion the 
^ ^ suggest io falsi '^ — a poor method of argument for a 
scientist or scholar to employ. 

The potato has, in short, as much to do with 
the Bagpipe as the man in the moon. 

The earliest notice of the Bagpipe in Scotland is 
to be found in a work by Aristides Quintilianus — 
a writer who flourished about a.d. 100. 

The next earliest mention of the Bagpipe is by 
our friend, Gerald Barry, the Welshman, who was 
born while the twelfth century was still young. 

And the third and only other date necessary to 
mention is the date of payment to King David's 
(H. of Scotland) Pyper, viz., 1362. 

It is now acknowledged (because it cannot be 
denied) that the Bagpipe was known in Scotland in 
the fourteenth century. 

We have, therefore, to consider only the two first 


dates given here, and as no other, so far, are 
available, it becomes all the more necessary for us 
to verify them. History, however, is not everything, 
and it would be absurd to deny the antiquity of 
the Bagpipe as a Highland instrument, because 
the written proof is scanty. You cannot always ex- 
pect chapter and verse for every little detail in an 
as^e when there was no one to write these down : 
and for many centuries after the Romans left the 
country, Scotland was without a historian, but she 
existed all the same ; and so did the Bagpipe — 
both unrecorded. 

When the first real historian came on the scene 
in the person of George Buchanan (born 1506) one 
of the most learned and cleverest men of his time, 
he found the Bagpipe, as we learn from the intro- 
duction to his book, a very important instrument in 
the economy of the Celt. It was already the Great 
Pipe, the War Instrument of the Highlanders, having 
supplanted on the battlefield both horn and trumpet, 
and — if it pleases you to believe so — harp. This 
means that it was, in George Buchanan's time, a 
loud-toned, powerful instrument, able to make itself 
heard amid the din and roar of battle, with a drone 
or drones attached, and practically identical with the 
present Pipe, the only difference being a simpler 
ornamentation — no combing on the drones, and, in- 
stead of ivory ferrules, ferrules of horn or bone, 
with the terminals of the drones larger, elongated, 
and of pear-shape, and the G of the chanter 
flatter. A few rings also of brass wire on the 


drone, or a simple inlaying with lead, was not 

"It would appear," writes Mr Glen, "as if the Bag- 
pipe was not employed by the Highlanders for purposes 
of war until the beginning- of the fifteenth century. 

" Previous to this date the armies were incited to battle 
by the prosiiacha^ or war-song of the bards. The last 
prosnacha was recited at the Battle of Harlaw (141 1) by 
MacMhuirich, the bard, who was also the first satirist 
in this country of the Bagpipe." 

Here is a verse from MacMhuirich's poem, as 
translated by Mr Stewart in the Piohaireachd Society's 
collection of Piohrach : — 

"The first bag (-pipe), and melodious it was not, came 
from the Flood. There was then of the pipe, but the 
chanter, the mouthpiece, and the stick that fixed the key, 
called the sumaire (drone?). 

The poem goes on to say " But a short time after 
that, and — a bad invention begetting a worse — there 
grew the three masts, etc. 

" At the close of the fifteenth century," continues Glen, 
"the Bagpipes seems to have jumped into general favour ; 
or, what is more probable, information on it becomes 
more abundant." 

Writing in short had now come to stay, and events 
were being chronicled regularly, and to this, as Mr 
Glen shrewdly guesses, its seenimg sudden popularity 
is due. 

Now, the first of our dates, lOO a.d. is discounted, 
as I have said, by the antiquarian, because, he says, 
Quintilianus never visited this country, and there- 
fore could know nothing about the Highlanders, or 
as the Romans called them — Caledonians. 


I do not know myself whether Aristides Quin- 
tilianus ever visited this country or not, but I do 
know that Agricola was pushing his way through 
Scotland at the very time when Aristides was writing 
his book at Rome. Agricola also, according to the 
custom of the Roman General of the day, sent back 
to Rome typical specimens of the Caledonian Celt 
chosen from among the prisoners of war, and these 
men dressed in their native garb, armed with their 
native weapons, and carrying their native musical 
instruments — in short, surrounded with every dis- 
tinctive mark of nationality to make them as con- 
spicuous as possible, were exhibited in the streets 
of Rome during one of the many processions 
organised to appease the insatiable vanity of the 
Roman people, and to spread the fame of the ever 
victorious army and of its noble leaders. 

In this way, the Roman procession became an 
educative force ; and the dweller in Rome, although 
he had never travelled beyond its walls, got to know 
a great deal about the various peoples in the then 
known world, and could truthfully describe their 
armour, dress, and musical instruments without 
having visited the different countries. 

Strabo, the Geographer, who was born 64 B.C., 
and whose great work on " Geography," in seven- 
teen volumes, was even thought worthy of transla- 
tion within the last fifty years, affords an excellent 
example in illustration of the above. 

He was an acute observer of men and manners, 
and an accurate scribe, and in one of his books he 


describes the Celt of Lincolnshire as a tall, straight, 
shapely, and powerfully-built man, with rufus- 
coloured hair, and blue eyes. He was particularly 
struck with the great size of the British Celt, as 
compared with the average Roman citizen. And 
yet, Strabo never was in Lincolnshire ! Can we 
believe him, then ? Of course we can, for he tells 
us that he saw, " with his own eyes, five typical 
Celts from the Fens of Lincolnshire exhibited in 
the streets of Rome." 

Now, the home of the Celt has ever been the 
home of the Bagpipe, and 1500 years later another 
writer of keen intellect and great powers of observa- 
tion — our own Shakespeare — presents us with a 
curious little fact in corroboration of Strabo's truthful- 
ness, for while he mentions Bagpipes in his writings 
over and over again, he only singles out one named 
Pipe — the Lincolnshire. The Pipe of the Fens was 
evidently the Pipe of Pipes in Shakespeare's day. 
The words are put into the mouth of Falstaff, that 
humorous rogue, who says he is as melancholy as 
" the drone of a Lincolnshire Bagpipe.^' Several old 
writers also mention this Pipe. 

With such facts as these before him, the man 
must be blind who denies the close relations which 
have subsisted for ages between the Celt and the 

Strabo, the great Roman writer of his day, writing 
about the time when Christ was born, finds the 
typical Celt hidden away in the Fens of Lincoln- 
shire. Shakespeare, the great English writer, born 



1500 years later, finds there — in these same Fens — 
the typical Celtic instrument, the Bagpipe. 

All of which also points to the conclusion that 
Aristides Quintilianus knew what he was talking 
about, and may well be believed, when he asserts 
that the Bagpipe was known in the Highlands of 
Scotland in his day. What does it matter to us 
whether he gained his knowledge while travelling 
in this country, or while watching the daily pro- 
cessions from his parlour window in Rome? 

But in a matter of this kind, I sometimes think 
that common sense is as safe a guide as any 
antiquarian conjecture. 

Horace Smith's estimate of the antiquary of his 
day was not far from the mark, and except that 
our modern antiquary, from being over-bold, and 
full of belief in things ancient, has become over- 
timid, and profoundly sceptical of everything savour- 
ing of the antique, the estimate still holds good. 

When I was young, the story of the Inverary 
Standing Stone was a constant source of amusement 
to the boys at school. 

The sight of any old man dressed in rusty black, 
with a napless, concertina-hat covering his bald 
head — a snuffer, of course, from the brown stains 
upon his upper lip, and the huge, red cotton 
pocket handkerchief sticking out between his long 
coat tails behind — always revived the story, for we 
felt sure that in this innocent old rubbish-heap 
grubber, there dwelt the soul of an antiquary, a 
thing which we despised heartily. 


The Story, as it was told to us, and as we retold it 
to one another, was as follows : — 

There once stood in a field, somewhere outside of 
Inverary, a large, solitary, upright stone, one of two 
which at one time had formed the pillars of a gate ; 
but as far back as the memory of living man went, 
there had been but one stone in the field, forming 
a sort of " Lot's Wife " landmark to the traveller 
passing by. The companion pillar, and dividing 
dyke, and wooden gate, had long since disappeared. 

One hard winter, when masons had gone curling 
mad for want of better to do, one of their number, 
during his enforced leisure — being a bit of a wag, 
and not much given to the roaring game — secretly 
carved upon the old stone, the following mysterious 
legend in Roman characters: — "For cows to scratch 
their backs on." 

Mysterious, I call it, for the artist had broken up 
the words erratically, making out of them a word 
puzzle something like the following: — " FORC 
OUST OSCRA," etc., and a fourth century date. 

With the assistance of a bit of pumice stone, a 
little moss and brown earth, the engraving quickly 
became quite weather-beaten and ancient-looking. 
Such a find could not long escape notice, and before 
long its discovery was noised abroad. 

The mason may have had something to do with 
the discovery, but at this stage he kept discreetly in 
the background. When the story got abroad, the 
whole countryside flocked to view the wonder, but 
no man was able to read the writing on the stone. 


The assistance of the Antiquarian Society was 
called in, and the world, now all on tiptoe to learn 
what the inscription meant, had not long to wait. 
It was announced, by the learned gentleman sent 
out by the Society, to be a Roman inscription^ re- 
cording the passing of a Roman legion through the 
district ; the name of the commander, and the date. 

" A brilliant piece of work," said the admiring 
world — and it was. The date was certainly all 

Until then it had been a secret that the Romans 
had ever occupied Inverary, and but for the newly- 
found writing on the pillar, the secret might have 
remained a secret for ever. 

But when the young mason who had perpetrated 
the joke — thinking, perhaps, that it had gone far 
enough — wrote to the papers and gave the true 
reading of the Roman inscription (more graphic 
than mine, if less polite), the laughter which followed 
was not confined to the illiterate classes. 

Numerous mistakes of a similar nature to the 
above, turned the all-believing fossil of sixty or 
seventy years ago into the sceptical fossil of to- 
day, who believes nothing to be old without written 
proof, and who, through nervous timidity, and a 
desire to stand well with the world, misses truth as 
surely as did his predecessor from over-confidence. 

For my own part, I believe in Quintilianus when 
he says that we had the Bagpipe in the first century; 
and I feel sure that he wrote out of the fulness of his 
own knowledge. 


The value of the second date (1118), turns upon the 
meaning of the word, "chorus" or ^^ choro." If it 
meant Bagpipe in Gerald Barry's time, then was the 
Bagpipe a Scottish instrument in (say) the eleventh 

I have already shewn that "chorus " did mean Bag- 
pipe in England in the ninth century, and that it still 
retained the same meaning in the thirteenth century. 
Gerald Barry, who is familiar with the Bagpipe in 
Wales, where, according to him, it is also called 
"chorus," coming north in the beginning of the 
twelfth century, finds a Bagpipe in Scotland — one of 
the three musical instruments of the country — to 
which he naturally gives the name of "chorus." 
Not that the Bagpipe was ever known to the High- 
lander by this name, but Barry is writing for the 
Welsh people, and uses the Welsh name. 

This instrument, to which he applied the English 
name, could be no other than a Bagpipe (similar 
in every respect to the English or Welsh Bagpipe) 
otherwise Barry, who was an expert in musical 
matters, would have given it its proper name of 
Piob Mala, and noted down its peculiarities. 

The proof, to my mind, is overwhelmingly strong, 
that the "chorus" was the Bagpipe, and that it 
was one of the principal musical instruments of the 
Scots at the time of Barry's visit, i.e. — the middle 
of the twelfth century. So much for the second of 
our dates. The third date requires little or no 
confirmation from me. 

"Tradition," says the antiquarian, "is quite 


unreliable, when unconfirmed by early writers or 
historians," and so he proceeds to ignore tradition 

When Burns was in Stirling, he heard there the 
tradition that the tune known as ''Hey, tutti taiti," 
was King Robert the Bruce's March, and was 
played on the Bagpipe at Bannockburn. 

This tradition was repeated to him at many other 
places further south, and, believing in it, the poet 
composed to this air the stirring song of "Scots 
wha hae." 

"But," says Ritson, the antiquarian, "it does not, 
however, seem at all probable that the Scots had 
any martial music in the time of this monarch." 
And why? Because "horns are the only music 
mentioned by Barbour ; so that it must remain a 
moot point whether Bruce's army was cheered by 
the sound of even a solitary Bagpipe." 

It is creditable to Ritson that he did not deny 
the possibility of the Bagpipe being present at 
Bannockburn, because, in his day, the antiquity of 
the Pipe as a Scottish instrument was denied, and 
the discovery that King Robert's son kept a "pyper" 
had not been made. The tradition, in short, was 
uncoiifiimed when he wrote, and therefore, '■^ quite 
unreliable.'" But with the new light shed upon the 
antiquity of the Pipe, the tradition gathers weight 
and value. 

Burns has been sneered at for believing in it, but 
the Poet's rare insight was a better guide after all, 
than the best lore of the antiquarian. " Hey, tutti 


taiti " is a Bagpipe tune in spite of dicta to the 
contrary, and is still played on the Pipe. On the 
horns (of two to five notes) used at Bannockburn, 
the air would be unplayable. 

Our third date — 1362 — is unassailable. It is an 
entry of payment to King David's Piper, recently 
found in one of Scotland's old exchequer rolls. 
And yet ! I heard Mr White of Glasgow — better 
known as "Fionn" — say, in a lecture to the High- 
land Club of that city, that the above payment 
shewed that "the Bagpipe was known in England 
long before it was known in Scotland." This is 
really sublime. And worse still ! On the strength of 
Mr White's dictum the Glasgow evening papers, 
not perceiving the very palpable double blunder 
made by the lecturer, had paragraphs in large 
headlines, "The Bagpipes an English Instrument." 
This is how the Highland Bagpipe is treated by 
its friends ; and the young Highlander is being 
gradually taught to look upon it as a modern thing 
which came from England, and with which his fore- 
fathers were unacquainted. In this lecture, Mr 
White showed himself to be a faithful follower of 
Mr MacBain, and denied the antiquity of the "Pipes" 
in Scotland. His lecture, however, was little better 
than a rehash of the Inverness heresies, and 
showed a slavish adherence to the numerous blunders 
perpetrated by Mr MacBain. But Mr MacBain, 
bold as he is, would never venture to make such a 
use of the 1362 incident. He would never dare to 
talk of David II. of Scotland as an English king 


before a body of educated Highlanders, and infer 
from this that the Bagpipe was known in England 
long before it was known in Scotland. Less ridiculous 
arguments must be brought forward by those writers — 
Highland or otherwise — who wish to prove England's 
prior claim to the Highland Bagpipe, or to disprove 
its antiquity. 

A fine example of the ordinary 

Irish Bellows Pipe. 

It has three drones and one regulator, and is made of ebony and ivory, with 
silver keys. The maker of this Pipe appeared before the Hijfbland Society in — I 
think — 1832, and gave selections on one of his own Irish Pipes. It may have been 
this very Pipe. 




"Or, Baggepype-like, not speake before thou'rt full." — 1618. 

— Belchier. 

A"! 7HAT reasons for doubting the antiquity of the 
Highland Bagpipe can the antiquarian give? 
With what arguments does he assail the mass of 
proof in favour of its antiquity brought together in 
the preceding chapters? 

What record for consistency on this subject can he 
shew ? 

At first, the antiquarian said, that the Bagpipe was 
introduced into Scotland by the Romans. This 
gave the instrument a fine air of antiquity, and 
was flattering to the Highlanders. But after a few 
blunders on the lines of the Inverary fiasco^ he 
began to search history for written proof. "There 
must be no more guessing," he said; and having 
found what he believed to be the earliest mention 
of the Bagpipe in George Buchanan's history, and 
having learned, in some way or another, that Queen 
Mary had probably brought over a Piper in her 
train — a musette player — he then asserted that the 


Bagpipe was introduced to the Scottish people for 
the first time by Queen Mary in the second half 
of the sixteenth century. His attention, however, 
was, after a time, called to a book which had been 
published some years before Queen Mary came to 
this country, in which two different kinds of Scots 
Bagpipes were mentioned. This was rather discon- 
certing to the Queen Mary hypothesis, and again 
our antiquary had to shift his ground, if only by a 
few years. 

The book referred to was written in 1548, and 
not by one day more would he allow that the Bag- 
pipe was known in Scotland. When I came to 
Falkirk, twenty-four years ago, the introduction of 
the " Pipes " had been put still farther back. 

The end of the fifteenth century was pronounced 
to be the correct date. Burgh records shewing pay- 
ments to the Town-Piper of this period had in the 
meantime turned up. But only a few more years 
had passed when the first of the old Exchequer 
Rolls was published, and as the Bagpipe is there 
mentioned as a Court instrument, the date had 
again to be shifted, this time back to the middle of 
the fourteenth century, to the year 1362 ; and at 
this date, so far as our antiquarian friends are con- 
cerned, it still stands ; not a very consistent record 
for the antiquary this. I hope, however, that I 
have given sufficient proof to make it necessary for 
him to shift back the date once more, some 250 
years or so — tracing it down certainly to the middle 
of the twelfth century. And I feel sure there are 


many who, after they have read this book, will go 
farther and believe with Aristides Quintilianus that 
the Bagpipe was known to the Celt of Scotland in 
the first centurv. We are not therefore indebted to 
any other nation for it, as I have always maintained, 
but we brought it with us from our old home in 
the East, and other nations are indebted for it 
to us. 

Now there is a paper called The Home Journal^ 
published, I believe, in Inverness. In the number 
dated Saturday, February 4th, 1899, there is a long 
article on the Bagpipe by a well-known scholar and 
antiquary, who signs himself Alex. MacBain, M.A. 

He is said to be one of the best Gaelic scholars 
of the day, and has written a most excellent Gaelic 
Dictionary. He has also written numerous articles 
upon Highland matters, in which latter he has 
always shewn a great interest ; and if any man can 
produce proof to demolish the belief held by so 
many Highlanders that the Bagpipe is an old 
Highland instrument, Mr MacBain is the man of 
all others to do so. As it happens, he has made 
the attempt in this very article of February 4th, 
1899, and we will now note carefully, and also test, 
what he has got to say on the matter. The very 
title of the paper, "The History of the Highland 
Bagpipe : a lesson in anachronism " is aggressive, 
and partly prepares us for what follows : viz., that 
it is a modern instrument in the Highlands and not 
Celtic at all. 

"The potato," he says, "has become such an 


integral part of our food material in the High- 
lands, that it is now difficult to realise that it is 
only a century and a half since it was introduced 
into the country.^'' This we have already answered 
by shewing that the task he puts to us is not in 
the least difficult. "The heroes of Culloden were 
not reared on potatoes ; it is the same with the 

Rather foggy this ! but let it pass. 

"It is now our national instrument of music. It 
is so engrained in the musical system of the 
Highlands, and in the hearts of the people, that 
there is no wonder that unwary writers have postu- 
lated for it a hoary antiquity." 

Ah! cautious antiquary. No more mistakes about 
ancient writings on scratching stones. You leave 
that to the "unwary." 

"The Great Highland Bagpipe and the philabeg, 
or modern Highland dress, came into existence 
about the same time — the beginning of last century ^ 

This is definite enough in all conscience. Mark 
the cautious "but," which follows. "But they 
both represent older forms. The Bagpipe then" (at 
the beginning of the eighteenth century), ''''got its 
third or big drofie added. Hitherto it was the same 
as the Loivland and Northumbrian Bagpipe^ having 
only two drones.''' 

As a matter of fact, while a third drone was known 
to many nations, and may have been occasionally 
used by the Highlander long before the dawn of 
the eighteenth century, it was not an acknowledged 

The Old Form of the Northumberland 
Bellows Pipe : 

Differing from the lowland Pipe in having all three drones of different 
lengths. The chanter, which has gt>t one key. is open below. 

The stock, drones, and chanter are made of ivory and ornamented with 




part of the Great Highland Pipe until near the end 
of the century, and only became really fashionable 
in the first half of the nineteenth century. It is 
within my own recollection that most of the pipers, 
who were largely of the Gipsy class, and went 
round the country piping in the summer time, 
used only one-drone or two-drone Bagpipes. 

The Highland Bagpipe of two drones was certainly 
in use in Northumberland until about 60 years ago, 
but the "Northumbrian Pipe" (which is quite a 
different instrument), has always had three or more 
drones. There is some excuse for Mr MacBain 
getting mixed a little between these two North- 
umbrian Pipes, but there is none whatever for the 
same writer when he asserts that the Lowland Pipe 
had only two drones, and never got beyond two. 

Mr MacBain continues thus: — "An unpublished 

poem of the Rev. Alex. Hume, minister of Logie, 

1598, contains this couplet: — 

" ' Caus mlchtelie the weirlie nottes breike, 

On Hieland Pipes, Scottes and Hyberniche.'" 

"This seems to show that the Highland pipers 
had begun to improve on the Lowland variety, as we 
know they did, before ever they put the third drone 

What nonsense this is ! 

These lines shew that in i$g8 there were three 
kinds of Bagpipes known to the author, which he 
writes down, probably in order of merit. The 
order may be for the sake of the rhyme ; and 
if the Highland pipers began to improve on the 


Lowland variety (which I deny altogether), there is 
not one word in these lines to shew this. 

The Pipe came into the Highlands according to 
the MacBain gospel, a full-fledged two drone Pipe ; 
and the only difference between the Great Pipe of 
1598 and the Great Pipe of 1905 is the third drone. 
The other improvements spoken of never existed 
outside the imagination of the writer. 

A more incorrect account than the above, a more 
excellent "lesson in anachronism," was never 
penned by any person claiming to be an authority 
on the subject. The ignorance displayed, coming 
especially from such a source, is truly amazing. 

With the exception of one line, where the author 
says "it is now our national instrument of music" 
— and that statement is even disputed by some, — 
there is not a single statement in this article on the 
Bagpipe which is in accordance with the facts. 

Mr MacBain gives the title of "Great Highland 
Bagpipe " to the three-drone Pipe alone — the present 
form taken by the Highland War Pipe — and here 
he at once misleads, for we read of the Great Pipe 
of the Highlands centuries before the large drone 
was added, or rather, I should say, before the third 
drone was added, as there is plenty of proof that 
the large drone was used first on a two-drone 

Again, he imagines that the addition of the third 
drone, which he wrongly claims as an original 
Highland invention, converted the Lowland-English 
Bagpipe into a distinct species — The Highland 


Bagpipe. But the t-wo-drone Bagpipe was recog- 
nised to be the Great Highland War Pipe, and was 
used in all competitions as such until 1822 — more 
than 100 years after the MacBain three - drone 
Bagpipe came into existence! — when, to secure 
uniformity, it was decided by the Highland Society 
of London, to limit the competition in future to the 
three-drone Pipe. 

If Mr MacBain applies his undoubted abilities to 
the study of this matter, I think he will very soon 
discover that his boasted Highland improvement 
was quite as much a Lowland improvement, if not 
more so ! 

At the Competition in 1785 (a copy of the Bill an- 
nouncing the Competion is one of the illustrations in 
this book), the two-drone Bagpipe was recognised as 
the "Great Highland Pipe," or it would not have 
been allowed to compete. In short, the addition of a 
third drone was not distinctively Highland, as other 
nations had used a third drone centuries before the 
Highlander put it upon his Bagpipe. 

The Greeks had four or more drones on their 
Bagpipes 2000 years ago. 

The French Musette of 1631 had no fewer than 
five drones. The Calabrian Pipe, which is the suc- 
cessor to the Greek, has always had four drones — 
while the Irish, Lowland-Scotch, and Northumbrian 
have each not less than three. 

" Its introduction into Scotland is as difficult to 
trace as its introduction into England. Of course, 
it came from England into vScotland." 


So writes Mr MacBain. 

But, as a matter of fact, its early appearance in 
England is only coincident with its early appearance 
in Scotland, and is due to the fact that the early 
Briton was a Celt, and that the Celt took the Bag- 
pipe with him where'er he went. 

" We should maintain, judging from the spread 
of Puritanism y that the northward advance of the 
Bagpipe must have been slow." 

He gives lOO years for its spread from the Low- 
lands to the Highlands, and if we give the same 
time for the slow advance from England into Scot- 
land, this shews us the Bagpipe as a one-drone 
instrument in the thirteenth century in England 
becoming a two-drone instrument in the hands of 
the Lowland Scots in the fifteenth century — "In 
general, it had a chanter, and two drones." And 
so, after another slow and tiresome journey along 
the Puritan track, it at length appears in the 
Highlands, where it takes the " musical genius " 
of the hill tribes two hundred years to invent a third 

This is Mr MacBain's History of the Bagpipe in 
a nutshell. 

"The real Lowland Bagpipe," he continues, 
"never got further than the two drones, and so too 
with the Northumbrian Pipe ; it was in the High- 
lands that the Bagpipe grew to its acme of per- 

Everything in the argument is so nicely arranged — 
so easily grasped, that any child can follow it. 

The Bei,lows Pipe of Lowland Scotland. 

This old Pipe is made of ehony and ivory, and has no combing on the 
drones. It has three drones, two small and one large, like all Lowland bellows 


You see the Pipe progressing slowly on its north- 
ward journey, by even stages, like the stones in a 
flight of stairs, each step in advance of and a little 
higher than the other ! The Pipe more perfect at 
the end of each journey ; the last host putting the 
"acme of perfection" touch to the welcome 

Lucky for us that this corrector of anachronisms 
has made himself so clear, but unfortunate for 
him that the facts won't square with his theories ; 
for of real facts there are few or none in his 

In the " Encyclopasdia Britannica" for 1793 there 
is an excellent article on the Bagpipe ; one of the 
most correct and full accounts of the Pipe given 

It was written nearly 100 years after Mr Mac- 
Bain's three-drone and only Great Highland Bag- 
pipe came into existence. 

The writer, whose exact words I give, says : — 
" While the Lowland Bagpipe has three drones^ 
and the Irish Bagpipe has three drones, the High- 
land Bagpipe has only two drones y 

Pennant, also, wrote from the Highlands in 
1772: — "The Bagpipe has tisoo long pipes or drones.^'' 
What are we to think of Mr MacBain's state- 
ments after this ? He has surely talked at random, 
without ever giving a moment's thought to what 
he was saying — trusting too much perhaps to his 
reputation. But the best reputation in the world 
could not gloss over a flimsy article such as his is. 



He cannot ever have seen a Lowland set of "Pipes," 
or an old set of the Great Highland Bagpipe ; 
and he is evidently a stranger to the Irish and 
Northumberland Pipes ; and yet, he writes as if 
these were quite familiar to him. 

I have conversed with Lowland pipers on this 
subject, and not one of these players on the Bellows- 
Pipe ever heard of a two-drone set. I have seen 
and examined many sets myself, some of them very 
old, but they all had three drones. 

Pipe-makers one and all, from the Messrs Glen, 
of Edinburgh, downwards, say that they have never 
seen a set of Lowland Pipes, except with three 
drones. All of which disproves, once and for all, 
the rash statement made by Mr MacBain that the 
Lowland and the Northumbrian Bagpipes never got 
beyond two drones. The following inscription is 
on a Bellows-Pipe with four drones, which I once 
saw in Newcastle, and proves that the Northumbrian 
Pipe had four drones in the seventeenth cen- 
tury : — "The gift of Simon Robertson to Salathiel 
Humphries, 1695." 

The present Irish Pipe also has any number of 
drones — from three to seven. 

I have devoted a fairly long chapter to this dis- 
credited article on the Bagpipe, not because of any 
intrinsic merit which it possesses, but because of 
the man who wrote it. 

He is looked upon by the Highlanders as a great 
authority upon Celtic matters, and his paper on the 
Bagpipe must have struck — nay ! did strike dismay 


into the hearts of his Highland admirers. "I 
spoke in haste," said the Psalmist, and the only- 
excuse which suggests itself to me for the inaccura- 
cies and "anachronisms" which disfigure every page 
of Mr MacBain's paper, "A Study in Anachronism," 
is that he, too, spoke in haste, and failed to do 
himself or his subject justice, like the piper who 
began to play before his bag was full. 



" At Quebec their* piobroch shrill 
Up the hill went breathing- terror." — 

Sheriff Nicolson. 

" To pipe at Highland games 
With a host of smiling dames 
To cast admiring- glances as you play, 
Is a different matter quite 
From the piping in a fight 
Where the Pipers march in front and shew the way." — 

T. Alexander. 

TT is more than likely that the Celts of Pannonia 
used the Bagpipe in war, before the Christian 

The Greeks used it in the mimic warfare of the 
Pythonic games about the same time. 

But it was during the gallant struggle in the 
cause of freedom, waged for two seasons against 
the full power of Imperial Rome, by these simple 
shepherds in the uplands of Pannonia, that the 
Celt's Bagpipe is first heard of in history. 

Prudentius, however (b. a.d. 348) — the greatest 

* The " Fraser Highlanders " 13th September, 1759. 


of the Roman Christian poets, is the first writer, 
so far as I am aware, to mention the Bagpipe as a 
recognised instrument of war. 

He says : — " Signum Symphonice belli Aegyptis 
diderat " — which, when translated, reads: — "The 
Bagpipe gave the signal for the battle to begin, to 
the Egyptians," i.e. the Bagpipe sounded the charge. 

Thus early do we find the piper in the forefront 
of the battle. 

The Roman army — with these examples before it, 
was not slow in adopting the War Pipe, and one 
of their writers, Procopius by name, mentions that 
in his day it was the recognised marching instru- 
ment of the Roman infantry. 

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Bagpipe 
seems to have been forgotten as a military instru- 
ment, until its fame was revived by the Highlanders 
— at what precise date, we do not know — who forced 
the authorities gradually to recognise its stimulating 
effect on the soldier, and its consequent usefulness 
on the field of battle. 

And so to-day, the War Pipe of the old High- 
lander, covered with glory and honour, is now the 
War Pipe of the British Empire. 

The Great Highland Bagpipe, indeed, is without 
doubt, one of the grandest military musical instru- 
ments that the world has ever seen — firing the 
hearts of the Highlanders to deeds of heroism, but 
breathing only terror to the foe. It has gained for 
itself on the battlefield an undying fame. 

The reasons for this are not far to seek. Its shrill 


notes and clear powerful tones are well suited to the 
roar and din of warfare, and its handiness in action — 
(it is easily carried and the piper is able to play upon 
it while at the double) and the stimulating effect 
of its music upon the soldier, whether in pressing 
home the charge, or in "lulling the retreat," as an 
old Irish writer quaintly puts it, have earned for it 
a well-deserved popularity. The Piper's place has 
always been in the fighting line. The Regimental 
Piper would consider himself disgraced if he were 
not allowed to go forward with his regiment, and to 
strike up when the command "Charge" rings out. 
During the late Russo-Japanese War the soldiers 
of the Tzar were reported on more than one occa- 
sion to have gone forth to battle with massed bands 
playing and colours flying. A magnificent spectacle 
no doubt, and one which shewed great bravery on 
the part of all concerned, but it was not war as we 
understand it to-day. What the custom is with a 
nation like Russia, I do not know, but in the 
British army, when the tocsin of war sounds, the 
military bands are left at some base town, the band- 
master and the boys who are under age remain 
behind, and while the war is proceeding, those boys 
go on with their musical training under the eye of 
the bandmaster as if nothing particular were happen- 
ing, while the majority of the men go out as 
stretcher-bearers. Only the pipers, drummers, and 
buglers go forward with the army. A stranger 
hearing the Great War Pipe for the first time on 
the battlefield, or in the midst of nature's wilds. 


instantly appraises it at its proper value, otherwise 
its many charms may remain hidden to him for 

The effectiveness of Pipe music, heard among the 
hills, is much more striking than when the same 
music is heard down in the plain. 

It was up in the hills that M'Culloch, who was 
for many years bitterly prejudiced against it, got 
to know it in reality, and to respect and admire it, 
and ultimately to love it. In one of his letters 
from the north, he said: — "It has a grand and 
noble sound, that fills the valley, and is re-echoed 
from the mountains." And the old Highlander, 
who knew well this "echo from the mountains" — 
not one mountain, notice you, but several; up one 
valley and down another, the echo travels, tossed 
like a hand-ball from ben to ben ! — has incorpor- 
ated the echo in his Pipe music to quite an ex- 
traordinary extent. He also discovered for himself 
— how long ago, no man knows — that the Pipe was 
the one instrument for mountain warfare, and that 
there was none other to compare in purposefulness 
with it. 

And so we find reflected in the pages of Pennant's 
book, "A Voyage to the Hebrides," the views of 
the Skyemen and others on the Bagpipe, one 
hundred and fifty years ago. 

Pennant's opinions are worthy of being placed on 
record, as these were formed on the spot, after a 
close study of the subject, and they thus may be 
listened to as "an echo from the mountains" of 1769. 


He had just been dining at the house of Wm. 
MacDonald, piper to Kingsburgh — a large, com- 
fortable, well-built house — and listening to the music 
of the Pipe — in the very home of the Bagpipe. 

From what he was able to learn on this journey, 
he formed the opinion — to give his own words — 
that "it had been a favourite with the Scots from 
time immemorial," and "suited well the war-like 
genius of the people, roused their courage to battle, 
alarmed them when secure, and collected them 
when scattered ; solaced them in their long and 
painful marches, and, in times of peace kept up 
the memory of the gallant deeds of their ancestors. 
One of the tunes — wild and tempestuous — is said to 
have been played at the bloody battle of Harlaw 
in 1410." 

Thirty years later, John Stoddart, who also 
visited the Highlands, wrote of this war instrument : 
— " The powerful tones of the Bagpipe, together with 
its sudden and rough transitions, render it peculiarly 
consonant with the turbulent feelings of warfare." 

In more recent times the valuable qualities of the 
Bagpipe on the field of battle have forced recog- 
nition from Lowland or English officers attached 
to Highland regiments, although such were at first 
sometimes out of sympathy with the men in their 
passionate love for it, and heartily disliked the in- 
strument itself, as the following story well shews : — 

General Sir Eyre Coote first heard the Highland 
Bagpipe sounded in war at the battle of Port Novo, 
in 1781. 


Previous to that day, when a handful of High- 
landers, with their pipers, won for him a great and 
glorious victory, he had expressed his opinion that 
''it was a useless relic of the barbarous ages," and 
*'not fitted for the discipline of the field." 

But when he saw the pipers go forward bravely 
with the men into the thick of the fight, and 
learned, from personal observation, of the stimulating 
effect which the music had upon the Highlanders, 
he could no longer restrain his admiration for the 
hitherto despised instrument, and riding up to the 
pipers, who were playing in the thick of the fight 
as if on parade, he shouted through the roar of 
battle — "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 presented 
the pipers next day with ^50 to buy the Pipes. 
Nor did he ever again refer to the Pipes as "a 
useless relic of the barbarous ages." 

The enthusiasm called forth by the sight of the 
gallant pipers piping in the midst of battle ; by 
their military bearing, and by their conspicuous 
bravery, has been well described in eloquent words 
by the historian, Napier, in his " History of the 
Peninsular War." 

General Sir Eyre Coote's experience in days long 
since gone by, has been the experience of many an 
officer since. Once let a soldier hear the Pipe in 
actual combat, and he is immediately won over to 
its side, as was Sir Eyre Coote, and he becomes at- 
tached to it, and loves it ever after for its worth's sake. 


I am glad to know that the officers of our High- 
land regiments to-day uphold and cherish the old 
war instrument as keenly and whole-heartedly as 
ever their forefathers did. 

The army is, in fact, a great school for pipers 
— one of the best — and a great help in perpetuating 
the Bagpipe. There are between two and three 
hundred army pipers ; and among them are several 
champion players, and more than one youthful 
coming champion. 

But not only do the officers encourage the play- 
ing of the Bagpipe among the men ; in many cases 
they shoulder the drone themselves during spare 
hours ; and I could name at least three gallant 
officers whose play is far above the average, and to 
whom I have often listened with pleasure ; but as 
there are, no doubt, many more equally skilful 
players in the Highland regiments, although un- 
known to me, this might seem an invidious dis- 
tinction on my part to make. 

"There is no sound," said a distinguished general 
once (speaking at a meeting of Highlanders in 
Edinburgh, shortly after Waterloo), " which the 
immortal Wellington hears with more delight, or 
the marshals of France with more dismay, than the 
notes of a Highland Pibroch." 

"The Bagpipe is, properly speaking," writes Dr. 
MacCulloch, "a military weapon. It is a handsome 
weapon also, with all its pennons flying, and the 
piper when he is well inflated is a noble-looking, 
disdainful fellow." 



In that most interesting of books, "With Kitchener 
to Khartoum," Mr Stev^ens hits off the Bagpipe on 
the battlefield in two words ; he is describing the 
battle of Atbara, just before the charge of the High- 
landers, and says "the trumpets sounded the 
advance, and the Pipes screamed battle.'''' 

All who have heard the *' Pipes," know that it 
can scream and make a noise pleasant enough out 
of doors, but unavoidably disagreeable in the house 
— to over-sensitive ears at least. But this instrument 
of rude, wild nature, while it expresses the fire 
and fury and lust of battle, is not unmindful of the 

In the "call to battle" you can hear the din and 
roar of warfare, the tramp of armed hosts, and 
clash of swords. 

You have of a surety in the upper notes the 
call to action, whether on the ballroom floor or field 
of battle ; but it is in the lower notes that a great deal 
of the charm and pathos of Bagpipe music lies. 

Here you have the sadness, and the sorrow ; the 
sadness that looks out at you from quiet grey eyes 
in the Highlands to-day as then ; the sadness that 
broods over the lonely Highland glen — now tenant- 
less, but once filled with a brave and happy people ; 
the sorrow that dwells beside the grey moss-covered 
stone, marking the old burial-place at the head of 
the glen ; the sadness that lurks in the shadows of 
the mountain ere the storm breaks ; the sorrow that 
clutches with icy fingers at the breaking heart when 
death has taken some loved one hence. 


"There is indeed," as Dr. Norman M'Leod so 
beautifully expressed it, ''in all Pipe music, a mono- 
tony of sorrow. It pervades even the Welcome, as 
if the young chief who arrives, recalls also the 
memory of the old chief who has departed. In the 
Lament we naturally expect this sadness ; but even 
in the summons to battle, with all its fire and energy, 
it cannot conceal what it seems already to anticipate — 
sorrow for the slain,^^ 



" Shortly was heard, but faint yet, and distant, the melancholy 
wailing of the ' Lament.'" — M'CuLLOCH. 

'yHERE Is no doubt that the Great Highland 
■*■ Bagpipe has gained lustre, and an undying 
fame on the battlefield. But if it had never sounded 
in the ear of a single soldier, inciting him to bravery, 
it would still claim a warm place in every true High- 
lander's heart. 

The Pibroch^ which is a piece of classical music, 
is the real business of the " Pipes," and it was by 
means of the Pibroch that the old piper gave vent 
to his deepest and most sacred feelings. Luckily a 
large number of these old pieces of Pipe music 
have been preserved for us. '* Ceol Mor^^' the last 
book published, contains 275 in number, and of 
these the majority is devoted to two subjects, 
''War;' and '' Deathr 

Now of these two, Laments for the dead are 
more numerous than War pieces, and it is in the 
Lament that the great pipers of old are seen at their 


The Highlander has always shewn great respect 
for his dead, and in the old days the Bagpipe was 
never awanting at the funeral obsequies, which were 
sometimes carried out with a lavishness and prodi- 
gality that almost takes one's breath away to-day. 
Here is the description of the funeral of Hugh, 
tenth Lord Lovat, who died April 27th, 1672: — 

" At eight o'clock of the morning of the 9th May, 
being the day appointed for the interment, the coffin, 
covered with a velvet mortcloth, was exposed in the 
courtyard, the pall above it being supported by four 
poles, the eight branches of the escutcheon fixed to as 
many poles driven into the ground — four at each end of 
the coffin. A large plume surmounted the whole. Two 
hundred men in arms formed an avenue from the gate 
to the high road. Four trumpeters, standing above the 
grand staircase, sounded an alarm on the approach of every 
new arrival. A sumptuous entertainment was given about 
mid-day. Between twelve and one the trumpets played 
the " Dead March." Then the mourners raised the coffin, 
and the pall above it. Two trumpeters preceded, and 
followed the body. A horseman in bright armour, hold- 
ing a mourning spear, led the van, two mourners in 
hoods and gowns guiding his horse. At the ferry, 
two war-horses, covered with black trappings, and held 
by grooms attired in sables, had been placed in ambush, 
who, starting up, here joined the procession. From the 
west end of the moor to the kirk-stile, a mile in length, 
armed bands of men were drawn up, through whose lines 
the procession went slowly. The Earl of Ross alone sent 
400 of his vassals, with their drums covered with black. 
There were 1000 Frasers, with their Colonel, Thomas 
Fraser, of Beaufort, at their head. There were a great 
number of armed M'Kenzies, Munros, Rosses, M'Intoshes, 
Grants, MacDonells, and Camerons. 

"The Bishops of Murray, Ross and Caithness, with 


eighty of their clergy, were present, and a body of 800 
horsemen. At the church-stile, the Earls of Murray and 
Seaforth, the Lairds of Balnagown, Foulis, Beaufort, 
and Stricken, carried the coffin into the church, which 
was hung in black. 

"After singing and prayer, the funeral sermon was 
preached from 2nd Sam. iii. 38 : — ' Know ye not that 
there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in 
Israel ? ' 

" At four o'clock the whole ceremonies were over, and 
the trumpets sounded the 'Retreat.' The different clans 
filed off, with banners displayed and ' Pipes ' playing, 
the Frasers forming a line, and saluting each as they 

The humble funeral of the poor clansman was, 
however, more in accord with the Bagpipe than all 
this pomp and display. 

The following description of such a funeral is from 
the pen of Dr. M'CuIloch, and shews how beautifully 
and sympathetically he could write of the Bagpipe, 
and of the Highlander, after he had learned to 
know both : — 

" I shall not soon forget the last beautiful evening 
that I spent in Lochaber, and such scenes, I doubt not, 
have come across your path also. The slanting rays of 
the yellow sun were gleaming on the huge mass of Ben 
Nevis ; the wide and wild landscape around had become 
grey, and every sound seemed to be sunk in the repose of 
night. Shortly was heard, but faint yet, and distant, the 
melancholy wailing of the ' Lament ' that accompanied a 
funeral as its slow procession was seen marching down 
the hill — the bright tartans just visible on its brown 
declivity. As it advanced, the sounds seemed to swell on 
the breeze, till it reached the retired and lonely spot where 
a few grey stones, dispersed among the brown heath, 


marked the last habitation of those who had gone before. 
The pause was solemn that spoke the farewell to the de- 
parted, and as the mourners returned, filing along the 
narrow passes of Glen Nevis, the retiring tones died away, 
wild, indefinite, yet melodious as the ^olian harp, as they 
alternately rose and sank on the evening breeze, till night 
closed around, and all was hushed." 

There is no doubt that the Bagpipe lent a beautiful 
picturesqueness to the old Highland funeral, com- 
pleting and rounding off the last kindly services to 
the dead. Never were time and place and circum- 
stance more favourable to the Pipe. Never an 
audience better attuned to its plaintive music — a 
music that fills the glen and is re-echoed from the 
mountain side. 

One can scarcely credit in these days of hurry and 
cremation, the yearning of the clansman for the 
dear old music when trouble overtook him and 
death seemed near. " However little a Southerner 
may be able to enter into this passionate enthusiasm 
for what in his ears seems shrill discord, he must 
bear in mind, that just as in him the scent of a 
flower, or the few chords of an old melody will 
sometimes waken up a long train of forgotten 
memories ; so to one whose earliest love has been 
for the wild mists and mountains, those strains bring 
back thoughts of home, and the memory of the 
dead and absent comes floating back as on a breath 
from the moorlands, mingling with a thousand 
cherished early associations such as flood the inner- 
most heart with hidden tears." 


" I truly may bear witness," writes Miss Gordon 
Gumming, " how twice within one year, while watching 
the last weary sufferings of two of the truest Highlanders 
that ever trod heather, I noted the same craving for the 
' dear old Pipes. ' 

" Roualeyn Gordon Gumming died at Fort Augustus, 
March 24th, 1866, in the grey old fort at the head of 
Loch Ness, which has now been demolished and replaced 
by a Roman Gatholic Gollege. Dear to us is the memory 
of that strange sickroom, the rude walls still bearing 
the names of the Duke of Gumberland's soldiers carved 
in their idle leisure, but adorned with trophies of the 
chase, each one of which recalled to the dying hunter 
the memory of triumphs in the days of joyous health. 
Now his mighty strength was slowly ebbing. As night 
after night passed by in pain and weariness, yet to that 
lion-like beauty each morning seemed to add a new 
refining touch of radiant spirit-light — a light that fore- 
shadowed the celestial dawn. 

" Night and day, through long weeks of suffering, 
his faithful piper, Tom Moffat, never left his side, tend- 
ing him with an unwearied devotion, the love ' that 
passeth the love of woman,' fanning his fevered brow 
with the wing of a golden eagle, — and ever ready, at 
his bidding, to tune up the old Pipes and play the wild 
melodies he most loved. 

" His elder brother. Sir Alexander Penrose Gordon 
Gumming, only survived him five months — five weary 
months of pain — during which he, too, lay — 

' Dying in pride of manhood, ere to grey 

One lock had turned, or from his eagle face 

And stag-like form. Time's touch of slow decay 

Had reft the strength and beauty of his race.' 

" Far from his beautiful home, and from the woods 
and river he loved so dearly, he lay, held prisoner by 
dire illness in the dull town. 

" One night, shortly before his death, when after long 



fevered hours of pain he lay exhausted, yet unable to 
sleep, and the home voices usually so dear to him seemed 
to have lost their spell, he exclaimed ' Oh ! that I could 
hear a pibroch once more before I die.' 

" It seemed like a heaven-sent answer to that cry, that 
at this moment, faint but clear there floated on the night 
wind, a strain of distant Pipe music. Nearer and nearer 
sounded the swelling notes, played by the piper of a 
Scotch regiment, who, when he learned how precious to 
the ear of the dying chief was this breath from the 
breezy hills, gladly halted and made the dull street re-echo 
the notes of pibroch and wild laments, ' That is music,' 
he murmured ; and when at length the piper went his 
way, the long-strung nerves were soothed, and the 
blessing of sleep so long denied — a deep refreshing 
sleep — told how well the dear, dear music of the moun- 
tains had worked its spell. 

' Music that gentler on the spirit lies, 
Than tired eyelids upon tired eyes.' " 

To the Highlander, indeed, Bagpipe music is 
wholly impregnated with reminiscences of a life that 
is now a thing of the past — the soft boom of the 
drones ever reminding him of the old ways and old 
days which, as seen through the mists of time, were 
not altogether bad, but altogether lovely, and recalling 
to the exile on a foreign shore sweet dreams of the 
dear old home among the mountains. 

With memories such as these clustering round 
this old — it may be, rude instrument — is it to be 
wondered at that we Highlanders — brushing aside 
as unworthy of notice the cheap sneers of ignorant 
critics — should love it, and love it dearly, in spite of 
its simplicity, in spite of its rudeness, in spite of its 
many imperfections. Given place, and time, and 


"The Master," what other instrument is there to 
compare with it? As Dr. M'Culloch said, when 
writing to Sir Walter Scott, "It is to hear it 
echoing among the blue hills of our early days ; to 
sit on a bank of yellow broom, and watch its tones 
as they swell, mellowed by distance on the evening 
breeze ; to listen to it as it is wafted wide over the 
silent lake, or breaking through the roaring of the 
mountain stream. This it is to hear the Bagpipe as 
it ought to be heard, to love it as it ought to be 
loved. It is wide and wild nature that is its home ; 
the deep glen and the mountain that is its concert- 
room ; it is the torrent and the sound of the breeze 
that is its only accompaniment." 



"Or is thy Bag-pype broke, that sounds so sweete ? " — (1579). 

—Spenser. — Sheph. Cal. 

TS Bagpipe music really worthy of the name of 
■^ music? Spenser's shepherd evidently thought 
it "sweet." We all know that it is great in 
quantity ! Is its quality at all in keeping with its 
quantity ? 

Of Piohrach — the only music worthy of the instru- 
ment, according to many good authorities — we have 
some 275 still in existence. How many more are 
lost to us for ever, no one can say ; but the 
number must be exceedingly great. 

From the "Forty-Five" onwards — until its re- 
vival at Falkirk in 1781 — Pipe music was tabooed. 
The tunes had never been written down (if we 
except Caintaireachd) , but were carried in the piper's 
memory ; and to any one who knows the length and 
variety, and complicated fingering of Piobrach such as 
"Donald Dougall McKay's Lament," or "Patrick 
Og MacCrimmon's Lament," the wonder is that any 
but the simpler ones should have survived. 


It was from Piobrach that Mendelssohn got the 
inspiration for his " Scotch Symphony." 

For three whole days the great musician wandered 
in and out of the old Theatre Royal, in Edinburgh, 
listening to the finest pipers of the day playing 
Piobrach during the great annual competition for 
the championship, which was always decided by 
'■'' Piobaireachd^'" and by ''^ Piobaireachd'" alone — no 
" Ceol Aotram " at these meetings. 

Many of these old Piobrach are well-known and 
beautiful airs. Great singers of Scotch song have 
made them familiar as household words with the 
public. I once heard Sims Reeves, when at his 
best, sing the " MacGregor's Gathering," and can 
still remember the thrill which went through my 
whole being during the performance. When he 
rolled out, in a voice of thunder, " Gregalach!" the 
audience was electrified. 

The "MacGregor's Gathering," then! "The 
Children's Lament," most beautiful and pathetic of 
airs! " MacCrimmon's Lament," with its mournful 
refrain, "MacCrimmon no more will return!" ^'■Pio- 
brach of Donald Dhu," most thrilling of war songs ; 
and many others, too numerous to mention, fully 
justify the term — "Bagpipe Music." When we leave 
^^ Piobrach," — "the real business of the Pipe" — as 
M'Culloch calls it — and come to the simple High- 
land Bagpipe airs, a better claim to our considera- 
tion, or, at least one more easy of comprehension, 
can be made out for Pipe music. Burns composed 
many of his best songs to Pipe airs. " A man's a 



man for a' that," "Scots wha ha'e," "Highland 
Laddie," "Rantin', Rovin', Robin," are all Bagpipe 
tunes. "I'm wearin' awa', Jean," by Lady Nairne, 
" Blythe, blythe, and Merry are we," by Gray ; 
"Hey, Johnnie Cope, are ye wauken yet?" and in- 
numerable other songs by various writers, have been 
composed to Bagpipe music. 

Again, as a war instrument, the Bagpipe has 
produced many excellent marching tunes. 

Is there any other war instrument that can shew 
a better record in respect to marches ? 

In 18 1 5, when John Clark, the piper-hero of 
Vimiera, who was presented with a gold medal by 
Sir John Sinclair at the annual competition in 
"Ancient Martial Music" for bravery on the field 
(his legs were mangled with chain-shot, but he con- 
tinued piping as he lay and bled), came stumping in 
on his wooden leg, he received a great ovation, the 
audience, which filled the theatre from floor to 
ceiling, rising to its feet and cheering lustily for 
several minutes. 

Mr Manson, who tells the story of Clark's heroism, 
has evidently overlooked the above event, for he says 
in his book that Clark, after the war, disappeared 
from human ken, unrecognised and unrewarded. 

Sir John wound up the occasion in an eloquent 
speech with these words, already quoted : — " There 
is no sound which the immortal Wellington hears 
with more delight, or the marshals of France 
with more dismay, than the notes of a Highland 
Pioha ireachd. ' ' 


Three years later (in 1818) Sir John MacGregor 
Murray, speaking on a similar occasion, said : — 
"The piper's post in olden times was in front of 
his comrades in the day of danger — an honourable 

"This honourable post has still continued to him; 
and it was his duty to march forward, with the cool 
determination of a true Highlander, stimulating his 
companions to heroic deeds by the sound of the 
Piohaireachd of his country." 

To name half the good marching tunes written 
would occupy several pages ; nor is there any need 
to do so, as their pre-eminent fitness is unchallenged. 

I take leave, however, to quote from an unsigned 
article in Chambers' s Journal, which appeared several 
years ago, and which bears independent testimony, 
in graceful language, to the effect produced by the 
sound of the Pipes : — 

"It is not assuming too much," the writer says, 
" to claim for Highland music that it has produced 
tunes more eminently fitted for marching than the 
music of any other nation. Most of us, at some 
time or another, have come across a Highland 
regiment on the march. Who does not know the 
roll of the distant drums? and, mingling with it, 
that prolonged drone which gradually resolves itself 
into some old familiar tune. To the Scotsman, 
there is never any mistaking that sound; and though 
we may be nineteenth century individuals, with tall 
hats and black coats, we cannot help going just a 
little way, and keeping step also. The pulse beats 


just a Itttle quicker, and, despite all cheap sneers, 
the memory of a thousand years is a little more real 
than might have been expected. If an impartial 
observer should take such an occasion as this, he 
will notice that there is a swing and a go about 
a Highland regiment quite peculiar to itself, and 
due, in great measure, to the music of the Pipes. 
It is a something born of the music, hard to account 
for, but nevertheless, very apparent." 

I think, then, that Spenser's shepherd in the 
sixteenth century, had good reason to mourn over 
his " sweete-sounding " Pype ; and every true critic 
must admit that there is "a something" in Bagpipe 
music, which the enlightened twentieth century would 
be all the poorer without. 



" The sweet ballad of the Lincolnshire Bagpipes." — (1590). 

— "Three Lords and Three Ladies of London." 

'T^HIS raises the whole question of " prooramme " 
music. Can any instrument speak, in the sense 
of telling a story ? The old classicists were content 
to appeal to the feelings in their works. 

" Form " was everything with them. Each piece 
was built up according to rule, just as a house 
or a ship is built. Beethoven, in his " Pastoral 
Symphony," was among the first musicians of note 
to disregard the rules — to break away from rigid 
"form" — but he never professed to make music tell 
a story. He still insisted that his music appealed 
only to the feelings. 

Since his day, however, men have gone a great 
deal farther, and profess to be able to write music 
up to a story. A " programme " takes the place in 
modern music of "form" in the old; but these 
authors take good care that the audience is supplied 
with the written programme — the word story — by 
means of which only it is expected to struggle 


bravely along — in the rear, possibly, but still keep- 
ing in touch with the music. 

Richard Strauss has gone one better still, and in- 
sists that music can speak with an unmistakable 
voice, and needs no word story. This is "pro- 
gramme " music. 

It is no new claim that Strauss makes. Longf 
before the days of Wagner, Berlioz, or Strauss, the 
Highlander foolishly made the same claim on behalf 
of Pipe music, and got sneered at for his pains. 

Many stories were told, and believed, in the old 
days, of how the piper, in an impromptu^ warned 
his friends of danger ; told the numbers and dis- 
position of the enemy ; pointed out the ambush, or 
indicated the weak spot in the defence. 

The great masters in piping, however, never 
adventured beyond the classical Piobroch ; never 
attempted to do anything more than appeal to the 
feelings. With them "form" was everything. 

The Piobroch is built upon a plan so definite — 
so inv^ariable in its form — that, given the theme, 
groundwork, or ^'' urlar" any good piper with a 
knowledge of Pipe music, can build up and perfect 
the tune. 

Descriptive music, such as " The Desperate 
Battle," '' Au Daoroch Mhor," "The Weighing of 
the Ship," — where sounds and movements are imi- 
tated — there is in plenty ; but "programme" music 
on the Pipe there never has been. The genius of 
the old masters, the MacCrimmons, and others, recog- 
nised the limits of the Bagpipe, and judiciously 


kept within these ; and so the music suited the 
instrument admirably. The "programme" school 
of to-day will also sooner or later have to acknow- 
ledge the limits of instrumentalisation, and the 
limits of music, and acknowledge that the "story" 
is not within these limits. 

In a very interesting article on the orchestral 
concert given by Herr Richard Strauss in Edin- 
burgh, on December 22nd, 1902, the Scotsman asks, 
is the "programme" really necessary, and does it 
not reduce the divine art "to the level of the orna- 
mental border which often decorates the printed 
verses of our exquisite poets. 

" Richard Strauss is really trying to succeed at 
the very game in which Berlioz magnificently failed. 

" Berlioz, in his ' Episode from the Life of an 
Artist,' had thrown down the gauntlet to the classi- 
cists. ' Here,' he said, ' is a story ; here is a pro- 
gramme, and I shall write up to it.' A young 
artist, imaginative and sensitive, is in love, and the 
first movement represents his pilgrimage of passion. 
In the second movement he wanders a-field (literally) 
and, amidst shepherds' pipes and thunderstorms, 
communes with Nature. Next he is in a ball-room, 
watching the dancers, and eating out his own 
heart. Finally, in a fit of despair, he poisons him- 
self with opium ; but, instead of dying, he falls 
into a De Quincey swoon, in which he dreams 
that he has killed his mistress, and witnesses the 
fall of the guillotine on his own neck. Then comes 
a horrible orgie of witches and demons, who dance 


round his coffin, and the whole mad medley ends 
with a mock ' Dies Irce,' delivered by all the gibber- 
ing fiends of hell. ' All this,' says Berlioz, * I will 
say in music' But strange and moving as the music 
is, no one would ever be able to interpret it unless 
Berlioz's own word story were before him. The 
music itself may seem clever and appropriate, when 
joined with the 'programme'; without the story it 
is only a mass of condensed sound, alluring, terrify- 
ing, astonishing, yet without form, and void.'' 

This is severe criticism, but none the less true. 
Programme music is a failure, and the story in 
music must for ever remain untold. 

Keeping always before us, then, the limits of the 
Bagpipe scale, and the limits of music itself, I think 
it may be said that the Bagpipe can speak as well, 
at least, as any other instrument, and is understood 
by the Highlander better than any other, because it 
has been his one instrument in the past. 

For my own part, I doubt much whether any kind 
of music will ever be able to tell a story unaided. 

Music, telling its story — a simple love story, say 
— to twenty experts, would receive exactly twenty 
different interpretations ; and these would all differ 
(in the details) from the intended story. 

Music can express, in a general way, the coarser 
feelings of joy and sorrow, as in the '* Wedding 
March" of Mendelssohn, and the "Dead March" 
from Saul; of war and love, as in the "March 
of the Men of Harlech," and " My Love is like a 
red, red Rose." 


But the finer gradations of feeling, and the 
ordinary events of the day, which, combined, go 
to make up a man's life, can never be so clearly 
expressed by music alone that the average 
can read there the story as in an open book. 

Under the above limitations, the Bagpipe speaks 
to the Highlander with no uncertain voice. 

Old associations, of course, have much to do with 
this gift of being able to read a meaning into Pipe 

The sounds which filled the child's ear as it lay 
nestling in its mother's arms, and enlivened the 
spare moments of his boyhood's days, and cheered 
his spirits when he drew his virgin sword on the 
field of battle, could hardly fail to have a special 
meaning for him in his old age, or to be under- 
stood of him ; but beyond this, there is no speech 
in the Bagpipe. 

I would close this book, which is already too 
long, with a story — "a poor thing, but all mine 
own," in which, perchance, an answer may be 
found to the question put at the head of this 
chapter, "Can the Bagpipe Speak?" 

One glorious afternoon in September, 1902, I 
stood inside the old castle of Inverlochy — my 
daughter for company. It was only natural that the 
historic pile should revive memories of the stirring 
days of old, and I thought of Donald Balloch of 
the Isles, with his regal ways, ''Ego Donaldiis Rex 
Insiiloram''' ; of Lochiel, the dark; and Montrose, 
the brave boy-soldier ; and Argyll, the grim, the 


pusillanimous; of Ian Lorn, the " Bard," and of his 
answer as he stood on the battlements of the old 
castle with his leader, watching the battle of Inver- 
lochy, as it raged down by the river side. 

Ian was asked by Montrose why he did not join 
in the fray? 

"And if I did fight, and were killed to-day, who 
would sing your praises to-morrow?" 

Was it not a good answer for the royal bard to 
give? It might not sound well, coming from the 
lips of a coward, but Ian Lom — bard though he was 
— was a fine swordsman, and had proved his courage 
in a hundred previous fights. 

The whole scene rose in imagination before my 
eyes as the old tune rang out, and I could see 
the great soldier smile as he put the question to 
Ian, the question that would have been a deadly 
insult to any other Highlander. Now, Montrose 
was the last man in the world to hurt the High- 
landers' feelings, but he knew the bravery of the 
man he was speaking to ; moreover, his practised 
eye saw that the battle was practically decided 
before he spoke. Argyll had taken to his galley, 
and his rowers waited with oars poised ready for 
flight ; and the Argyll men, brave as they vv^ere, 
deserted by their leader, lost heart and were already 
as good as beaten. So that lan's aid was not 
needed when Montrose spoke, and both men knew 
this ; it did not require a soldier's eye to see that 
Argyll was beaten. And so, when Ian Lom, look- 
ing up into his leader's face, saw the quiet smile 


playing round the beautiful mouth, and the spirit of 
gentle humour looking out of that eagle eye, he 
jested lightly in reply, "And if I did fight and 
were killed to-day, who would sing your praises 
to-morrow ? " 

It was in such a mood, as the above thoughts 
suggested, that I took up my Pipe and played 
"The Battle of Inverlochy." Soon I had quite a 
little gathering inside the old walls listening to my 
piping. First came some children from the neigh- 
bouring cottages. These were soon joined by the 
workers on a farm close by ; the milkmaid left her 
cows, the herd his cattle, the ploughman his team. 
As I played, I could swear that other players in- 
visible played along with me ; from every corner 
came a different echo, until the warm air within 
the great square vibrated and danced to the 

When I had finished, I said to the oldest person 
present: "This is a fine old place"; "Yes, and a 
fine old tune with the sound of the battle in it," 
was his answer. 

"You knew the tune, then?" I asked. 

"That I did," he answered promptly. 

"I heard it out yonder," pointing to the field by 
the river, "and knew it in a minute." 

My Pipe spoke to the listener out in the meadow, 
and this ploughman, I could see by his face, got 
out of, or should I say read into, the music the 
old story of the battle of Inverlochy. 

This is how the Pipe spoke to the Highlanders 


in the old days. It is in this way that the Bag- 
pipe voices the feelings of the Highlander better 
than any other instrument, and because of this it 
may be said to speak. It is the instrument of rude 
wild nature, and interprets the elemental passions — 
if I may so call them — of human nature, in a way 
that no modern instrument with its refinement and 
niceties of scale can ever attempt. 

And in the old days, when the Pipe was the 
one solace of the Highlander in his leisure hours, 
and down in the glen. Pipe-call answered to Pipe- 
call the long summer day through ; and when every 
clan had its own distinctive clan tunes ; and when 
nearly every man was a player — piping being con- 
tagious in the Highlands in those days — and when 
every tune had a history, I have no doubt that the 
language of the Pipe was a verity to the old High- 
lander, and was understood by him almost as well 
as was his mother-tongue — rousing him to a sense 
of danger, or lulling him into a happy security ; 
reminding him continually of the brave deeds of 
his forefathers, and thus keeping alive within his 
breast a strong sense of emulation ; speaking with 
no uncertain voice of love and hate ; of joy and 
sorrow ; of revenge and death ; and after death, of 
the reunion with his forefathers, whose spirits hovered 
near — watchful, silent, sympathetic. 





university of Cal.torn.a 
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