Skip to main content

Full text of "Popular tales of the west Highlands"

See other formats


This is a digital copy of a book lhal w;ls preserved for general ions on library shelves before il was carefully scanned by Google as pari of a project 

to make the world's books discoverable online. 

Il has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one thai was never subject 

to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 

are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often dillicull lo discover. 

Marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 

publisher lo a library and linally lo you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud lo partner with libraries lo digili/e public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order lo keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial panics, including placing Icclmical restrictions on automated querying. 
We also ask that you: 

+ Make n on -commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request thai you use these files for 
personal, non -commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain from automatal querying Do not send automated queries of any sort lo Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attribution The Google "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use. remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 

countries. Whether a book is slill in copyright varies from country lo country, and we can'l offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume thai a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through I lie lull lexl of 1 1 us book on I lie web 
al |_-.:. :.-.-:: / / books . qooqle . com/| 














-. - 

Ht km gat n imtira^i 



tBH> *2Ì 

11 1 



■SSVjfflK IB IP {ffi'ltfi^BIIHll 





MM,.;; EH ^ 



^^KwMK^flli^^^^l " 


g^jigggi^^i^nBBBElTli^iBIl £ 

■:i.,'(om.ti,^.™ w 





<SBit(j n ftrmwlatiott 








IT ^ 






Postscript . . . .1 

L OSSIAN, 5. Points for Argument, 6. State- 
ment of the Case, 7. Current Opinions — 
English, 8; Scotch, 9; Irish, 10; Irish 
Argument considered, 1 2 ; Lowland Scotch 24 
Authorities — Heroes of Ossian, 25. Befer- 
ences to Fenian and other Traditions, and 
to Ossianic Heroes and Poems in Old Writ- 
ings, chronologically arranged . .37 
Published Evidence and Books . .103 
Populab Ballads . . .123 
Current Gaelic Traditions, etc. . 128 
Internal Evidence, etc., 142. Published 

Gaelic Ossian, 143. Opinion of MacNair 159 
Essay on Gaelic Poetry by H. MacLean . 160 
Letter from John Dewar . . .215 

Letter from D. K Torrie . . . 217 

Letter from Archibald Sinclair . .221 

Letter from Alexander Carmichael . 229 

Conclusion .... 248 

Ossianic Proverbs and Family History . 252 



IL TRADITIONS— British Traditions . . 259 

Welsh Stories, etc., compared with Gaelic . 271 

III. MYTHOLOGY— Aryan Theory, etc. . . 305 

West Highland Stories . . .314 

Supernatural History — Water-Bulls and 
Water-Horses, Boobries, Dragons, Fairies, 
etc. . . . . 328 

Icelandic Sagas .... 344 


List of Sanscrit Words, 348. Topography, 
351. Some words common to Gaelic and 
English, 352. Other Languages, 355. Old 
Saxon ..... 358 


VL CELTIC ART and its probable origin ' .381 

VH. MUSIC 404 

Conclusion . . . .405 

List of Ballads orally collected . .408 

References to Written and Printed Ballads . 409 
List of Stories collected . . .415 

Index ..... 465 


Frontispiece. J. F. C. 

1. An ancient stand-up Dog-Fight, from a Cross at 

Dupplin . . . . .25 

2. Belted Plaid. Ancient Highland Dress, from 

a Stone at St Andrews . . .38 

3. Figures from Grave-stones at Killberry and Skip- 

nish, in Argyleshire . . . .47 

4. Grotesque Figure . . . .56 

5. Dancing to Pipe Music Highland Dress, 1829 57 

6. Figure from Holbein's Dance of Death . .58 

7. The Elk, from " Ponitoppidan" . . .168 

8. Sketch from Nature, made on the Tana River, 

Russia, 1850. J. F. C. . . . 283 

9. Direach ghlinn Eiti, or Fachan, as described .326 

10. Highland Family Party returning from the Fair, 

1829 ..... 333 

11. "The Great Sea-Serpent," "The Walrus," and 

" The Sea-Horse" . . . .339 

1 2. Grave-stones in Islay and at Skipnish 362-363 

13. Highland Dress in 1560. From a Picture . 365 

14. " Minders" (?) MacKay's Regiment, 1 631. From 

a Print ..... 373 

15. Highland Dress in 1742. From a Book of Uni- 

forms ..... 377 



16. Pipers and Peasant Boy. Highland Dress in 

1848, from Nature .... 378 

1 7. Bosses from St Sebald, Nuremburg. " Grammar 

of Ornament 1 ' . . . 381 

18. Design from a Stone at Gavr Innis. J. F. Cj . 382 

19. Interlaced Pattern from an Eastern Bronze . 384 

20. Design from a Hindu Bronze Vessel . .387 

21. Figure dressed in the Belted Plaid. From a 

Stone at St. Andrews . . .390 

22. Figure, from a Hindu Bronze . . . 391 

23. A bit of Carnac, sketched in 1855. J. F. C. . 399 

24. From a Stone, found about 1830 under ruins 

in Loch Fionnlagain, Islay . . . 400 

25. Design from a Norse Powder-Horn . .401 

26. The Tail-piece. From an ancient Gaelic MS. 407 

I take this opportunity of thanking Mr. J. Stuart for permis- 
sion to copy from his valuable work called " The Sculptured 
Stones of Scotland.'* The stones themselves are valuable records 
of the past, but liable to injury, and Mr. Stuart's work is care- 
folly executed from drawings made from stones in particular dis- 
tricts. It is to be hoped that the work may be continued, for 
there are still great numbers of sculptured stones in Scotland 
which have not been drawn, and which are works of art. Many 
of these have been buried by sand drifts, broken through careless- 
ness or mischief, or defaced and spoilt within the last twenty 
years. One ancient chapel was made a piggery, and some of the 
thin gravestones were rooted up and broken by these fat suc- 
cessors of the Culdees. 

ERRATA.— Volume IV. 


9 126 




Brookes read 















Smith. His 


Smith, his. 






three fir trees 


three trees of fir. 
(J. F. C.) 








Gach hi. 








tha 'n. 


























A workman has reason to be grateful to any one who 
will give him an honest opinion of his work ; and he 
is fortunate if he has many able advisers, for when a 
number of independent opinions are brought to bear 
npon any one subject, a new light is thrown upon it. 
One critic may be a kindly good-natured man, who 
wishes well to the work and its author, but knows 
little of the subject. Such a man will praise the 
work, and agree with* the conclusions and arguments 
contained in it, and there is not much to be learned 
directly from him : but every man has a subject of 
which he knows more than his neighbours, and is apt 
to bring his special knowledge to bear upon other 
things, so it is a marvel if something is not learned 
from the criticism of any clever man. 

Another may be more skilful, though new to the 
subject He will take the arguments and make them 
his own, and use the information which he acquires, 
and draw his own conclusions ; such a man sheds a 
new light on the matter, and there is much to be 
learned from him. 

vol. rv. b 


A third may have a theory of his own, by the 
light of which he peeps about, and pokes into holes 
and corners to pick out that which suits his own pur- 
pose, and nothing else. From new materials so gathered, 
such a man will build up a structure of his own ; and 
there is much to be learned from one who so treats 
another's work. 

Then comes one with more extended views, who 
has studied the question, and knows a great deal 
about it, and is conscious of power, and who views the 
new work all round and round, and turns it upside 
down and inside out, and throws a new light upon it — 
the electric light of superior knowledge. But the eyes 
of such men are apt to be dazzled by excess of light ; 
they have looked at so many large objects, that they 
overlook the small ; their vision is telescopic, they 
cannot see microscopic details ; and a short-sighted 
theorist, with his dim lamp, will poke out many things 
which he of the great light and the strong eyes will 
never see. But whoever reviews a book fairly, teaches 
something to its author, and he who knows most 
about the subject teaches most 

Then come friends — one with pleasant praise, 
which, if he be a wise friend, is a valued reward and a 
wholesome cordial ; then one with unpleasant dispraise, 
which, if wisely administered and well taken, may be a 
useful tonic ; then one who picks out the worst bit, for 
which no one has a good word, and says it is the very 
thing which he should have expected, and he shakes 
hands and departs radiant with the consciousness of a 
compliment well turned. One says the work is learned, 


perhaps because he has not tried to understand it; 
another more truly says that it is not. One says that 
it is too long, another that it is too short ; one, that 
it should all be written over again, another, that it 
never should have been written at all; and so by 
degrees the workman gets to know his errors. 

But at last there may come a great giant of a critic, 
armed with a brilliant intellectual sword of light, which 
makes smaller men quake ; an author in his clutches 
feels that he is a small mortal in the presence of a very 
big one, that he must resign himself to his fate, and 
prepare for the worst. He may be cut up into little 
bits, or eaten alive, and if so, he is quite sure to dis- 
agree with the great man, but he must submit. He 
may hope to be as indigestible as Tom Thumb, who 
survived being eaten many times; but he may also 
hope to be raised up on the giant's shoulder, thence to 
see the world, or to be placed in the rim of his great 
hat, like Grimm's tailor, there to walk about in the 
sunshine, and admire the prospect. He may be crushed 
under the giant's great splay feet, or helped on his 
journey by his long legs, but unless some other giant 
interferes, or a dwarf shews him a mouse-hole to creep 
into, he cannot escape. 

But when all is done, giants and great men, pur- 
blind and keen-sighted, Grudgeon, Strongback, Bola- 
gum Mor, and the rest of the gifted men and genii, 
friends and foes, are all working for good, and bringing 
stores of knowledge. If they are friendly, the mortal 
has need of friends ; if unfriendly, he will, at all 
events, learn to keep out of their way ; and if by any 


chance they should happen to go by the ears, and fight 
over his contemptible little body, he is not worthy to 
be the cause of such a fight who cannot pick up some- 
thing worth having on the field of battle when the 
fight is done. 

It would be ungracious not to thank those who 
have done me good service, so I thank my reviewers 
here for much valuable information. My work has 
been treated as an honest attempt to place what I 
found amongst Highland peasants within the reach of 
English readers ; and if I have got an occasional buffet, 
such pain does but enhance the pleasure of being patted 
on the back. Some have added praise which I can 
hardly think my due, and of which I would willingly 
transfer a large share to those who have really earned 
it. The real workmen are the old Highland bodies, 
with their extraordinary power of memory, who told 
Gaelic stories, and the men who wrote them down — 
men who have shewn an amount of industry, talent, 
and fidelity in carrying out their work, of which I 
cannot speak too highly, and whose genuine, kindly, 
generous, clannish nature, has made it a real pleasure to 
work with them. H Sir," said one of them, " I send 
you the story of , which I wrote from the dic- 
tation of . I am paid enough already." And 

yet these are the people of whom one of a different 
stamp lately said, that they were barbarians to be civil- 
ized, a people whose language should be rooted out as 
the worst of all the jargons inflicted upon the human 
race as a curse at the tower of BabeL 



I have learned from my reviewers that the Ossianic 
controversy survives, and that the vigorous centenarian 
is studied with interest ; that these Highland stories 
which bear upon Celtic mythology are most valued by 
those who know most about popular lore, and that I 
am blamed for not holding opinions as to the origin of 
such stories. At the risk, then, of floundering out 
of my depth, I will endeavour to tell what I know, 
and what I think about these three subjects. 

L Ossian. 

In 1760, and during some following years, certain 
English compositions, the work of James MacPherson, 
were published. There is no dispute so far ; he com- 
posed the English Ossian, but he described his works 
as " translations," and it was asserted that they were 
his " original compositions." 

It is well to define these two expressions here, for 
their meaning has been obscured in the controversy. 

1. By a " close literal translation," I mean that 
every word, phrase, and sentence in a composition in 
one language has its proper equivalent in another. 

2. By a " free literal translation," that every phrase 

* The names in the following pages are variously spelt on 
principle according to the authority referred to. Oisean is pro- 
bably the correct modern orthography, bat the sound has been 
expressed in many ways, and I prefer to preserve them. Osin is 
perhaps the oldest form extant. 


and sentence, but not necessarily every word, is ren- 

3. By a " close translation," the expression in one 

language of the very same ideas which are expressed 
in another — such as the metrical translations of the 
Psalms; but prose may be verse, or verse prose. 

4. By a " free translation," I understand the same 
thing less accurately done — such works as "Pope's 

In the strictest rendering, a " translator " has the 
choice of many words, and may thus lean towards the 
one language or the other. These volumes, for ex- 
ample, generally aim at a "close literal translation," 
with a leaning towards the Gaelic idiom, but the 
loosest " translator " has no right to add one idea of 
his own, or omit anything. 

5. The next step is not easy to define. The first 
"Scripture paraphrase ,, is not an "original composition," 
yet it is hardly a " translation." It is a " paraphrase." 
If compared with its model, it gives the general sense, 
but it also gives something which belongs to the author 
of the paraphrase. There is no authority for " smiling 
ray," " ancient night," and a great deal is left out. 

6. The next step where original composition begins 
is still harder to define. The " Idylls of the King" are 
original compositions, but only a step removed from 
paraphrases, for they are founded on, and contain whole 

m^ lines taken from old poems and stories : and so there 

/ are endless gradations. English and Scotch popular 

ballads, for example, owe something to Percy, Eamsay, 

Burns, Scott, and others, but they are old nevertheless. 


Some have equivalents in Danish, Kcempe Visar, of great 
antiquity, and part of the story of the Heir of Linne is 
in Grimm's Eastern Tales. It would he hard to dis- 
cover any one composition of any modern author in 
which something- apparently borrowed from some 
other cannot be traced. Gray's poems, for example, 
are full of lines which are traced to the classics, and 
pointed out as beauties, the originals are quoted to en- 
hance the poet's fame, and yet these are original com- 

7. There are compositions which seem to have 
scarcely any relation to any that have gone before, such 
as "Vathek," and one question for argument is, to 
which of these seven classes do the " Poems of Ossian" 

Another question, and an important one is, "Where- 
in does the authorship consist ? " In the story or in 
the words ; in the rhythm or metre of poetry, or its 
theme, or its ornaments and illustrations ? Who, for 
example, will be the author of " Morte Arthur" when 
Tennyson's poem is completed] 

In 1807, after MacPherson's death, the Highland 
Society of London published certain Gaelic manuscripts 
which were all in MacPherson's handwriting. These 
contained Gaelic poems, and are the equivalents of 
nearly the whole of his English prose ; the one is in 
fact a free translation of the other. The argument is 
concerning these. Were they composed by Ossian in 
the third century as MacPherson " surmises Ì " Or by 
some other ancient or modern Gaelic poet ? Or by 
MacPherson himself? 


Were they translated from the published English 
prose, or the English prose from the Gaelic verse Ì 

"Were they compounded by any collector or col- 
lectors of other men's works, or were they original 
Gaelic compositions of the man in whose handwriting 
they were found Ì 

If they were compounded, from what originals? 
If they be original compositions, how far are the ideas 
contained in them and their language borrowed from 
older known compositions in Gaelic, or in any other 
language Ì Are they to be classed No. 1 or No. 7 ? for 
they must be classed somewhere. These are some of 
the questions for argument; the prevailing opinions 
differ as widely. 

1st, The commonest English opinion is, that the 
"poems of Ossian n were composed in English prose by 
James MacPherson about 1760 ; that he was the in- 
ventor of the characters and incidents, and that the 
poems had no previous existence in any shape. 

To support this it must be shewn that throughout 
all known Gaelic literature there is no mention of these 
names and incidents previous to 1760, and that no 
Gaelic poems concerning them existed previous to 1807. 

To refute this it is only necessary to quote some 
earlier mention of the characters, and some one early 
Gaelic poem, Irish or Scotch, concerning their ex- 

This sweeping English theory, which ranks the 
poems in the seventh class, is quite untenable. The 
groundwork of much which is in Ossian certainly 
existed in Gaelic in Scotland long before MacPherson 


was born. There are many passages in ancient works 
written in some dialect of English, which prove beyond 
dispute that the chief characters figured in Gaelic com- 
positions centuries ago, and Gaelic songs by well- 
known ancient bards, allude so constantly to Fionn, the 
Feinne, Oisein, etc., that there is no standing ground 
left for this theory. The West of Scotland Magazine 
for 1858 gives much information on this point, in a 
series of able articles on the poetry and traditions of the 
Highland clans. 

2d, An opinion still prevails amongst a limited 
number of Scotchmen, that Ossian's poems are histo- 
rical ; that the Gaelic is genuine old poetry composed 
by a bard of the third century, who witnessed many 
of the exploits recorded ; and that those passages which 
are said to resemble passages in Milton, may be the 
sources whence Milton borrowed ideas. 

To support this opinion, it is necessary to produce 
some proof, some early manuscript containing the 
poems, or one of them, or some early account of them, 
or it must at least be shewn that their language re- 
sembles in some sort the earliest attainable specimens 
of Gaelic as written by rule or by ear ; or that these 
very poems, or parts of them, are still, or were at some 
time, commonly known to some class of the population, 
and that they agree with all that is known of the 
history of these times. 

It is not now easy to support or refute this opinion, 
or prove a negative. The language of traditional 
poems alters, manuscripts get lost, manners change, 
and men die ; but it might be shewn that, so far as 


anything is known of early Gaelic literature, there 
were no such poems, and that their language is not 
that of some one period between the third and the 
eighteenth centuries, or that some one event which is 
mentioned happened later than the supposed date of 
the poet ; and so argue on probabilities. 

I could quote modern books which assert that the 
works of Milton and Shakspeare were composed by 
Scotchmen, while Ossian's poetry is a genuine work of 
the third century ; and MacPherson tried to persuade 
the world that the poems were of that date. He main- 
tained that they had been traditionally preserved in the 
Highlands, and written in ancient manuscripts which 
he had discovered there ; that according to Irish his- 
tory, Fingal died 283, and Osgur 296, and that these 
were the king of Morven and his grandson; that 
Caracul was the Roman Caracalla ; and that Ossian, the 
son of Fingal, survived his father, and disputed with a 
Culdee concerning the Christian religion towards the 
latter end of the third or beginning of the fourth cen- 
tury ; that Fingal in his youth, about 210, performed 
exploits against the son of the Roman emperor Seve- 
rus ; that Oscar, the son of Ossian and grandson of 
Fingal, fought the Roman usurper Carausius at the 
winding Carron, which runs in the neighbourhood of 
Agricola's wall ; and that Ossian sang of these deeds — 
all of which it is extremely difficult to disprove or 

3d, There is an Irish opinion, ably set forth in the 
fifth volume of the Transactions of the Ossianic Society 
of Dublin, and probably held by many, though it is 


not held by some of the best Irish scholars. It may- 
be thus stated. 

MacPherson 'stole the well-known poems of Oisin, 
who was an Irish bard of the third century, the son of 
Fionn and father of Osgur, and who shared in their 
exploits and survived them, and disputed with St. 
Patrick concerning the Christian religion, and boasted 
of his youthful deeds in his old age. These Irish poems 
were translated into English prose, and subsequently 
into Scotch Gaelic verse, and the Gaelic published in 
1807 is the result of this double process, and of nume- 
rous forgeries, falsifications, and alterations, done and 
committed by James MacPherson to discredit Ire- 

To support this sweeping claim it is necessary to 
produce the Irish poems in question, and prove that 
they are genuine, old, and Irish — the work of Oisin 
and of no one else ; and then to point out the passages 
which are translations, and shew that they are not 
paraphrases, or the original compositions of MacPherson 
or of some other ancient or modern bard. 

To upset this claim it is necessary to produce old 
Scotch versions of the Gaelic poems claimed, and to 
shew that they were known in Scotland, or published 
there, before they were published in Ireland. 

I hold that all these current theories are erroneous ; 
and as the Irish is the most modern, the best supported, 
and the most opposed to the common English view, 
which is furthest from the truth, I will endeavour to 
shew how far I agree with its supporters, and wherein 
they seem to me to err. I would willingly add all 


that I can to the larger stock of knowledge possessed by 
others, and I would gladly discover the truth if I 

The arguments now used by the supporters of the 
Scotch and Irish controversy will be found in the pub- 
lications of the Ossianic Society of Dublin, and in the 
West of Scotland Magazine, which works are well worth 
the attention of all who care for Celtic literature, and 
admire Celtic combativeness. Valuable information is 
given, but valuable space is occupied by suicidal attacks 
on Celts, their language and their literature ; old rusty 
taunts, which great men hurled at each other in their 
rage nearly a century ago, are picked up by smaller 
men, and thrown freely about still, though they have 
lost their point and Ml harmless. Irish writers attack 
writers on the Scotch side, who retaliate, and the others 
retort, and so the cause of Celtic literature is damaged 
by both ; for each is intent on injuring the other, on 
pulling down rather than building up. The only 
writer who has attacked me is a brother Celt, who uses 
a borrowed weapon which owed its sting to its owner's 
fame, and says, that I am so intensely Scotch as to "love 
Scotland better than truth," whereas I simply stated 
my opinion about the controversy which generated the 
taunt. I am ready to admit that Ossian or Oisin was 
an Irishman, when it is proved. I know that traditional 
and manuscript poems attributed to him have been 
known in Ireland for centuries. It is true that most 
of the old Gaelic manuscripts are written in the so- 
called Irish character ; but nevertheless, I hold that 
the Irish scholar who writes the following passages does 


not succeed in proving that MacPherson stole his mate- 
rials from Ireland :— 

" It has also been shewn, on unquestionable authorities, that 
the Gael of Caledonia were colonies from Ireland, and spoke and 
wrote in the language of their mother country. From the con- 
tinued intercourse carried on between the two nations from the 
third to the sixteenth century, it is evident that the same man- 
ners and customs, the same traditions, legends, historical compo- 
sitions, poems, songs, and music, were common to both." [Page 
227, Vol. V., Transactions of the Ossiaoic Society.] 

In the first place, it is not clear that all the Gael 
in Caledonia emigrated from Ireland. It seems pro- 
bable that a Gaelic-speaking population of Celtic tribes 
once pervaded the greater part of Europe and the whole 
of Great Britain ; and some of these surely travelled 
north overland, if others crossed the sea from Ireland 
to Scotland There are plenty of cases in which whole 
tribes have passed from Scotland to Ireland, for 
example, the MacLeans migrated from Islay. But be 
that as it may, if it be true, as it is asserted, that 
" many of the poems of Oisin the Irish bard, and other 
Fenian poets, are still preserved in Irish manuscripts," 
some " as old as the eleventh and twelfth centuries ;" 
if " these poems made their way to Scotland at an 
early period," and if " there cannot be a stronger proof 
of their great antiquity than their preservation in that 
country for so many centuries by oral tradition, although 
with dialectic changes : " if all this be true, and I neither 
admit nor deny the statement here, it does not prove 
the writer's case, though it supports mine. 


He asserts that MacPherson stole Ossian from Irish 
originals ; I hold that he did not ; and he shews that 
the very poems on which he founds his case have been 
known for ages where MacPherson asserts that he found 
his originals, and that they existed in a traditional ver- 
nacular Scotch costume. 

He proves, mayhap, that the muse who, for any 
thing I know, wears gilded vellum in Ireland, is 
a barefooted lassie dressed in ordinary homespun in 
Scotland ; but who is to say which is nearest to the 
Poems of Oisin, the language of the people, or that of 
cultivated scribes? Who is to decide whether these 
were popular ballads or courtly poems at first Ì Mac- 
Pherson has enough to answer for without making him 
worse than he is ; and it seems unjust to accuse him of 
stealing things which he found at home. 

Ossian resembles those ancient Irish poems which 
I have seen, less than it does the traditional ballads 
collected and printed in Scotland at the end of last cen- 
tury, many of which were again collected from the 
people last year. 

But this Irish "Introduction to the poems of 
Ossian by MacPherson " will astonish an English 
reader unacquainted with the Celtic side of this curi- 
ous controversy. The arguments fight amongst them- 
selves, and the authorities quoted contradict each other, 
while the writer contends with friends, and allies him- 
self with foes. We, children of the Gael, walk " shoulder 
to shoulder," but we are apt to dig our elbows into each 
other's ribs. Thus it is argued that — 


" If Ossian wrote his poems in North Britain in the third 
century, he must have been either an Irishman, or the descendant 
of an Irishman, who had recently come from ancient Scotia 
(Ireland) to settle in that country (Scotland) ; and his language 
must have been pure Irish, undefiled, of that period, and not the 
corrupt patois ascribed to him by MacPherson." 

But at page 199 it is said, that "the language of the 
poems, if properly spelled, and read by an Irish 
scholar, would be intelligible to the most illiterate 
peasant in Ireland." 

But if Ossian's Gaelic is Scotch, modern, and a cor- 
rupt patois, and comprehensible in Ireland, so is the 
Gaelic of the traditional poems claimed, and Irish must 
be a corrupt patois also. 

Further on, at page 227, the preservation in Scot- 
land of certain poems in this Gaelic, patois common to 
modern Irish, and Scotch Gael is quoted to prove 
their Irish origin and their antiquity. 

But if the preservation of poems in patois tradition- 
ally on one side of the water be proof of their antiquity 
and origin on the other, ancient Gaelic manuscripts, 
wherever found, should at least be common property, 
and count for both sides, for there are no manuscripts 
in the Gaelic of the third century, and one of the earliest 
known is attributed to Columbkill, the founder of Iona. 

At page 179, Martin is quoted as mentioning the 
existence of Irish manuscripts in the Western Islands 
in 1716 ; and at page 190, it is stated that the Bishop 
of Clonfert, in 1784, found Gaelic manuscript poems 
there, on which MacPherson had founded some of his 
English ; but it is said — " It is now pretty certain that 


he (MacPherson) had no originals ; " and Dr. Johnson's 
authority is used, to shew that " the poems of Ossian 
never existed in any other form than that in which we 
have seen them," that is, in English, These authorities 
disagree sadly. It is asserted, p. 178, that 

" Fragments of the compositions of the Irish bard Oisin were 
conveyed to the Highlands of Scotland from time to time by the 
Irish Shanachies. They were there committed to memory by 
story-tellers, and recited as they had been in Ireland.** 

But a Shanachie means a teller of old tales and tradi- 
tions, and some must surely have gone to Eirinn from 
Scotland, since the supposed date of Ossian. 

Martin, Johnson, the Bishop of Clonfert, and the 
writer who quotes them, cannot all be right. It is 
argued that Irish and Scotch Gael and Gaelic were 
identical in the third century, and are almost the same 
still ; Gaelic manuscripts found in Scotland are quoted 
and claimed for Ireland, while it is said that the people 
had all things in common, and are the same. MacPherson, 
it is said, had no originals : — and stole them from Ire- 
land. Johnson says there was nothing but English ; 
Martin, that there were old Irish MSS. ; the Bishop, that 
there were, and that they contained poems which were 
the foundations of the English : but if MacPherson had 
access to " Shanachies " in the "Western Islands, and 
there found old manuscripts which contained poems 
which he used, then he had originals ; and the Doctor 
and the essayist who quotes him are in error. If he 
had none of these things, the Doctor is right ; but the 
essayist errs again, for in that case the English Ossian 


was the original composition, and Ireland has no 
claim at all, unless she will accept of MacPherson, who 
certainly was an original, whether he was a poet or not. 

So, whether MacPherson mistranslated Irish ori- 
ginals, or invented the English of Ossian's poems, the 
charge of theft is unjust, for a Scotch Celt had a 
right to use common Celtic property found in Scotland, 
and an author has a right to use his own ideas. 

If the story told in Drummond's Ancient Irish 
Minstrelsy, page 11, be true, MacPherson could not 
have used ancient Irish MSS. if he had found them 
in Scotland. He was shewn some in the Bodleian 
library, and was forced to acknowledge that he could 
neither read nor translate them. If so, he must have 
worked from Scotch traditions, or manuscripts more 
easily read, or from his own head. 

Again, the essayist, having made out that ancient 
and modern " Irish* ' and " Earse" were and are the same, 
at page 180, quotes Johnson — "There are not in the 
Gaelic language five hundred lines that can be proved 
to be one hundred years old." He quotes the venerable 
Charles O'Connor of Balingare, who, in 1775, said the 
same on the great Doctor's authority ; and Dr. Young, 
afterwards Bishop of Clonfert, who, in 1784, held that 
" Earse " was not a written language till within a few 
years of the time when he was in the Highlands. 

But at page 219, an account is given of an ancient 
"Irish" vellum manuscript, compiled in the twelfth cen- 
tury, which " contains two poems by Oisin, who lived 
in the third," and it is added — 
vol. rv. o 


" We have no reason to donbt their genuineness as being 
originally the compositions of Oisin, when we remember the 
many liberties of modernizing the language usually taken by the 
scribes, through whom they have been handed down to us. One 
of these poems by Oisin relates to the battle of Gaura, and has 
appeared in one of the volumes of the Ossianic Society." 

If the poem meant be that on the " Battle of 
Gabhra," the first book of Temora is founded upon the 
same incidents; and a traditional version, of 1860, 
is at page 304 of this volume, and that is almost 
the same as the traditional version printed at Perth in 
1786, and got in Scotland. So the argument is all 
for MacPherson and against the authorities, for it 
proves that Temora is founded on incidents which were 
made the subject of Gaelic poems in the twelfth 
century. A man cannot eat his cake and have his 
cake ; he cannot claim property as common, and deny 
the right of a joint tenant ; he cannot claim tradition, 
and withhold manuscripts ; assert, and in the same 
breath deny the identity of Scotch and Irish Celts. 
Johnson, who knew neither Earse nor Irish, might err, 
but a writer who knows both should not use his 
authority, point out, and then adopt his error. 

At page 190 it is said — " It is notorious that the 
poem3 of Ossian are not mentioned in any Scotch his- 
tory a hundred years old;" but at 186 is a quotation 
from Bishop CarswelTs Gaelic Prayer Book, printed in 
Scotland in 1567, nearly three hundred years ago : — 

" They (the Scotch Celts) for whom the book was printed, 
desire and accustom themselves more to compose, maintain, and 


cultivate idle, turbulent, lying, worldly stories concerning the Tuath 
Dedanans, the sons of Milesius, the heroes, and concerning Fionn 
MacCumhaill and na Fhianaibh." 

This seems to dispose of a good deal of the argu- 
ment ; it proves that Gaelic was not only written, but 
printed for Scotchmen to read at a very early date, 
and that Scotch Gael then composed and delighted in 
compositions relative to the same heroes who figure in 
Ossian, in ancient Gaelic MSS., and in modern tradi- 
tional poems, Scotch and Irish. But Dean Mac- 
Gregor's Gaelic MS. was written in 1530, in Scot- 
land, and is mentioned in books which are quoted by 
the essayist ; so those who held that Gaelic was an 
unwritten language till the eighteenth century clearly 
erred ; and he who knows the error should not use 
their authority. 

Again, it has been said that MacPherson had no 
originals, but at page 190 the Bishop of Clonfert is quoted 
to prove that he had. The bishop made a tour of the 
Highlands in 1784 to collect ancient Gaelic poems, and 
he there found several of the "Irish" poems on which, 
as he surmised, MacPherson had founded some of his 
English. These were contained in manuscripts which 
the bishop copied, and he points out how these sup- 
posed originals had been altered by the translator. He 
says (191)-t- 

11 Till the poems themselves he published, it will certainly he 
impossible to distinguish the ancient from the modern, the real 
from the fictitious, and therefore, however we may admire them 
as beautiful compositions, we can never rely on their authenticity 
in any question of history, antiquity, or criticism. 


" When MacPherson professed to be merely a translator, be 
was not justified to omit what appeared to him to be modern fa- 
brications, and in their stead to add passages of his own, as ac- 
knowledged by his advocates ; he should have neither added nor 
mutilated his originals, but ought to have permitted the world to 
judge in these cases for themselves." 

Against such reasonable arguments there is nothing 
to be said, but the Introduction to the Poems of Ossian 
aims at a great deal more. Its argument seems to 
amount to this — 

The Gael of Scotland were an Irish colony who 
crossed from Ireland to Scotland before the third cen- 
tury, and placed about sixteen miles of sea between 
themselves and th« mother country ; they have been 
in constant communication with her ever since ; they 
WTote Irish, and spoke Irish, and still speak a corrupt 
dialect of that language. Scotch lowlanders called it 
Earse, meaning thereby Irish ; Celts call it Gaelic, and ;: 
mean the same. Scotland means the land of an Irish 
tribe, from whom Ireland should be called Scotia ; 
the Celts on both sides have gone on repeating the 
same poems and legends for centuries ; they have all 
things in common, and are the same people ; but the 
people on one side have no claim to anything. 

Irishmen took over the Scone stone, and founded 
the dynasty which has been crowned upon it ever 
since. Ireland sent Columbkill to Iona, where a series 
of Irish, English, Scandinavian, and Scotch kings and 
chiefs were buried ; and yet during all that long 
period of time, which includes nearly the whole his- 
tory of England, and a large portion of that of the 


world — whilst the Norsemen, who possessed the 
islands of Scotland and a large part of Ireland, and 
migrated thence to people Iceland, were sailing about 
from Labrador to Constantinople, conquering Nor- 
mandy and England, and making themselves a mighty 
name, and whilst Irish churchmen, some of whom 
reached Iceland before the Norsemen, wandered over 
great part of Europe, and Iona was a refuge for learning 
— the small strait between Ireland and Eontyre allowed 
no reflux. Whatever is Celtic is Irish. 

I hold that this is claiming too much, and that 
MacPherson was scarcely more unjust when he threw 
discredit upon Irish antiquities. He made himself and 
a particular class of Gaelic poetry famous j but what 
he found was common property derelict — old Celtic 
poetry, little noticed before his day. When he claimed 
the whole for Scotland, or altered what he got, he 
was unfair ; but to maintain the identity of a people 
from the third century till now, and deny the right of 
Celts to Celtic literature, is unreasonable. 

Whatever may be said, the poems of Ossian are 
printed in the Scotch dialect, in modern orthography, and 
Roman type, and some Gaelic poet must have composed 
them before 1807; they are poems, not prose transla- 
tions from English prose ; and their existence refutes 
this Irish theory, whose supporters refute each other. 
For example, at page 193 is the story of Colonel Shaw, 
secretary to the Marquess of Wellesley, who, when a 
boy, went to London and astonished an old lady there, 
who read him some of MacPherson's Ossian in Eng- 
lish, by saying, " I have heard all these stories before 


from my nurse in Ireland, who related them in the 
original Irish." 

Then, were they genuine, and composed by some 
Irishman 1 No, for at p. 1 95 is the other story that Mac- 
Pherson, who was not Irish, acknowledged to a private 
friend "the imposition of this English publication, 
with the attempt of translating it into modern Earse." 

Both these cannot be true, so it is best to believe 
neither, and follow the advice of OTlanagan, who is 
quoted, p. 194 : — 

"Let us both, modern Scotch and Irish, pursue the more 
honourable end of preserving the valuable remains of our own 
ancient literature, which was of yore, and may again be our 
common property." 

So say I also ; but common property does not mean, 
"What's yours is mine, what's mine's my own," as it 
seems to do in the "Introduction to the poems of Ossian." 
Let Ireland take her fair share of all the fame and all 
the blame that belongs to James MacPherson, for he was 
a Celt, and let her sons cease to run down poems which 
have gained a world-wide celebrity, because incidents 
recorded in old Irish manuscript poems can be traced in 
them, and Celtic worthies and real Irish wars are clearly 
referred to. Let Irish nurses, shanachies, and scribes, 
take their fair share of credit for preserving what is old 
and genuine, but without refusing the credit due to old 
Scotch Highlanders who have done the same. Above 
all, let us search for the truth rather than seek out 
faults, for Ossian is perhaps the most famous publica- 
tion of modern times, and it is Gaelic now, and was 


founded upon genuine old Gaelic poems and traditions, 
all argument and authority notwithstanding. 

While MacPherson's misdeeds meet their reward, 
let it be remembered that others similarly tempted 
have fallen and failed. Chatterton had. no founda- 
tion for his attempt, and failed. MacPherson had a 
wide foundation, and built upon it, and succeeded, and 
made a fortune and a name ; but honest Welsh Owen 
Jones, who followed them both, and whose work is all 
solid foundation, dug out of old manuscripts, is still 
almost unknown, though his patient industry com- 
mands the respect of all who know his history.* 

I hold, then, that an unprejudiced man who 'has 
read this Irish argument, must attribute much of the 
groundwork of the poems of Ossian to unknown bards 
far older than MacPherson, but not one line as it 
now stands to Ossian, Oisein, or Oisin, if that bard lived 
in the third century. I doubt if any one old popular 
traditional ballad now exists anywhere in the same 
words in which it was originally composed, and I think 
that this national squabble between England, Wales, 
Scotland, and Ireland, Highlands, and Lowlands, about 
poems which belong to the literature of the whole United 
Kingdom, should now cease. It is as if a man should 
fall out with himself, rap his own knuckles, tread on 
his own toes, punch his own head, bite off his nose to 
spite his face, and use his brains and his tongue to per- 
suade and summon the rest of the world to help him to 
extinguish himself 

The common opinion amongst Lowland Scots is 

elics of Welsh Bards, by E. Jones, 3 vols. 4to. 


expressed at the fourth page of Irving's History of 
Scottish Poetry, a work of great research, published in 
1861 ; in which it is shewn that lowland authors, of all 
ages, have had a fling at Celts and their literature* 

" It is no longer pretended that any Gaelic poetry has been 
preserved in early manuscripts, and indeed the period when 
Gaelic can be traced as a written language is comparatively 

But the next sentence admits that ancient poems were 
preserved in the Highlands of Scotland, and the notes 
flatly contradict the text. The Bishop of Clonfert and 
the report of the Highland Society are quoted. The 
discoveries of the one in 1784 are mentioned above, 
the other gives an account of many ancient Gaelic 
manuscripts which contain poems, including Dean 
MacGregor's, which is some forty years older than the 
MS. of George Bannatyne, and contains 11,000 lines 
of poetry, at least as old as 1530. 

Welsh writers who have taken part in the Ossianic 
controversy have generally taken a similar view. 

And now, having said this much as to opinions 
and arguments from which I differ, let me give the 
facts which I have been able to gather during the last 
two years, and state my own opinions, so that others 
may judge for themselves, and give their verdict. 




The firat question for inquiry is, who and what 
were the heroes of Ossian 9 

According to Professor O'Curry'a Lectures, the fol- 
lowing dates rest upon ancient authority* — 

Finn's pedigree begins. Finn son of Cumhall, son 
of Trenrnàr, son of Snaelt, son of Elton, son of Batsetti, 
son of Nuada Necht, who was monarch of Ireland 
ao. 110. 

Finn slain, in the reign of Cairbrè Lifeachair. 

Battle of Gabhra. Death of Oscar and Cairbre 
(p. 304). 

• Lectures on the MB. Materiali of Ancient Irish History, 

by ProfeMor O'Cnny, 8to, Dublin, 1861. 


Coming of St Patrick to Ireland (p. 472), to whom 
Oisin, the son of Finn, and Caelte his kinsman and 
contemporary, recited poems describing the glories of 
the ancient race, and the localities of famous events. 

In a matter of such antiquity it is of small im- 
portance that Oisin, who had a grown up son in 284, 
must have been about 180 years old in 432, and more 
than 200 before St. Patrick could have built the 
monasteries in which the poor old blind Irish bard was 
so grieved, starved, and tormented by jangling bells, 
droning psalms, and howling clerics ; it is proved that 
the names of the old Fenian heroes were known when 
very ancient manuscripts were written, and that is 
enough. So, taking the third century as a starting 
point, let us take a rapid voyage of discovery down the 
stream of time, carrying with us the published Gaelic 
Ossian, and noticing anything old that bears upon 
Gaelic traditions at its proper place. If Scotchmen 
and Irishmen will not pull in the same boat, let there 
be no bumping, or jostling, or fouling, but a fair race 
for what may be left of the poems when the voyage 
ends ; if any one is bored by such races he need 
not follow the boats, he may skip over a short cut 
to the winning-post, but if he does he must not give 
an opinion about the line of country which he is too 
lazy to travel. 

First, then, let it be granted that Finn lived in Ire- 
land at the end of the third century, and that the first 
book of Temora is founded upon an event which took 
place in Ireland before the book of Leinster was 
written, if not in 284 ; but it must be granted, on the 


Irish side, that Hector Boyce made Finn a Scot and 
a giant in 1526, when the Scotch historian published 
his work.* 

The passage is partly quoted in the Highland So- 
ciety's Keport on Ossian, and p. 170, Hist, of Scotch 
Poetry, and pait of it is as follows : — " Conjiciunt 
quidam in haec tempora Finanum filium Cceli (Fyn 
MakCoul vulgari vocabulo) virum uti ferunt immani 
statura septenum enim cubitorum hominem fuisse nar- 

So, in the sixteenth century, Fyn was the son of 
heaven, and the historian then ranked him with King 
Arthur; and tales and other compositions concerning 
Fyn with the Arthurian fables. It must also be 
granted, that numerous Celtic worthies bore Ossianic 
names besides the Irish heroes. Eugenius I., son of 
Fin-Cormach-us, was a king of Scotland slain in battle 
with the Eomans, a. d. 357. Ferg-us (Wrath- us) was 
the name of a Scotch king who was lost in the Irish 
sea, a c. 330, and many historical personages have 
borne that name besides the Irish bard Fergus, the 
son of Finn MacCumhal of a. d. 280. Cumhal, again, 
is like many Celtic names ; it sounds like Coil-us, who 
was a king of the Britons, and if he be the hero of 
the English ballad, his was a rough age : — 

" Old King Cole, unsophisticated soul, 
Neither read nor write could he, 
To read and to write he thought useless quite, 
For he kept a secretarie." 

* Scotorum Historia, f. czzziii. Paris, 1517 . 


Congall-us was a Scotch king in 501 or thereabouts. 
There were many Scotch kings called Donald, if we 
can believe Scotch history, and the men who wrote 
these names were generally of the race which now says 
" gprsong, ung ver du vang, et ung morceau du pang" 
The sound of the French and Gaelic nasal o and u are 
identical, and a man who would write gaiBong because 
he seemed to hear that sound, would also write Mac- 
Donald, as it is now pronounced in Gaelic, Maco«(/il, 
and one sound of MacCumhal would be Maccungil 
and another MacooiL Now, if this erroneous ng, which 
expresses the Saxon value of the French and Gaelic 
nasal o and u, and the word Mac be struck out, there 
remains a nasal o-il or u-il, and so, instead of Cumhal, 
Coil-us, Cole, Cowl, Cool, CongaH-ua Ztonald-us, and 
Zhigald-us, we come very nearly to Hoel, whose son 
would be ap Hoel, O'Hoel, or Mac-Hoel, and thus 
Fionn may be made the son of the mythical Welsh 
Howel, or of some great man who bore the same name 
before the flood. By a like easy process, Fionn be- 
comes a Macdougald, and as Campbell is not an ancient 
Gaelic name, I may point out that Camul was the 
" Celtic Mars," and that Camel-ot, Camel-odunum, 
and other such names, all savour of Cumhal, though 
that word now means handmaid, or subjection, accord- 
ing to dictionaries. 

Fenian names also appear in the Milesian story 
(p. 447 of O'Curry's Lectures). Beginning with Japhet, 
and Magog, the race is traced through Scythia, Egypt, 
Scythia again, Greece, and Spain, whence a colony 
came to Erinn in the year of the world 3500, at which 


time Ireland was governed "by the three sons of 
Cermna Milbheoil (honey-mouth), Ethur, Cethur, and 
Fether; " mythologically known as MacCuill, Mac- 
Ceacht, and MacGreine ;" who were Tuatha dè Danann, 
and reigned at Tara. Scota, the mother of the 
Milesian leaders, was shortly afterwards slain in a 
battle, and one of her sons was Eber Finn. So Finn 
was a mythological Milesian long before the Finn of 
the third century, and MacCuil Finn's patronymic was 
also that of the mythological head of the race which 
the Milesians found in Ireland. 

Finn is also one of the commonest names in 
Scandinavia, and so is Kòl, so we get Finnr Kolsen, 
the equivalent of Fin MacCowL Oscar is also common, 
and is interpreted to mean As-gair the spear of the 
gods, and Oske is one 01 Odin's numerous names. 

In the twelfth century, Geoffrey of Monmouth 
names Coillas, and Coel, and Conan, as British heroes, 
and according to the chronicle, Conan was made king of 
Armorica. Sir Gawain is probably the same personage 
as Gow or Gol, the son of Morna, so they may be 
"Welshmen or Bretons. Phinn, MacPhunn, Fin-lay, 
and scores of other names common in England, Scotland, 
and Ireland, also resemble the Ossianic names. But 
the Finns or Lapps inhabit Finmark at this day, and 
have all along been magical people in the north, so the 
Celtic heroes may be Lapps. In the story of Gunnhillda 
(Njal Saga, vol. ii, 378), we learn how, in the tenth 
century, a beautiful maiden was sent to Finmark to 
learn magic from the Finns, and " some believed that 
Mattul the Finnish king himself was her master in. 


magic," but Gunnhillda's story is mixed up with that of 
the whole of the west of Europe, in that she was a 
Viking's bride, and mother of Scandinavian kings, so 
her master in magic may be MacCoul himself in dis- 

Feinne may be Phoenician or Egyptian, if there be 
any truth in the old legend about Pharaoh's daughter. 

In like manner " Art" is the Gaelic now com- 
monly used for the Christian name " Art-hur," so Art 
is not to be appropriated to any one Irish king, though 
there may have been an early Cormac Mac Art, for 
there was an early British Arthur, of whose deeds 
romance is fulL So Bran and Conan were early Welsh 
kings, though Brian and Conan may have flourished in 
Ireland. Brenn-us sacked Rome about 930 B.C., if 
Bran was Fiona's magic black hound, a. d. 280 ; and 
generally it must be granted on all sides that the early 
history of Great Britain and Ireland must be Celtic 
history, and that the best place to get at it is Ireland, 
where the Celts were not much disturbed till a compa- 
ratively late period. But Irish, Scotch, Welsh, Manx, 
and Cornish, and Clyde Celtic history, and all the early 
romance of Europe, is so tangled and twisted together, 
that it will be no easy matter to unravel the skein. 
Without some knowledge of Gaelic it is hopeless to 
begin upon this dark history. Let me give one ex- 
ample. There is a Lord Mayor in London, and in 
every town in England. Monsieur le Maire is a French 
official in* every village in France ; the mayors of the 
palace played their part in French history ; the Maor- 
mors were anciently Scotch great men ; but very few 


know that maor, pronounced nearly like the French 
word, is still the Highland constable and ground officer, 
and civil officer, though Inverness has a provost 

But I have now to do with the heroes of " Ossian's 

In Professor 0' Curry's book, a vast amount of 
curious information is given relative to Irish writings. 
It appears that many hundreds of these are preserved in 
various libraries and collections at home and abroad. 
They contain histories, genealogies, codes of law, his- 
torical tales, and tales of all kinds ; romances, legends, 
and poems of various sorts, and "numerous Ossianic 
poems relating to the Fenian heroes, some of them of 
great antiquity." The earliest writing is Latin, and at- 
tributed to the time of St. Patrick, about 480 ; others 
are attributed to St Colum Cille* and the sixth century, 
others to the tenth, eleventh, twelfth, and following cen- 
turies, and these are generally assumed to be Irish, not 
Scotch, because of their language and the character in 
which they are written. Most of them probably were 
written in Ireland, but such documents must be judged 
by their contents. I received a letter this year from a 
Scotch highlander in Glasgow, part of which was 
written in the old hand. A song composed by Duncan 
Macintyre, the Breadalbane bard, was written in the old 
character in 1768. It was commonly, though not 
always, used before that time ; inscriptions on the cross 
at Inverary and other old stones in Scotland are in 
old letters and in obsolete language. St. Colum Cillè 
founded Iona; and if St. Patrick's churchmen used 
old letters, the saint is accused of having been born in 


Scotland. Those who only understand modern Irish 
or Scotch Gaelic cannot, without study, read or under- 
stand the old written language, which is and always 
has called itself Gaelic. So Scotchmen and Irishmen 
would do well to make peace, and help each other to 
use these old records, and call their language Gaelic, 
instead of Irish or Earse, which words are only used 
in speaking English, and produce discord. 

Now these ancient Irish documents and those 
which are preserved in Scotland, like Scotch and 
Irish traditions, are pervaded by the variously spelt 
names of Fkmn or Finn and his worthies. There is 
hardly a grown highlander who is not familiar with 
their names — they are household words at the fire- 
sides of Irish peasants ; and the characters and relation- 
ships of these mythical warriors are almost invariably 
the same. They are the heroes of Ossian. 

Professor O'Ourry, who probably knows more about 
Irish lore than any man now living, and has spent great 
part of his life in reading and transcribing old manu- 
scripts, holds that the " Fenians," who answer to the 
"Fingalians" of English readers, were historical Irish 
personages who flourished in the third century, but 
he shews, p. 10, that Fer Fène was written in the 
book of Eallymote in 1391, in a poem composed in 
1024, and he translates it "Fène men, these were 
farmers. " Still, Finn's genealogy is traced to 110 b.c, 
and it rests upon ancient authority that Diarmaid 
O'Duibhne ran away with Grainne, the bride of Finn, 
and daughter of Cormac Mac Art, and that Finn's son 
Oisin was a warrior poet. 


Poems attributed to Finn Mac Cumhail, his sons 
Oisin and Fergus Finnbheoil, and his kinsman Caeltè, 
do exist in Gaelic MSS. seven hundred years old. Five 
of these poems are attributed to Finn himself, and exist 
in the book of Leinster, which is said to have been com- 
piled from older books in the latter part of the twelfth 
century; and in the book of Leacan, compiled 1416. Two 
poems attributed to Oisin are in the book of Leinster. 
One consists of seven quatrains, and records the deaths 
of Oscar the son of Oisin, and Cairbrè Iifeachair, 
monarch of Erinn, who fell by each other's hands at 
the battle of Gabhra, "fought a.d. 284." The second 
is longer, and records early races on the Curragh of Kil- 
dare, wherein Oisin, Caeltè, and Finn were gentlemen 
riders, and magical personages acted the part of modern 
sharpers, and tempted the heroes into unhallowed dens 
near Killarney, where they spent a wild night after the 
races. Another Gaelic poem of undoubted antiquity 
is attributed to Fergus, and tells how Oisin his brother 
was enticed into a fairy cave, and discovered himself to 
Finn by letting chips cut from his spear-shaft float 
down a stream ; as Diarmaid betrayed his retreat to 
Fionn in the tradition (page 43, voL iii.) Another is 
a love story, which Caelte" is supposed to have recited 
to St Patrick. 

Professor 0' Curry nowhere says that the "poems of 
Ossian," as published in 1760 and 1807, or anything 
like them from which they could have been translated, 
exist in ancient Irish manuscripts, and gives no support 
to the argument of his countryman ; but he also says, 
" Of MacPherson's translations, in no single instance 
vol. rv. D 


has a genuine Scottish original been found, and that 
none will ever be found I am very certain." If he 
means that the Gaelic of 1807 never can be found in 
an ancient manuscript, he is certainly right, for the 
language must have obeyed the common law of change 
incident to all languages ; but he has pointed out some 
of the incidents on which the first book of Temora is 
founded, in one of the two ancient poems which were 
attributed to Oisin in the tenth century ; and it is beyond 
question that endless stories and poems about Fionn and 
his people have been for centuries, and still are tradi- 
tionally preserved in Scotland, as well as in Ireland. 
According to Irish authorities, then, Gaelic poems are 
preserved in ancient manuscript, and some relate to the 
Ossianic heroes, but they were Irishmen, who lived, and 
loved, and fought in the third century, and not Scotch- 
men ; but according to other Irish authorities, these men 
flourished much later. Scotch and British Fenians 
are mentioned, and Scotch Oscars appear in Irish 
poems, even Danish Oscars are named in Irish books ; 
and the feats attributed to the ancient heroes who bore 
these Ossianic names, and whose chief was Finn, are 
often the exploits of giants and demigods. 

According to MacPherson and " Ossian's poems," 
Fingal was king of Morven, and lived about the same 
time; according to tradition, which scorns dates (see 
Ko. lxxxii), Fionn was the son of a Scotch king who 
came from Ireland, and of a Scandinavian princess, 
and drove the Scandinavians from Scotland, having 
first passed through many adventures in Ireland. As- 
suming that he lived in the third century, he may have 


been a leader of Celts in their early fights with the 
Northmen, Danes, or Anglo-Saxons, who followed the 
Romans ; before any authentic account of their raids 
was compiled, and before men thought of distinguish- 
ing between Ireland and Scotland. But no tradition 
now current, and no ancient manuscript of which I 
have heard, makes any mention of the kingdom of 
Morven or its king ~Emgal. I believe that the king- 
dom is an invention of the compounder of Ossian's 
poems, whoever he may have been. 

The name Fionnaghal is, however, no modern in- 
vention ; Barbour knew it as " F^ga!" about the days 
of Bruce. It occurs in a Gaelic song printed by Gillies, 
1786, and composed by Iain Lorn, a bard who sang 
about the time of Montrose, and died 1710 at a great 
age. It is in an elegy on Glengarry composed in the 
seventeenth century, in which the poet MacMathain 
or Mathieson, Seaforth's bard, calls the MacDonalds 
Sliochd righ Fionnaghail, the race of King Fingal 
(Beauties of Gaelic Poetry, Mackenzie) ; and the name 
also occurs in a traditional story now current in Islay. 
Righ Fionnaghal according to this was a MacDonald, 
and " king of the Isles/' and lived in the island in Loch 
Fionn-lagan in Islay, where are the ruins of the habi- 
tation of the lords of the Isles. A family of Mac-in- 
tyres (sons of the carpenter) claim to be descended 
from an illegitimate son of this King Fingal ; and 
Flora Macintyre, one of my peasant contributors, 
claims to be one of them. The story goes, that the 
king and his son were at sea in a boat, when the peg 
in the bottom came out and was lost, and the water 


rushed in. The young man, who had never gained 
the notice of his father, thrust his thumb into the hole 
and chopped it off with an axa " Mo laochan air 
saor na h-ordaig ! " " My fine lad, the thumb car- 
penter," said the king ; and from this MacDonald, 
son of Fingal, came the family of the Thumb Carpen- 
ters, who are still called Macintyres in Islay ; or in 
Gaelic, " Mac an t-saor na h-ordaig." MacDonald 
is often so pronounced as to make the name resemble 
MacCumhaL This story is well known about Arisaig. 

As for the poet, to whom nearly all the old poetry 
in the Highlands is now attributed, his date and origin 
are as uncertain as his father's. If he was Fionn's 
son he could not have survived to converse with St. 
Patrick, and he could not have lived with a fairy 
lady in the land of youth; he is in Gaelic popular 
tradition and old Gaelic lore the counterpart of Thomas 
the Eymour, who was a living man in 1280, and 
yet went to fairy land, and has the credit of being a 
prophet, a magician, and a poet — the author of Sir 
Tristrem. That ancient Scotch poem " Sir Tristrem," and 
the oldest Scotch poems known, treat mainly of Celtic 
worthies and their adventures, and include the inci- 
dent of the good knight who slays a dragon, and the 
false servant who claims the honour and the princess, 
which is in the Gaelic " Sea-maiden ;" and in a tale told 
to me by an Irish fiddler; in German, Norse, and 
other popular tales. 

There is a popular saying still current in Islay, 
which joins true Thomas to a common Celtic British 
legend. He is supposed to be still living, enchanted 



in Dumbuck (Dun-a-mhuic, the swine's hill), near 
Dumbarton (Dunbreaton, Mount Breaton) ; and he 
appears occasionally in search of horses of a peculiar 
kind and colour. He pays for them when they are 
brought to the hill ; and the vendor sees enchanted 
steeds and armed men within the rock. It is said — 

Nuair a thig Tomas an riom * 's à chuid each, 
Bidh latha nan creach an Cluaidh. 

When Thomas of power and his horses shall come, 
The day of plunderings will be in Clyde. 

The date of Fionn and his family may be the third 
century; but unless there were many who bore the 
same names, or the names were titles, the exploits of a 
series of men, and the fabulous deeds of mythological 
characters, must have gathered about the names of this 
single family. I am still inclined to believe that these 
heroes of popular romance were ancient Celtic gods. 

Be that as it may, I will endeavour to shew that 
their names have been current for a very long time, 
and that Ireland has not an exclusive right to them. 

According to a Scottish legend given by Fordun, 203. 
etc., the nation of the Scots embraced Christianity in 
the reign of King Donald, consequently sculptured 
stones, even with Christian symbols, may be of very 
ancient date in Scotland. 

* Riom ball (circle of power) is used for the circle within 
which the "in's" stand at the game of rounders. The Irish 
Osin has much in common with Thomas the Rymour, according 
to old legends. 


St Hinian -was bom ; he was sou of a British 
prince, went to Borne, founded Candida Casa, or "White- 
horn," and converted the southern Picte, who are sup- 
posed to have been the people between the Firth of 
Forth and the Grampians. 

Figure dressed in the Belted Fluid, copied from in ancient sculptured atone 
found at Bt Andrews, supposed U> represent a Plctlah hnntlng party. 
Date unknown. No Christian symbol*. 

St. Patrick preached in Ireland. 

Fergus, son of Ere, who is said to have received 
the blessing of St Patrick in his youth, led a colony 
of Dalriads from Ireland, and founded the Scottish 
monarchy. — {Ecclesiastical History of Scotland, pp. 4, 
11, 44, 49.) Fergus was succeeded by Domangart, 
ComgaL and Coital, by whom the Island of Iona was 
bestowed upon St, Columba. The saint is supposed 
to have been born in Donegal, a.d. 521. 


St. Columba landed at Iona, and shortly afterwards *63. 
preached to the northern Picts. There are conse- 
quently good reasons why the traditions of Argyle 
should still resemble Irish traditions, and Conal and 
Patrick ought to be conspicuous names in West High- 
land tales, and Picts ought to appear. 

The only Gaelic traditional reference to a people 
with a name like that of " the Picts " is an occasional, 
"but very rare, mention of Piocaich, as a kind of men. 
The word pronounced Pyuchk-aich is common all over 
the west, but it means a cole-fish at a particular stage 
of its growth. Other sizes of the same fish are called 
Cuddainn, which, as "cuddy" is immortalized by 
Johnson as caught by Boswell. A larger size is Ceit- 
ean-ach, derived from Ce, the world, tein, fire=ceit- 
ean (part of April), the spring, directly after which 
came the festival of Beal-tainn and its symbolical fires. 
So " Ceit-ean-ach" means a " spring fish," and some- 
thing very like the fish meant is sculptured on a Pictish 
stone in Scotland (see voL iii, page 339, left hand, 
upper corner), and these stones date from Pagan times, 
and probably have to do with Pagan observances. 

The same fish, when grown very large, is called 
" ugsa," pr. oox~e f which is the Norse for a bull, and 
the whole tribe is called glas-iasg, grey or green fish. 
As every clan has some fish, beast, bird, and plant for 
a badge, perhaps the Picts adopted this fish, or fish in 
general, as their badge, and thus the modern name of 
the fish may be the ancient name of a tribe. At all 
events, there are plenty of Lowland traditions about 
Picts as a different race, but there are scarcely any in 


the Highlands. The Irish call them " craithnich," for 
which word all manner of meanings have been found, 
including " cruinn-ich," Bound-ites. Some Irish writers 
hold that the Picts migrated from Ireland to Scotland 
before the Scots. 

There is also good reason for the continual refer- 
ence to the island with fire about it, and the Scandi- 
navians, for the churchmen of Iona or men of their class 
visited and settled in Iceland before the Norsemen. 

First recorded hostile appearance of the Danes in 

Ingolf, first Norse settler, set out for Iceland. 

Harold Fairhair, king of Norway, rooted out the 
Vikings in the west, and drove a rush of settlers to 
Iceland. In the Norse accounts of these events, a 
story is told of a sea-rover who found his way to 
Iceland by letting ravens fly from his ship. I have a 
long Gaelic story in which a man finds his way over 
the sea in pursuit of a mysterious lady, by the help of 
three ravens, two of which he kills and tortures 
because they will not fly, but the third to save his life 
flies, and shews the way. Ossianic names occur in 
this tale. 

A manuscript, supposed (for reasons given in the 
Appendix to the Report of the Highland Society on 
the poems of Ossian) to be of the eighth century, is 
believed to be somewhere in Edinburgh It contains a 
version of " The Tain" — a poem relative to which the 
Ossianic Society of Dublin have lately published a 
volume of very curious matter, and which is also men- 
tioned by Professor O'Curry. Whatever may be the 


real date of this ancient MS., it throws the date of Osin, 
or Ossin, or Ossian, and Finn, and of incidents in sur- 
viving traditions, both prose and poetry, very far back; 
but, so far as I am informed, it does not contain any of 
the Gaelic poems published in 1807.* So we may 
pass on. 

An ancient Gaelic MS. has been lately discovered gootoioot 
in England. I am not aware that it is yet decided 
whether the language is most like Irish or Scotch 
Gaelic ; but it is Gaelic, and contains, as it is said, a 
charter of lands near Aberdeen, and it was probably 
meant to be read by people who lived where it was 
written. I mention it as evidence that Gaelic was 
written in the east of Scotland in the tenth century. 

The following sentence appears in the Saturday 
Eeview of December 8, 1860, as Gaelic taken from 
this MS. :— 


The translation given is — 

Be it on the conscience of every one in whom shall be 
the grace of the booklet with splendour that he gave a 
blessing on the soul of the misellus who wrote it. 

In this form I can make nothing whatever of the 
Gaelic, and not much of the English. There is not one 

* Report of the Highland Society, p. 293. This MS. is 
now missing from the Advocates' Library, where the collection 
of the Highland Society was deposited. 

4 2 


word, except bendacht, which even looks like modern 
Gaelic; hut the following sentence conveys as little 
meaning at first — 

Tamy ouro bed Ienthum bleskr vantto com nd . 

The Gaelic, otherwise divided, looks better; the 
reader may puzzle out the other language for himself. 
Taking this to be phonetic spelling, it is not unlike 
modern Gaelic with one Latinised word, and would 
seem to be a formal gift of a wood on a hilltop, and a 
blessing on somebody mentioned before. 

To the Forchi 

arrath in 

air rath an 

said the 



the place 

of the 


to every 





to them 




of the top of the 

imbi a 

am bith e 

to whom it may be 







a blessing 

on the 



poor little fellow 




the little soul 




" To the Forchi (? the Farquhars). To every man 
to whom it may be said. The half of the wood on the 
high place to them. A blessing on the little soul of 
the poor little fellow before written." 

It is difficult to know where a word begins or ends 
in old writings, and perhaps this arrangement of the 
letters may be as good as the other. I know nothing 
further of this manuscript, and very little of old manu- 
scripts of any kind, so this is a mere guess at a puzzle. 
looo to 1100. Book of Leinster compiled, it contains numerous 
references to poems, tales, the Feine, etc. 
ioi4. Brian's battle with the Norsemen was fought in 


Ireland. A description of this fight is given in the 
Njal Saga, and though it is interlarded with super- 
natural portents, it is an account written not very long 
after the event, and is probably very true in the main. 
Having lately visited the scene of the Njal Saga in 
Iceland, I have become impressed with the extraordi- 
nary truthfulness of every part of the story, which can 
now be tested. If a spot is described, the people who 
live there now will point it out, and the narrative 
there appears probable, for it accords with the locality. 
It is told that Gunnar stood on a height, and thence 
shot a number of men with arrows, and the nearest 
peasant mounted the only block of lava in the place 
that seemed to suit the description, and posed as 
Gunnar. Close to the spot, he pointed out a number 
of human bones, skulls, and teeth, which had been 
laid bare by a strong wind which had lately driven 
the black sand away from a small rising ground. Un- 
less these were the bones of the men slain there by 
Gunnar, eight hundred years ago, it is not easy to 
make out how they came there, amongst the bare lava 
and sand near " the springs." They bear every mark 
of great age, there is no burying ground near, and it 
was no one's interest to play a trick upon travellers. 
Though I cannot believe that Odin appeared at Brian's 
battle, or his corse-choosers before it, or that ravens, 
and swords, and showers of blood, fell upon and 
attacked the pagan Norseman, I can readily believe 
that such stories were told, and believed, and written 
down in Iceland as true, and that the smaller incidents 
of Brian's battle were truly recorded nevertheless. It 


appears that king Brians army had banners, and in a 
traditional Gaelic ballad, at least as old as 1784, and 
now current, is a description of the banners of the 
Feinne. The Celts had swords, and spears, and 
shields, and mail, like the traditional Feinne. Kerthial- 
fad is mentioned as a leader of the Celtic army, and in 
the song of the Muilearteach, page 128, vol. iii., occurs 
the name Cearbhal as a leader in some great battle 
between Celts and Lochlanners, in which the Celts won, 
and where they displayed banners, one of which was 
the banner of Fionn, which is described in another 
poem. They used spears, and shields, and swords, and 
elsewhere it appears that they wore maiL A magic 
raven was the standard on the Norse side, and according 
to the Saga, ravens attacked Brodir's men; a raven 
plays his part in the Lay of Osgar. One of the Saga 
heroes, on the Celtic side, was Ospak; one of the 
traditional heroes was Osgar, and they performed 
similar feats. "Ospak had gone through all the 
battle on his wing, he had been sore wounded, and 
lost both his sons, before king Sigtrygg fled before 
him." Osgar, according to the Gaelic poem, broke 
his way through the battle to the king of Lochlann, 
whose name is not given, and slew him, and an Orkney 
Earl was really slain, if the king was not. Osgar, like 
Ospak, was sore wounded, if sickles or herons could go 
through his waist after the battle. " Ospak was a 
heathen Viking," but he would not fight against the 
good Celtic king Brian. Osgar was a heathen Celt, and 
according to part of his traditional history, he went to 
Lochlann as a boy, carried there by a scaly monster, 


who ate men, and came in a ship ; a Viking might 
be remembered as such a being. If the man on the 
apple gray horse be meant for Odin by the Norse Saga 
writer, it is quite fair that a Celtic bard should bring 
down his Olympus, and Fionn at the head, and so this 
lay of the Muilearteach may mean Brian's battle, and 
be a tolerably true ballad account of that fight. It 
may also mean something much older, or more modern, 
but points of resemblance between a saga and a ballad 
are worth remark. Miss Brooke, in 1789, attributed 
the Lay of Magnus to the twelfth or thirteenth century, 
and assumed that the Norse invader meant, was the 
Magnus who worked so much ill in Ireland about the 
latter end of the eleventh century. This tells for the 
antiquity of traditional Gaelic poetry, and for the ground- 
work of " FingaV' but not for the Gaelic of 1807. 

In a charter of lands in Morayshire, the words 1220. 
"Tubar na fein" occur. This is explained to mean 
" The well of the great or kempis men," which proves 
that the name of the Feinne was even then associated 
with the topography of the eastern Highlands. — (Celtic 
Gleanings, MacLauchlan, 125.) 

A MS. in the Advocates' Library contains, amongst 123& 
other things, a version of the poem on which " Dar- 
thula" is founded. The character is "Irish;" but it 
seems, from internal evidence, to have been written in 
Cowal. Several traditional versions of a poem on the 
same subject have been collected in Scotland and 
printed. The story is claimed as Irish, and this pro- 
bably was a popular Gaelic ballad long ago. This 
throws the framework of one of the published poems 


very far back, but does not affect the Gaelic of 1807, 
for " Darthula," as published, is not there ; but Deir- 
dir sings a plaintive ditty in a language which is not 
very different from modern Argyleshire Gaelic, though 
differently spelt* in which she takes her leave of " that 
Eastern land, Alba, with all its lakes," and names a 
whole series of places which correspond to places in 
Argyleshire about Lochawe, Cowal, Glencoe, etc. A 
specimen of the poem is at pages 298, 299, Appendix 
to H. S. Eeport. So the groundwork of Darthula is 
common property, and genuine and old, for Professor 
0' Curry finds mention of the tale of the children of 
Usnech in early Irish manuscripts (1319), and believes 
it to be as old as a.d. 1000 ; but the poem of Dar- 
thula must be carried further on. 
1250. About this time the halls of barons, and even the 

courts of princes, were frequented by wandering min- 
strels, and in the romances of the period they are con- 
stantly mentioned. 

The Northmen were accompanied by their skalds 
in their warlike expeditions, and the accounts which 
these men wrote were in verse and prose. The verse 
is quite different in spirit and metre from Gaelic verse ; 
but " sgeulachd," pr. skale-ach (tales), are often partly 
verse stilL 

In the history of the Norwegian expedition against 
Scotland, a. d. 1263,* is an account of the expedition 
of Haco, represented as the most formidable that ever 

* Translated 1780 from the Icelandic by the Rev. James 
Johnson,, chaplain to the embassy at Copenhagen. 



left the ports of Norway. The prise disputed with 
Alexander, eon of William, king of Scotland, was the 
possession of the Hebrides. 

In the manuscript^ "s described by the translator, are 
pictures, some of which represent a man killing a boar, 
and another fi ghting with a mermaid, both of which 
subjects form the groundwork of stories now told in 
the Highlands. Most of the figures are in armour. 
Their helmets are sometimes conical ; so are the helmets 
sculptured on many of the Hebridian tombstones. 

The whole course of the expedition is minutely de- 
scribed. They sailed as far south as Loch Long, drew 
their boats over the isthmus now called Tarbert or 


draw-boat^ harried the islands in Loch Lomond, and 
fought a great battle with the Scotch near the Kunirey 
(Cumbraes), after which Haco sailed by Botar ; (Bute, 
Gaelic, Bòt) ; Hersey (Arran Ar fhinn, Fionn's land, 
according to some), Sa-tir-is-mula (the Mull of Kintyre, 
maol-chean-tire, bluff of Land's end) ; Gudey (Gigha 
Giugha) ; II (Islay, He), where he levied a contribu- 
tion of cattle, meal, and cheese ; Myl (Mull, Mul-e) ; 
Rauney (Rona, Bona, seal isle) ; Skidi (Skye, Eilan 
sgiathnach, the winged island), and thence by Harf 
(Cape Wrath), to Orkney, where the king sickened and 

In this early account by an eye witness of a 
Norwegian expedition, mention is made of " Kiarnakr 
son makamals," a Scot who harried the Isle of Skye, 
and whose men " had even taken small children, and 
raising them on the points of their spears, shook them 
till they fell down to their hands," and in the story 
abstracted, voL iii, p. 184, and got in Islay, Fionn Mac- 
Chumhail goes from Islay to Skye to fight the Scandi- 
navians. There is no mention of burnings and murders, 
but as such proceedings were then common amongst 
Vikings, according to Norwegian accounts, probably 
both sides were equally cruel The translator suggests in 
a note, that as Makamal is elsewhere written Machamal, 
it may be a mistake for " Mai Carnal," a lord of Lochaw. 
The name was probably written from ear, and the name 
of the lords of Lochawe is not pronounced Kamal now- 
a-days in Gaelic. It seems possible that the name may 
be Ceathearnach (warrior), Mac (son of) Cumhail ; but it 
might be a corruption of several other Gaelic names, as 


now pronounced, including the big Macaulay, of whose 
deeds there are so many traditions current in the Long 
Islands. Be that as it may, petty rulers throughout 
these islands were then styled kings, as they are in 
Gaelic stories. Ships were generally small enough to 
be drawn overland, as described in Barbour's Bruce, 
and in traditions; and there are many other traits 
which appear in popular tales still repeated in the 
places mentioned. This seems to give a vague reference 
to something like an Ossianic name. I have several 
Gaelic stories which clearly describe a Scandinavian 
descent upon the country about the Clyde, in which 
Fionn is made to play a part So this tells for the 
antiquity of these traditions ; and shews how old re- 
cords may have been destroyed, for there were religious 
houses on the islands in Loch Lomond. 

Bannockburn was fought. According to Barbour 1314. 
the west Highlanders were there in force. 

The ferd battale the nobill king 
Tuk till himself in governing, 
And had intill his company 
The men of Argile and of Kintyr 
And of Carrik all halely 
And of the His quharof was Syr 
Angus of He and But all tha ; 
He of the plane land had alsua 
Of armit men ane mekill rout 
His battale stalwart was and stout. 

It is strange to trace an ante-celtic feeling in the 
bard who wrote this passage, and it is equally strange 
vol. rv. e 


to find so little about Bruce in Highland tradition 
1375. Barbour, Archdeacon of Aberdeen compiled his 

poem of u the Brus." The manuscript in the Advo- 
cates' Library contains the words, " hym all." Hart's 
edition, printed 1616, has " FingaL" Jamieson's, 
1820, has u hym all," and the edition of the Spalding 
Club, published from a collation of " the Cambridge 
and Edinburgh MS&," follows Hart. 

"The Lord of Lorne," enraged at his men who 
durst not follow the " Brus," sets them an " ensampill," 

He said methink Marthokis sone, 
Bicht as Golmakmorn was wone 
To haf fra Fingal his menyhe, 
Bicht sa all his fra us has he. 

The lowland poet here remarks that he might " mar 
manerlik" have "liknit" him to Gaudifer de Larys, 
and narrates an exploit performed by that hero of 
romance, which he knew, and thought a better illustra- 
tion of Bruce's valour ; so he probably gave the words 
of the Lord of Lorne as he had heard them, honestly, 
though he did not see their force. The passage refers 
to the strife which, according to tradition, was con- 
stantly going on between Goll Macmorna and Fionn ; 
and the Lord of Lorne (MacCowl) spoke according to 
his lights, to men who understood what he meant 
Irish history claims a real existence for Fionn and Goll, 
and modern lowland stories have added supernatural 
incidents to the real history of the Bruce and Wallace. 

With respect to the various readings ; " hym all " 


makes no sense, Fingal does not accord with tradition, 
but fynn all would remove all difficulties, and mayhap 
the scribe wrote hym for fynn, not knowing what was 
meant. Spelling and writing were not fettered by 
rules in the olden time, and the letter y might well 
express the existing vowel sound of Fionn 

MacDougald of Dunolly (Maccowle as anciently 
written) now owns a brooch which was won in fight 
with the Bruce in Lome, near Morven, the supposed 
kingdom of Fingal It is clear that Barbour then 
expected lowland readers to understand this allusion to 
two Ossianic heroes. — (Highland Society's Report^ p. 21. 
Hist of Scotch Poetry, 275. Barbour's Brus.) 

The Book of Ballymote, above referred to, was 1891 
written, and contains something relative to the heroes 
alluded to by Barbour. So they were widely known 
about the time of Bannockburn, 1314, and the history 
of Bruce shews that he at least courted the aid of the 
men of the west, who " were stalwart and stout." 

A charter of lands in Islay was written in the 1408 
usual form of Latin charters, but in the Gaelic lan- 
guage and character, by Fergus Beaton, generally called 
the Mull Doctor. This proves that the Gaelic character 
and language were then used in legal documents in 
Scotland. — (Celtic Gleanings, 76.) This manuscript 
disproves the Irish claim to the exclusive use of the 
old character, and refutes the assertion that Gaelic was 
not a written language. It might as well be argued 
that English was unwritten because the Times • does 
not use Chaucer's language and black letter. 

The Book of Leacain, above referred to, was written. 1416 


1432. Sir Colin of Glenurchy, ancestor of the BreadaTbane 

family, got a charter from his father, and set up for 
himself About this time the name Maccowle was 
applied to MacDougald in Lome. It is pronounced 
Macgooil now. This Colin is styled Black Colin of 
Eome. It is said that he was a knight of Ehodes, and 
that he was three sundry times at Eome.* 

Here then is a foundation for some passages in 
the tale of Conall Gulban, got in CowalL Highland 
worthies went to the East and fought the Paynim. 
Amongst the movables at Taymouth, and the jewels 
of the house, mention is made " of ane stone of the 
quantitye of half a hen's eg set in silver, being flatte at 
the ane end and round at the other end lyke a peir, 
whilk Sir Coline Campbell, first laird of Glenurchy, 
woir when he fought in battle at the Ehodes against 
the Turks, he being one of the knychtis of Ehodes." 
This amulet appears to have been subsequently used as 
a charm for more homely purposes, and one like its 
description is still at Taymouth. t I have seen many 
such amulets in the Highlands, and they are still used 
as charms, — so here is foundation for the amulet in 
Conall Gulban. 

1438. Printing invented by Koster. 

1442. Guttenburg. 

1460. Guttenburg's bible completed. 

1450. About this time Blind Harry composed " Wallace ;" 

William Dunbar was born ; and wandering minstrels 

* Sketches of Early Scotch History, p. 343. Black Book of 

+ Sketches of Early Scotch History, p. 344. 


fell into disrepute in lowland Scotland and elsewhere. 
It seems that there were Celtic hards then wandering 
about as well as the lowland minstrels, who were all 
classed with sturdy beggars by an Act of 1457. 

Holland, in a stanza (quoted page 181, Hist, of 
Scotch Poetry), abuses a bard out of Ireland, and 
mimics his language. It is bad Gaelic, written by ear 
by one who did not understand more than its general 
meaning. " Banachadee " is clearly Beannachadh Dia, 
God's blessing, which is a common Highland salutation 
on entering a house ; and equivalent to the Irish saluta- 
tion " God save all here." Other two lines mean — 
Said Black Knee give us a drink — come, me drink. 
Son of Mary's son, ach! great son! me dry lake. 
The last lines quoted are — 

O'Deremyne, O'Donall, O'Dochardy droch, 
Thir are his Ireland kingis of the Irischerye ; 
O'Krewlyn, O'Conocher, O'Gregre, Makgrane, 
The Schenachy, the Clarschach, 
The Benschene, the ballach, 
The Crekery, the Corach, 
Scho kennis them ilk ane. 

This is a list of names and certain words, which 
mean, " The reciter of old tales ;" "The singing woman" 
(or the fairy woman) ; " The boy ;" " The spoiling ;" 
" The battle ;" and these I take to be a list of current 
songs or poems which such hungry, thirsting, black- 
kneed, and therefore barelegged wandering minstrels 
recited, together with the genealogies of kings and 
nobles. So here is a glimpse of Celtic dress and poetry, 


and it confirms the accounts given of bardic recita- 

William Dunbar, who flourished in the reign of 
James the Fourth, and was a churchman who satirized 
the church in the "Interlude of the Droichis" (Ever- 
green, p. 259), says — 

My fair grandsyr hecht Fyn Makowll, 
That dang the diel and gart him yowll. 

My fader meikle Gow Mac Macmorn, 
Out of his moderis wame was shorne. 

And hence it is evident that tales about the Feinne 
were then commonly known to those for whom the 
poet composed, that is to say, the lowlanders of Scot- 

In one of his satires, " The Daunce," Dunbar in- 
troduced the seven deadly sins performing a mummery 
in the dress of the period, before Mahoun and his 
infernal court, together with troops of those at whom 
the satires were aimed — nuns, loose livers, and above 
all, shaven priests, and celts. 

The fiend of the Lowland bard concludes his enter- 
tainment thus : — 

" Than cry'd Mahoun for a Heleand padyane, 
Syn ran a feynd to fetch Makfadyane, 

Far northwart in a nuke : 
Be he the correnoch had done schout, 
Erische men so gadderit him about, 

In hell grit rume they tuke ; 


Thae tarmegantis with tag and tatter, 
Full loud in Ersche begouth to clatter, 

And roup lyk revin and ruke, 
The devill sa devit was with thair yell, 
That in the deepest pit of hell, 

He smorit them with smuke." 

From this curious composition a great deal is to be 
learned about the manners and customs of these rough 
times, and we get another distant glimpse of Highland 
ways long ago. There was a fierce war of words 
between Highland and Lowland nationalities then, as 
there was between Celt and Saxon in the days of 
MacPherson, Johnson, and Bos well, and as there is in 
our own day when Bon Gaultier writes his famous 
Celtic ballad — 

" Fhairshon swore a feud 
Against the clan MacTavish." 

It also appears that lowland bards, then as now, did 
not know much about the Gaelic language, and made 
no distinction between Irish and Erische ; but they 
knew the customs of the race. MakPadyane shouted a 
lament for the dead, so that was a u Highland pageant," 
and all the Ersche gathered about him and began to 
" clatter," so the custom of crying the coronach, like 
that of keening *in Ireland, was a Highland custom 
in the fifteenth century. This custom is clearly 
referred to in the traditional poem on the death of 
Osgur, and funeral processions are still followed by 
the bagpipes, and martial music accompanies a soldier 
to his last home. It also appears that these " Ersche" 


were a fierce race of termagants, dressed in " tag and 
tatter," some fluttering outlandish costume, wholly diffe- 
rent from the fine lowland honnet and flowing gown 
of " Pride," who leads the procession in the infernal 
mummery which Dunbar imagined and described. 
From the former quotation it appeared that they were 
bare-kneed " black-knees," and it seems that the poet 
hated the whole race and their language, and satirized 
them, with other objects of his aversion, with all his 

It may be new to most English readers to learn, 
that MacMhurich, Clanranald's bard, long afterwards 
composed a Gaelic satire on national music. In this, 
the " coronach of women" (no longer that of men, be 
it observed), and "Pioh gleadhair," the pipe of clamour, 

Highland sculptors also made stone satires upon the pipes. Above the 
door of'Dundarav," a rained castle near Inverary, there used to be r figure 
playing a tune npon his nose, which suggested &e above design of the 
Spirit of the Pipes. Lowland view. 

are called the two ear sweethearts of the black fiend — 
a noise fit to arouse the imps ; and other epithets are 
used fully as bitter and coarse as anything in Dunbar's 
" Daunce." 


belted plaid. 

Dancing to pipe music is a Scotch custom at leaat as 
old as the days of James the Fourth. It is a custom which 
still prevails in Italy, Spain, Ireland, and Scotland 

Dunbar in his Testament of Kennedy throws some 
light upon the manners and customs of Carrick, a Celtic 
district of Ayrshire. He makes a brother churchman, 
with whom he held poetic jousts, desire that no priests 
may sing oyer his grave, 

" Bot a bag-pyp to play a spring, 
Et unirm alewisp ante me ; 
Insteid of torchis, for to bring 
Quatuor lagenas cervisiaj, 



Within the graif to aet sic thing, 

In modum cruris juxta me, 
To fle the feyndis than hardely sing 
l)e terra plasmaati me." 
So the poet knew the sound of the bag-pyp, and 
thought it an instrument fit to fle the feyndis, as many 
Icelanders do still, but it was the music which a beer- 
drinking churchman would delight to hear " playing a 

It seems that beer, not whisky, was old Scotch drink. 



«m about the 


Henry Till. 

1.1,'a [!„ 

ie bagpipes were k 

tkh.ji in 

the south. 


ire printed, Is 


' who has the 

sort ot kilt.,- 


thing liki 

a dreaa. 


In tie garden 

of Eden 

he la naked. 


Caxton's press set up at Westminster. 1471 - 

First book printed in England 1474 

About this time, the beginning of the sixteenth 

century, Gavin Douglas, bishop of Dunkeld, inscribed 

a poem to 'James the Fourth, and wrote — 


I saw Kaf Coilyear with his thrawin brow, 
Craibit Johne the Keif and auld Cowkellpis sow, 

And how the wran came out of Ailysay, 
And Peirs Plewman that maid his workmen few, 
Greit Gowmacmorne and Fyn MaCoul, and how 

They suld be goddis in Ireland as they say. 

Thair saw I Maitland upon auld Beird Gray, 
Eobene Hude and Gilbert with the quhite hand, 
How Hay of Nauchtan flew in Madin land." 

The verse is quoted in the Keport on Ossian, and 
p. 170, Hist, of Scottish Poetry. It is part of " the 
Palis of Honour, " an allegorical composition, in which 
the poet introduces every famous personage of ancient 
or modern times, sacred or profane, of whom he knew 
anything ; all the classical poets — Brutus of Albyon, 
Friar Bacon, Chaucer, and a mob of poets and their 
heroes. So here are two of the heroes of Ossian in 
good company at this court of honour, but even then 
their history was known to the author only by hearsay. 

There is consequently a good deal to be found 
about Fionn in old times in the Lowlands, but nothing, 
so far, of the poems which are referred to. It so hap- 
pens that some older than that period have been pre- 
served. While polished bards, Highland and Lowland, 



were exercising their wit on sueh compositions as are 
found in old manuscripts, the "savage" Celtic people 
were repeating their own old ballads, and these were 
simple and free from the smallest tinge of coarseness. 
So far as I know anything of old Gaelic poetry, there 
is nothing to be likened to the satires above referred to. 
ibzj. Bishop Percy, speaking of an Earl of Northumber- 

land who died about this time, observes that he lived 
at a time when many of the first nobility could hardly 
read or write their names, 
1512 to 1529. jj ean MacGregor'a MS. was written at Lismore in 
Argyllshire.* It is not written in the Gaelic character 
and it seems to have been spelt by ear for the benefit 
of English or Scotch readers. Amongst other mat- 
ters it contains 11,000 lines of poetry, some attributed 
to Olsein and his comrades, some to bards of the period, 
including Sir Duncan Campbell of Glenorchy, who 
fell at Flodden, 1513, and Lady Iaobel Campbell, 
daughter of the Earl of Argyll, " 8th MacCallen Mor :" 
she was sister to Lady MacLean. Fart of this manu- 
script has been deciphered and translated, and is in 
coarse of publication, and the editors will describe it. 
It probably is a collection written from dictation, and 
gives, according to the writer's ability, a faithful repre- 
sentation of the current language and iiai.litinual poems 
of the district of Lorno in the sixteenth century. I have 
seen a few sheets of this publication, and these prove 
■.i ■ ... ■■ .,,... . ,,r, 

1 Gregory. E«<], and 
Iglilaod Sucieij' 


"beyond question that the groundwork of the first book 
of Temora had been made the subject of a Gaelic 
poem, which was written down more than three centuries 
ago, but the poem of 1807 is not there. This manu- 
script, then, disposes of a great deal of the Ossianic 
controversy, and clears the ground. A great many 
of the incidents in Temora, even minute details, are 
given in a poem attributed to Allan MacRoyre, in 
1530, and some of the same incidents are in the Irish 
poem attributed to Oisin in the twelfth century; but 
Temora is attributed to Ossian who lived in the third ; 
some twelve hundred years before Dean MacGregor 
wrote ; and it seems highly improbable that a long and 
well-known traditional poem should have escaped the 
Dean's notice, while a short one on the same subject 
was written down. Lome is close to Morven, but 
there is no mention of Yingal or his kingdom. It is 
thus proved that Fionn and his heroes are not simply 
creatures of MacPherson's brain, or worthies who be- 
long exclusively to Irish romance ; and it seems pro- 
bable that some one has added a "gal" to Fionn, and 
given him a kingdom, in the same way that the 
Gaelic name Temair has been expanded to Temora 
and contracted to Tara since 1391. 

It is proved that " Earse " was a written language 
three centuries ago, and has altered but little since, 
and that Johnson and his followers erred in many 
things. It is proved that old materials existed in 
Scotland from which some one might have concocted 
at least one book of Temora without stealing from 
Ireland. And the out-and-out supporters of the 


antiquity of the Gaelic of 1807 are bound to produce 
something like Temora as it now stands in some manu- 
script, equally old, though it has been ingeniously sug- 
gested that the great traditional poems were then so 
notorious and so well preserved that no one would 
take the trouble to write them down or multiply 
copies. The Gaelic, then, of the poems of Temora, as 
published, was probably put together by some Gaelic 
bard who lived between 1530 and 1763, when the 
Gaelic of the 7th book of Temora was printed, though 
Oisein lived and sung long before the twelfth century. 
It remains to be seen whether the probable date of the 
published poems of 1807 cannot be more accurately 

Dean MacGregor's MS. was partly written in 
Argyleshire, and some of the Gaelic poetry contained 
in it is attributed to Duncan MacCallein an dygriddir 
(Duncan, son of Colin the good knight), who fell at 
Flodden, and some to two ancestresses of the family of 

The following is a translation of six lines, which 
Mr. MacLauchlan was good enough to copy and spell 
for me from the Lismore MSS., and which are there 
attributed to " Ysboll ne Yc. Kellan" (Isabel, daughter 
of Colin's son) : — 

Woe worth ! whose ailment 's love, 


I utter it. 

'T is hard from a partner to part ; 

Sad is the case 

in which I am. 


That love which is given unknown, 
Since it's my wonted 
Garden for lays {light-ray in rhyming) 
Unless I plant passion betimes, 
my flower will be 
blighted and thin. 
That man to whom love is given, 
and must not be told 
from on high (out aloud) 
For him was I put into pain. 
Heigh ho ! for me (" gymi") 
"Lia a hundred woes. 

The rhythm indicates the division, and so do the 

Mairg dha 'n galar an GEADH 

G bithy ath 

fa'n abrain e 

Deacair sgarachdain r' a PHAIRT 

truagh an cos 

's a bheileam fhein. 

Several lines contain words whose sound, now-a- 
days, would admit of a double or treble meaning, and 
some of these might be distorted by one who was led 
to expect something wrong, but there is no coarseness 
in this quaint little ditty; and if this be < all her 
poetical sin, the poor lady's character has been sadly 

This class is amorous, moral and satirical, not 
Ossianic poetry ; but if the nobility of those days 


who spoke Gaelic, composed in Gaelic, and wrote 
poems similar in spirit to those which were current at 
court, there were Ossianic poems of a different stamp 
then current amongst the people. If it can be shewn 
that nobles continued to use the language at a later 
date, it becomes not only possible but probable that 
some species of Gaelic poetry, different from popular 
ballads, but founded on Celtic traditions, might have 
sprung up in Scotland before the times when Shak- 
speare and Milton flourished in England, or even 
later, and yet before MacPherson's time. If it can 
be shewn what were the manners and customs of 
the district in which lords and ladies wrote Gaelic 
poetry about these times, the kind that would be apt 
to please may be surmised. From the genealogy 
of the Argylls, from which I have quoted in the text, 
I copy the following passage relative to Lady MacLean, 
sister of Dean MacGregor's poetess : — " She, according 
to common report, was exposed by her husband, the 
laird of MacLean, upon a bare rock in the sea, called 
Lersker, near the island of Lismore, in view of the 
castle of Duart, that she might perish by the return of 
the tide, but people from on board a boat providen- 
tially passing that way, upon hearing the cries and 
shouts of the lady in distress, took her on board, and 
restored her to her friends, although, at the same time, 
these very men who were employed to expose the lady 
to the mercy of the sea returned to Duart Castle, where 
John Gorm, the first of the family of Lochnell, a boy 
of three or four years of age, was with his aunt, the 
Lady MacLean, whom they had left upon the naked 


lock. And as soon as they bad entered the castle of 
Duart they kindled a great fire on the middle of the 
hall floor, and formed themselves into a circle around 
the Are, and caused strip the boy John Gorm naked, 
and placed him between them and the fire, when the 
boy, by reason of the heat, was forced to run round 
the fire, while each of them, as he passed within the 
circle, rubbed his naked skin with an hot roasted 
apple, which occasioned blue spots on the boy's skin 
ever after, for which he was called John Gorm, or blue 
John. TTi« nurse, though she ran into the hall in 
a furious manner, could not enter the circle to pre- 
serve the child's life, until by means of one M'Gilvra 
of Glencannell, who had more humanity than the rest, 
and who, as they stood in a circle with their feet close, 
opened his legs a little (for he durst do no more for 
fear of suspicion), she rushed through the man's legs, 
and, entering the circle, snatched up the boy, and car- 
ried hiiTi off straight to the shore, which is hard by the 
walls of the castle, where, finding a boat at hand, they 
made their escape, and Providence so ordered matters 
that John Gorm and his nurse were out of danger 
before their enemy had full room to reflect upon their 
flight, for which cause the laird of MacLean was killed 
at Edinburgh by John Campbell, the first of the family 
of Calder, brother to Lady MacLean, and uncle to John 
Gorm, the first of the family of Lochnell, who, as soon 
as he saw the laird of MacLean, he thrust the sword, 
sheath and all, through his body. These things gave 
rise to a song composed in these days (take up MacLean 
and prick him in a blanket)." 
vol. rv. f 


The main incidents of this story were all told to 
me by an old woman in September 1861. She speaks 
hardly any English, and is very old, and, like many of 
her class, speaks oracular predictions now and then. 
It is to be hoped that she knows the future as well as 
she remembers the past 

"Earl Archibald was slain at Flodden." So says 
the Argyll genealogy, whence this story is taken, of the 
days when Dean MacGregor wrote, and Henry VIIL 
reigned, and Lady Casselis composed amorous Gaelic 
poetry, if she be the lady meant by the family his- 
tory. There was a lady called " Magrate nan oran " 
(or something which looks like it), "for her in- 
clination to rhyming," who was a younger daughter 
of " the last Lord Lorn of the name of Stewart, " and 
married Colin Earl of Argyll, Glenurchy's pupil, about 
1460. But whoever the composer of these songs may 
have been, the fact remains, that before the times of 
Shakspeare, lords and ladies composed Gaelic poetry, 
and Dean MacGregor wrote some down as theirs ; and 
they were people of a class likely to be affected by the 
court literature of their day and country, some of which 
was rude enough. 

Now "Ossian's poems" are distinguished by apecu- 
liar rein of sentimental grandeur and melancholy, and 
the popular manners and customs of the east and west 
in these days do not accord with such a spirit Short, 
stirring, wad martial songs, like the current OssianTc 
poems, or political, or controversial, or amorous bal- 
lads, might suit the taste of the grim soldiers who 
roasted a boy, but a long epic would surely set them 


fast asleep ; so unless the gentry or clergy wrote 
"Ossian," we most abandon the sixteenth century, 
and, as the builder of Taymouth said, "birz yont." 
Bat it must not be forgotten that, amidst all the 
ribaldry of ballads of that time, there is much beauty 
of feeling and sentiment in the lowland Scotch poetry 
of the clergy ; and Shakspeare wrote as he did, although 
the amusement of roasting men had been pushed to 
the extreme about his time in England 

Sir David Lindsay composed satires against the 1535. 
clergy, some of which were acted before James the 
fifth and his Queen, and are exceedingly coarse. In 
one of these compositions, a pardoner is introduced 
-with reliques for sale, amongst which are the follow- 
ing : — 

" Heir is ane relict lang and braid, 
Of Fyn MacCoull the richt chaft blaid, 

With teith and al togidder ; 
Of Collins cow heir is ane home 
For eating of Mak connals come, 

Was slane into Balquihidder." 

In one of his interludes he says — 

" But dowt my deid yone man hes sworne, 
I trow yone be grit Gow Makmorne." 

In another composition the poet says — 

" Stewart of Lome will carpe richt curiouslie." 

And hence it appears that he knew something of west 
country traditions, and mayhap alluded to the Stewarts, 


of whose works some are preserved. Fyn MacCoull and 
Grol MacMome were clearly known to the poet and his 
audience, if "Fingal" was not mentioned by this 
author. Colin and MakConnal and their cow might 
be a reference to some well known story about a feud ; 
but a horn that was a " relic " must have been that of 
a famous cow, and there are plenty of such animals in 
the old stories mentioned by Professor O'Curry, in one 
of which ("The tain" above mentioned) MacCumhal 
plays a part. But, however he got there, Fyn went to 
court about 1535, and was presented by Sir David 
Lindsay in a dress of motley for the second tima 
(Hist of Scotch Poetry, 3T6, 425). 

1630 A manuscript attributed to John Beaton, one of 

the family which furnished the MacDonalds of the 
Isles, and even kings of Scotland, with physicians for 
several centuries, is preserved with other MSS. at 
Edinburgh. These are supposed to have belonged to 
the Beatons, and contain medical, metaphysical, and 
mathematical discussions, all in Gaelic. If the dialect 
and character be Irish, it proves that early Irish and 
Scotch learning were identical, for this was part of the 
library of a Scotch family who nourished about this 
time. This also gives a clew to the knowledge of 
Gaelic matters, which Scotch courtiers who could not 
now speak Gaelic, evidently possessed. 

1549. A provincial council of Scotch clergy were so scan- 

dalized by the flood of ballads poured out against them, 
that they enjoined every ordinary to search for them, 
and take steps for the punishment of the offenders who 
sang them. (Hist, of Scotch Poetry, 391). 


The first book was printed in Ireland — the liturgy 1550. 
by Humphrey Powel. 

In Lemoine's history of printing, it is stated that im - 
an Irish liturgy was printed i Dublin for the use of 
the Highlanders of Scotland "Reid" supposes this 
to be an error. I have not heard of a copy, and the 
book meant probably is CarswelTs Gaelic prayer-book, 1567 * 
printed at Edinburgh in Roman type. Of this, there 
is a copy at Inverary, which I have seen. It is the 
first printed Gaelic book extant ; and in the preface it 
alludes to the habits of the Highlanders of Scotland, 
who then composed stories about the " Fianaibh," etc.* 
It proves that the reformed clergy set their faces against 
the old heroic traditions which Dean MacGregor had 
striven to preserve thirty-seven years before, and which 
some of the reformed clergy now condemn. 

George Bannatyne collected Scotch poetry, and his 1568 - 
manuscript is the chief source whence a knowledge of 
old Scotch poetry has been gleaned. MacGregor's far 
earlier Gaelic collection has been well known for a 
century, but such has been the neglect of every thing 
genuine and Gaelic, that till now its contents have 
hardly been thought worth attention. 

From Bannatyne, Ramsay drew his materials for 
the Evergreen, published 1724 ; and he " altered, added 
to," and "retrenched" his originals "with extreme 
licentiousness." (Hist, of Scotch Poetry, 416.) 

It seems hard then to blame MacPherson as if he 
were the only man of his time who mangled old 
poetry to make new, and never to look at old authorities 

* See page 18. 


to see what was the truth. The fault has been as 
much on the Gaelic side as the other ; but that fault is 
about to be amended. 
1571. First book printed in the Irish character with a 

press and types got from Queen Elizabeth. It is a 
catechism ; and, so far, it appears that Gaelic Scotland 
was a-head of Ireland in the literary race, for the first 
known Gaelic book was printed in Edinburgh. 
1579 to 1582. Sir Duncan Campbell of Glenurchay delighted 
in, and is supposed to have twice transcribed a ponder- 
ous romance, which is at Taymouth — " the Buike of 
King Alexander the Conquero^e," a translation of the 
great French " Eoman d* Alexandre," executed by Sir 
Gilbert Hay, c. 1460, and extending to about 20,000 
lines. This old knight died 1631, aged 86 ; he is 
styled Black Duncan of the cap, and his history is 
given in the black book of Taymouth, and in Sketches 
of Early Scotch History by Cosmo Innes. Here then 
we have foreign romances creeping in amongst the 
aristocracy of the West Highlands, in the very family 
whose ancestors had composed Gaelic poetry. 
1594. Mr. Donald Monro, high dean of the Isles, wrote a 

statistical account of the Western Isles, which was 
printed in 1818. The first island mentioned is 
"Manain," or Man in "Erishe," which was "ordynitby 
Fynan, King of Scottis, to the priests and philosophers, 
called in Latin Druides, in English Culdees, and Kil- 
deis ; that is, worshippers of God ; in Erish, Leid 
Draiche ; quhilks were the first teachers of religion in 

So here is another Fyn mixed up with Druids and 


Culdees, Paganism and Christianity, and located in 
that stronghold of the Fairies, Man. 

No. 161 is the " Pigmies' He," in which the Dean 
had found " in a small kirk " the small round heads of 
small men. So here were the fairies themselves. The 
houses of a small race still exist in the islands. 

Martin also mentions these small bones (page 19) as 
these of " Lusbirdean," and I have many Lewes stories 
about pigmies. 

Dean Monro gives very little about the manners and 
customs of the people of the islands, but he tells that 
they used to catch seals with certain "great doggis" in 
Loch Gruinart in Islay, which must have been a curious 

About this time the Black Book of Taymouth was 15ds - 
written in Latin and Scotch. 

New Testament printed in Irish, and dedicated to i603. 
James the First. 

In this year a manuscript was finished by Ewan 
MacPhail, at Dunstaffnage, in Lome ; it contains a prose 
tale " concerning a King of Lochlin, and the Heroes of 
Fingal;" and a poem which seems, from the lines 
quoted, to be part of No. lxxix., which is still tra- 
ditionally preserved, and was written down by Dean 
MacGregor in 1530. I have seen this Dunstaffnage 
MS., and can hardly read a word of the old writing. 

Sir Duncan of Glenurchay died ; and in that year i63i. 
Calvin's catechism was printed in Eoman type in Gaelic 
at Edinburgh, so the reformed clergy were making efforts 
to reform the Highlanders, and they had already con- 
demned the "lying stories about Fin ma Co^y Nrtàsii 



they probably supposed to be like the lowland ballads 
of the time ; so profane literature of the old school was 
held at a discount all over Scotland; everything was 
changing, and the good was confounded with the bad. 

About this time, a correspondence took place which 
has been published by Mr. Cosmo Innes in his Sketches 
of Early Scotch History (p. 319), 1861. The corres- 
pondents are — Sir Colin Campbell of Glenurchy, 
Juliane Campbell, his wife, daughter of Hew Lord 
Loudon, the Marquis, and Earl of Argyle, who were 
both subsequently beheaded, and Margaret Douglas, 
Argyle's wife. It is a curious measure of the feeling 
of the writer of the Argyle genealogy, that he has 
omitted all mention of this death on the scaffold, with 
which, as Mr. Innes remarks, these " were subsequently 

The spelling of the letters is obsolete ; they give a 
curious picture of the times, and they are well worth 
perusal, but the reason of the correspondence is what 
concerns me. Argyle and his wife Margaret Douglas 
are anxious that their son Lome should have a thorough 
knowledge of what they called " Erise," which Irish and 
Scotch Gael call Gaelic ; and they send the young chief 
of the Clan Campbell to his relative to Balloch, now 
Taymouth, where his foster father, writing of his 
tutor, considers it — " requisit he be ane discreite man 
that is ane scollar, and that can speik both Inglis and 
Erise, quharof I think thair may be had in Argyll." 

Accordingly, Lome and Maister Jhone Makleine 
set off with " Duncan Archibald, and tuey horse with 
him, on to Mr, Johen, and on for my cariage ;" soon 


after the " tbietie day of September " when " Archibald 
Campbell of Lome " wrote to his " louing foster-father " 
from " Inderaray," and Mr. Johen having misbehaved 
himself some one else was procured to superintend his 
studies. His mother, Margaret Douglas, writes 14th 
December 1637 — " I heair my sone begines to wearye 
of the Iriahe langwadge. I entreat yow to cause holde 
hime to the speakeing of itt, for since he has bestowed 
so long tyme and paines in the getting of itt, I sould be 
eory he lost it now with leasines in not speaking of it" 

On the 14th Junii 1639, Margaret Douglas wrote 
to u Glenurchy " to Balloch for her son, and he came by 
the house in Glenurchy to Inverary with a sufficient 
company, if his mother's letter was attended to. It 
does not appear from his accounts that he wore the 
Highland dress ; his tutor did. 

" Item, given to Mr. Johnne M'Len, pedagogue to 
my Lord Lome's sone, in September 1633, ane hewit 
plaid, pryce xii. lib." Item, the 18th of Junii, to be 
coat and brekis to him (my Lorde's sone), x. quarteris 
of fyne skarlet, xviii. lib. the eU, xlv. lib. Item, anc 
pair of silk stockings, " and there are ' French bever 
hats, orange ribband points, and a Spanish pistolet' 
for the young lord." 

Now, from all this gossip about historical personages 
of "Western Argyle, it would seem that Gaelic was still 
the language of the Highlands, the language which one 
who was to command its people ought to know, but 
that some of the nobility now had to learn it, and wore 
" brekis." 

This then would seem to be a time for collecting 


all that could be got together, and modelling it into 
some connected shape, a period when Gaelic was a 
studied language, and when noblemen who spoke it 
delighted in the romance of Alexander, and all this 
took place in the immediate vicinity of " the woody 
Morven " where " Fingal " was supposed to reign, and 
in the district where discreet persons could be found 
acquainted with Gaelic and English. 

There is no trace of the Ossian of 1807 to be 
found amongst any known writings of this time ; but 
if the Bannatyne MSS. and some others had been 
destroyed, most early Scotch poetry would have been 
lost. Tradition has not preserved the "Palice of 
Honour" or "The Daunce," though it has retained far 
older ballads. 

1645. A deed of fosterage was written in Gaelic between 

Sir Norman MacLeod and John Mackenzie, which 
proves that Gaelic was then used in legal documents 
in the west. 

1655. A miscellaneous collection of poems on various 

subjects, " partly Scots, and partly Irish, was written by 
Eamonn MacLachlan." These are said to be very 

1659. First fifty Psalms printed in Gaelic. 

i68i. Colville, in the Whigg's Supplication, published in 

London (Part II., page 24), gives a version of a story 
which has some resemblance to the legend in No. li., 
though it is not like Ossian's poetry : — 

One man, quoth he, oft-times hath stood, 
And put to flight a multitude ; 


Like Sampson, Wallace, and Sir Bewis, 
And Finmacowl, beside the Lewis, 
Who in a bucking time of year, 
Did rout, and chase a herd of deer, 
Till he behind, and they before, 
Did run a hundred miles and more, 
Which, questionless, prejudg'd his toes, 
For Eed-shanks then did wear no shoes, 
For to this day they wear but calf ones, 
Or if older, leather half-ones. 
He chased them so furiouslie, 
That they were forced to take the sea, 
And swam from Cowel into Arran, 
In which soil, though it be but barren, 
As learned antiquaries say, 
Their offspring lives unto this day. 

I may add, that at this day men still point out 
Dun Finn, in Arran, and explain " Ar-ainn" to mean 
Arfhinn, Fin's land ; and that Cowal, which sounds 
like MacCowl, is still brimful of Fenian traditions. 
On West Loch Tarbert are places called " Leaba Dhiar- 
maid," the bed of Diarmaid ; " Dun 'a choin duibh," 
the fort of the Black Dog, which is a curious old fort 
in a wood, and is said to be the place where Bran 
killed the black dog, as is told in the well-known 
ballad. Near that is " Tor an tuirc," the boar's heap, 
where, according to tradition, the boar was killed by 
Diarmaid ; and all these places are below " Sliabh 
ghaoil," to which " Diarmaid," or, according to others, 
" an old hunter," addressed these lines \rtisn \l* 


was dying. They are known to many about Tar- 
bert : — 

Sliabh mo chridhe *s an sliabh ghaoil, 
Innis nan crodh laoigh 's nan each. 
Esan cha team a nuas, 
Mise cha d' theid suas am feisd. 

Mount of my heart and the mount of love, 
Isle of the calving cows and the horses. 
It will never descend, 
I will not mount up for ever. 

Another place in the district is called "Leum na 
muice," the swine's leap ; and other similar names 
abound, which, together with Colville's verses, shew 
that Fingalian legends have been localized in the west 
for a long time.* 
1684. Kirk's edition of the Psalms has four lines of poetry 

which are quoted, page 21 of the report of the High- 
land Society on Ossian, and which may be thus closely 
translated : — 

" Go leaflet boldly forth 
"With God's pure songs arouse them yonder ; 
Hail the generous land of Fionn, 
The rough bounds and isles of the stranger." 

Inseabh. Gall, the Hebrides were so called from 

their Norse masters. This then proves that Scotland 

was considered to be the land of Fionn eighty years 

before MacPherson published anything. 

1690 First Irish version of the Bible, printed for the use 

* Hist, of Scotch Poetry, p. 276. 


of the Highlanders of Scotland ; 3000 copies, Eoman 

A manuscript written by a MacLean, at Ard i69i. 
Chonail, on Lochowe, in Argyleshire, contains tales 
and poems, one on the imprisonment of Archibald 
Earl of Argyll, at Edinburgh, about 1680. 

This MS. is described in the Highland Society's 
report So Gaelic continued to be written during the 
seventeenth century by Scotchmen in Scotland, they 
used it in legal documents, wrote tales about the ancient 
heroes, and poetry of various kinds ; but the poems of 
1807 are not yet found. 

This was written (apparently) in the Scotch dialect, 
so it would appear that there was a popular and a cul- 
tivated dialect, both of which were supposed to pass 
current in Scotland. 

Martin, a Lewes doctor, wrote an account of the 1703. 
"Western Isles, which gives a great deal of information 
about the ways of the people. At page 217, he speaks 
of the traditions of Fin MacCouTs, a great giant, whom 
he mentions as a well-known personage who had exer- 
cised his valour on the inhabitants of Ar-Fyn, or Fin's 
stronghold, which is the derivation given for Arran. 

The standing stones are mentioned as confirmation 
of this story. 

It so happens, that the ground about many of these 
stones was lately searched, and it seems that they really 
do mark burial places of the stone period. Human 
bones, charcoal, and flint implements, were found about 
the centres of circles, in whose circumference four large 
stones or more are placed. 


In one case the bones were much broken, and 
placed in a small grave about two feet long, scooped 
out of the rock. The bones were of the ordinary size, 
and did not appear to have been burned ; so, unless 
the body was cut to pieces, it is not easy to make out 
how it was buried Close to this grave, in a place called 
Dun Finn, Fin's fort This seems to place Fionn in 
the " stone period," when iron was rare, and elk sur- 
vived in Britain, according to antiquaries. Popular tales 
and songs appear to do the same. 

1720. Clanranald's bard wrote in the " Irish" hand in 

the islands. 

1740. First Gaelic vocabulary printed. Macdonald's. 

First work published in the then Scottish dialect 
of Gaelic — Baxter's Call to the Unconverted, translated 
by an Argyleshire minister. (Celtic Gleanings, 138.) 
So far, then, the printing press had been employed 
solely in the cause of religion, and anything in the 
nature of profane Gaelic literature had been condemned 
in the first book printed in Scotland. 

1740. Or thereabouts, a Mr. Farquharson made a Gaelic 

collection about Strathglas, which he subsequently com- 
pared with MacPherson's English, which he pronounced 
to be a bad translation of good poems which he had. 

i75i. Alexander Macdonald's volume of songs, reprinted 

1764 and 1802. These were much read and eagerly 
sought at the time, which proves that the old taste for 
native poetry was not extinct amongst the people. 

1756. Jerome Stone's translation of Fraoch, of which the 

original Gaelic was recovered from his papers after his 
death, and is given in the report of the Highland So- 


ciety (Appendix, p. 99). It still survives in frag- 
ments, in 1860, in Scotland, amongst the most un- 
learned classes. Stone was an Englishman, and his 
translation is a paraphrase, but faithful. 

It was first published in the Scots Magazine, and 
is an indication of the taste of the period. Attention 
had been called to Gaelic poetry and the Gael by the 
battles of 1715 and 1745. The first who translated, 
made a paraphrase, and thought more of himself than 
of his original ; and almost every attempt since made 
to translate Gaelic into English, or English into Gaelic, 
has been of this kind. 

Mr. Pope's collection was made. He was minister of 1756. 
Beay, and his manuscript contains a poem which can be 1763 - 
traced inTemora ; " Erragon," called Dibird fliLathmon ; 
Cath. Gaur, with the death of Oscar; Duan Dearmot, an 
elegy on the death of that warrior, which was sung by an 
old Campbell, who, when he did so, always took off his 
bonnet in respect for his ancestor. These, and many 
other pieces, were sung in 1 763, by people who had then 
never heard of MacPherson ; but I have pieces, under 
the same names, which were still sung in 1860. It is 
not said that any of these correspond exactly with 
MacPherson's published translations, but Mr. Pope 
compared them with his originals, and recognized those 
above mentioned in MacPherson's English. Were I 
now to read the first book of Temora for the first time 
in English, I should in like manner recognize my tra- 
ditional version of the " death of Osgur," though it is 
not the Gaelic of 1807, nor Gaelic from which the 
English of 1760 could have been translated. 


It seems, then, that during the eighteenth century, 
and before MacPherson's time, attention had been 
drawn to the manners and customs, poetry, and amuse- 
ments of the Highlanders, who in 1715 and 1745 had 
startled England and the Lowlands out of their 
propriety ; and the first bit of direct evidence which 
tells strictly for the authenticity of MacPherson's 
translation dates from about a period when some col- 
lector might be expected to cater for the public taste, 
as Stone did. I think it highly probable that some 
one before MacPherson may have done that which. 
Dr. Smith tells us he did after him, namely, gather all 
he could get, and tinker it according to his own notions 
of what an old Gaelic poet ought to have written in 
the third century, but, with the exception of the 
Farquharson manuscript, I have found no mention 
of any thing to support MacPherson's publications, 
so far, either in manuscript or print, though Mac- 
Pherson's heroes pervade a whole series of early 
documents and Gaelic literature of all ages, Scotch 
and Irish, and his poems include bits which are clearly 

My theory then is, that about the beginning of the 
eighteenth century, or the end of the seventeenth, or 
earlier, Highland bards may have fused floating popular 
traditions into more complete forms, engrafting their 
own ideas on what they found; and that MacPherson 
found their works, translated, and altered them ; pub- 
lished the translation in 1760 ; made the Gaelic ready 
for the press ; published some of it in 1763, and made 
away with the evidence of what he bad done when be 


found that his conduct was blamed I can see no other 
way out of the maze of testimony. » 

If the statement of Mr. MacGilvray, given at 
page 00 of the dissertation prefixed to the large edition 
of Ossian, 1807, is not a deliberate falsehood, there is 
an end of the argument which makes MacPherson the 
author, though no early copy of the entire poems is known. 
It is said that the very poems which were translated 
and published, " Frugal ; Temora," and many others, 
were collected, in Gaelic, in Scotland, from the people, 
long before 1760, and these were subsequently com- 
pared with MacPherson's published translations at 
Douay, by the collector of the Gaelic, Mr. Farquharson, 
who did not know MacPherson ; and the translations 
were found by Mr. Farquharson to be inferior to his 
Gaelic originals, inaccurate, but, in the main, transla- 
tions so far as they went. 

Mr. Farquharson's manuscript was afterwards torn, 
and leaves were used by the Douay students to light 
their fires, and if any part of it now exists, it is lost ; 
but it was not written in the third century but in the 
eighteenth, chiefly in Strathglas. At page 75 of the 
dissertation is a statement which carries conviction with 
it, if such evidence has any weight ; and, assuming the 
evidence to be admissible, and placing it beside what 
has been said above, there may have been some learned 
unknown Gaelic poet or poets, who had collected, and 
arranged, and altered, the floating traditions of the 
country, between MacPherson and Dean MacGregor. 

It is at least certain that MacPherson was a High- 
lander, and that some Gaelic bard wrote the Gaelic 
vol. rv. g 


of 1763 and 1807, whatever his merits may have 
i7«o. MacPherson's first publication appeared, " The 

Fragments;" a second edition was subsequently pub- 
lished, and these are now rare books. 

A Mr. Ewen MacPherson, a schoolmaster, accom- 
panied James MacPherson to Skye and the Long 
Islands, and gives an account of their journey in his 
affidavit (p. 95, H. S. Beport). The schoolmaster 
wrote down a great many poems attributed to Ossian 
from dictation, and his companion took the manuscript 
away with him, as also a small manuscript belonging 
to Clanranald, and an order for a larger manuscript 
which was in Edinburgh. The schoolmaster declares his 
own conviction that the poems of Ossian are genuine, 
and that he had heard them commonly repeated 
everywhere ; but as there was no Gaelic Fingal pub- 
lished when the affidavit was made, this does not apply 
to the publication of 1807. He had read Fingal in 
English, and thought, so well as he could remember 
"the substance of the original," that the translation 
was "well executed." Another MacPherson, a resi- 
denter at Portree, deponed that his brother, a smith, 
had given his namesake a Gaelic quarto manuscript, 
which contained poems which the smith could then 
repeat, and which he had no doubt were the works of 
Ossian. But this does not prove that these were the 
originals of the translations; for as this witness could 
not write, it is not probable that he could read English. 

The evidence of Mr. Hugh MacDonald, given in 
Gaelic, and confirmed by a number of gentlemen of 


the Long Island, is also subject to this objection. They 
all knew something of Ossian's poems, and believed 
them to be genuine, of very great antiquity, distinct 
from and superior to all other Gaelic compositions ; but 
there was only some published Gaelic for the poems of 
Ossian which the English public knew, and the Celts 
seem to mean one thing, while the Saxons meant 
another. These collections have disappeared. 

The quarto edition of Fingal and other translations 1762. 
published, with a fine title page picture of Ossian, and 
a lady in flowing robes, who might pass for any classi- 
cal characters that ever conversed. 

Temora and other poems ; this volume contains the nes. 
Gaelic of the seventh book of Temora, 423 lines. It 
is said that a manuscript copy in the handwriting of 
MacPherson of Strath Mashie, with all manner of cor- 
rections, still exists. I have not seen it. 

This edition is commonly bound with that of 1762, 
and the selling price for the large quarto is now 5 s. 

The following are specimens of the Gaelic, as 
printed by MacPherson in 1763, in Konian type. He 
says it is " stripped of its own proper characters," that 
" a copy of the originals of the former collection lay for 
many months in the bookseller's hands for the inspec- 
tion of the curious ;" and that the " erroneous spelling 
of the bards is departed from in many instances." 

Published Gaelic and English, divided according to 
the rhythm : — 

Iinna doir-choille na Leigo, 
From the wood -skirted waters of Lego, 


Air uair, eri ceo taobh-ghdrm nan ton ; 
ascend, at times, gray-bosomed mists ; 
Nuair dhunas dorsa na h' oicha 
when the gates of the west are closed, 
Air iulluir-shuil greina nan speur. 
on the suris eagle-eye. 

Tomhail mo Lara nan sruth 

Wide over Lards stream 

Thaomas du'-nial as doricha cruaim : 

is poured the vapour dark and deep : 

Mar ghlas-scia, roi taoma nan nial, 

the moon, like a dim shield, 

Snamh seachad tu Gellach na h' oichà. 

is swimming thro' its folds. 

Close translation of the Gaelic, so far as it is under- 
stood by the translator. 

From the pool of the dark woods of Leigo, 
The blue-sided wave-mist rises at times ; 
When the doors of night are closed 
On th' eagle-eyed sun of the skies. 

Thick about Lara of the streams, 

Black clouds of darkest frown are poured out ; 

As a gray shield, through the pouring of the clouds 

Swimming past, is the moon of the night. 

This is not like the style or the spirit of popular 
songs and ballads. It is not modern vernacular 


Gaelic ; it is not the old written language, so far as I 
know it, nor is it Irish ; but it is not a translation of 
the English given with it, for it has metre, and asso- 
nance, and a meaning of its own. It bears a resem- 
blance to " Mordubh ;" and as it was published in 1763, 
it is a Gaelic composition at least 98 years old. 

The following four lines have the metre and asson- 
ances of some current ballads : — 

An taobh oitaig gu palin nan seoid 

Taomas lad 

Ceach nan SPETJE 

Gorm-thalla do thannais nach beo 

Gu am err fan 

Marbh ran nan TEUD. 

In the side of a blast, to the heroes' tent, 

they pour out 

the mists of the skies ; 

a blue hall for shades not alive, 

till the rising time of the sound 

of the strings' death-moan. 

In this case the Gaelic, though it is not such 
Gaelic as men speak now-a-days, expresses more, and 
seems to me better than its published English equiva- 
lent, which is not a true rendering of it. 

" Often blended with the gale, 

" to some warrior's grave, 

" they roll the mist) a gray dwelling to his ghost, 

" until the songs arise." 


There is a second metre, which also has its equiva- 
lent in popular ballads, and in " Fingal" — 

Ta torman a machair nan gran 
Se Oonar ri Erin at* an 

a taoma* ceo-tanaia gu dlu' 

Air Faolan aig Lubhair nan sru. 

The translation given is — 

" A sound came from the desart ; 

" it was Conar, King of Innisfail. 

" He poured his mist 

" on the grave of Fillan, at the blue-winding Lubar." 

The meaning, as I understand it, is — 

" There's a moan from the outland of stems ; 
It is Conar, Erin's king, 
pouring out ghostly-mist closely 
upon Eaolan at Lubhair of the streams.' ' 

And here again the Gaelic, with all its grammatical 
peculiarities, seems to have the best of it, and it is no 
translation. And so it is throughout the specimen. 

The Gaelic and English do not quite fit each other, 
and the Gaelic seems to me to have been originally 
better than the English, though many words are used 
in strange ways, and the whole is spelt without any 
fixed rule. The Gaelic has most ideas, the English 
most words. 

The orthography is, of course, the scribe's. It is 
such as comes to me from men who have not studied 


Gaelic writing. It is like my own spelling when I, 
who never learned to write Gaelic, try to take down a 
story rapidly from dictation ; it is like the spelling of 
Dean MacGregor's MS. or the Manx system in a 
transition state ; it is, in short, something between 
phonetic writing and old Gaelic, and that of 1 807. As 
some one wrote in the Gaelic at the end of one of these 
ghostly passages — 

*s doilleir so ! 
"This is dim!" 

As MacPherson says in his rendering of the line, 
which I strongly suspect was a comment, which the 
translator mistook for a line of poetry — 

"It is night!" 

But through this dimness and night it may be 
discerned that the writer of the English was not the 
writer of the Gaelic. No forger could have written 
" 's doilleir" so for " it is night." 

Strathmashie did not write Gaelic of this kind when 
he wrote in his own name ; but, on the other hand, 
Chatterton afterwards spelt Eowly's poems according 
to his notion of ancient English spelling, and so tried 
to make his language appear old, and succeeded for 
a time ; and so Strathmashie, MacPherson, or some 
one else, may have done the same : but guessing is 

Chatterton, in the earliest of his epistles extant, 1768. 
imitated the English of " Ossian." 

" My friendship is as firm as the white rock when 


the black waves roar around it, and the waters burst 
on its hoary top, when the driving wind ploughs the 
sable sea, and the rising waves aspire to the clouds, 
turning with the rattling hail. So much for heroics/' 

It is supposed that "Fingal" suggested the idea of 
"Kowley's poems" to that wonderful imitator and 
original genius, the author of the Kowley controversy, 
who poisoned himself at the age of eighteen, 
am. In this year a clergyman published a book, which 

he dedicated to " Daniel Campbell of Shawfield, Esq.," 
then proprietor of Islay. He called his work " Eingal, 
an ancient Epic poem in six books, by Ossian the son 
of Eingal, translated into English heroic rhyme by 
John Wodrow, M.A., one of the ministers of Islay." 
(Edinburgh, 1771.) 

This seems to be the work of a truthful, unsuspect- 
ing, prejudiced, wrongheaded, worthy man, who had 
a talent for English poetry. He believed implicitly 
in MacPherson's translation ; he tells the exact truth 
so far as he knew it ; he never appears to have sus- 
pected that any one could deceive him ; he had a 
standard, and forthwith set to work to improve it, by 
"translating" MacPherson's English prose into good 
English verse of his own ; while he was surrounded by 
people who were constantly repeating Gaelic poems, 
which they attributed to Oisein ; and which he neglected 
to translate, or preserve. There is a perverse simplicity 
in thus openly and obstinately going wrong in the 
wrong way ; in sticking to supposed truth against all 
evidence, that would have made the worthy minister 


die a martyr for a false religion if he had been in- 
structed in its tenets. 

The book begins thus — 

" To entertain any doubt of the antiquity or authenticity of the 
poems of Ossian, as some pretend to do, can only flow from an 
affected singularity of thinking, or from mere wantonness of 

The grounds for this opinion follow : — 

" As to their authenticity, it was never so much as called in 
question in Scotland ; over all the Highlands and isles, it is uni- 
versally acknowledged. It is well known that the most illiterate 
old people there, can still repeat great parts of many of the 
poems. Unhappily, indeed, they are often found much interpo- 
lated and blended with the wild chimeras and absurdities of the 
bards of degenerate days." 

Of MacPherson's translation he says : — 

" His translation is faithful, accurate, elegant, and masterly." 
. . . " And it must be evident to many that he often falls short 
of his original." 

And having said so much, and some more on his 
own account, the minister gives an abstract of Blair's 
criticism on the English Ossian, which, just as it is, 
-was not that of a man who knew Gaelic. Then at 
page xo comes the evidence of the Islay minister him- 
self, which is more valuable. 

" For my own part, I frankly confess that I am not possessed 
of any of the originals ; they are to be met with at greater length, 
and in greater purity, in those parts of the Highlands and isles 
most remote from Ireland, and furthest north." {Bui when we git 


something traditional from the north this is found to be an error, 
unless Mordubh be a fair specimen). " Yet in the southern 
parts of Argyleshire, I remember from my infancy to have been 
in use to hear fragments of them repeated by old illiterate people, 
and as soon as I could judge of anything, to have been much 
struck and astonished by particular passages. I now live in an 
island not half a day's sailing distant from the north of Ireland, 
the very scene of action in the poem of Fingal ; yet I could find 
but few that could rehearse any considerable portion of any of 
the poems, and that neither complete nor oonsistent with itself. 
What I have thus heard, commonly began and set out well, in 
the pure and dignified style of Ossian, but soon fell off in mean 
conceits, disgusting absurdities, and ended inconclusively. The 
traditional stories, however, of these heroes are well known and 
abundantly familiar to all ranks in these parts. I have only 
mentioned this as an adminicle in support of Mr. MacPherson's 
position, that they are Scots and not Irish poems." . . . 
" There is scarce a hill, a heath, or vale where some large stones 
erected, or other monuments, are not to be met with, which tradi- 
tion always refers to the time of Fingal ; and the vulgar bestow 
names upon them, alluding to him or some one of his heroes." 

These are facts from which I would draw conclu- 
sions different from those of Mr. Wodrow ; hut he 
tells us more ; he remembered to have heard of a class 
of historians inferior to bards, called " SCELLACHA, 
or narrators of facts." (Tellers of tales is the real 
meaning, and the word is clearly the same as the Norse 
Skald). The Bard, as the minister says, used to sing 
to the harp ; and the Scellacha to fill up the pauses 
by telling prose history. He says, p. xcvii : — 

" I have met with some old people among the vulgar High- 
landers, who, as a winter evening's entertainment, have rehearsed 


fictions, or tales of a very ancient cast, much in the same man- 
ner. The gallant or heroic parts were in rhyme or measure, and 
sung to an air ; the ludicrous incidents, and such as were little 
interesting, were only told." . . . " Such as are acquainted 
in the Highlands must know that ballad singers of this sort are 
yet to be met with." 

And haying told us what there really was, the 
minister leaves it with contempt, and gives his reasons 
for translating the English Ossian into English verse ; 
and gives us " Fingal" in a measure which has no sort 
of resemblance to that of any Gaelic composition which 
I know j still it is a very readable poem. 

In the arguments we get some traces of Gaelic. The 
old superstition of corpse lights is given as derived from 
Ossian's ghosts. It seems that a ghost came mounted 
on a meteor, and surrounded twice or thrice the place 
destined for the person to die ; and then went along 
the road through which the funeral was to pass, shriek- 
ing at intervals, though with a feeble voice, till it 
came to the place of burial, and disappeared. The 
superstition survives ; the telling of tales and singing 
of ballads goes on ; but the poem is so far forgotten, 
that I suppose I am the only member of the family of 
the man to whom it was dedicated, who knows the 
book ; even I never saw it till November 1861, though 
I have always heard that an Islay minister had col- 
lected the poems of Ossian in Islay. 

The minister gives two specimens of his collection, 
but translations only, and they are not like the current 
traditional poems. I may as well say here, once for 
all, that I have been brought up in the belief that 


"The Poems of Ossian" were something familiarly 
known to the people of the Highlands at some former 
period, and that I have been told the fact by a great 
many trust-worthy witnesses. But I am now con- 
sidering the "poems of 1807," and I can only regret 
that I have not got Wodrow's opportunity of forming 
an opinion. 
1778. Dr. Johnson arrived on the 14th of August at 

Boyd's Inn at the head of the Canongate, and shortly 
afterwards made his famous tour, of which he and 
Boswell both published accounts. From these dates, 
it seems that Johnson might have seen part of Ossian 
in the Strand, printed in Gaelic, if he had been so 
minded, ten years before he went to the Highlands ; 
and a lot of manuscripts at the publishers' in London 
before that 
1774 to 1783. A certain Duncan Kennedy collected traditional 
poetry in the West Highlands, and named seventeen 
of his authorities. The collection is now preserved in 
the Advocates' Library, in two bound volumes of manu- 
script One is marked as the only volume given to 
Dr. Smith, and contains, besides a number of Gaelic 
poems, English arguments and versions of stories, many 
of which are quite familiar to me as current traditions 
still; some are given in vol. iii The name Fin^aZ 
is used in the English, but in the Gaelic the name is 
Fion or Fionn. 

The other volume is better written, and the argu- 
ments are in better English. A great many of the 
poems are versions of ballads still traditionally pre- 
served. These are in the usual traditional metre, and 


consist of smooth regular quatrains with, assonances. 
Two words at the end of the second and fourth lines 
are similar in sound and quantity, and two some- 
where in the middle of the second and fourth lines 
agree with the terminations of the preceding lines ; the 
second with the first, and the fourth with the third. 
Thus, in the version of "Manus," on which poem 
" Fingal" is supposed to be founded, Oisein says — 

1. A chlerich a chanas na sailm, 
„ f Air learn fein 

\ Gur baobh do chial, 
3. Nach eisteadh tu tamul sgeala 
, j Air an ffhein 
' \ Nach cual thu riamh. 

The poet is speaking to a churchman, " Padrac," and 
his exordium might have been addressed to Bishop 
Carswell, and those who have followed him in striving 
to extirpate Gaelic lore. 

Thou clerk that utterest psalms, 

To me it seems 

Thy wits are bad, 

Wouldst thou not hearken to a story 

Of the Feine 

Thou hast never heard. 

Some of these are in the form of dialogues between 
Oisein and his father-in-law *' Peter MacAlpain," and 
sometimes Oisein represents the Fein as warriors of 
Eirinn. Some one appears to have thought this anti- 
Scotch, and has improved upon the original by im- 


porting from another poem ; for example, the following 
line is struck out in ink— 

" Nut thional Fiann Eireann gu trai," 

When gathered the Fiann of Eirinn to the strand, 
and a line is written in the margin, in a more modern 
hand, which means— 

" Our heads are bent in the strife." 

" Padruig " has been struck out, and other words sug- 
gested, which make the passages which follow apply 
to the Feine, and not to the saint, of Kennedy's 
authority. The stanza is given at the bottom of the 
248th page of the H. S. Appendix, and is there made 
up from passages taken from two other versions, in 
which Padruig was not mentioned. The original lines 
are not erased ; so these are only suggestions, but this 
gives a curious indication of the unfair spirit which 
pervaded the Ossianic controversy. 

The poems which I can trace as still current, differ 
from other versions, and from the marginal notes it ap- 
pears that some portions of them were claimed by 
Kennedy as his own compositions. The bulk of the 
poetry is plain narrative converted into quatrains of 
smooth musical verse, which could easily be sung and 
remembered, and I believe that it was written down 
from dictation, as Kennedy said. Some of the passages 
claimed by the collector as his own are more senti- 
mental, with more similes, different in rhythm, and, 
as I think, far inferior. Other parts claimed by the 


scribe as his own, have been found in much older 
manuscripts, and it is quite possible that a man who 
had learned so much poetry by heart, might confound 
the old with the new, unintentionally. I hold Ken- 
nedy's to be a valuable collection of the traditional 
poems of 1774 and 1783, and the Eianaibh were then 
considered to be Irish warriors by the people about 
Loch Awe, where Kennedy made part of his collection. 
About the same time, a certain Fletcher learned a 
number of Ossianic pieces, chiefly in Argyleshire, -which 
he had written down from his own dictation. He 
could hardly write at all, and could not read the manu- 
script, which he sold to the Highland Society; but, 
nevertheless, he repeated to a justice of the peace, 
who knew Gaelic, one poem which is in the manu- 
script, the death of the children of " TJsno," which is 
the foundation of, but is not "Darthula." 

This bears strongly upon the controversy. Ap- 
pendix B to the Eeport of the Highland Society, extends 
from page 190 to page 260, and gives part of Eingal in 
English at the foot of the pages, and a Gaelic compo- 
sition, and an English translation by Dr. Donald Smith ; 
and these three coincide tolerably welL But the Gaelic 
is not good poetry, for it is made up of a number of 
separate lines taken from a great many different col- 
lections of traditional poetry, to which references are 
given. Each line is genuine, and in Kennedy's col- 
lection, and the rest, formed part of a poem which bore 
some likeness to the story of Eingal, or to parts of it- 
Some stanzas are left almost entire, but the new com- 
position is not a genuine work, and it is spoiled. The 


lines detached from their fellows lose all the rhythm 
and assonance which gave them a musical cadence, and 
stanzas so broken and mended, and displaced, lose 
their original meaning. " Fingal " is like this. 

The composition is no deception, but it is avowedly 
a mosaic constructed from several old works of high 
merit spoiled for the purpose. The makers took Fingal 
for a still older work, and pounded genuine old mate- 
rials to make work like their modeL As Dr. Smith 
did, so probably did the compounder of FingaL 

Ramsay had done something of the kind with 
Scotch ballads, and Percy had done the same as Earn- 
say. Burns and others did the same; it was the 
fashion of these times. 
1779. The Kev. Donald MacNicol, M.A., minister of 

Iismore in Argyleshire, published a reply to Johnson's 
tour.* As the minister lived close to Morven, his 
evidence is worth consideration. BoswelTs account 
of his journey was published in 1785, about nine 
months after Johnson's death. This, together with the 
Doctor's tour and the minister's reply, gives a view 
of three sides of the question ; and when the state- 
ments are picked out of the mass of opinions, there is as 
little reason for Johnson's famous attack on Scotch 
veracity as there is for MacMcol's quotation, " old men 
and travellers lie by authority." 

It seems as if the combatants, blinded by national 
prejudice, spent their energy in fighting shadows. 
The books are brimful of national prejudice — English 
and Scotch, Lowland and Highland ; but they contain 

* LondoD, printed for T. Cadell in the Strand, 1779. 


facts which can be authenticated, and statements which 
I believe, because the rest are true. 

It rests on Johnson's authority, that there were 
plenty of Gaelic songs. Boswell gives the chorus of 
one by ear, and it still survives. It also rests on the 
Doctor's authority, that people made statements about 
Gaelic matters, and that he did not believe them, which 
proves nothing ; and that he heard of Gaelic manuscripts 
which he believed to be Irish, but which he could not 
have read if he had seen them. 

The minister, on the other hand, who understood 
Gaelic, says, p. 350 — 

" Every man of inquiry ; every person of the least taste for 
the poetry or turn for the antiquities of his country, has heard 
often repeated some part or other of the poems published by Mr. 
MacPherson. Hundreds still alive have heard portions of them 
recited long before Mr. MacPherson was born ; so that he cannot 
possibly be deemed the author of compositions which existed 
before he had any existence himself." " It is true that there is 
no man now living, and perhaps there never has existed any one 
person who either can or could repeat the whole of the poems of 
088ian." ..." Mr. MacPheraon's great merit has been in 
collecting the disjecta membra poetse ; and his fitting the parts 
so well together as to form a complete figure." 

This statement is supported by the Irish claim to 

the poems ; and if it be remembered what people meant 

by translations in those days, it seems that the minister 

spoke the truth according to his lights, and the doctor 

according to his. MacMcol mentions a great many 

Gaelic MSS., and many of these are quoted above, and 

exist ; and he also mentions a number of other manu- 
vol. rv. H 


scripts which probably did exist then, wherever they 
are now. 

At page 360, MacNicol, in speaking of the forth- 
coming Gaelic Ossian, says — " It would be impossible 
for any person, let his talents be ever so great, to im- 
pose a translation for an original on any critic in the 
Gaelic language." 

So the minister, knowing that there were Ossianic 
poems current, and recognizing them in the English, 
believed in the forthcoming Gaelic ; and Johnson who 
knew nothing but the English, held that MacPherson 
was the father of Ossian ; and neither of them, as it 
seems, had looked at the Gaelic of the seventh book 
of Temora, which might have prevented them from 
using such strong language. This seems to have been 
the prevailing spirit of the Ossianic controversy. Men 
have argued as partisans without first defining the 
points on which they would agree to differ ; and like 
partisans, they have belaboured each other unjustly. 
Boswell states, that a certain Mr. Macqueen told 
Johnson, as to " Fingal," " that he could repeat some 
passages in the original ; that he heard his grandfather 
had a copy of it ; but that he could not affirm, that 
Ossian composed all that poem as it is now published" 
Johnson had contended that " it is no better than such 
an epic poem as he could make from the song of Kobin 
Hood" (p. 127, Boswell, Eoutledge, 1860). Boswell 
held that Mr. Macqueen's statement amounted to what 
his hero Johnson had maintained : but Johnson called 

-y ' 

MacPherson "the father of Ossian," and he would 
not have called himself the father of Kobin Hood if 


he had composed an epic about that half mythical 
heio ; so he was scarcely fair, even if he was right. 

Mr. John Clark published translations of ancient 1780. 
Gaelic poems, one of which was " Mordubh." Part of 
this was known to Mrs. Grant of Laggan, a lady whose 
" Letters from the Mountains," have made her name 
famous. The Gaelic appeared in Gillies, 1786. The 
English is like MacPherson's ; the Gaelic like that of 
1807, and I am inclined to rank "Mordubh" with 

Mr. Hill, an Englishman, got some copies of nso. 
Gaelic poems from a blacksmith at Dalmally, in 
Argyleshire. These include a dialogue between Ois- 
hein and Padruig, given in the Appendix to the 
Highland Society's Eeport, "Cath Mhanuis," which 
survives, and a version of which was subsequently 
published in Irish by Miss Brooke. " How Diarmaid 
slew the venomous boar," which survives. "How 
Bran was slain," which survives ; and the " Prayer 
of Ossian." These were published in the Gentleman's 
Magazine, and afterwards in a small pamphlet. The 
" Prayer of Ossian," the dialogue referred to, resembles 
closely some of the poems in the late publications of the 
Ossianic Society of Dublin. There are 36 verses, or 
144 lines of religious arguments on one side, praise of 
the ancient heroes, and pagan defiance on the other. I 
have not a doubt that these are perfectly genuine popu- 
lar poems. 

About the same time, Lord Webb Seymour, and 1760. 
Professor Playfair, also made a tour of the Highlands, 
and heard a poem repeated in Skye, which was trans- 


lated, and which, from the description given of it, ap- 
pears to be Moira Borh, or Fainesolis, of which I have 
several versions, and which is an episode in " Ossian," 
and these gentlemen heard, and heard tell of many 
other poems which seem to be the same as those still 
current, though now far rarer. They met an old lady 
who had herself repeated one such poem to Dr. Johnson. 

1785. By this time MacPherson had risen in the world. 

Mrs. Grant wrote to her friend (Letter xxvi., p. 134, 
vol. ii.) : — 

" The bard, as I was about to tell you, is as great 
a favourite of fortune as of fame, and has got more by 
the old harp of Ossian than most of his predecessors 
could draw out of the silver strings of Apollo. He 
has bought three small estates in this country within 
two years, given a ball to the ladies, and made other 
exhibitions of wealth and liberality. He now keeps 
a hall at Bellville, his new-purchased seat, where there 
are as many shells as were in Selma, filled, I doubt 
not, with much better liquor." . . . 

178«. John Gillies, a Perth bookseller, who did not un- 

derstand Gaelic himself, published a volume of Gaelic 
collected in the Highlands, which seems to deserve 
particular attention, and is referred to below. 

1787. The Gaelic of Smith's collection appeared ; it was 

avowedly patched and mended, and pruned. It con- 
tains many lines and stanzas, which now survive in 
various shapes, and which were collected by others long 
ago, but it is not popular now, and it is little, if at all, 
known to the people. It seems to represent a different 
class of poetry, though the subjects are the same as 


the themes of the ballads which survive. Either these 
represent a class of poetry which had sprung up 
amongst the educated, and which is forgotten now that 
aristocrats have abandoned the old tongue ; or these 
are popular songs mercilessly improved, till they have 
lost their character. I would rank them near Mordubh, 
but they are nearer to the ballads than "Ossian." 

So iar, then, all the collectors found something 
which had some relation to " Ossian's Poems," but no 
one except Farquharson had found the poems them- 
selves; and every one who translated, had written 
paraphrases of what he found. Stone, and MacPher- 
son, and Smith, all took liberties alike. 

In this year Edmund Baron de Harold, gentleman 
of the bed-chamber to the Elector Palatine, published 
an Irish Ossian, of which he says — " These poems, 
though founded on tradition, are entirely of my com- 
position/ ' Still, they were called poems " discovered" 
by the Baron, and purported to be taken from Irish 
originals. The book was dedicated to Grattan. What- 
ever can be said against MacPherson's Ossian applies 
to this, and it wants the merit of originality. 

Miss Brooke published an Irish collection with a i7S9. 
very free " translation," but with the originals. It 
contains (1) Conlaoch, (2) Magnus the Great, (3) the 
Chase, (4) Moira Borb, (5) War ode of Osgar, the son 
of Oisin, in front of the battle of Gabhra, (6) Ode to 
Gaul, the son of Morni, and some modern pieces ; and 
this publication establishes the close resemblance which 
then existed, and now exists between Irish and Scotch 
Gaelic poetry; but as Gillies had published a "Lay 


of Magnus," and one of " Conlaoch," two versions of 

" Moira Borb," a " Death of Oscar," and an " Ode to 

GoU," and many more of the same kind, collected in 

Scotland, three years before Miss Brooke's publication, 

which I believe to have been the first of its kind in 

Ireland — this does not support the modern Irish claim 

to every thing, Gaelic and old, though it is a genuine 


1796. In this year MacPherson died. Mrs. Grant of 

Laggan describes his end in a letter dated February 

20, and tells that one of his latest acts was to " frank 

a letter." So the Highland schoolmaster had risen 

1808. A collection was made by MacDonald of Staffa. 

This contains pieces which I do not know. There are 
some prose tales, including one about "The Great 
FooL" There are also a number of other paper manu- 
scripts in the Advocates' Library, which contain frag- 
ments of collections made in the Highlands about this 

1804. A collection of the works of the Highland bards, 

collected in the Highlands and Isles by Alexander and 
Donald Stewart, contains 592 pages, about 11,000 lines 
of poetry; the greater part consists of songs whose authors 
are known. Some of these I have heard sung, some I 
can sing myself, and many may still be picked up in 
the Highlands, wherever the church has not stilled 
profane music. Amongst these are a number of com- 
positions which differ from them as an oak does from 
a daisy. Such is the Battle Ode of the Clan 
Dornhnull, composed by Lachlan Mor MacMhurrich on 


the Battle of Harlaw. It is a string of alliterative 
adverbs so arranged as to imitate the rhythm of a 
pibroch, and exhaust all the epithets available under 
all the letters of the alphabet in turn. There are 
eight other compositions which are old and " Ossianic." 

Poems of Ossian were also collected by J. Mac- 
Donald in the western parishes of Strathnaver, Boss, 
and Inverness-shire. These are of the usual traditional 
class. There are many versions of well-known ballads, 
but no epic poetry. 

Now, all these were written while there was but 
little published Gaelic for "Ossian;" if there had been 
any epics then current, they would surely have been 
found ; if there had been any inclination to make false 
translations there was ample opportunity. 

Eeport of the Highland Society on the authenticity i805. 
of the Poems of Ossian. 

Ossian. Published Evidence. 

If anything could be ascertained relative to the 
authenticity of the poems, it was to be done by going 
direct to the oldest surviving inhabitants of the dis- 
tricts where they were said to be found That was 
done, and collections were printed and written, of which 
very little is known. I have gone over the same 
ground myself once more with able assistants, and I 
have gone through great part of the work of my prede- 
cessors, and I will endeavour to give the result as 
briefly as I can. 

It has been proved that there were old Gaelic tra- 


ditional poems, collectors of them, and men who made 
English paraphrases from them under the name of 
translations, long "before MacPherson's time ; and he, 
according to the evidence in the report of 1805, spoke 
with men who had written collections. The affidavit 
of Archibald Fletcher, January 1801, No. xvi. of the 
Appendix, gives a list of poems collected by Fletcher 
himself, filling 194 pages, and deposited with the 
Society ; and he names men with whom MacPherson 
spoke, and who knew such poems. 

"No. xv. of the same Appendix gives 70 pages of 
comparisons between manuscripts in the possession of 
the Society and MacPherson's translation of Fingal ; 
and these prove to demonstration that the poem in 
some form was known to the people, and that the pub- 
lished poem is not the popular version, though like it. 

Captain Morrison's evidence, No. xiil, is con- 
clusive on this point, and proves that MacPherson had 
in his possession a great many such poems orally col- 
lected in Scotland, and that they appear in his English 

Kennedy gives a list of seventeen persons from 
whose dictation he procured Gaelic poems, which he 
sold to the Highland Society, and which he collected 
between 1774 and 1783. It is therefore beyond all 
dispute that there were traditional poems in plenty, 
written and unwritten, attributed to Oisein, current 
in the Highlands, and accessible to MacPherson ; 
many of which can still be traced in " Ossian." 

The letters of Mr. Andrew Gallie, published by the 
committee, and dated Kincardine, March 12, 1779, 


and March 4, 1801, shew that MacPherson had old 
authorities also, and had little respect for them. The 
letters raise the curtain, and shew the " translator " at 
his work so vividly, that I give the following quo- 
tations : — " I remember Mr. MacPherson reading the 
MS. found in Clanronald's (which was illuminated, and 
therefore old, and which is believed to be somewhere 
in Edinburgh now), execrating the bard who dictated 
to the amanuensis, saying, d — n the scoundrel, it is he 
himself that now speaks, and not Ossian." This took 
place in my house in two or three instances. 

He goes on to say that it is well known that the 
poems as handed down got corrupted, and suggests 
that MacPherson had suppressed his old MSS., and he 
concludes thus — " I think great credit is due in such 
a case, to him who restores a work of merit to its ori- 
ginal purity." 

That is, great credit is due to MacPherson for dis- 
tinguishing the work of a man who composed in the 
third century from all intervening additions and alter- 
ations ; and certainly great credit would be due to the 
workman if such work could be done. 

In 1799, Mrs. Gallie confirms her husband's state- 
ment, saying — " Not any one thing is more in my re- 
membrance than seeing with Mr. MacPherson, when 
he returned from his tour, the Gaelic MSS. as de- 
scribed by my husband ; I remember Mr. MacPherson 
most busy at the translation, and he and Mr. Gallie 
differing as to the meaning of some Gaelic words," etc. 

When such were the prevailing notions about 
" translating," what becomes of authenticity ] 


The report also gives a short history of Mac- 
Pherson's start, and the evidence of those who 
placed him before the public, and it is not without 

MacPberson's first publication* was made at the 
suggestion of Dr. Hugh Blair, who published the 
work, wrote the preface, eight pages, and suggested 
a mission to the Highlands to collect more. The 
fragments are believed to be perfectly genuine, 
though very free translations, and include a bit 
of FingaL The fight is about the next and follow- 
ing publications ; and the evidence given by the 
men who set MacPherson to work is so strongly in 
favour of their general authenticity, so far as Mac- 
Pherson is concerned, that it is hard to believe him to 
have been a mere forger ; he must have had something 
more than we now know anything about. Dr. Blair 
saw his papers ; Professor Adam Fergusson, who un- 
derstood Gaelic, looked at them and compared them 
with the translations as they were made ; and these 
appeared to be exact and faithful in any parts which 
were so read and compared. When this work was 
done, MacPherson went to London and published it ; 
it was famous from the beginning, and soon after the 
grand battle began. It was a battle of giants, in 
which the turly figure of Johnson stalks in the first 
rank, with his shadow Boswell at his heels. David 

• Now a rare book, " Fragments of ancient Poetry," collected 
in the Highlands of Scotland, and translated from the Gaelic or 
Erse language. Edinburgh: Printed for G. Hamilton and J. 
Balfour, mdcclx., 70 pages. 


Hume, " Burke, a very ingenious Irish gentleman, 
the author of a tract on the Sublime and Beautiful," 
who told Hume that he had " heard his countrymen 
cry out as soon as MacPherson's hook was published — 
we know all these poems ; we have always heard them 
from our infancy ; but who, on particular inquiry, 
" could never learn that any one had ever heard, or 
could repeat the original of any one paragraph of the 
pretended translation." John Home, Mackenzie, 
Laing, and nearly every man of mark of that time, 
down to Humboldt and Lamartine of our own times, 
have all held opinions one way or the other, but the 
facts are the most important. 

Dr. Blair, in his letter, describes MacPherson as 
irritable, obstinate, and anrontable ; he avows the pro- 
bability of a combination of several pieces, the omis- 
sion of some parts, and the insertion of others, which 
MacPherson did not then deny. In December 1797, 
Dr. Blair wrote — " That his work as it stands, exhibits 
a genuine authentic view of ancient Gaelic poetry, I 
am as firmly persuaded as I can be of anything." The 
letter, which is too long for quotation, seems to esta- 
blish beyond cavil, that the Gaelic was written before 
the English, and that the published English was a fair 
representation of the Gaelic as collected and brought 
to Edinburgh in 1761. 

Dr. Adam Fergusson, in 1798, writes — "The 
fragments I afterwards saw in Mr. MacPherson's 
hands, by no means appeared of recent writing ; the 
paper was much stained with smoke, and daubed with 
Scots snuff j" and the Doctor had himself in his 


youth, heard poems repeated by an old tailor, of which 
he quotes two lines, which, though strangely spelt, are 
versions of two lines in " FingaL" 

The Eev. Dr. Carlyle, the same whose memoirs 
have lately been published, who was at Prestonpans as 
a young man, and lived far on into this century, gives 
his account of the first starting of MacPherson, in 
which he had a large share, and of his intimacy with 
him in London in 1769 and 1770, when he saw him 
daily and lived in intimacy with him ; and when he 
never was able to discover that he was any other than 
the translator. 

And Mr. Home states that MacPherson was an 
exceedingly good classical scholar ; that he himself, in 
1758 or 1759, met him with his pupil (Graham of 
Balgowan, afterwards Lord Lynedoch) at Moffat ; that 
he had heard from Dr. Fergusson, who understood 
Gaelic, that there were remains of ancient Gaelic 
poetry in the Highlands, particularly one which he had 
himself heard repeated, and thought very beautiful. 
That he questioned MacPherson concerning this ancient 
Gaelic poetry, found that he had some pieces written 
down, and persuaded him to translate one — " the poem 
on the death of Oscar," — which he brought in a day or 
two. In a few days he brought two or three more, 
which Home took to Edinburgh and shewed to Drs. 
Blair, Fergusson, and Bobertson, and to Lord Elibank ; 
and he subsequently, in the course of the year, carried 
them to London, and they were admired everywhere. 
Thus, in October 1759, and in a few days, MacPherson 
must have composed a great English work, if he was 


the author of " The Fragments." A bit of his own 
original English composition may help to form an 
opinion of his merits as an original English writer — 

" Oh discord ! gnashing fury ! rav'nous fiend ! 
Hell's sharpest torment ! nauseous qualm of life, 
You bathe the poniard oft in friendship's breast : 
Peace, virtue, friendship, harmony, and love, 
Delightful train of graces shrink from thee." 

And so on. 

Another publication gives some measure of his 
knowledge of the Gaelic language. In 1771 he pub- 
lished, at Dublin, an introduction to the history of 
Great Britain and Ireland, and at pp. 176-177, he 
quotes eleven lines of Gaelic and gives a translation. 
The poem is said to be older than Christianity, but it 
is not said where it was got. If he wrote it himself, 
of course he knew what he meant ; but in any case he 
seems to have made a mistake, whereon he founded a 
theory, and this was eleven years after the poems ap- 

The Gaelic given is — 

Marsin air Ton frioghach fa noir, 
Nuar Shuanas Grian-aise na nial fein, 
Thic reoda air itta gu tean, 
'Sè spairn 'Sè sguarta gu geur. 

It seems to mean — 

Thus on bristling wanton wave, 

When sleeps " Grian-Aise " in Tier own cloud, 


Comes ice upon feather, tightly (or wing, or fin, or 

down 1 spray), 
And he striving and keenly splashing (or roaring). 

MacPherson translates it — 

" Thus hovering over the bleak waves in the North, 
When Grian-Ais sleeps, wrapt in his cloud, 
A sudden frost comes on all his wings — 
He struggles, he loudly roars." 

There are no words for "hovering," "wrapped," 
u sudden," or " all;" and ton is singular. It is not the 
sun who is frozen, but the wave, for Grian is feminine ; 
but MacPherson argues that this sun, who could not 
resist a frosty evening but had his wings frozen, could 
not have been a Celtic god. But if the poet meant a 
wave, the argument is bad ; and if he was MacPherson, 
and meant the sun, the Gaelic is not a good translation 
of the English, and it becomes highly improbable that 
MacPherson was capable of imagining the English Ossian, 
or turning it into the Gaelic of 1807. So it is argued. 

But direct evidence is better than argument. 

Mr. Home goes on to say, that "in travelling 
through the Highlands " (which he did with MacPherson), 
he has met with several common people who repeated 
to him many hundred lines of the rhymes, as they 
called them. Mr. Home having usually with him one 
or more who understood the Gaelic language, made the 
rhymes be repeated again, which the person who under- 
stood both languages translated, so as to leave no room 


to doubt that the tales and songs sang by the boatmen 
and herds in the Highlands are the poems of Ossian." 

But the question is, were these the Gaelic poems of 
1807 Ì and of that Mr. Home could not judge. Having 
read one " translation " he heard another like it ; but 
he should have had the written Gaelic, and some one to 
compare it with the Gaelic which he heard ; and so 
far as I can find out, no one ever thought of trying 
that simple experiment on the street porters of Edin- 
burgh, who are men of the class described, and could 
solve the problem. But four of the gentlemen who 
started, MacPherson give valid reasons for their belief 
in the genuineness of the Gaelic materials collected by 
him, and in the general correctness of the translations ; 
while they admit that which no reasonable man can 
now doubt, that he worked up these materials, and 
that the long poems never existed in the form which 
they now bear, before MacPherson's time. They held 
that Gaelic for nearly the whole of the translations 
had existed as detached fragments well known, and 
constantly repeated in the Highlands; but they did 
not maintain that " Fingal " and " Temora " ever had 
been repeated from beginning to end. 

The report of the whole committee was in accordance 
with this evidence — 1st, That there had existed an 
abundance of impressive, striking, eloquent, tender, and 
sublime Gaelic poetry. 

2d, That the translations often contained the sub- 
stance, and sometimes almost the literal expression of 
passages in poems, and fragments of poems, which 
the committee had been able to procure ; but they 


had not been able to obtain one poem the same in 
title and tenor with the poems as published. They 
believed that they had begun too late ; that Mac- 
Pherson had far better opportunities of collecting and 
collating, and rejecting, and putting together "what 
might fairly enough be called an original whole." 
They point out modernisms in the later publications, 
such as Temora, and generally the committee having 
good opportunities, made a report, which seems to 
settle the question, as well as such a question could be 

But while all this argument and criticism and paper 
war was disturbing the non-Gaelic world, the High- 
landers of the poorer class knew very little about the 
fight, and went on singing their own ballads, though 
people who sought for old poetry after MacPherson 
had set the world by the ears, found no epics. 

It is useless to argue that the Highlands changed 
after the battle of Culloden. It is true that whole 
clans have been displaced since then, and that the 
whole population of Great Britain is now rapidly 
assimilating ; but I have spoken with men who remem- 
bered " the forty-five," and with one who had not left 
his native island during his life, 108 years. Men and 
women of seventy and eighty are to bo found all over 
the Highlands, and many of these trace their descent 
for many generations, and occupy the old holdings of 
their ancestors. From such people, traditions can now 
be got, and they were got before, and almost immedi- 
ately after MacPherson's first publication, and they 
were and are nearly the same stilL I have already 


mentioned Stone, Farquharson, Pope, Kennedy, Fletcher, 
"Hill, etc., as collectors ; they found ballads, but 
"Ossian" is a collection of epics ; and they found 

The Gaelic of Ossian was published from a manu. 1807. 
script of MacPherson's ; an edition was subsequently 
distributed gratis, in 1818. 

The Gaelic Society of Dublin, established for the 18O8. 
investigation and revival of ancient Irish literature, 
published a volume which contains, amongst other 
matter, a story from the Irish, which is said to be 
" the foundation of Mr. James MacPherson's Dar- 
thula." It is the story of " Deirdri? and the sons of 
" Usnach," partly taken from Keating. In this oc- 
curs the following passage : — 

" It happened then on a snowy day that her tutor killed a 
calf to prepare food for her ; and on his spilling the calf s blood in 
the snow, a raven came to drink of it ; and as Deirdri noticed this, 
she said to Lavarcam (her nurse chatter-awry), that she would be 
glad herself to have a husband possessed of the three colours which 
she saw ; that is, his hair of the colour of the raven, his cheek of 
the colour of the calf 8 blood, and his skin of the colour of the 
snow. ' There is such a man, named Naisi, son of Usnach, of 
Conor's household/ said Lavarcam." (See vol. iii., 200.) 

This incident seems to belong to the whole Celtic 
race. The story is followed by a version of the poem, 
with a translation, mixed with a prose story, which, as 
is usual in Gaelic recitations, helps out the poem. 
Most of the places named in the poem are in Argyle- 
shire : Vale of Masan, Vale of Urchay, Vale of Eiti, 
Glenn dà Kuadh, translated " vale of the two roes;" 
vol. rv. 1 


Innis in Droighin, translated, "dear is Drayno," etc. 
The scene of the prose story is generally in Ireland, but 
nearly all the poetry relates to Scotland. The editor 
says that the tragic tale has been written since the 
sixth century, and if so, it is no wonder that it should 
be known both in Ireland and in Scotland in various 
shapes. This Irish version makes the children of 
Usnoth cousins of Cuchullin; MacPherson made them 
his nephews. The Irish story make them Ultonian 
nobles, " reared with Aifi in the military school of 
Skye," "where Cuchullin was also educated." The 
volume also includes an historic tale of the sons of 
Usnoth ; a song to the blackbird ; a hymn of Colum- 
cille ; and a version of the ballad of Talc, the son o^ 
Trone, which is like " Fainesolis." The editor says, 
with reference to Irish Fenian poems and stories 
(page 211): — 

" With every one of these, and all other stories in the Irish 
language, Mr. MacPherson appears to have been perfectly con- 
versant ; nor has he omitted one of their beautiful expressions 
or interesting episodes. In the execution of his scheme, how- 
ever, he has been totally regardless of epochs, and with fastidious 
insolence he rejects the very sources of his reputation." 

This is surely strong testimony in favour of the 
general authenticity of MacPherson's publication, from 
so keen an adversary and so good a scholar as the edi- 
tor of this volume. 

The Gaelic of 1807 he condemns ; he points out 
the Irish metre, of which he says it is a bad imitation ; 
and asserts that " Mr. MacFarlan" was a very incorrect 
Gaelic pretender, who did not know the original Irish, 


which MacPherson knew well, and so erred " in "base 
modern corrupt Erse." 

One Irish line mentioned, means — 

" My heart leaping as a blackbird." 

MacPherson gave it " pathetic expression," thus — 

" The heart of the aged beats over thee." 

Temora has it, as — 

" Tha cridhe na h' aoise fo spairn." 
The heart of age is under woe. 

And this is said to be what " Mr. Macfarlan aped to 
translate in his corrupt irregular dialect." 

To me it seems that this publication tells very 
strongly for the general authenticity of MacPherson's 
Ossian. If it be true that he lived for some years in 
the county of Limerick, with a cousin who kept a 
school there ; and if he told the Bishop of Limerick 
that " Fingal was an original, but that the characters 
were Irish ;" it surely is not advancing Gaelic litera- 
ture to abuse the man who rescued it from obscurity. 

Turners collection contains, amongst a number of isis. 
songs, the " Lay of the Great Fool," of which a tradi- 
tional version is given at page 154, voL iii The last 
is much longer. 

A version was printed in Glasgow in 1800, in a 
collection without a name, 12mo, 12 pages, price two- 
pence. I have not seen it, but it is mentioned by 
" Keid." 

In the 6th volume of the Transactions of the 



Ossianic Society of Dublin for 1858, published No- 
vember 1861, there is a version of the same poem, 
158 quatrains. On applying to Mr. O'Daly, the 
secretary to the society, I learn that this is taken from 
a manuscript made in Kilrush, county Clare, by a 
blacksmith named Martin Griffin, in 1844 ; that the 
poem is very popular in Ireland, and that there are 
older versons in the library of the Eoyal Irish Aca- 
demy, as the secretary remembers to have seen a copy 
there made in 1737. Mr. O'Daly thinks that it 
must be a Leinster composition, because of the loca- 
lities named ; I cannot see the force of this argument, 
for it would make " Hamlet" a Danish composition, 
and " Macbeth" a Scotch one. I can only say that it 
proves the poem to be old, Gaelic, and genuine, to find 
it current from Stornoway, Gairloch, and Glasgow, to 
Kilrush and Dublin, amongst paupers, cottars, and 
blacksmiths, in Scotland and Ireland ; and it seems 
to make the Scotch and Irish quarrel about old ballads 
which belong to both sufficiently absurd. 

The Irish version, Turner's, and mine, all vary from 
each other ; but they were evidently the same compo- 
sition at ^some period ; I have much which the long 
Irish version has not ; and it has a great deal which is 
not in my version or in Turner's. There is an episode 
and a sequel, and it looks more like a fragment of a 
popular romance made up from ballads. 

MacCallum published a collection made through 
ministers and others, all of whom gave their names, 
which are published. If the people were apt to learn, 
MacCallum would surely now have found them repeat- 


ing the poems of 1807 ; but the people are only sturdy 
to retain what they have learned from their fathers, or 
what suits their every day life ; and MacCallum again 
found and published versions of old poems which had 
been printed in 1804 and 1786, which are in MSS. of 
1530, and are still recited in 1860, chiefly in the 
Islands, poems which are not those of MacPherson or 
Dr. Smith, but which can be traced in their Gaelic 
publications, and form their groundwork 

It is proved, then, that before 1760, when Mac- 
Pherson made his tour, there were plenty of manuscript 
and traditional poems current in the Highlands, and that 
he collected and used them; Mrs. Gallie, Lord Lynedoch, 
Dr. Fergusson, and others saw him engaged upon these 
materials, and he had no respect for his authorities, new 
or old. When he died, none of these materials were 
forthcoming ; but those who know anything of Gaelic, 
know what some of them must have been. The Irish 
writer, to whom I have referred above, quotes an essay by 
O'Beilly, in which the " Irish poems" are named, from 
which " MacPherson stole his materials for Ossian." 

" Carthon " is founded on the Lay of '• Conlaoch ; " his Fingal 
is partly taken from "the Lay of Magnus the Great ;'' his 
Episode of " Borbar and Fainasollis," in the third hook of his 
Fingal, is taken from " Moira Borb." (Why not " Talc Mac- 
Trone f ") 

«• The fourth book of Fingal " is founded on the " War ode of 
Goll." The combat between " Osgar and Iollan " seems to be 
a bad imitation of " Moira Borb." " The death of the children 
of Usnagh " is the poem on which he framed his " Darthula." 

The original of " the Battle of Lara " is not given by the 
Gaelic Society in their printed Gaelic originals ; but a poem in 


Gillies's collection of Gaelic poems, printed at Perth in 1786, called 
" Erragon," is the poem on which the Battle of Lara is founded. 
(224.) «• The death of Osgar," in " the first hook of Temora," 
is grounded on " the Battle of Gaura," and many passages of it 
are indeed literally translated. But great liberties, as usual, have 
been taken with " the original ; " and the writer again refers to 
" p. 313 of the Perth edition." 

But this " Perth edition " is Gillies', published in 
1786, before Miss Brookes' work, and purports to be a 
collection, not of Irish poems, but of poems collected by- 
gentlemen in the Highlands of Scotland; one of whom, 
Sir James FouHs of Colinton, Bart., procured and care- 
fully revised many of them ; so Gillies lands us in the 
Highlands of Scotland once more, and it is rather cool 
to quote him as an Irish authority, and ignore the collec- 
tions of the Highland Society altogether. The book is 
now very rare; there is a copy in the Advocates' Library, 
but none in the British Museum. I have seen but two 
other imperfect copies, and never heard of it till 1861. 
When I read it first, I thought that my peasant re- 
citers must have learned from the book, for it seemed 
to contain the very ballads which had come to me ; 
but on looking closer at it, I was satisfied that tradi- 
tion had borrowed nothing from this rare book, for 
there are endless variations. My collectors I can trust, 
and they are satisfied that Gillies' was taken from tra- 
dition, and that the book is unknown to the men who 
recited poems which they wrote. On procuring a very 
dirty, torn, thumbed copy from Glasgow, with many 
names scribbled over it, and a perfume of fragrant 
peat emanating from every page, I set myself to con- 


sider whether dirt might not be an index to the modern 
reader's taste ; and by sight and smell it soon appeared 
that the heroic age had pasaed from the Firth of Clyde, 
where I had found none of the old poems. Most of 
the names and occupations of the former owners savour 
of ships and Argyleshire lochs, of a life of industry, 
trade, and commerce, salt herrings, revenue laws, 
peace and plenty. The poetry which had delighted 
such men was not "The death of Osgar," which is 
still commonly sung in Uist and Barra, and used to 
be sung about Lochawe ; and was sung in Lome about 
the time that John Gorm was roasted, and which is the 
ground- work of Temora ; that is nearly clean. Mor- 
dubh, the big black sentimental warrior, is nearly 
white, and so are most of the heroic pieces which treat 
of wars of the Lochlaners and the Feine ; those which 
are old, and speak of a past age, and are claimed for 
Ireland. But " Braigh Loch Iall," a love song with 
a capital chorus, is nearly worn out ; so is " The praise 
of a young man to his sweetheart ; " and most of the love 
songs are in bad case ; so is a lamentable ditty about 
an old deer hunter of " Adhoil," who used a gun ; and 
one about a gentleman who was drowned. " Iseabail 
nic Aoidh," Isobel Mackay, milking the kye all alone, 
whom I have known all my life, is as black as the 
Hottentot Venus, and fairly torn to shreds by her nu- 
merous admirers. In short, it seemed that those who 
had read the book did not cultivate the class of poetry 
which prevails amongst the poorest class who -cannot 
read at all, who recite these poems, and trace them to 
their ancestors, and believe in them. It seems that 


the thoughts of men of work and action, and some 
education, are of the present rather than the past ; and 
that the heroic age is rapidly fading from the minds of 
people who rub shoulders with the rest of the world. 

The copy in the Advocates' Library looks as if it 
never had been read at all The copy of Ossian, pre- 
sented to the parish of Dunoon, is almost perfectly 
clean ; I firmly believe that it never had been read 
till it was put into the hands of an old shoemaker 
friend of mine to extract his opinion of the work. 

How strange it is that poetry, which certainly is 
the germ of that Ossian which is still admired in 
palaces, should still be the fireside pastime of men 
described as savages, burrowing in middens, and fur- 
nishing good specimens of the " ape idiot ; n while a 
" thriving peasantry" gets decorously drunk in its fine 
new house, anjl has no taste for pastimes which the 
palace and the hovel share, and utilitarians despise. 

It seemed then that I might safely take Gillies as 
a standard to which to refer anything I might pick up 
from the people, or find in other books, and it seems 
evident that there are several different epochs of wholly 
distinct poetry there represented. 

1st, Poems which might be divided into stanzas of 
four lines each, and which are so divided generally; which 
in spirit, in incident, in names, in rhythm, and in every 
respect resemble one another, and often refer to each 
other ; many which are still recited and sung by the 
people, in the remoter districts of the Highlands. 

These are always attributed to Oisein by the 
people now ; and Oisein generally appears as an actor 


in the incidents described. They relate to the wars of 
Lochlann and Eirinn. They are simple; they are 
like stories versified; there is no mention of Morven ; 
Fingal is not once named ; but Fionn, and the rest of 
his family and friends, are the heroes of nearly all these 
poems, and they invariably bear the characters now 
attributed to them by the people in the prose tales and 
traditions of Scotland and Ireland, so far as I know 

These I believe to be popular ballads, many at 
least as old as 1530, probably very much older, and to 
be specimens of the poetry on which the Gaelic poems 
of Ossian were founded. 

Fionn and Manus of Norway fight a battle in 
one of these ; and it is worth considering whether 
the events can be reconciled with Norse history, and 
whether the real composer's date cannot thus be ascer- 

2d, There are comparatively modern poems by 
known authors, which differ from the first in every 

They are on different subjects, in different metre, 
and the ideas which they contain are those of a wholly 
different class of men ; they are essentially modern, 
though some are as early as Charles the Second. 

They are to the first class of songs what " The last 
Eose of Summer " is to " Sir Lancelot," modern poetry 
to an old ballad. 

3d, There are two specimens of compositions which 
resemble in some degree the Ossian best known to the 


These are to the ballads what Thomson's " Seasons " 
are to "Chevy Chase;" they seem to me, when I 
read them, to want the stamp of antiquity, to be 
more polished, to be poetry of a different class and 

They are like the popular ballads in incident, and 
in rhythm, but they have a dash of sentimentalism 
about them which seems foreign to popular taste. 
They are more refined and less quaint. It is hard to 
define an almost instinctive feeling, but the poet seems 
to have thought in English. 

These I take to be more modern, but still old ; 
specimens of poems such as MacPherson might have 
found ready made to his hand, by some previous 
educated collector, infected with the vice of mending 
what he found. One of these is the " Mordubh," above 

Now, the average length of these pieces, which I 
believe to be genuine old poetry, all of which were 
printed twenty years before the Gaelic of Ossian, is 
from 100 to 200 lines; and there is nothing unreason- 
able in supposing that such compositions have been 
handed down from generation to generation, learned 
by sons from fathers, gradually altered, and so pre- 
served. Gray's Elegy has 128 lines, and I suppose 
there are thousands in England who can repeat it. 
" John Gilpin," " My name is Norval," and scores of 
other pieces might be taken down from dictation amongst 
certain classes of the community, who might be puzzled 
to say who composed them, or when; and if all books 
in England were now to be destroyed, a diligent col- 


lector might still recover whole volumes of prose and 
poetry in England. I know English students who 
think they could repeat about a thousand lines of various 
compositions ; I have heard of one who repeated a 
book of the Georgics under the influence of champaigns 
and I know scraps of scores of songs myself 

It is surely not too much to assume that a pea- 
santry who have few books, and who live apart from 
the world, a people who have been famous from the 
dawn of history for rhymes, should have preserved a 
few remnants of very ancient poetry to this day. 

Popular Ballads. 

It may be well here to attempt a definition of the 
word "ballad." I understand it to mean a bit of popular 
history, or a popular tale, or romance, turned into verse, 
which will fit some popular air. It is not something 
definite, like a printed song by a known author, but 
something which is continually undergoing change. 

Chevy Chase is a familiar example of popular 
history versified. There are sixty-eight stanzas (gener- 
ally of four lines) in the version in Percy's Beliques, 
the story is simply told, and the whole is exceedingly 
dramatic ; there is not a bit of sentiment or natural 
history in it, but there is something which has made it 
popular for centuries. Many versions of the ballad 
exist, and the original composer is unknown. The 
battle of Otterbourne is another example, it has seventy 
stanzas of four lines, it is like the other, and it has a 


foundation in fact, so that it cannot be older than a 
certain date. 

An instance of a popular tale versified is " The 
Frolicksome Duke, or the Tinker's Good Fortune," 
(Percy's Eeliques, vol i., 255). The story is the same 
as that of " The Sleeper awakened," told in the Arabian 
Nights, but the whole machinery of the English ballad 
is English, not Arabic. 

A similar instance is "The Heir of Iinne," the 
groundwork of which is in an Eastern tale, though the 
ballad is Scotch. 

Another is " The King and the Miller of Mansfield." 
The story of that ballad is very widely spread. Sir 
Walter Scott tells it as Scotch history in the " Tales of 
a Grandfather." I have something very like it in 
Gaelic. The adventure savours of Haroun of Easchid 
wandering in disguise, and Percy gives a whole list of 
similar songs and stories, in which some king converses 
with a poor man, is entertained by him, and afterwards 
discovers his rank, and rewards his entertainer. The 
style of this English ballad is humorous, rough, and 
popular ; its length, forty stanzas, is not such as to make 
it difficult to remember, and the rhythm is that of a 
jolly tune. The story and the ballad might suit the 
subjects of a whole dynasty by altering a few words, 
and a few changes would make them suit any place 
where there are kings and countrymen. 

Thus even popular history has a vague date, but 
the popular tale has none. 

An instance of a popular romance in the form of 
a ballad is " Sir Lancelot," and another gives the story 


of "Morte Arthur." Another old ballad contains the 
whole story of King Lear and his daughters, and there 
are many such. A good example of the changes which 
ballads undergo is to be found in the versions of one 
which is still current in Scotch drawing-rooms. 

In the minstrelsy of the Scottish Border is a ballad 
whose chorus is — 

" Binnorie, o Binnorie, 

By the bonny mill dams o' Binnorie." 

The story told in dialogue is that of two sisters, the 
eldest of whom, in a fit of jealousy, pushes the youngest 
into a river, where she is drowned. All versions agree 
so far, and their metre has a general resemblance, but 
the details, the language, the tune, and the metre, vary 
according to the district where the ballad is found. A 
version is given in u The scouring of the White Horse," 
and is essentially English; there are many border 
versions, and a Tweedside antiquary might fairly claim 
the ballad, but another old version has the chorus of — 

" Edinburgh, Edinburgh, 
Stirling for aye, 
Bonny St Johnstone stands upon Tay." 

Another version which I have has this chorus — 
" Oh ochone, ochone a rie, 
On the banks of the Banna, ochone a rie." 

Of which one line is Gaelic. Another has — 

" Bo down, bo down, 
And I'll be true unto my love, 
If he'll be true unto me." 


Miss Brookes transcribed a version which S. C. 
Walker, historian of the Irish hards, sent to Sir Walter 
Scott ; the chorus is — 

" Hey ho my Nanny o, 
While the swan swims bonny o." 

And the lady got it from an old woman who sang it 
from memory. Drawing-room versions now current 
are generally traced to some old nurse, who sang them to 
the young ladies, and these vary more than some Gaelic 
ballads which are separated from each other by centu- 
ries, and about which Scotch and Irish Gael quarrel 

Some verses are highly poetical, and savour of an- 
tiquity, others of modern times; some are almost 

u He courted the eldest wi* brooch and wi' knife, 
But he loved the youngest as his life," 

is pretty, but another is quaint— 

" I did not put you in with the design, 
Just for to pull you out again." 

One verse is picturesque, and another is almost 

" They could na see her yellow hair, 
For the pearls and jewels that were there." 


Then up and spake her ghaist sae green, 
Do ye no ken the king's daughter Jean V 


In another version it was no ghost, but the lady 
herself who spoke. 

" Oh, miller, I'll give you guineas ten, 
If you'll send me back to my father again." 

" The miller he took her guineas ten, 
And then he popped her in again." 

In one version, a harper made a harp of the 
drowned lady's " breast bane," and yellow hair ; and 
it played magic tunes ; another tells us that 

" The sister she sailed over the sea, 
And died an old maid of a hundred and three. 

The lover became a beggar man, 
And he drank out of a rusty tin can." 

A ballad then bears the stamp of originality, and 
the traces of many minds ; it may be of generations of 
singers of all classes of society, and of many districts ; 
it may even be found in several different dialects, or 
even languages, and yet be the same ballad nevertheless. 
To strike out any bit of a genuine ballad is to muti- 
late it ; to add anything to it is to disfigure it ; but it 
is quite legitimate to fuse as many versions as can be 
got, so as to complete the story, and to select the best 
of several lines, if the fact be stated. The hanging of 
the miller, for instance, is a new incident, and should 
be added ; and so should the verse — 

" The miller's daughter was at the door, 
As sweet as any gilly flower." 


To sift out all the pretty bits of these ballads, strike 
out all that is quaint, compose a lot of similar poetry, 
and then attribute the whole to Thomas the Bhymour, 
would not be fair treatment of popular ballads ; and 
yet something of the kind was done even by Percy in 
his Ealiques, for he added verses of his own. 

An event or incident must first be remembered as 
a tradition; therefore a popular tale is the oldest form. 
A popular ballad which can easily be sung, and remem- 
bered, is the next growth ; and a romance or play, 
such as " Morte Arthur," " King Lear," " Fingal," or 
the " Idyls of the King," is the next and last. 

Besides these old world ballads there are several 
other classes ; sentimental songs which have no story ; 
political ballads which are forgotten almost as soon as 
made ; and ballads which never take hold of the popu- 
lar mind, because their interest is local or temporary. 
Of these there is a crop every year, which springs up, 
and dies, like the undergrowth of flowers and grass, 
which springs up and decays under the branches of an 
old forest or a young plantation, and is mingled with 
its withered leaves. 

Current Gaelic Traditions — Ossian and Ballads. 

In 1859, 1860, and 1861, 1 collected Gaelic stories 
and latterly such ballads as came in my way. Mr. 
Hector MacLean searched the Islands of Islay, North 
and South Uist, Benbecula, Barra, Minglay, Mull, and 
other places, for stories. Mr. Torrie, a native of Ben- 


becula, tried some of the outer Hebrides and Skye. 
Mr. Carmichael visited Lismore, his native island, 
walked through part of Sutherland, and the main land 
of Lome, and searched the districts where he was 
stationed in Harris, Skye and Islay. John Dewar and 
MacNair sent me what they had been able to learn about 
the traditions of CowaL Hector Urquhart what he 
had collected about Inverary. Mr. Osgood Mac- 
kenzie searched the neighbourhood of Gairloch, in. 
Koss-shire. Mr. Fraser of Mauld sent contributions 
from the eastern Highlands about Beauly. Mr. Hugh 
MacLean tried the district about West Loch, Tarbert ; 
Mr. Pattieson and Mr. Taylor tried Islay, Glasgow, and 
Paisley ; Mr. MacLauchlan sent something from Edin- 
burgh, and I myself visited nearly all these places, and 
corresponded with a great number of friends in these 
and other parts of the Highlands, who corresponded with 
their Mends. In short, though the search is incomplete, 
and I have often gleaned more than my collectors had 
reaped, it was sufficiently extensive to make certain 
of finding any widely spread class of poetry now 
current, and latterly we looked for it. In only one 
case have I been able to find any part of the poetry of 
1807 in its present form known to reciters, nor have I 
been able to discover that any of the poems printed by 
Dr. Smith are ever recited in their published form. 
We have occasionally found copies of " Ossian," and 
Dr. Smith's work ; but no one seemed to have read 
them. The Ossian presented to the parish of Dunoon 
and all the copies which I have seen or heard of are 
in good condition. I have a tattered " Seann Dana,** 



but it is not thumbed. I may fairly say that the 
Gaelic Ossian of 1807, and Seann Dana of 1787, are 
almost unknown to the class who recite Gaelic poems 
which they attribute to Oisein. 

It is argued that the day for collecting Ossian is 
gone ; and it is true, but something still remains 
amongst those who can neither read nor write, nor 
speak English, as I shall endeavour to prove. 

In 1786, that is, twenty- six years after MacPher- 
son's first publication, and twenty-one years before the 
Gaelic Ossian was printed, and about the time that 
Dr. Smith's Seann Dana appeared, the publication of 
John Gillies appeared also. It is a very rare book ; it 
has made no stir in the world, and it never was dis- 
tributed gratis ; it is hardly noticed by the Highland 
Society in their report ; and MacPherson only refers 
to it in a note. There is every reason to suppose that 
" Ossian " and " Seann Dana " ought to be known, and 
"Gillies' poems" unknown to the people; but the 
reverse is true. Many of the poems collected in 1860 
are versions of those collected about eighty years before 
by Gillies. 

On looking through the books and manuscripts 
referred to above, I found the very same poems pre- 
served in collections made in the Highlands long ago, 
together with other similar poems ; but the " Seann 
Dana" and the " Gaelic Ossian" are nowhere to be found 
in any of these collections made from the people. 

In 1530 Dean MacGregor's collection was written, 
and it contains versions of poems which are now 


current; and one of these is the Lay of Diarmaid; 
so I take it as an example. When my version was 
printed, I asked and obtained permission to compare 
it with that of 1530 ; and I subsequently obtained 
another version, written at Gairloch for Sir Kenneth 
Mackenzie in 1850, from the dictation of John 
MacPherson, then eighty-eight years old. I am in- 
debted to Mr. Nicholson for this. Other versions 
were written by Kennedy in 1774 or 1783, and 
printed by Gillies in 1786, and by MacCallum 
1816; and I believe that there are many other ver- 
sions. All which I have read vary from each other 
in length, in language, in arrangement of verses, and 
of lines. Kennedy's traditional version has 86 qua- 
trains, but some of them are repeated several times; 
mine has 125 lines, 33 verses incomplete; the Gair- 
loch version has 21 verses, and of these 19 correspond 
with mine, though not exactly. Two verses I had not 
got, they are as follows : — 

" Bu mhath mise dhuit Fhinn, 
'S bu math mi dhuit gu beachd ; 
Bu mhath mi latha na tath bhrindhne, 
'S bha mi 'n ceardach Lon mhic Iibhionn. 

" Tri righrean thanaig o'n tuinn, 
Mo lamhsa dh' fhag iad gun chinn ; 
'S a dh' fhuasgail thusa le fuil, 
C uime an treigeadh tu mi dh aonfhear?" 

" Good was I to thee, Fionn, 
Surely to thee was I good ; 


I was good on the day of the ford dwelling, 
And I was in Lon Maclibhion's smithy. 

4< Three kings came from the waves, 
My hand it was left them headless ; 
And it was I loosed thee with blood, 
Why shouldst thou leave me of all men ? " 

On looking through Kennedy's version I find 
something like these in it, and they join in with three 
other Fenian traditions. For the Ford dwelling, see 
page 169, vol. ii ; for the blood which loosed Fionn, 
p. 179 ; and for old manuscript authority for a similar 
story, p. 187 of the same volume ; for the Smithy 
story, see Nos. lxviii. and lxxxv. in vol. iii. Neither 
of these verses are in the version of 1530, and I 
have several others which are not there. The varia- 
tions in all these are remarkable, the lines vary more 
in sense than in sound, and the main story hardly 
varies at all ; it seems as if successive reciters or scribes 
had caught up the story, and the assonance and rhythm, 
and substituted words, and transposed lines and stanzas 
from time to time ; for example — " Kighrean," kings 
in the Gairloch poem, is " nigheanan," girls or daugh- 
ters in the story — reeran and njeenan being the sounds. 
"Coisinn, naire," earn, shame, is "toir taire," give 
disgrace, in which the sounds oi and ai are preserved, 
and the general idea is given, though the words are 

" An sgiath urla," the expert shield, becomes 
" sgiath shuthairle," the shield of Sutharle ; the 
sounds are — sgeea oorla, sgeea hooarle; "o'n taigh," 


from home, becomes "a' t' aghaidh," against thee ; 
on-tai, at-ai-e, and so on in many instances. 

The verses also are differently arranged. In the 
Gairloch version and in mine, 1 and 2 agree, but 3 in 
the one is 10 in the other ; 5 is 3 ; 4 and 6 are trans- 
posed ; 16 is 30 ; 18 is 21, and so on. In short, this 
comparison of a number of versions of the same ballad, 
written down at various periods between 1530 and 
1860, in different districts, is a very interesting study 
for a philologist, and for any one who takes an interest 
in traditional lore. 

In the first place, there is a measure of popular 
memory ; and it appears that tradition will not pre- 
serve a poem entire for 330 years, so it could not 
have so preserved much longer poems for 1600. 

It appears also that the language spoken in the 
Highlands has changed, though far less than English 
during that time ; but the change is sufficient to prove 
that Gaelic of the nineteenth century cannot be the 
language of a poet who lived in the third. 

It is also plain that the orthography of the poems of 
1807, which is that of the Highland Society's dictionary 
and the modern Bible, is not the orthography of the 
scribes who wrote Gaelic at earlier periods ; and, con- 
sequently, "the poems of Ossian" are not a standard for 
language or spelling. 

Again, the rhythm and assonance of this traditional 
poem are such, that when I, on my own judgment, had 
separated lines written consecutively, into quatrains, I 
found, on inquiry, that previous collectors had done 
the same with similar passages ; and our divisions cor- 


respond, and fit the music to which the pieces are still 
song. Much of the Gaelic of Ossian and Seann Dana 
can be so divided, but a great deal of it will not break 
up into musical quatrains ; and from this I would 
argue that it is not now in its original shape. 

Now, a poem of Diarmaid was published by Dr. 
Smith in 1787, and the Doctor had then in his posses- 
sion the version collected by Kennedy, but though the 
stories agree, the published poem and Kennedy's manu- 
script differ entirely. 

Dr. Smith says of himself (Smith's Gaelic Anti- 
quities, p. 128. 1780. Edinburgh)— 

" When the materials were collected, his next labour was to 
compare the different editions; to strike off several parts that 
were manifestly spurious; to bring together some episodes," etc., 

and he tells us, that he pieced in lines and half lines, 
and sometimes threw in a few lines and sentences of 
his own. The result is, that there is no trace of 
Smith's Diarmaid to be found as an entire composition 
either in old MSS. or modern tradition; the poetry 
will not easily break up into quatrains, and but for 
occasional passages which can be recognised elsewhere, 
Smith's Diarmaid might almost rank with Ossian itself 
But that was formerly considered to be the proper treat- 
ment of an original work of the third century, and the 
work so treated was translated and published, and the 
whole process was openly described by the able scholar 
who did it. 

I have taken this poem as an illustration, because 
it has nothing to do with MacPherson's Ossian, and its 


history seems to indicate how the Gaelic of Ossian was 
put together, and from what materials it was made. 

The value of the materials will best appear by % 
comparing the versions of 1530 and 1860 with inter- 
veiling versions. There are forty-two lines in the first 
which are clearly the same as lines in the last, and 
about twelve more which can be recognised ; but no 
two lines are exactly the same, and those which re- 
semble each other are scattered broadcast throughout 
the compositions ; but the stories are almost the 

The old version was attributed to an unknown 
Allan MacEoyre ; tradition now attributes the Lay of 
Diarmaid to Oisein, and Irish scholars assure us 
that the main incidents are historically true, as this 
is but a part of the story of Diarmaid and Grainne, 
who lived about the third century. Few ballads 
have a better pedigree, or have met with worse 
treatment than this Lay of Diarmaid. 1530, Dean 
MacGregor, 104 lines — Kennedy, 1774, 344 — Smith, 
1787, 193 — MacCallum, 1816, 161— MacPherson, 
1850, 84— MacLean, 1860 (104). I have other ver- 
sions, got from Mr. Torrie, etc., since the sheet was 
printed, and plenty more may yet be got, as the ballad 
is common enough in the Hebrides, and the story is 
known everywhere, and often contains lines of the 

This then is a Gaelic " ballad" a story made into 
verse, and sung by the people time out of mind. It 
was easy to build up a new structure with such excel- 
lent materials, and so give a tolerable idea of the poetry 


of the country, partly true and partly false, and I have 
no doubt that the poems of Ossian were so made. 

Take one instance. What is true of Smith's " Diar- 
maid" is true of " Temora." I know no instance in 
which that poem can be repeated by any one, and no 
peasant of my acquaintance knows it. I got MacNair, 
a shoemaker, to read the Gaelic Ossian, and he said 
plainly and decidedly, "This is not the old stuff." 
"Cha* n' e so an seann stugh." Hector MacLean 
entirely agrees, having read the book with the view of 
forming an opinion, and though many persons talk 
freely of Ossian, and give very decided opinions thereon, 
very few, indeed, have read the Gaelic. Now, if Mac- 
Pherson's English Temora be compared with No. lxxxi., 
it will be found that the story of the first book and 
of the traditional poem is very simple, and that both 
agree generally. Moreover, stanzas 13, 14, 24, 15, 16, 
39, 40, 46, 48, 55, 56, 62, 57, 58, of the Gaelic, re- 
peated in 1860, are represented by passages which 
follow each other in this order, about the middle of the 
first book ; but the magic opening of the ballad, the 
talking raven, and the soothsaying, all which savours of 
a past age, is replaced in the epic by a vague but 
beautiful and masterly word-picture of a landscape, 
through which stalk the half-described indistinct figures 
of gloomy warriors whose dress and arms are barely 
sketched, but whose peculiarities agree with the tra- 
ditional accounts of them so far as they go. Thus, 
Cairbre has a spear, and his eye is red, if his hair is 
not. In the epic, the opening scene is shifted to 
Cairbre's camp, and then back to FingaTs side, and the 


whole is pervaded by a general resemblance to the 
opening of Fingal, but the first book ends with some- 
thing which I have not yet been able to trace else- 
where. The ballad, on the contrary, begins with Osgar, 
follows him to the house of Cairbre, and through his 
quarrel, and back to his own camp, and through the 
fight till he dies, and then it accompanies his friends in 
their lament, and procession, to his burial. The whole 
ends with a natural account of the grief of Fionn, by 
Fionn's son, the poet Oisein, who is supposed to be 
narrating the end of his own darling son, Osgar. The 
ballad is simple and natural ; the epic is laboured and 
artificial, and it is no " translation," according to my 
definition of the word, but it is like something elabo- 
rated and built up out of the materials of one or more 
ballads. A few well-known Gaelic lines are scattered 
about in an English dress, such as "the sword was at 
his side that gave no second wound," and a man who 
read Temora for the first time, and held loose views of 
translation, and knew the traditional Gaelic ballads, 
might well say that the one was a translation of the 
other, but very inaccurate, and inferior to the original. 

MacPherson knew of this ballad, and in his edition 
of 1790 quotes two stanzas of it, which were taken, 
as he says, from an Irish poem on the battle of Gabhra. 
These stanzas were printed by Gillies, and were found 
in Scotland at least fourteen years before, in 1786. 

Versions of this ballad are very commonly repeated 
in the islands now, and No. lxxxi. might be considerably 
extended by further search in Tslay, Barra, Uist, etc. I 
know that it was formerly recited about Loch Awe, and 


there is a man there still, who is said to know many such. 
In 1 81 6, MacCallum got it from a Mr. Donald Maclnnes, 
and published it, page 154 of his book. Gillies gives 
two versions in 1 786, at page 1 67 and 313. Kennedy- 
gives it in his collection of 1783, and got it in Argyle- 
shire. MacPherson made it the groundwork of Temora, 
and of his first publication in 1 7 60, and Dean MacGregor 
gives it in 1 530. On the other side of the water, a simi- 
lar poem was published in 1853 by the Dublin Ossianic 
Society, and in the twelfth century a short ballad, attri- 
buted to Oisin, was written down in Ireland, and the 
best Irish scholars believe that the leading events re- 
corded in the ballad, and found in Temora, the battle 
and the deaths of Oscar and Cairbre, are historically 
true, and happened a.d. 284, in Ireland, where the scene 
is laid in every one of the compositions named above. 

This seems a respectable pedigree for a tradition, 
worked into an epic poem at least a hundred years ago, 
and one that excites regret for the neglected state of 
Gaelic literature of all kinds. 

What has been said of "Diarmaid " is true of" Laoidh 
Oscair." No two versions are identical ; the language 
and orthography vary with the age, and the scribe ; 
rhythm and assonance are preserved, stanzas are broken, 
parts found in one version are not to be found in 
another ; and there is ample room for honestly mending, 
with its own fragments, that which has gone to decay, 
without playing such tricks as Temora. There is not 
one line of the Gaelic of the traditional ballad in the 
Gaelic of 1807, and the first Gaelic book of Temora, 
as then published, has still to be accounted for. 


It seems by no means a difficult task to make 
another sham epic out of genuine Gaelic materials. I 
have enough to make a goodly frame work, and here is 
a specimen of the kind of " translation," which might 
be founded on, several measured prose passages, which 
are to be found in these volumes, and elsewhere. It is 
the sort of translation which some of my critics seem 
to have expected, instead of the " bald literal transla- 
tion " which I prefer. 

A few specimen 8 of former work will shew, that if I have 
fallen into Charybdis, it was in avoiding Scylla. 

Page 190. Smith's Gaelic Antiquities. 

" Graina, dost thou not remember the moans of the crane, as 
we wandered early on the hill of our love ?" 

With pity, thou didst ask the aged son of the rock, why so 
sad was the voice of the crane ? " Too long," he replied, " he 
hath stood in the fen ; and the ice hath bonnd his lazy foot." 

A similar passage will be found at pages 42 and 47, vol. iii., 
and from the Gaelic quoted by Smith. His original seems to have 
been almost the same as mine. His Gaelic lines mean — 

Early the Heron cries 

On the meadow that is in Love's hill (sliabh gaoil). 

The same author translates — 

" As it were a bulrush on a slender reed of Lego. He grinds 
the hard tough spear of Dermid." 

A similar traditional passage is given in vol. iii., 43 and 48. 
Smith's Gaelic is given by him at page 193 : — 

Chagnadh e a shleaghan readh ruadh' 
Mar chuilc na Leige no mar luachar. 

And it means, — 

He would crunch his tough brown darts 
As reeds of Leige or as rushes. 


Another passage is given by the same author at page 198, and 
whenever the Gaelic is placed beside the English, the spirit of 
the original poetry gives way to a prose imitation of MacPher- 
son'8 peculiar English. Though the Gaelic is in a metre which 
clearly indicates a division into quatrains, of which each line is a 
separate portion of a sentence, and makes sense alone, the 
English is all heaped together. The result is, fine English and 
something new. 

I have striven to express, in the plainest words, the plain 
meaning of the old Gaelic as I got it. If my predecessors had 
been less free in their translations, and their critics less hard, I 
might have steered a middle course. As it was, my chief aim 
was to give a true rendering, without caring for my own " style" 
or that of " Ossian." — False Translation op Genuine 
bl. ii 439. They hoisted the lumbering yards, and the three great flap- 
pering sails, against the tall tough stringy bending masts, and the 
cordage rattled through the blocks. 

There was a gentle little breeze, such as sailors like at sea, a 
sighing, singing, whistling, rushing wind, that threshed up the 
heather on the hill sides, stripped off the rustling leaves from the 
willow trees, and tossed the thatch of the houses on the ridges 
and furrows of the fields. The sides of the vessel creaked again 
as tbev set the sails. 

Then the ship went slipping swiftly along through the sheltered 
sound, while the rippling little blue wavelets came lipping gently 
against her bow, till she rounded the point with a whirr, and 
went into the surging broken water outside with a plunge. 

Then the lumbering great ocean swell came thundering up 
against the dark rocks, and struck the ship's side with a heavy 
thud, as she bounded along. Their music then was made by 
splashing whales, and screeching sea-gulls, and silvery little fishes 
leaping through the waves before them. 

She could almost catch the swift March wind before her, but 


the swift March wind that followed behind could not catch her ; Vol. i. 4. 
and so they sailed on, tearing ocean, till a little island rose before 
them, and then they reached tbe port where they wished to be, 
and the rattling chains rushed over the side, and the rusty anchor 
made her fast ; and they were still and quiet in the calm bay. 

Then one hundred and ten heavily-armed, brave, active, valiant VoL ii. 443. 
men landed, and then they advanced, with their booming, hinder- 
ing, lumbering shields, on their left arms, and their sharp-pointed 459. 
tall deadly spears, in their right hands ; and the fighting began MSS- 
with the sharp singing sound of the swift flying spears through 
the air. But soon the close combat was joined, and the hard cruel 
blades were drawn out from their leathern sheaths, and whistled 
and clashed ; and the creaking of armour was heard, and the 
crash of the battle ; and the bright shiny clean sweeping swords 
hacked hard at the armour, and men met and struggled, and close 
locked together, they dashed down each other, while the shrieks 
of the wounded were heard, and the crashing of armour, crushed 
under foot ; and the groans of the dying, and the shouts of the 
heroes, and the boom of the "shields ; and wild wailing piercing 
shrieks and cries made the terrible din of war. 

Such, oh Clerk, were the heroes of old. There gathered the Vol. iii. 368. 
horrid hounds about them to watch the strife ; the ravens croaked 
over the brows of the slain, and they rest till the stars shall fall 
and the earth burst. 

The chief difficulty would be to find an audience 
now-a-days. A century ago it was different. The world 
was then agape after the Highlanders who had raised such 
a stir. " The rebellion" had been put down ; there was 
a kind of satisfaction in discovering noble qualities in the 
" un vanquished Scots," who had just been got to help 
to vanquish each other. Men believed in epics, and 
opened their mouths and shut their eyes, and swallowed 
what James MacPherson sent them, but when they had 

I42 GAELIO 0881 AN. 

tasted the gift and opened their eyes, and began to 
suspect that they had been sold a bargain, men, like 
children, refused to take the nicest of jam, for fear of 
another dose. 

So far then, current tradition gives no support 
to the entire authenticity of the " poems of Ossian," 
English or Gaelic, but it joins on to manuscript evi- 
dence and proves beyond dispute that there has been 
a mass of Gaelic poetry current in the Highlands of 
Scotland for a long time, that it is " Ossianic" the 
germ of Ossian, but not " Ossian," as known to the 
world. It seems as if stories had produced a crop of 
ballads, and some one had reaped the crop and sold it 
in the sheaf 

The list of poems placed at the end of this volume 
will give some idea of the amount of Gaelic poetry of this 
kind which still exists, and where it may be found. The 
list has no claim to be complete, but will serve as a 
foundation for other inquirers, if such be found. 


The list will shew that the Irish claim to all 
genuine old Gaelic poetry is unfounded ; but I have 
little doubt that versions of anything which has ever 
been extensively known amongst the Scotch Gael has 
been equally well known to their Irish brethren. The 
best course is to make peace ; share this common 
Celtic property ; make the best possible use of it ; and 
preserve what is left. 


But this long race was for " Ossian's poems," and the 
prize is not yet awarded There is no direct evidence 
as to who compounded the famous work ; and unless 
the poems will tell us, I know not where to seek for a 
reply to the questions which remain. Who wrote the 
Gaelic of 1807 Ì and which was the first written, that 
Gaelic or the English Ì 

The first question I cannot answer ; but it seems 
highly improbable that MacPherson wrote it himsel£ 
Ewan MacLachlan, one of the best of modern scholars, 
wrote to MacCallum (see page 224 of the Gaelic 
book) — 

" If the works of Ossian are a forgery, we have sufficient 
grounds to believe that the imposition cannot be charged on 
modern times." " Antiquity has ascribed the contents of your 
work to Ossian." 

But MacCallum's work consists of traditional bal- 
lads, not of the large poems, so the sentence of Ewan 
MacLachlan, which at first seems all for the Gaelic of 
1807, is really for the Gaelic of 1813. As he truly 
says, most of that Gaelic rests upon manuscripts and 

I am not aware that any Scotch Highlander of this 
day has given his opinion of the published Ossian. So 
it may be of some interest to read what men, who have 
studied it, really think of it ; and, first, I will give the 
opinion which I had formed for myself from reading 
the controversy, and from a knowledge of vernacular 
Gaelic, which passes unquestioned everywhere, and 
was acquired in childhood, but which does not include 

144 GAELIC 088IAN. 

any critical knowledge of the niceties of the written 

When the Gaelic Fingal, published in 1807, is com- 
pared with any one of the translations which purport 
to have been made from it, it seems to me incompar- 
ably superior. It is far simpler in diction. It has a 
peculiar rhythm and assonance which seem to repel the 
notion of a mere translation from English as something 
almost absurd. It is impossible that it can be a trans- 
lation from MacPherson's English, unless there was 
some clever Gaelic poet then alive, able and willing to 
write what Eton school-boys call " full sense verses." 

It is scarcely credible that such a man would con- 
ceal his name, unless he were both poet and translator ; 
and all who have written on the subject deny that 
MacPherson had any great knowledge of Gaelic or 
power of versification. 

Great part of Fingal might, with propriety, be 
divided into stanzas of four lines, having much of the 
peculiar assonance of poems of undoubted authenticity, 
which are still recited ; the whole clinks and hangs 
together in such a way that no one but a poet could 
have so jointed words to express ideas. 

The words also are often chosen for their appro- 
priate sound, as well as for their meaning and rhythm — 

" Fhreagair an sonn mar thonn air carraig," 
" Answered the brave like wave on a crag," 

has two long deep vowel sounds, something like moan, 
tone, combined with other broad vowels ; suggestive of 
the deep thunder of dashing waves, and of a grand 


deep voice, as the famous line in Milton is of the harsh 
grating of the Gates of Hell (Paradise Lost, book il) — 


And on a sudden, open fly, 

With impetuous recoil and jarring sound, 
The infernal doors, and on their hinges grate 
Harsh thunder." 

Nothing is more probable than that a poet should 
choose the Gaelic words if his ears were familiar with 
the loud deep roar of the Atlantic on a still evening ; 
nothing more improbable than that they should happen 
to be chosen by one who was not a poet, who was 
translating prose ideas from another language. It is 
probable that the Gaelic in this case was first composed, 
though it cannot be proved. 

Again, a mere translator would surely have taken 
the model before him, or some other ; he would have 
written prose like MacPherson's, or he would have 
copied some known metre. The Gaelie is wholly un- 
like the English, and is not prose, and to the best of 
my knowledge the irregular metre has no exact coun- 
terpart, while the nearest resemblance to it is in the 
genuine Gaelic traditional ballads, which treat of the 
same people, and often describe the same incidents — 

I saw the chieftain, said Moran, 

Like to a crag was the noble ; 

His spear like a pine on the steep hill, 

Like the moon in its rising his shield — 

Is the metre and meaning without the assonance 



of four lines in "Fingal" of 1807, and the passage 
savours of originality, or a genuine model. 

MacPherson's fragments, published 1760, which 
are the least suspected of all his works, contain the 
following as a translation (page 60) — " I saw their 
chief, says Morven, tall as a rock of ice. His spear is 
like that fir ; his shield is like the rising moon." 

There is nothing about ice in the Gaelic of 1807. 

In the same page is the English equivalent for the 
Gaelic line, quoted above — 

" He answered like a wave on the rock." 

Now either the word " Sonn," the hero which gives the 
assonance, was loosely translated by the pronoun " he," 
or some one in translating the English prose, changed 
"he" into "the hero." 

Kennedy gives a traditional equivalent for the line, 

" Bha neart a ghair mar bhair tuinne," 

which means — 

" The might of his shout was as billow's crest," 

and this was rendered by the reporters of the Highland 
Society "literally," thus — 

" He spoke with the force of a breaking wava" 

But if this English line were translated back into 
Gaelic, it would lose all its force. 

" Labhair e le neart thuinn a bristeadh " 

is English Gaelic, and prosaic prose, and so would be a 
similar translation of Macpherson's English line. 


And so we must assume that two able Gaelic poets 
had freely translated one English line in two different 
ways so as to please the ear ; or that the line in the 
fragments was translated from a line in Gaelic older 
than 1760, and different from that of 1807. 

Again, the metre in this book of Fingal often 
varies to suit the meaning, and that is another argu- 
ment for the originality of the Gaelic. 

When the warriors are running together, the rhythm 
is ra pid, and names are strung togeLr L the Lie 
fashion as they are in ballads and similar composi- 

It is slow when the meaning requires it, while 
every here and there a single line stands alone, and 
seems to end a passage. 

Some passages, such as the famous description of 
Cuchullin in his Car, are not in the same metre as the 
rest, and resemble the measured prose of the tales. 
Similar passages are in old MSS. 

Other passages seem to be made up. Take, for 
example, the address to the sun in Carricthura. 

It is given in Leabhar nan cnoc, by Dr. MacLeod 
in 1834, by MacCallum in 1816, published in part by 
the Highland Society in their report, 1805 ; by Stewart, 
1804, got by the Eev. Mr. MacDiarmaid from the 
dictation of an old man in Glen Lyon, about 30 years 
before 1801, say 1770. The old man had learned 
this and other poems in his youth from people in the 
same glen, so that this, at least, must be far older than 
MacPherson's first publications, 1760. It was repeated 
to my grand aunts when they were girls, with other 


Ossianic pieces, "by people who lived in cottages far up 
in the hills above Loch Tarbert, and these were trans- 
lated for them by a clergyman, as they could not speak 
Gaelic to the people themselves. It is still repeated in 

As got from the people by MacCallum, in 1816, 
the first ten lines are connected in meaning. The 
sun sets and sinks down to his resting place, the waves 
come slowly about him, and timidly raise their heads 
to gaze on the beautiful sleeping sun of the skies, with 
his golden hair, as waves might seem to do when the 
setting sun was watched by a poet from a west country 
hill. The words follow each other harmoniously, they 
have the clink or " assonance " of Gaelic poetry, they 
make two and a half stanzas, and each line is complete 
in sense, which accords with other Gaelic poetry. So 
far the poem might be sung, and so far it is like other 
traditional poetry still extant, and so far MacPherson's 
translation agrees closely with the Gaelic. 

The eleventh line is of a different length, and does 
not clink with the others, and stands alone. It joins 
the next two lines which belong to each other, and 
make up another stanza. This stanza (the fifth) is 
weak where it compares the sun to a sunbeam, but it 
would be a noble metaphor if it likened a warrior to a 
sunbeam rushing over a level sward, and I suspect that 
it was originally composed with that intention. 

The last eight lines make two complete stanzas, but 
the last is in a different metre. 

The main idea, again, is different from that of the 
first ten lines, for the last twelve are not applicable to 


the quiet summer evening, whose picture was so well 
drawn in the first ten. 

These describe a winter day, not a summer evening. 

On the whole, I should argue that the first ten 
lines were composed in Gaelic by some one who had 
great command of the language and poetical feeling, and 
who meant to describe a summer sunset ; the last twelve 
by the same or by some other Gaelic poet, whose head 
was then full of the picture of a winter's day ; and that 
the eleventh line is cement, composed to join these 
two fragments, or picked up and thrust in between 
them, or the final line of a piece. It is the final line 
of the passage in Carricthura. I am convinced that 
these twenty-three lines never were composed by any 
one poet at one and the same time, but I am satisfied 
that the poet or poets who made the Gaelic verses 
composed poetry of no mean order, and MacCallum got 
them all together from a certain Mr. J. Mac-an-t-saoir 
in Ari-ChasteaL 

I do not assert that the poet's name was Ossian. 
I deny on good grounds that it was James Mac- 
Pherson. I maintain that a poet, and a Scotch High- 
lander, composed all those Gaelic lines separately, if 
not together ; and judging from my own knowledge of 
the people, and their ways, it is possible that these 
may be fragments of sentimental poetry different from 
the popular ballads, more modern, but certainly older 
than 1730. 

"Grian" is feminine, but the sun is here addressed 
as a male. The confusion is something like " Sa 
Majeste le Eoi elle," etc. 


The following translation is almost literal, and 
gives the musical rhythm without the assonance. 

The Song of Ullin, in Carricthura, arranged in lines. 


Hast thou left thy blue course in heaven, 
Golden haired son of the sky ! 
The west has opened its gates ; 
The "bed of thy repose is there. 

The waves come 

To behold thy beauty, 

They lift their trembling heads ; 

They see thee lovely in thy sleep. 


They shrink away with fear ; 
Eest in thy shadowy cave, sun ! 


Let thy return be in joy. 


Close translation of Gaelic, assumed to be older than 1730. 

Hast left the blue distance of heaven Ì 

Sorrowless son of the gold yellow hair ! 

Night's doorways are ready for thee, 

Thy pavilion of peace in the west. 


The billows came slowly around, 
To behold him of brightest hair ; 
Timidly raising their heads 
To gaze on thee, beauteous asleep. 

They witless have fled from thy side. 
10. Take thy sleep within thy cave, 

11. Oh sun, and come back from sleep rejoicing. 

5 — Assumed to be joined to the first 

like a sun-gleam in the winter tide, 

Bushing with might down the plain greensward ; 

Such like were the days of the Feen, 

As a sun between shower squalls fading. 


Burst the dusky black clouds of the skies, 
And snatched the loved beam from the hunter ; 
The forests' bare twigs are mourning, 
And the moorland's soft plants are withering. 

But the sun will return again, 
To the beautiful woods of the fresh buds ; 
And in the spring each stem will smile, 
23. Gazing aloft to the son of the skies. 

152 GAELIC 0881 AN. 

Take another example. At page 226, Appendix to 
the H. S. Eeport, is a Gaelic passage collected by Mac- 
donald of Staffa about the end of last century. It is 
not in the language, or style, or metre of popular 
ballads generally, but it is good Gaelic, and a sort 
of cantering blank verse. The following is a " close 
translation," and imitates the metre : — 

Oscar, quell the strong armed ; 
Give help to the weak-handed needflil ; 
Be as spring-tide winter flood-stream, 
To combat the foes of the Feinne ; 
But as summer mild still weak wind, 
Be to those that seek thine aiding. 
Such like was Treunmor of Victories, 
Such Trathal of routs was after him, 
And Fionn was a prop to the weak, 
To shield him from tyrant's power. 
For his succour stretched my hand, 
With welcome I'd go to meet him ; 
And he 'd find shelter and kindness, 
Under shade of the gleam of my blade. 

It will be seen that each of these lines is complete 
in sense. The passage might be finished at the end of 
each line, without making the rest nonsense, which 
is a peculiarity of Gaelic poetry. Whatever the merits 
or demerits of this passage may be, its imagery is taken 
from nature, as seen on the tide- washed shores of the 
western coast ; and the words of art are those used by 
boatmen. "Buinn sruth" is gaining tide the flood 
stream, when it begins to make strongly ; J'reabhairt " 


is the height of springs, when the tides are strongest ; 
and to any one who has danced over the if spring-tide 
flood stream " in a fishing-boat on a winter's day, off 
the west of Scotland, near the whirlpool of Corrie 
bhreacan, the line conveys the idea of irresistible 
power, which it is intended to give. MacPherson's 
English loses all this, and he was a Badenoch man, 
who was not familiar with such scenes. 

Oscar ! bend the strong in arm; 

but spare the feeble hand. 

Be thou a stream of many tides 

against the foes of thy people ; 

but like the gale that moves the grass 

to those who ask thine aid. 

So Treunmor lived ; 

such Trathal was ; 

and such has Fingal been. 

My arm was the support of the injured ; 
* * * * 

the weak rested 

behind the lightning of my steel. 

(Fingal, book iii., 1763.) 

The Gaelic of 1807 is something quite different 
from either of these passages. (Pp. 148, 149, gratis 
edition 1818.) Three versions therefore exist — two 
printed in Gaelic, and MacPherson's English; and of 
these I prefer Staffa's west country Gaelic, with which 
MacPherson had nothing to do, and which is not a 
translation of the published English, but a far better 


version of a similar passage. The Gaelic must surely 
be the original in this case. 

Again, passages composed on the following prin- 
ciple must belong to the language in which the asson- 
ance exists, rather than to that which gives the meaning 
less forcibly, and nothing more : — - 

Then out sprang the warrior's blade, 
and gaily 
he waved 

the f Zashing SWORD. 
Let us meet the foeman, he cried ; 
let us ride 
and decide 
the AWARD. 
There are numerous passages in Gaelic which have 
a structure as complicated as the above tf nonsense 
verse ; " for example : — 

Dh' eirich gu sPAÌrneach n'a suimn 

Bu truime 

no 'n tuiim 

cuilg an COS 
Sroinich an cuim chlmnte cian 

s* an FhiAn 


-AiL fui SPROCHD (bos Choirait). 

Here surely the Gaelic was the original. 

Such a passage as Fingal, Duan I., line 413 to 
437, the most difficult of critics must admit to be 
very fine Gaelic, infinitely better than its English equi- 
valent, though that passage will not scan at alL 


In short, when I read parts of Ossian in Gaelic, I 
often feel that this is poetry of high order, of which 
no translation can give any just idea. Some poet 
might express the same ideas as well in another lan- 
guage, but no faithful translator can render the mean- 
ing and imitate the original. 

When I read Fingal in the " original " I feel that 
this is poetry, that these are grand ideas clothed in mag- 
nificent sonorous language ; on reading it in English, I 
often feel that there is something in it akin to bom- 
bast. In the one case I am drawn to the side of those 
who maintain that these are genuine ancient poems, in 
the other I feel driven to admit that they are not ; and 
when all is done, I return to my first opinion, that 
Fingal is a fiction founded upon a broad basis of fact ; 
a book of Gaelic poetry of high order, but not poetry 
composed by Ossian about the time of the Eomans. 

I hold that it is manifest, from a consideration of 
the Gaelic poems themselves, that they were the work 
of one or of many able Gaelic poets. The question 
now is — when did they live Ì and who were they Ì 

It has been argued that the language is modern, 
and, therefore, that the poems are modern ; and to 
hold that the language spoken in the days of Caracalla 
was the language of the last version of the modern 
Gaelic Bible appears sufficiently absurd. The modern 
air of the language may, however, be accounted for. 

Traditional poems alter with the age ; I have al- 
ready shewn how rapidly they alter, and in what man- 
ner. At page 92 of Sir John Sinclair's Dissertation, 
it is stated that the Eev. Mr. Thos. Soss, of Edinburgh, 

I 56 GAELIC 0881 AN. 

was employed to transcribe the whole work as left by 
MacPherson at his death in 1796, agreeably to the 
orthography of the Gaelic Bible, that is, to modern 
orthography. Mr. Boss found fault with the English 
translation, but he had no quarrel with the Gaelic. 

MacPherson had tried to simplify Gaelic spelling, 
and having found some classical authority for the use 
of the Greek character by ancient Celts, he had begun 
to print Gaelic in Greek letters. Sir Eoderick Mur- 
chison tells me that he has meteorological registers 
written in Gaelic, and in the Greek character, by his 

When a man, whose standard of orthography was 
the modern Gaelic Bible, got hold of such a work as 
MacPherson's Gaelic MS., he would have small scruple 
in making it suit his standard ; and so, between popular 
changes, MacPherson's interpolations, simplifications, 
and restorations, and Greek letters, and his successor's 
modern standard, the ancient form of the language, if 
it was ancient, could hardly survive. 

What would become of Chaucer so maltreated, and 
finally spelt according to modern rules of grammar 
and orthography ? I have found by experience that 
an alteration in " spelling " may mean an entire change 
of construction and meaning, and a substitution of 
whole words. I know that a change in the pronun- 
ciation of a single vowel sound will suggest such a 
change as this — 

The geese would swim through thy waist 
The winds might float through thy breast 


The passage refers to a man thrust through with 
a spear. The first is the translation of the line as 
repeated now and in 1786, and has no meaning, unless 
it be a ludicrous measure of the size of the wound. 

The second conveys the image of the breath swim- 
ming painfully through the blood of a wounded man, 
whose breast and lungs had been pierced, and the only 
change necessary to suggest these opposite ideas is from 
" geoidh," geese, to gaoithe, winds ; the dh and the 
being silent letters. MacPherson would have made 
the change ; I did not, though I believe it ought to 
be made. 

I have compared versions of the same poem lately 
written down by different men, from different reciters, 
in different districts, at long intervals of time, with 
each other, with older MS., and with still older printed 
versions ; and I find all manner of strange variations, 
in which rhythm and sounds often remain, while sense 
and words are altered ; and I find that even the printed 
Gaelic of 1807 varies from that of 1763. 

It has also been argued that because there is no 
mythology in Ossian, therefore it is a forgery ; but it 
has been shewn, that the collectors of former days 
carefully weeded out all the mythology, because it was 
not quite reasonable. I have left all that I found, and 
it savours of Pagan sun worship. 

To me, therefore, the modern language and English 
idioms of the Gaelic of the edition of 1807 appear to 
be no valid argument against the general antiquity of 
the poems. 

Take one example from Smith's "Sean Dana," 


and the same thing appears ; the Gaelic is better than 
the English. In " Tiomna Ghuill," page 57, is this 
line — 

" Sgaoth eunlaith air steuda saile;" 
and it is translated "by the English line — 

" A flight of birds on the briny billows." 

As it seems to me, the beauty of the line is thus lost 
by a free translation, whereas a close rendering would 
preserve its meaning better — 

" A skiff of birds upon steeds of brine." 

The passage describes a " play o5 fish," and the 
Gaelic line conveys to me the idea of a mass of sea 
birds clustered together, and riding over the long 
smooth waves of the salt ocean. 

It is a true picture in five short words, which 
every one must recognise who has ever watched a 
clump of dark razor-bills huddled together under a 
cliff on a summer's day. As each long Atlantic wave 
comes rolling in, the birds rise on the crest, and sink 
into the hollow trough, and the wave slips under and 
curls over, and thunders in against the rocks beyond— 
a mass of broken white water ; but the clump of birds 
are on their "briny steeds," and they know how to 
ride them. A stroke or two, and they paddle out into 
the glassy water at the edge of the surf, and tuck their 
heads under their wings once more, and sleep. And 
there they will rest on the waves for hours, beneath a 
cliff, riding like skiffs (sgoth) at anchor till fishing 


time comes again ; and then they are up and off, to 
ride their steeds to "battle with the herring king. 

Then comes a sight which must be seen to be ap- 
preciated. The birds gather on the surface in masses ; 
great whales dash up, and spout, and turn over, and 
dive down again, leaving the sea all glittering with 
scales, and foaming and surging about their sides. 
The diving birds scatter and flap along the surface, and 
scream as they go ; great green cole-fish leap high into 
the air ; gulls and terns hang over head, and clatter, 
and yell, and dart down, and the whole do their 
best to gobble up the king of the seas as fast as they 
can. And all this was in the mind of the man who 
composed the passage, in which the rushing of Goll to 
battle is compared to the rush of the whale, and his 
foes to the scattered birds. And to my mind the 
Gaelic tells the story infinitely better than the Eng- 
lish, though this is not the popular ballad poetry now 
most commonly recited. 

This is my own opinion, but no one is fit to judge 
whose earliest thoughts were not framed and expressed 
in Gaelic. One who has been accustomed to hear and 
speak, and to read all sorts of jargons, and jump at 
meaning without regard to grammar or spelling, is no 
fair judge of a written language in which he does not 
think ; so I prefer the opinion of a shoemaker who 
reads his Gaelic Bible, and has a multitude of Gaelic 
stories in his head, and knows very little about any- 
thing else beyond his last. He says — 

" This is not the old stuff" 


I also prefer the opinion of a man who began 
life in a Highland cottage, and lives near the place 
where he was born, who has worked at Gaelic books 
and traditions, and studied that language, and has 
taught himself to read Tialf a dozen more, in which 
he reads poetry ; besides acquiring the whole of Euclid, 
and the Differential calculus, and a good many " ologies '» 
to boot — a man who thinks for himself and is free 
from national prejudice at all events. 


"The Gaelic poems which were published in 1807, 
from a manuscript in the handwriting of James Mac- 
pherson, differ very widely indeed from those which are 
handed down by tradition ; very widely indeed from 
all known traditions about the Fenian heroes current 
in the Highlands. The kingdom of Morven is un- 
known either in traditional poems or stories. These 
do not represent the Fenian heroes drinking on all 
occasions out of shells, they frequently drink out of 
vessels of gold or silver, as the case may be. The tra- 
ditional Fionn is not that grave, stately, solemn, osten- 
tatious, old monarch which he is in the Ossian published 
by MacPherson; but a being of more human sym- 
pathies, possessed of strong feelings and passions — a 
hero that might have been a brave, generous, chieftain, 
who was not entirely free from the frailties that flesh 
is heir to. Popular poetry or tradition never describes 


him as a venerable old monarch, with hoary locks, nor 
does it allude to his being aged, or weakened by old age. 
The death of all the other Fenian heroes is recorded, 
but there is not the least hint given of Fionn's death. 

He is said to have been occasionally seen in Eilean 
na h-oige, the island of youth, also called an t-Eilean 
uaine, the green isle — an island which Hebrideans 
believe to be located somewhere west, and which many 
of them believe to have seen. The people of Islay 
believe it to be situated west of Islay of course ; the 
people of Barra, west of Barra ; the people of Uist, west 
of Uist ; and the people of Harris, west of Harris ; 
many are they who have had the good fortune to see 
this blessed island. I conversed in youth myself with 
old people who did see it off from Portnahaven, in 
Islay, on a fine evening ; but I have never yet had the 
good fortune to see it myself though I have often seen 
the evening clouds piled up like hills on the horizon. 

It is told that a Jura man, who owned a small ves- 
sel, once met a man on the pier at Greenock, who 
engaged the ship at a certain freight, to carry him 
and a cargo to the westward of Islay. The bargain 
was struck, and the cargo put on board, and they sailed 
round the Mull of Cantire, and through the Sound of 
Islay, where a thick fog came on. They got through 
the Sound and bore away to the westward, and, after a 
few days, they found themselves one morning close to 
land. They cast anchor and went to sleep, and when 
they awoke the man and his cargo were gone. The 
Jura skipper did not like to lose his freight, landed, 

and walked up to a large house, where he found " sean 
vol. rv. H 


duine mor cròsgach" — a large, big-boned old man — 
seated in an arm-chair, who offered him a drink. 
The drinking vessels were so large that the skipper 
could not lift them, so the big man called his daughter 
to give him a draught, and a girl came in and raised 
the vessel (" soitheach "), and he took a long drink of 
beer. He told his story, and the big man asked him if 
he could recognise the man who had engaged the ship. 
He said he could, and a number of people were sent 
for, and passed in review before him. At last the de- 
linquent appeared, and was recognised, and made to pay 
the freight, upon which he thrust his finger into the 
skipper's eye, and put it out, saying, " If I had done 
that to thee before, thou wouldst not have known me."* 

The inhabitants then made the Jura men brush 
every particle of the dust of the island from their 
feet, and sent them away with their money ; and when 
they sailed, the island seemed to disappear in a mist. 
This Jura man, it is said, was well known afterwards, 
and was blind of an eye, and the big man is supposed 
to be " Fionn." 

In Berneray, near Harris, a similar story is told 
of men still alive, but it wants much of the marvellous 
element. The men, as it is said, took a cargo from 
Stornoway to an island, supposed to be Eilean uaine, 
the green isle. They sailed westwards, and left; the 
cargo, part of which was salt, got their money, and 

* There is a popular tale known all over Europe, in which a 
mortal acquires the power of seeing immortals, betrays the power 
by speaking to one, and is deprived of one eye. I have got the 
story in many shapes from the Highlands. — J. F. C. 


returned, after being required by the inhabitants to 
shake off every particle of the dust of the island which 
stuck to them. 

There are many other stories current relative to 
these islands, " Eilean na h' oige," and " an 't-Eilean 
uaine," the island of youth, and the green island, 
wherein Fionn is supposed still to dwell with his 
warriors. * 

' Blessed were they who could get to this Celtic para- 
dise ; for were they to land they would become as 
young as they were at twenty ; fresh and blooming, 
and without gray hairs, or wrinkles, or ailments. A 
more comfortable and cheery habitation certainly this 
would be than the MacPherson " Ossian's" cloud 
palaces and mist promenades ; his railways of moon- 
shine rivalling Mahomet's narrow bridge across the 

* This legend is very like that of Arthur, who, when he was 
sore wounded, sailed off in a boat to the "Island of Avalon" 
(Gaelic, " avian," apples), where he is supposed still to live. 

The curious ceremonies performed by the Hebrideans when 
they visited the Flannen islands, according to Martin, pro- 
bably have to do with this old world belief. Flath-innis is 
one of the words still used for heaven. It means the hero's 
island, and Flath-innis-ean might easily be contracted to Flannen. 
There is a chapel on these uninhabited, westernmost of western 
islands which is of great and unknown antiquity ; and there is 
a chapel on nearly every western island in Scotland and Ireland ; 
and it may be that the first Christian missionaries planted their 
churches in these remote corners as the very strongholds of 
Paganism. There is a chapel in the Shiant islands, which I 
take to be a corruption of Eileanan na sithichean, the islands of 
the fairies or peaceful people, and almost every small island to 
which a legend is attached, such as the haunted island, off the 
RhinnB of Islay, has its Christian chapel as well. — J. F. C. 


gulf to paradise, which, though not broader than a 
needle, the faithful trip over safely. Although the 
ancient Hebrideans, subsequent to the Norwegian 
sway, were very good sailors, and sometimes very good 
pirates also ; as ransacked towns and villages on the 
mainland could well testify, they do not seem to have 
been over fond of aerial voyages ; but preferred to stick 
to salt-water sailing, and chose rather to hope for a 
retreat in some pretty green mythical western island 
than for lofty habitations in the cold frosty regions of 
the upper air. 

The traditional Fenian poems consist of pieces of 
various length, interspersed through prose narration ; 
both poems and narration constituting what is usually 
called "Eachd-raidh na Feuine," the history of the 
Feinne. The prose narrative is varied, and consists, 
at one time, of common conversational language, at 
another of measured prose, a species of composition 
midway between prose and verse. Explanations and 
genealogies are given in ordinary conversational lan- 
guage, as well as other minor details ; exciting circum- 
stances are delineated in a more rhetorical style, while 
the most momentous events, such as are mainly con- 
nected with a great and important action, are given in 
verse. The verse itself varies widely, and as the sub- 
ject is more elevated, it becomes more musical and 
metrical. The terms "duan," "dan," and "laoidh," 
are employed to distinguish the various kinds from each 
other. The laoidh (lay) is the most musical, and is 
generally sung to a simple, plaintive air. In the greatest 
number of cases it describes a tragic event, the death 


of a hero, or some other serious calamity. These poems 
are connected with each other by prose narrative, and 
stories, so as to make something like one united whole 
of the Fenian traditions. All these poems, are of a 
narrative character, dwelling almost entirely either on, 
human or superhuman action, and never referring either 
to animal or inanimate nature further than it is con- 
nected with human passion, sympathy, or interest. 
There are no long addresses to the inanimate objects of 
nature ; neither are there any refined speculations on 
human life and existence ; there are no sentimental 
speeches on fame or glory. The men of the ballads 
fight not for glory, but in defence of some disputed 
right, or to avenge an insult, or to resist oppression, or 
to protect a woman in distress. 

In these lays, similes and metaphors are very 
sparingly used ; but this appears to result more from 
the intensity of interest belonging to the subject, 
than to want of power on the part of the poet ; as 
similes and metaphors are very plentiful in these long 
epic tales which treat of like subjects. This will 
appear readily on looking over " The Knight of the 
Eed Shield," No. lii., and " The Slim Swarthy Cham- 
pion," No. xvii. C, in the West Highland Tales. The 
language of the old ballads is exceedingly choice Gaelic, 
pure, idiomatic, chaste. There is no trace of Anglicism, 
or of classic idiom ; it is the Gaelic of the people, but 
still purer and more elevated than that of common con- 
versation, and with obsolete words interspersed. Clear- 
ness and conciseness distinguish these from the great 
mass of published Gaelic poems and songs ; which bear 


evident marks of belonging to more modern periods, 
both in language and matter, and whose authors are 
known ; very few of the more modern poems being at 
all comparable to the ballads in these qualities. These 
later compositions are frequently tautological, and pro- 
fuse in epithets, abounding sometimes in long tedious 
lists of adjectives or adverbs, which make them look 
more like a vocabulary than a regular poem. This is 
the case with regard to the war song of the battle of 
Harlaw, composed about 1411; much of Coire an easain, 
composed by the piobaire dall, or blind piper ; some of 
MacDonald's Song to Summer ; a large portion of his 
Moladh Mhoraig ; much of Coire Cheathaich by Mac- 
Intyre, and a large portion of his Beinn Dorain. In 
these poems there are scarcely any words to be found 
borrowed from English, and in this respect they form 
a strong contrast to all that has been published of the 
works of Scoto-Gaelic poets who flourished from the 
fifteenth century down to the present day. We find 
the word puthar y power, in the songs of MacMhuirich, 
Clanranald's bard, who lived in the seventeenth cen- 
tury. In the songs of Mari, nighean Alastair Euaidh 
(Mary, daughter of Alexander Roy) MacLeod of Mac- 
Leod's bard, we find the English corruptions, purpas, 
purpose ; subsaint, substance ; and yet her songs are, and 
justly, allowed to be written in very pure Gaelic. The 
peacock figures as a simile also in one of her songs. In 
the poems of John MacDonald, usually styled Iain 
lorn (bare-faced John, from his beardless face and 
impudence), who lived in the time of Montrose in the 
seventeenth century, we meet with the words Lieutenant 


Lady Murray, Whitehall, adbhannsa, advance ; geard, 
guard. In the songs of MacMhaighstir Alastair, who 
took an active part on the side of Prince Charles in 
1745, we find the words standard — moision, motion ; 
canain, cannon. In Maclntyre, who lived at the same 
time with MacDonald, we meet with the words 
coitseachan, coaches ; deasput, dispute ; phairti, party. 
Such words are not to be found in the traditional 
poems ascribed to Ossian, or in those other pieces which, 
belong to the same class. But yet in every-day conversa- 
tion nowadays, we find such words as chorner, corner ; 
ghig, gig ; dhisturbadh, disturbing ; phortmanteau, trunk, 
steamboat, railroad, story, confoundadh, drainadh, 
chaidsigeadh, catching, and hundreds of other distorted 
English words which hardly ever find their way into 
the old ballads, though constantly used by the people 
who repeat them. Here then is a strong contrast 
between these ancient poems and the works of those 
who have been considered the best bards of the High, 
lands for the last three centuries. * 

In comparing these ballads with the compositions 
of the more modern bards, the dignified simplicity of 
the language of the former becomes quickly apparent. 
Although their language, so far as regards inflection 
and structure, is modern, yet there are words and 
phrases which appear to be more ancient, and which 
are now obsolete, and these, as well as the absence of 

* It is to be remarked that the published Ossian, and the 
whole of the suspected class, are also entirely free from any such 
words, though the construction of the language is different from 
that of the ballads.— J. F. G. 


English corruptions, distinguish them from all other 
Scoto-Gaelic poetry ; and with regard to peculiar 
phrases, and curious antiquated words and expressions, 
they strongly resemble the popular Gaelic tales. 

The offensive weapons described are spears, " crann- 
tabhaill" swords, and darts ; there is hardly an allusion 
to bows and arrows ; few to agriculture, to bread, corn, 
or to any kind of food connected with an agricultural 
life. The food described is the produce of the chase. 
Deer and boars, and some species of deer which does 
not now exist, and which is supposed to be the elk, 

The Elk (Norse, Elg ; Lapp, Sabv), copied from " The Natural History 
of Norway," by Pontoppidan, Bishop of Bergen. Gaelic, according to 
Armstrong, Lon. 

Eilid, according to translators of the Bible, " Ossian," and modern poets, 
means a hind or roe. " Glen Eilig," or " Glen Elg," is derived from this 
word. The Elk exists in Sweden, Norway, and Russia ; its skeleton is 
found in Ireland, the Isle of Man, and elsewhere in the United King- 
dom. It is supposed to have existed during the " stone period." 


" Lon," are the animals generally hunted ; and doga 
are the only domestic ftTn'mala frequently mentioned.* 
These are mentioned with as much affection as 
Byron's dog — that animal, so faithful and so true to man* 
which has never been convicted either of treachery, 
insincerity, or ingratitude. Byron, Campbell, and the 
traditional Ossian agree in this. The events related 
are at times probable, at others improbable or impos- 
sible ; at times superhuman, at others human, which 
evidently tends to shew that these poems unite many 
periods, and that probably they have embodied the 
substance of more ancient poems. At times huge 
giants and weapons are mentioned, such as — 

Bha seachd troidhean ann air Had, 
'S ochd troidhe diag air fad ann. 

Seven feet was he in breadth, 
And in length he was eighteen feet. 

A remarkable feature in these poems is the mag- 
nanimity and gallantry which distinguish their heroes, 
though mixed with much barbarism and fierceness. 
There is fair play given to the enemy ; and when he is 
not fighting with them, he is invited to their feast ; 
if he falls in battle he is honourably buried, and 
receives credit for his bravery; his memory is cherished, 
esteemed, and loved, for his valorous deeds. Women 
are always protected and treated with courtesy ; nor is 

* In this, the suspected Ossian resembles the traditional bal- 
lads from which it is supposed to hare been taken. — J. F. C. 


there the least hint given that they were either kept 
in bondage, or doomed to slavery; on the contrary, 
their wishes seem to have been considered as something 
to be gratified, but never to be contradicted ; and 
yet some of the women who repeat such poems work 
hard as field labourers, and the men are of the poorest 

In their ballads the incidents are few, but elevated, 
and the narration flows along in an easy, simple, but 
dignified strain. No tedious verbosity mars or inter- 
rupts the vigorous current of the poetic stream. 
Bapidity seems to have been the chief aim of the 
ancient bards, and the action rolls along like the impe- 
tuous torrents of their own mountain country. There is 
no vagueness, no mistiness, no obscurity; the action is 
as vividly clear to the mind's eye as a landscape is to 
the eye itself on a bright summer day. The introduc- 
tion is always abrupt and simple, and this is the cha- 
racter of mostly all Scoto-Gaelic poetry ; for in this 
manner all known Gaelic bards, learned and unlearned, 
begin their songs and lays. They invoke neither 
spirits nor muses, but begin at once. If these ballads 
do not abound in long sentimental speeches, still 
genuine touches of true feeling are to be found most 
exquisitely and tersely expressed. In a warlike age 
the passions are strong, and not often under proper 
restraint. Strong attachments and resentments belong 
to the men of such an age. They are by turns fiercely 
cruel and nobly generous, but both their cruelty and 
their generosity are manifested in acts rather than in 
words. That sentimentalism which is rich in words 


and poor in deeds was but little known in those days. 
There is a sentimentalism which is after all but a poor 
shadowy substitute for genuine feeling. It showers 
oceans of tears on distress, but will not move a hand 
to relieve it ; it gives soft and commiserating words to 
the needful, but clings firmly to its gold and silver ; it 
pities in sighs, but not in sovereigns. Sterne wrote 
the Sentimental Journey^ and lamented in dolorous 
strain over a dead ass, but he allowed his poor old 
mother to pine away in prison, and advanced not a 
stiver to procure her liberty. Though these lays are 
void of this tinsel, they possess what is really more 
valuable — truthful delineation of human nature, of 
lofty bravery, and of true and real feeling. Popular 
poetry has no morbid sentiment, and the people are 
kind to each other. 

Besides the ballads, which form part of what is 
usually called " Eachdraidh na Feinne," the history of 
the Feinn, there are numerous traditional ballads and 
scraps of poetry similar to them in character, which 
treat of giants, enchantments, and supernatural deeds ; 
some which treat of fairies, and fairy lovers ; some, of 
the loves of men and women. Short passages, stanzas, 
and lines of poetry, ascribed to Ossian, are even still 
recited through a great many parts of the Highlands, 
and tales about the Feinn, interspersed with verse, are 
yet to be heard in many districts from old men. There 
are very few old Highlanders that cannot even now 
say something about Fionn and his heroes ; how they 
fought and died. Proverbs, old sayings, and puzzles, 
are connected with their names. A proverb, which is 


heard at almost all convivial Highland meetings, ia 
" Cha do dhiochoimhnich Fionn fear a dheas laimh 
riamh," Fionn never forgot his right hand man* 
Bocks, hills, streams, and places are called after the 
Feinne. Surnames are derived from them ; such as 
MacDhiarmaid, the son of Diarmaid ; MacGhill Fha- 
olan, the son of the servant of Faolan (MacLellan) ; 
MacGhill Earragain, the son of the servant of Earragan 
(MacLergan); MacOisean, the son of Oisean; Mao 
Cuinn, the son of Conn (MacQueen) ; and generally the 
Feinne and their exploits pervade all Celtic Scotland 
and all Gaelic tradition. 

If these poems be not ancient in substance, how is 
it that they differ so widely from the works of the best 
of the modern Scoto- Gaelic bards? How is it that they 
have not mixed up with other songs and poems] How 
is it that guns, powder, and modern dresses have not 
crept in Ì How is it that we have no lieutenants, cap* 
tains, and colonels, dukes, marquises, and earls amongst 
the Feinn Ì How is it that we have none of the 
scriptural allusions and quotations which are scattered 
so plentifully through the works of Gaelic poets in 
general ? How is it that we have nothing new in the 
ballads, while prose tales have altered with the age Ì 
We might expect that modern poets would have armed 
Fionn with a musket, or culverin ; or even have made 
him and his followers use cannon. I heard a story 
told of Fergus the First, king of Scotland, in Barra, in 
which that ancient monarch was armed with a gun ; 
strange that the Barra people never thought of arming 
Fionn and Diarmaid with one a-piece, more especially 


as these warriors are much more popular in that island 
than Fergus the First. 

Much of the groundwork of these "ballads, as well 
as the substance of many Fenian tales and traditions, 
are embodied in the Gaelic Ossian published from 
MacPherson's manuscript, but there everything has 
undergone an entire change. We have no longer the 
simplicity of the traditional poems ; smoothness of ver- 
sification is almost entirely wanting, and the idiom of 
the language is every now and then violated Inver- 
sions abound, such as we find in learned English poetry, 
and words are so wrenched out of their usual meaning 
as to be unintelligible to the generality of Highlanders ; 
but while this is the case, there are but few ancient 
or obsolete words. In this respect this Gaelic contrasts 
with that of traditional ballads. The difficulty of 
understanding the epic poems does not lie in ancient 
forms of speech, or in old obsolete words, but in the 
strange liberty that is taken with words by using them 
in quite a new way, and in arranging them in a man- 
ner that is incomprehensible to those whose native 
language the Gaelic is, unless they happen to know 
English, or some classical tongue. In many lines the 
words only are Gaelic ; the structure has nothing to 
do with that language. The semtences may be Eng- 
lish, or Latin, or Greek, may, in fact, be specimens of 
a new universal language, but they are not Gaelic. 
Vagueness and obscurity abound everywhere, and like 
the darkness of night which makes hills and dales 
appear like lofty mountains and deep ravines, these 
poems impress a person, before he has examined what 


he has been reading, with something akin to sublimity. 
Some lines prove to be nonsense when closely exa- 
mined. Bad grammar and violated idiom abound 
everywhere. Adjectives of more than one syllable are 
placed before substantives, which is much the same as 
if we were to say in English, "There is a horse beau- 
tiful ; what a house elegant ! " 

Heroes always drink out of shells, lead a hunting 
life, and address one another more like modern sages 
than barbarians. A teacher of ethics could not be 
more sententious or moralizing than they are. 

" Maile" for mail is a frequent term, but it is a mere 
English corruption ; luireach is the Gaelic word. On 
reading a line, containing this word, to an acquaint- 
ance, he understood it to mean màl, the bag of the 
bagpipes. This word does not occur in the popular 
poems, and is hardly known to Highlanders in general, 
in the sense in which it is used here. Endless pas- 
sages might be quoted to illustrate the preceding state- 

In Carthonn, page 55, occurs the line — 

" Tri giubhais ag aomadh o'n torr." 

This is exactly what might occur to a person translating 
the English expression " three firs," but no name of any 
species of wood is ever used in Gaelic to designate a 
tree ; we must say — 

" Tri craobha giubhais," three fir trees, and so with 
other trees. It is bad Gaelic to say — 

" An cluaran glas air chrom nan earn." 


The green thistle on the bend of the cairns ; for 
" crom" is never used as a substantive, and means 

" Mall ag aomadh mu uaigh an t-seoid." 

(Slow inclining about the grave of the hero) is bad 
Gaelic. Mall in this line would require gu before it 
to make it an adverb, and good Gaelic. 

" Tha mo chlaidheamh crith mhosgladh gu cheann." 

My sword is shaking waking to its hilt. This line, 
as printed, is nonsense, but the idea of a sword quiver- 
ing and awaking is good, and a small change would 
make the line Gaelic. 

In Gaol nan daoine, page 75, the following line 
occurs : — 

" Gu Selma nan lan-bhroilleach oigh." 

Lan-bhroilleach is here placed before the substan- 
tive, which is incorrect, and very bad Gaelic ; the term 
is altogether very awkward, for were we to say, " nan 
oigh lan-bhroilleach," it might convey the meaning of a 
maiden full of breasts, instead of full-breasted; but 
there is a Gaelic expression commonly used to convey 
the idea intended. 

" Dh' aom a shleagh ri carraig nan cos " is bad. 

" Aom " implies motion into an inclined position, 
and this line means " his spear toppled towards the rock 
of crannies," not " his spear leant against a mossy rock," 
which the context shews was the intended meaning. 


In p. 108 of Fingal occurs the line — 

" Cuchullin nan gorm-bhallach sgiath." 

Cuchullin of the shields blue spotted, which arrange- 
ment of words violates Gaelic idiom. 
Duan 4th, p. 264 of Tighmora — 

" Thainig i le suilibh caoin, 
A measg chiabh a bha taomadh gu trom." 

" She came with mild eyes among locks that were 
pouring out heavily." These lines make no sense either 
in English or in Gaelic, but they are intended to de- 
scribe mild eyes amongst flowing locks. 

Tighmora Duan 7, p. 507 — 

" Tha 'n speur an losgadh nan reul," means — 

" The sky is in the burning of the stars," but is 
probably intended to mean that the sky is in a blaze 
with stars. 

Carthonn, p. 63. 

" Chunnaic oigh nan uchd glana na trein," means — 

"The maiden of the clean chests saw the heroes." 

"Thaom iad sa' chèile sa' bhlar," means, to a 
modern Highland ear, " They poured themselves out 
into each other in the battle." 

These are a few examples of passages which seem 
to me obscure, improper, or nonsensical ; they might be 
multiplied considerably. 

The language of the printed Ossian of 1807 differs 
entirely from that of the traditional ballads now ascribed 1 
to Ossian; it differs entirely from that of other pub-< 
lished Scoto-GaeKc poetry, except Dr. Smith's Seam 


Dana, Mordubh, and a few other pieces published by 
Gillies, Stewart, MacCallum, etc., and the language 
appears to be more tinged with foreign idioms even 
than Sean Dana, or any other Gaelic publication which 
I have read, Mordubh and some modern translations 
from English only excepted ; it diners entirely from 
Gaelic as spoken at present in the Highlands ; and it '* 
diners entirely from that of the Irish Ossianic poems 
which have been published by the Irish Ossianic Society. 
All these have a common bond, a common idiom, a 
common structure, though they differ in minutiae, and 
the common general idiom is seldom violated by any of 

Lastly, the Gaelic of 1807 differs from any speci- 
mens of ancient Gaelic which I have seen, but there 
are some passages in it which strike me as good speci- 
mens of Gaelic and of poetry. 

On examining other Gaelic poetry which has been 
published, it will be observed that it undergoes a gradual 
change in character from the more modern to the more 
ancient. The style and language alter as poems recede 
from the present day, and . it may be rf some inte- 
rest to the English reader to know something of this 
class of Gaelic poetry, it may not be out of place to 
give a short account of some few of the best known 
bards, and of a few of their works which bear upon 

We have Gaelic bards even in our own day, and 

these describe the life and manners which they observe 

around them — the dress, arms, food, drink, and habits 

of the day. Peasant bards are by no means extinct in 
vol. rv. N 


the Highlands, and if their compositions be not poetry 
of any great merit, they generally contain good sense 
and sprightly humour couched in pretty smooth verse. 
Almost every Highland district has even yet a bard, 
who enjoys a fair amount of renown in his own 
neighbourhood, and among his own class. Hector 
Boyd, who narrated to me so many tales, is reputed a 
bard in Barra ; in North Uist, Christian Macdonald, of 
whom I received several tales, is highly esteemed as a 
poetess. I was recommended to call on a man near 
Stornoway who is rather famous in Lewis, and whose 
name reached me even in Barra, a hundred miles away. 
I know some even in my own neighbourhood in Islay, 
though I have been told somewhere that Islay never 
produced a bard. To this I replied, that probably that 
was because the calling was not now respected there ; 
as a proverb current in the island would lead us to 
infer : — 

" Bard, a's ceard, a's filidh." 

A bard, a tinker, and a musician, which is the 
meaning of these words in Islay now. 

In examining the works of modern Gaelic bards, we 
find that figures and phrases, nay entire verses, have been 
considered common property. The same similes and 
phrases are used by all ; and sometimes a new song is 
but an old one with new names and a few alterations. 
An old song seems to have been considered good 
material for a new one, exactly as the stones of an old 
house are taken to erect another, and Druidical circles 
are broken up to make farm-steadings. 


It was quite a custom in the Highlands) and that 
not long ago, to meet for the purpose of composing verses. 
These were often satirical, and any one who happened not 
to be popular, was fixed upon for a subject. Each wag 
to contribute his stanza, and whoever failed to do his 
part was fined. Whenever a verse happened to be 
composed that was pretty smooth and smart, it took 
well, as might be expected, and spread far and wide 
like illnatured satire elsewhere. An exact counterpart 
of this custom prevailed amongst the ancient Icelanders, 
many of whom were descended from men who emigrated 
from the islands where the custom still survives. The 
Burning of " Njal," whose name is now a common one 
in the Highlands, and is pronounced nearly according to 
the English value of these letters, took place in 1011, 
and many of the tragical events recorded in the " Njal 
Saga " grew out of a ballad composed and sung at a 
meeting of neighbours in the house of Gunnar of 

Stanzas were at times added to old songs, and others 
were altered, but such alterations were not often suc- 
cessful, as old men and knowing critics objected. It 
was only when they possessed superior merit that they 
passed current; but as the Highlanders have a great 
veneration for their old ballads, any alterations made 
upon tjiem gave offence, and were rejected with indig- 
nation. This spirit must have helped to preserve 


Eecent Gaelic songs describe the manners of our 

own times, the dresses, arms, and professions of the 
* Story of Burnt Njal, vol. i., 136. 


day, but allude to past ages, and often mention the 
Feinne as well-known heroes. 

Among the latest bards, some of whose works have 
been published in the Beauties of Gaelic Poetry, ìb 
Donald MaoDonald, who was born in Strathmore, 
Boss-shire, in the year 1 780, and who died of cholera 
in 1832. Two of his songs only are published, one to 
Napoleon Bonaparte, and another to his sweetheart. 
In the song to his sweetheart, figure the words parson 
and seisoin. It is full of amorous sentiment; he must 
die without his sweetheart ; the silver of Europe and 
the gold of Egypt would not avail without her. 

The song to Bonaparte begins in rather a lofty 
strain ; the bard stands on the pavement of Edinburgh 
and sees the banners flaming in the sun ; he hears the 
guns, and he stays listening to them ; he hears the echo 
of the rocks replying to them with joy ; he hears music 
in every house ; he sees bonfires on the hills. It is 
heard from the gasaidean (gazettes), read everywhere, 
that Bonaparte had to fly. Bigh Deorsa, Caesar and 
his legions, the most of the Highland clans, the ten 
plagues of Egypt, Fontenoi, Morair Hundaidh, Diuc 
Earraghael, Diuc Mhontrose, Hanobher, chomannda 
(command), retreat, are names and words that embellish 
this modern Gaelic lay. 

Alexander MaoKinon is another bard that was 
nearly contemporary with the preceding. He was born 
in Morar, Arisaig, in the year 1770, served in the 9 2d 
regiment, and fought in the battle of Alexandria, where 
he received three severe wounds, which disabled him 
for any future service. He died at Fort- William in 


1814, at the age of 44. His songs are composed on 
the army, and on the battles fought between the French 
and British. He is extremely fluent in language, and 
his verse is very smooth. He seems to have been 
desirous of writing pure Gaelic, and avoiding English 
words ; for Sidney Smith is called Mac a Ghobha, 
Smith's son ; but for all that we have comisari. He 
compares Abercrombie to Fionn— not Fingal : 

" Mar Fhionn a* mosgladh sluaigh," 
" like Fionn arousing hosts." 

The names Alexandria, Aboukeir, Abercrombie, 
occur. 'Sasunn, England, is mentioned as a place, 

" Far am faigh sin leann am pailteas." 
" Where we shall get ale in plenty." 

The poet describes the shock of battle with graphic 
vividness, and speaks like an eye-witness. 

The style of Ewan MacLaohlin, though he was 
classically educated, and composed in four languages, 
does not differ much from that of the other Gaelic 
bards ; whom he seems to imitate closely. Though he 
helped to prepare the Gaelic Ossian for the press, and 
transcribed many old manuscripts into the Roman 
hand, he has taken very good care not to imitate the 
Gaelic of the Ossian of 1807, in the least, in his songs. 
These are composed in pure and beautiful Gaelic ; 
though, like the most of the Gaelic bards, he indulges 
in /excess of epithets, many of his lines consisting of 
strings of adjectives or adverbs. PJwebus, Bhenus and 
Eolus lent their aid to the well-instructed classical 


b Gaelic bards, as they do to the classical bards of other 
countries. Though the poet apparently has endeavoured 
to keep English out as much as possible, still he has 
failed, for a few English words have entered, such as 
pocar, will be packed ; sign, for one of the signs of the 

John Shaw, Loch Nell's bard, was born 1758, and 
died 1828. Among his songs is one to Fionnla 
Marsanta, Finlay the merchant, who seems to have had 
some antiquarian taste, and who dug up some old 
Druidical burying places, Cam nan Druidhneach, the 
Druid's Cairn. Of this act the poet expresses his 
disapprobation, and denounces Finlay for his conduct in 
very bitter words. There is a song to Bonaparte, whom 
the bard defies in strong language, enumerating the 
brave soldiers that were to meet him on British ground, 
and telling the hero of Marengo how he was to be 
treated; by — 

" Na shracas t-eanchainn agus t f heoil, 
Those who will rend thy brain and thy flesh." 

A very pretty love song is also amongst his composi- 

We have in the song of Finlay a description of 
blasting rocks with gunpowder, which seems to have a 
double meaning. 

Bhi cuir fudair aims na creagan, 
Chuireadh e eagal air bocain; 
Bhi gan tolladh leis an tora, 
8* bhi gan sparradh leis na h-ordan. 


Putting powder into rocks, 
It would terrify the bogles 
To bore them with the jumper, 
To be driving them with hammers. 

Tobacco comes in also 

"Tha Dughall trom air an tombaca" 
Dugald is heavy on the tobacco. 

The narrators of stories and reciters of verses in the 
Highlands are generally fond of the weed ; one story- 
teller makes a raven chew tobacco, but no reciter of 
Fenian poetry ever makes Fionn, Diarmaid, or Goll 
use the weed in any shape. The following English 
corruptions occur in the songs of this bard — bhaigeir 
(beggar) ; bhlastidh (blasting), fudair (powder), reisimeid 
(regiment), volunteers ; and the dress of the volunteers 
of that period is concisely and graphically described. 
Boinneidean, bonnets; cotaichean sgarlaid, scarlet coats; 
suaicheantas an righ, the king's arms ; cocard de dh' 
ite 'n eoin, cockade of the bird's feather ; and this is a 
true description of the dress of that period. 

There is an allusion to a well-known weapon of a 
preceding age which had fallen into disuse, to the 
poet's regret ; — for he says — 

'S na 'm biodh againn mar bu dual duinn, 
Lann chinn Ilich air ar cruachain, 
A sgoltadh an ceann gan guaillean, 
Ga 'm bualadh le smuais nan dorn. 

Oh had we as we ought to have 
Islay-hilted blades upon our thighs, 


Could cleave their heads down to the chine, 
To smite them with the pith of fista 

Allan MacDougall, Ailean dall, was born 1750, 
and died 1829. One of his songs is to Glengary. 
€i Luchd bhreacan an f heilidh." Those of the tartan 
dresses (now called belted plaids) are mentioned as 
those that would rise with Glengary their chief 
" Fuaim f headan," the sound of chanters, and " binneas 
theud," the melody of strings, are mentioned as pleasing 
to the chie£ who therefore enjoyed pipe music, and 
that of stringed instruments. In his songs to the 
shepherds, who were not favourites with the poet, he 
says of them that they have a Lowland screech in their 
throats crying after their dogs, and earnestly desires to 
keep them out, and not let their nose in, the reason 
being given in the following lines : — 

" Bho nach cluinnear aca stori, 
Ach craicinn agus cloimh ga reic, 
Cunntadh na h- aimsir, 's gach uair 
Ceannach nan uan mu 'n teid am breith." 

Since no tale is heard with them, 
But of skins and wool to sell, 
Telling the seasons and every weather, 
Buying the lambs before they are born. 

This, then, was not an age of pastoral Gaelic poetry, and 
the poet seems to have foreseen what has happened. 

The poet has a song to whisky also, in which he 
dwells on the wonderful virtues* of that drink like a man 


who likes it " It is delightful music to hear its murmur 
coming out of the stoup, heaping the cuach ; excellent 
to excite to dancing in the winter time ; it would make 
an old man hold up his head ; it will make a soldier 
of the coward ; it will "bring out conversation at meeting 
and assembling ; it is an unblundering physician ; the 
children of the Gael have no disease or ailment that it 
will not heaL" But there is another song composed to 
drunkenness, in which the serious effects of the favour- 
ite cordial are very feelingly expressed. The whole 
drinking bout is delineated with great animation. The 
man loses his strength ; his sight fails ; coming home 
in the dark he falls on his back in the midden. Morn- 
ing brings disgrace ; his breast is in flames, the rest 
carrying him home, believing all the time he was 
strong ; till at last he had lost his wits. After this 
come reflections on the folly of drinking and of empty- 
ing the purse. So modern Gaelic bards have been 
given to moralizing, and jollity, war, and love-making, 
but so far there is nothing in their compositions like 
the Fenian ballads, or the sentimental poems concern- 
ing their heroes whose authors are unknown. 

William Eoss was born in Broadford, parish of 
Strath, Isle of Skye, 1762; and died in 1790. He 
was grandson, by the mother's side,, to another cele- 
brated bard, known as the blind piper. At school he 
studied the classical languages, and in his songs the 
polish of the man of education may be traced, as his style 
is refined and cultivated, though remarkably natural and 
easy. The reader may perceive, without much diffi- 
culty, that he exerted his utmost endeavours to write 



his native language with purity and elegance. In his 
poetry we trace something like the gay, amorous strain 
of Moore, though not his richness of fancy ; the spirit 
of the classical poets may be readily traced in his 
verses. Some passages in his love songs are real gems, 
the force of the following lines could not easily be 
rendered in translation : — 

Tha deirge *s gile, 
Co-mhire gleachdanaich, 
ETa gnuis ghil eibhinn 
Einn ceudan airtneulach. 

The following gives the idea, but the spirit is 
gone : — 

" In her fair blythesome face, which has made 
hundreds long and grieve for love, the red and white 
are sporting with each other, and gently struggling for 

The Gaelic diminutives which make this verse so 
pretty, have no English equivalents. 

He composed an elegy on the death of Prince 
Charles, whom he calls "An suaithneas ban," the 
white badge. This elegy shews how deep the feeling 
of attachment to that unfortunate scion of an unfortu- 
nate house, had sunk into the hearts of the poet and 
his countrymen. The following are a couple of stanzas 
from this pathetic poem : — 

Nis cromaidh na cruitearan grinn 
Am barraibh dhos fo sprochd an cinn ; 
Gach beo bhiodh ann an strath na 'm beinn 


A* caoidh an co'-dhosgainn leinn. 

Tha gach beinn, gach enoc, 's gach sliabh, 

Air am faca sinn thu triall, 

JSTis air call an dreach 's am fiamh, 

nach tig thu chaoidh nan cian. 

Now the sweet lyrists will bow 
Their heads on the tree-tops in woe ; 
All that live on hill op plain 
Their common loss with us bewaiL 
Every hill, and mount, and moor, 
Upon which we saw thee move, 
Now have lost their sheen and beauty, 
For thou wilt not come back for aye. 

This differs widely from the spirit and metre of 
Ossian, both traditional and published. 

The Highland dress is a favourite theme with Boss, 
as with other Gaelic bards. In a song, which fits the 
music of a reel, he rejoices over the Act of Parliament 
which repealed the Act forbidding the national costume, 
and gives a glimpse of Highland manufactures, which 
still survive in spite of spinning jennies. He says — 

Thainig fasan anns an achd 

A dh' ordaich pailt am feileadh ; 

Tha eiridh air na breacanan 

Le farum treun neo-lapanach. 

Bidh oighean thapaidh sniomh 's a dath, 

Gu h-eibhinn ait le uaill ; 

Gach aon diu 'g eideadh a gaoil fein 

Mar 's reidh le 1 anns gach uair. 


A fashion has come with the Act 
That ordered kilts in plenty ; 
There's raising of the tartan plaid 
With dextrous busy noise. 
Smart maidens now will spin and dye, 
With mirth and fun and pride ; 
Each one adorning her own true love 
As always is her joy. 

This bard has also a song to whisky, and another 
to u Macnabracha," the son of malt. Whisky is drink, 
par excellence, which would raise the mind to polite- 
ness ; and not " druaib na Fra-inge," the trash of 
France, by which he means wine ; it will make the 
maidens speak, however modest ; it will put gentleness 
in the boy ; it will make the carl amorous. An t Olla 
Maclain, Dr. Johnson, according to the bard, took a 
glass of it himself, notwithstanding his Greek and 
Latin, and thereby impaired the power of his tongue. 

" Dh' fhag mac na bracha e gun lide, 
Na amadan liotach dalL" 

Mac malt has made him speechless, 
A thick-speaking blinded fool. 

Classical names are interspersed through all his 
compositions, while Greek and Roman deities are 
favourites. Phcebus gilds the mountains, Flora covers 
each hill and dale with flowers ; his sweethearts have 
all the qualities of Diana ; Cupid throws his arrows 
with a lavish hand ; the flames excited by the love- 
god are to be quenched only by yielding to Venus and 


Apollo ; and the nine play their part But English 
corruptions are not to be found, and the Gaelic in very 
pure and correct Boss is not so profuse in epithet* 
as the other poets, but he has enough to be in character 
with them. 

Duncan Macdtttre was born in Glenorchy 1 724, 
and died in Edinburgh in 1812. The first of his bal- 
lads is composed to the battle of Falkirk, freight 
between the royal feces and the Highlander* who 
joined Prince Charles. The battle is described with 
very great graphic power ; and though the bard fought 
upon the royal side, it is evident, f»m his song, that 
the Prince, and those who fc/fir/wed him, had a wana 
corner in his heart. His cnro ffigirt, and that '>f hi* 
party, is told so as to lead m to th?ak teat Le wa* j^x 
ataHdisgdeasfdwith tife r*s*Jt. * JU a ^/g/ be ?e*4* 
us, a chases ffc**p wìgj* t^j a» nrcnritig b/*u Xt+, 
iaee of aglea,**> w*Bztk*rr t£*aet&c 'A '/a *&h? •** 
horse of the ««et w*» w*£ ««#£, we£ «*?£*£, **u-2 
marked oat fbr ranee. H-jewr**. ju* >£* wt *»*>■ 

Efca jxr^ni acr jifiuc lit Vr^t : 

*g asx sscul 5»cl a V e^uut Vu«2ues*£i* 

TW vnganiosti aa*s&i»st v&&a&* , r 
It wis -a^x wiit id* v. fot 

which he ptrr.auh** liar wvyix- *suiu/^ r n* ****- 
heart, and framesaw & J> #ȣ yu^ir.** ' ^^ 


aid " (Janet) is her name, and " George" is her grand- 
father. In Gaelic there are but two genders, so that 
every inanimate object is personified in ordinary speech, 
hence formal personification is seldom found in the 
poetry of the language. The poet tells that he scours 
his musket himself, and puts oil on it ; that he puts it 
to his eye, and that it will not miss fire ; it will keep 
him in drink in the alehouses, and it will pay each 
stoup that he buys ; it will keep him in clothes and 
linen ; so that he may lay the cares of the world 

One of the longest of his pieces is " Beinn Dorain," 
which is very much admired. It imitates a pibroch, 
and the stanzas vary exactly as the pibroch does; 
some of them being in a slow, and others in a quick 
measure. The poet is very happy in his verse, which 
is exceedingly smooth and fluent. This poem is en- 
tirely descriptive. Whatever is interesting about this 
mountain, which gained so much of his admiration, is 
given with great minuteness. The wood, the deer, the 
hunt, the wild flowers, and herbs, are portrayed with 
great vividness ; still there is an excess of epithets, 
which is tedious. Macdonald composed a piece of the 
same kind previous to this, which Macintyre has imi- 
tated ; but, in fact, the measure is but a mere exten- 
sion of the poetical parts of the long heroic tales which 
were in those days, and still are, so abundant in every 
district of the Highlands. The measured prose of 
those tales resembles a pibroch, as may be seen by 
glancing at the tale of " The Slim Swarthy Champion," 
W. H. Tales, voL i. " Coire cheathaich " is a beautiful 


descriptive poem, full and circumstantial, but less 
tedious than Beinn Dorain. 

The following specimen will give an idea of this 
species of poetry, though translation cannot convey 
the original vigour to the reader : — 

Tha bradan tarra-gheal 's a choire gharbhlaich, 

Tha tigh 'n o'n fharige bu ghailbheach tonn ; 

Le luinneis mheamnach a* ceapadh mheanbhchuileag, 

Gu neo-chearbach le cham-ghob crom ; 

Air bhuinne borb, is eleum gu foirmeil ; 

'Na eideadh colgail bu ghorm-glas druim; 

Le shoillsean airgid, gu h-iteach, meana-bhreac ; 

Gu lannach, dearg-bhallach, earr-gheal sliom. 

There's a white-bellied salmon in the rough grassy 

Coming from the sea of the wild raging waves ; 
With stalwart leapings catching the little flies, 
Unfailingly, with his bent crooked nose. 
In the raging current as he leaps so cheerily, 
In his gallant array of the blue-gray back, 
With his silvery spangles well finned, and fine 

Scale-i-ly, red-spotted, white-tailed, and slim. 

This is genuine Gaelic poetry of a man who could 
read nature, though he could not read books ; and his 
countrymen have done well to erect a monument to 
Duncan Macintyre near his favourite glens, at the head 
of Loch Awe. 


A fashion has come with the Act 
That ordered kilts in plenty ; 
There's raising of the tartan plaid 
With dextrous busy noise. 
Smart maidens now will spin and dye, 
With mirth and fun and pride ; 
Each one adorning her own true love 
As always is her joy. 

This bard has also a song to whisky, and another 
to " Macnabracha," the son of malt Whisky is drink, 
par excellence, which would raise the mind to polite- 
ness ; and not " druaib na Frainge," the trash of 
France, by which he means wine ; it will make the 
maidens speak, however modest ; it will put gentleness 
in the boy ; it will make the carl amorous. An t Olla 
Maclain, Dr. Johnson, according to the bard, took a 
glass of it himself, notwithstanding his Greek and 
Latin, and thereby impaired the power of his tongue. 

" Dh* fhag mac na bracha e gun lide, 
Na amadan liotach dalL" 

Mac malt has made him speechless, 
A thick-speaking blinded fooL 

Classical names are interspersed through all his 
compositions, while Greek and Roman deities are 
favourites. Phoebus gilds the mountains, Flora covers 
each hill and dale with flowers ; his sweethearts have 
all the qualities of Diana ; Cupid throws his arrows 
with a lavish hand ; the flames excited by the love- 
god are to be quenched only by yielding to Venus and 


Apollo ; and the nine play their part. But English 
corruptions are not to be found, and the Gaelic is very 
pure and correct. Boss is not so profuse in epithets 
as the other poets, but he has enough to be in character 
with them. 

Duncan Maointtre was born in Glenorchy 1724, 
and died in Edinburgh in 1812. The first of his bal- 
lads is composed to the battle of Falkirk, fought 
between the royal forces and the Highlanders who 
joined Prince Charles. The battle is described with 
very great graphic power ; and though the bard fought 
upon the royal side, it is evident, from his song, that 
the Prince, and those who followed him, had a warm 
corner in his heart. His own flight, and that of his 
party, is told so as to lead us to think that he was not 
at all displeased with the result. " As a dog," he tells 
us, " chases sheep while they are running down the 
face of a glen,* so were they scattered on our side ;" the 
horse of the enemy were well shod, well bridled, and 
marked out for murder. Moreover, he tells us also — 

Bha ratreud air luchd na berla ; 

'S ann daibh fein a b' eiginn teicheadh. 

The outlandish speakers retreated ; 
It was they who had to flee. 

Another song of his is composed to the musket, in 
which he personifies that weapon, calling it his sweet- 
heart, and enumerating all its good qualities. " Seon- 

* This idea also occurs in measured prose in the tale of 
Murdoch MacBrian. 


aid" (Janet) is her name, and " George" is her grand- 
father. In Gaelic there are hut two genders, so that 
every inanimate ohject is personified in ordinary speech, 
hence formal personification is seldom found in the 
poetry of the language. The poet tells that he scours 
his musket himself, and puts oil on it ; that he puts it 
to his eye, and that it will not miss fire ; it will keep 
him in drink in the alehouses, and it will pay each 
stoup that he huys ; it will keep him in clothes and 
linen ; so that he may lay the cares of the world 

One of the longest of his pieces is " Beinn Dorain," 
which is very much admired. It imitates a pibroch, 
and the stanzas vary exactly as the pibroch does ; 
some of them being in a slow, and others in a quick 
measure. The poet is very happy in his verse, which 
is exceedingly smooth and fluent. This poem is en- 
tirely descriptive. Whatever is interesting about this 
mountain, which gained so much of his admiration, is 
given with great minuteness. The wood, the deer, the 
hunt, the wild flowers, and herbs, are portrayed with 
great vividness ; still there is an excess of epithets, 
which is tedious. Macdonald composed a piece of the 
same kind previous to this, which Macintyre has imi- 
tated ; but, in fact, the measure is but a mere exten- 
sion of the poetical parts of the long heroic tales which 
were in those days, and still are, so abundant in every 
district of the Highlands. The measured prose of 
those tales resembles a pibroch, as may be seen by 
glancing at the tale of " The Slim Swarthy Champion," 
W. H. Tales, voL i. " Coire cheathaich" is a beautiful 


descriptive poem, full and circumstantial, but less 
tedious than Beinn Dorain. 

The following specimen will give an idea of this 
species of poetry, though translation cannot convey 
the original vigour to the reader : — 

Tha bradan tarra-gheal 's a choire gharbhlaich, 

Tha tigh 'n o'n fharige bu ghailbheach tonn ; 

Le luinneis mheamnach a' ceapadh mheanbhchuileag, 

6u neo-chearbach le cham-ghob crom ; 

Air bhuinne borb, is eleum gu foirmeil ; 

'JSa eideadh colgail bu ghorm-glas druim ; 

Le shoillsean airgid, gu h-iteach, meana-bhreac ; 

Gu lannach, dearg-bhallach, earr-gheal sliom. 

There's a white-bellied salmon in the rough grassy 

Coming from the sea of the wild raging waves ; 
With stalwart leapings catching the little flies, 
Unfailingly, with his bent crook'd nose. 
In the raging current as he leaps so cheerily, 
In his gallant array of the blue-gray back, 
With his silvery spangles well finned, and fine 

Scale-i-ly, red-spotted, white-tailed, and slim. 

This is genuine Gaelic poetry of a man who could 
read nature, though he could not read books ; and his 
countrymen have done well to erect a monument to 
Duncan Macintyre near his favourite glens, at the head 
of Loch Awe. 


In one of his love songs is the expression, " Deud 
gheal iobhraidh" white ivory teeth ; while his own 
occupation of huntsman is portrayed for us in the 
following lines : — 

" Mharbhainn duit geoidh, 
A's ròin, a's eala, 
'S, na h-eoin air bharraibh nan geug." 

I'd kill for thee geese, 

And seals, and the swan, 

And the birds on the tops of the twigs. 

In his song to the Black Highland Watch, in 
which the bard beautifully delineates the exploits of 
that regiment, they are mentioned as dressed — 

Le 'n osanan breaca 

'S le 'm breacana 'n fheil, 

with chequered hose and with belted plaids ; armed 
with " glas lann," gray blade ; " s' an dag," and the 

" Gan tearmunn nan sgèith," 
Without protection of shields, 

" Le 'n gunnacha glana," 
With their glancing guns, 

Spoir ur air an teannadh 
Gu daingeann nan gleus, 

new flints tightened firmly in their locks ; biodagach, 
daggered ; fudarach, supplied with powder ; adharc- 


ach, supplied with powder-horns ;* so he describes the 
dresses which he saw ; but, yet, in a song composed 
in praise of the Marquis of Breadalbane, occur the 
lines — 

" 'S tu thog na ciadan 
A shliochd nam Fianntan ;" 

It is thou who hast raised hundreds 
Of the offspring of the Fenians ; 

from which it appears that the poet considered his coun- 
trymen to be the descendants of the Ossianic heroes. 

He has a song to breeches, in which he complains 
sadly of being obliged to wear them ; the tightness 
about the knees he considers extremely inconvenient. 

" Putanan na gluinean, 
Aa bucalan gan dunadh," 

Buttons in its knees, 

And buckles enclosing them. 

like Ross, Macintyre rejoiced at having the dress 
of his country restored, and at being no longer obliged 
to wear — 


Cota ruigeadh an t-sàil, 

Cha tigeadh e daicheil duinn." 

A coat that would reach the heel 
It would not become us welL 

* These words made into English of the same construction, 
do not convey the meaning. " Daggery, powdery, horny," would 
be absurd in English poetry, but they are the words in Gaelic. — 
J. F. C. 

vol. rv. o 


" Chuir sinn a' bhrigis air lar, 
'S cha d' thig i gu bràth a' cuiL" 

"We have laid down the " breegis" on earth, 
She will never come out of the nook. 

Then comes something more agreeable — 

" Osan nach ceangail ar ceum, 
'S nach ruigeadh mar reis an glun." 

Hose that bind not* our stride, 
That reach not the knee by a span. 

The Highland dress is a principal theme with all 
the bards that flourished at the same period with 
Macintyre. They grieve deeply for being deprived of 
it ; praise it as the finest, the most becoming, and the 
most convenient of all garbs. Breeches, black hats, 
and long coats, are made the subjects of keen satire ; 
and the bard taxes all his wits to make the lowland 
dress the most ludicrous and the most contemptible 
that can be conceived. Like other poets of the same 
period Macintyre composed bacchanalian songs, mostly 
in praise of whisky, but there is one to brandy, from 
which it appears that the Gaelic poet by no means 
coincided with Burns in his opinion of this drink, for 
he does not call it burning trash, but praises it 

In his " Moladh Dhun Eideann," the praise of 
Edinburgh, the appearance of the city, and the dress 
of the period, are described by the poet in his happiest 
manner, — 


" 'S iomadh fleasgach nasal ann 
A bha gu suairce, grinn : 
Fudar air an gruagan," etc. 

Of the ladies lie says — 

" Stoise air na h-ainnirean 
Gan teannachadh gu h-arcL" 

" Buill nihais air eudainn bhoidheach." 

" Brog bhiorach, dhionach, chothromach, 
S bu chorracb leam a saiL" 

Many a gentle youth was there 
That was polite and kind, 
Powder upon their hair, etc. 

Stays upon the demoiselles, 
To tighten them above. 

Beauty spots on pretty faces. 

Shoe pointed, tight and elegant, 
And tottering seemed the heeL 

There is no gas mentioned, for there was none ; but 
what there was the bard tells — 

Bidh lochrainn ann de ghloineachan, 
A *s coinneal anns gach ait 

There will be lanterns of glasses there, 
And a candle in every place. 

Clous na Parlamaid — the Parliament Close — occurs. 


So Macintyre described what he saw, in good 
Gaelic verse, which fits the music of his time, and 
alluded to the Ossianic heroes as to something well 
known to everybody, though of a past age. 

Robert Mackay, a native of Sutherland, usually 
called Rob donn, Brown-haired Robert, was born in the 
year 1714, and died in 1778. His Gaelic is full of 
English words, but there is no trace of English idiom, 
Among his songs is one in praise of Prince Charles, in 
which the prince is compared to Solomon in wisdom, 
to Samson in strength of hands, and to Absalom in 
beauty. There is a song, but not one of praise, to long 
black coats, " Oran nan casagan duhha." Mackay is 
one of the keenest of Gaelic satirical poets. The fol- 
lowing English corruptions are found in his songs — 
line, parlamaid (parliament), pension, sergent, chomi- 
sion (commission), choilair (collar), gabharment (gover- 
ment), prise (prize), strainsearan (strangers), trie (trick), 
ranc (rank), fhine (fine), bhataillean (battalion), elec- 
tion, choinrad (comrade). While all these English 
words have crept into this bard's composition, his 
Gaelic is, at the same time, strictly grammatical and 
idiomatic. The only allusion to the Feinn in his 
songs, is in the case of a servant whom he has nick- 
named Eaolan, but that is enough to shew that he 
knew about the Feinne. 

Lachlan MacPherson of Strathmasie, was born in 
the year 1723, and died in the latter end of the 
eighteenth century. Four songs of his are published 
in the Beauties of Gaelic Poetry, and some are in 
Gillies. One is a lament for Hugh MacPherson of 


Cluny ; one is a coarse satire on drunkenness ; another, 
called " A Bhanais Bhàn," the white wedding, is a 
very humorous song, in which a newly-married couple, 
well advanced in years, are the subject ; another to 
breeches, is rather indelicate. The language of Mac- 
Pherson is entirely free from English words or cor- 
ruptions ; it is pure, grammatical, and idiomatic, what- 
ever the ideas may be. The character of his poetry is 
that of the other popular bards, and bears not the least 
resemblance to that of the Ossian of 1807. In his 
lament to Cluny he introduces the nine muses. The 
following is a specimen of his verse, from the White 
"Wedding — 

Labhair fear na bainse fein, 
Tha dath airgeid oirn gu leir ; 
Mar dean fear beurra rann oirn ? 

The bridegroom he spoke up himself, 
We are all of a silvery hue ; 
What ails us beneath the sun, 
Unless a ribald rhyme us Ì 

It is said that a copy of the seventh book of Temora, 
in Gaelic, still exists in the handwriting of this bard, 
with all manner of corrections written in. The Gaelic 
of the seventh book, as published, is very different indeed 
from Stratum ashie's songs, and it is hard to believe 
that he was the author of Ossian. There is no pecu- 
liarity in the idiom of the songs to countenance this 
theory, which has been adopted by many. 


John MacCodrum was noted in his day for his 
knowledge of the Fenian poems. Sir James Mac- 
Donald of Sleat, in a letter to Dr. Blair of Edinburgh, 
dated Isle of Skye, 10th October 1763, says of him, 
" I have heard him repeat, for hours together, poems 
which seemed to me to be the same with MacPherson's 

MacPherson met him on his way to Benbecula, 
and asked him, " Am bheil dad agad air an Fheinn? " 
This mode of putting the question is fully as ambi- 
guous as many passages of the Gaelic Ossian of 1807, 
for it may mean either, Do the Feinn owe thee any- 
thing] or, Dost thou know anything about them? 
The bard considered it a fit subject for his humour, 
and replied, " Cha'n 'eil, is ged do bhitheadh cha 
ruiginn a leas iarraidh nis." "JSo; and though they 
did (owe me anything) it would be vain to ask it now." 
The poet's banter rather wounded MacPherson's dig- 
nity, so he cut short the conversation and proceeded. 
If the people of Uist were the same race then that they 
are now, a collector of MacPherson's temper would 
have very little chance of obtaining either poems or 
stories, though they were as " plentiful as blackberries 
in August ;" for whoever expects to be successful in 
getting stories there, must cultivate patience and good 
humour, take a joke and make one ; and, if he does 
that, he may be assured that he can get plenty of fun, 
as well as wit as brilliant and sparkling as he could 
meet with in Green Erin, provided he understands 
Gaelic. There is a lampoon composed by this bard to 
the bagpipe of one Domhnull ban, Fair-haired Donald, 


which is exceedingly humorous, and in which he 
says — 

" Shearg i le tabhunn 
Seachd cathan nam Eiantan." 

It withered with yelping 
The seven Fenian battalions. 

But he says, that the Gael loved the pipes as Edin- 
burgh people ti (tea), though this old and execrable 
pipe had weakened for the first time — 

" Neart Dhiarmaid a's Ghuill." 
The strength of Diarmaid and of GolL 

Turcaichy Turks, Gearmailtich, Germans, Fran- 
gaich, Frenchmen, figure in this bard's verses. Scrip- 
ture names are frequent. The names, Eigh Phruisia, 
King of Prussia ; Troidhe, Troy ; Koimhe, Kome, are 
also found. 

So this bard noticed the small circumstances which 
mark the manners of his own time, such as the tea- 
drinking of Edinburgh, and referred to the national 
music of the Highlands ; and to the old heroes as 
equally well known. 

Alexander MacDonald was born in the beginning 
of the eighteenth century. He joined Prince Charles 
in 1745, and many of his songs are composed in praise 
of the prince and of his cause. His language is exceed- 
ingly vigorous, and his poetry is impassioned. Clas- 
sical names, as well as English words, are freely used, 
but there is not the least trace of classical imitation in 


his style, which is as characteristically Gaelic as can 
be. His songs begin in the same abrupt, simple man- 
ner, as those of the most illiterate bards do; and, 
like the most illiterate of them, he is guilty of an 
excess of epithets. His pieces composed to nature are 
purely descriptive. There is one long poem, composed 
to a ship, remarkable for the manner in which it brings 
out the power of the poet, and the copiousness of the 
language. Much of this bears a strong resemblance to 
the description of the- sailing of boats in Gaelic tales. 
The bagpipe he prefers to the harp, which he calls 
Ceol nionag, maiden's music. Whisky and the national 
garb have received his greatest attention. 

Phoebus does good work for the bard, Eolus will 
send good strong winds, and Neptune will smooth the 
ocean. Mars is also busy. Yenus and Dido are equalled 
by his beauties. Telesgop (telescope), sign Chancer, 
sign Thaurus, Thropic, Chapricorn, Gemini, Mars, 
puimp (pomp), are terms that occur. Bacchus does 
not pass without notice either, for mention is made of 
" Altair Bhachuis," the altar of Bacchus. Scripture 
names are frequent. In this respect this bard differs 
from those who composed the Ossianic poems. 

John MacKay, usually called " Am Piobaire dall," 
the Blind Piper, native of Gairloch, Eoss-shire, was 
born in the year 1666, and died in 1 754. His versifica- 
tion differs considerably from that of the bards of the 
eighteenth century, being a good shade nearer to that of 
the Fenian poems. The language also seems to be a good 
deal older than that of MacDonald or his contemporaries. 
He makes several allusions to the Ossianic heroes : — 


" Max Oisian an deigh nam Fiann," 
like Oisian after the Fiann. 

" Mac righ Sorcha, sgiath nan arm, 
Gur h-e b' ainm dha Maighre borb." 

King of Sorcha's son, shield of the arms, 
That his name was Maighre borb — 

which is a quotation from an old ballad which is still 

" 'S dh' imich o Fhionn a bhean f hein ; " 
And his own wife went off from Fionn ; 

which alludes to the story of Graidhna 

Scripture words abound, such as " Gu'm beann- 
aiche dia," may God bless ; " beannachd due," the bless- 
ing of God. 

The Gaelic of this bard is idiomatic, and not a 
single English word is to be found in his poems. In 
his^" Coire an E^am," are strings of epithets, which 
peculiarity, as has been already observed, pervades the 
compositions of all the known modern Gaelic bards. 
The drinking vessel mentioned is corn, a horn, and 
the drink, wine, not' whisky. 

Eoderick Morison, commonly called " An Clarsair 
daiy the Blind Harper, a native of Lewis, was born 
in the year 1646, and died at an advanced age. His 
Gaelic is altogether free from English words and idioms, 
but is less ancient in structure than that of MacKay, 
the blind piper. Drinking is mentioned, but the kind 
of drink is not named. The word stop, stoup, occurs. 
The following terms relating to the Christian religion 


are found: — la Caisge, Easter Day; " Seachduin na 
Ceu&da," the week of the Crucifixion ; u deireadh a' 
Charbhais," the end of Lent ; and these mark the exist- 
ence of Catholicism. 

Lachlan MacKinnon, native of Skye, flourished in 
the middle of the seventeenth century. His language 
is remarkably pure, and without the least trace of 
foreign idiom ; nor is there an English word to be met 
with in his verses. In a song composed in praise of 
a young lady, "Diarmaid" is alluded to — 

" Fhuair thu 'n iosad buaidh o Dhiarmaid, 
Tha cuir ciad an geall ort." \ 

Thou gotst in loan a gift from Diarmaid, . 
That puts a hundred in pledge to thee. 

This alludes to the beauty spot on Diarmaid's brow, 
which no woman could see without loving him. 

In a satirical song on a certain dagger, the follow- 
ing reference is made to the enchantment of the Feen, 
W. H. Tales (xxxvi.) :— 

"Bu mhath 's a' bhruthainn chaorainn i, 
'S an coannag nam fear mor ; 
'S e Fionn thug dh' i an latha sin, 
At t-ath-bualadh na dhorn." 

Good was it in the Kowan burg, 
And in the big men's strife ; 
It was Fionn who gave it on that day, 
The next stroke in his fist 

The next stanza tells how many men Fionn slew on 


the occasion ; so the poet implies that the dirk in ques- 
tion was a weapon of the time of the Feinne. " Breacan " 
and "Ftìle," tartan plaid and kilt, are mentioned as the 
dress worn by the Highland chiefs of the poet's time. 

Neil Currie, native of South Uist, was born in 
the beginning of the seventeenth century, and was an 
old man in the year 1717. In the few pieces of his 
which are published, we have an insight into the man- 
ners of the time. There is the word "putTiar" from 
the English word power. Brandy, French wines, and 
wax candles, are spoken of as luxuries with which the 
bard was familiar at the house of his chief. Among 
the musical instruments mentioned, are the bagpipes 
and the fiddle. No allusion is made to beer or whisky. 

John MacDonald, usually called Iain Lorn, lived 
in the reigns of Charles L and IL and died at 
an advanced age, about the year 1710. His lan- 
guage is full of English corruptions, but is fairly 
grammatical ; yet, upon the whole, in smoothness and 
elegance of expression he falls far short of a great 
number of the other bards. As a satirist he has M 
rival. Scripture names are very frequent in his pieces. 

Mart MacLeod, native of Harris, was born in the 
year 1569, and died at the advanced age of 105. Her 
language and verse are remarkably fluent and easy. 
English words abound, but the idiom is very pure. 
The harp, chess, and the tales of the Feinne, are men- 
tioned as amusements common in MacLeod's castle. 
The bow is spoken of as an offensive weapon then in 
use, while fire-arms, targets, and swords, meet with 
their due meed of praise. Scripture names abound. 


Many old songs, by known and unknown authors, 
describe battle-axes and bows, and these may be re- 
ferred to a period later than the Fenian period, and 
earlier than that of the bow. Bows and spears are 
mentioned together in some ballads ; spears drop out, 
and bows are named along with battle-axes ; in others, 
and further on, bows, battle-axes, and firearms, are 
mixed up together. 

The following are lines recited in Islay, and 
assigned by tradition to the time of the battle of Traigh 
Ghruineart, fought between MacLean and MacDonald 
in the reign of James the Sixth : — 

" Fhir na feusaige ruaidhe, 
Gur trom do bhuille 's gur cruaidh e ; 
Bhris thu leithcheannach mo thuaighe ; 
'S gad rinn thu sin 's math learn buan thu." 

Man of the russet beard, 

Heavy is thy blow and hard ; 

Thou hast broken the broad side of my axe ; 

And though thou hast, long mayst thou live. 

How the old Highlanders fought with axes we 
learn from Barbour's Bruce, book second, in which the 
following expressive lines occur : — 

" But the folk of the other party 
Fought with axes fellyly ; 
For thai on fute war ever ilkane, 
Thait feile off their horss has slain, 
And till some guiff they wounds wid." 


An old war song exists, styled, " Prosmacha catha 
Chloinn Domhnuill le Lachunn mor MacMhuirich 
Albanaich, la Catha Harla," "Battle incitement of 
the MacDonalds, by big Lachunn, son of Albanian 
Muireach." MacMhuirich or Currie was Clanranald's 
bard, and this song is said to have been sung by 
him at the battle of Harlaw. It consists of seventeen 
stanzas of unequal length, and every word in each 
stanza begins with the same letter of the Gaelic 
alphabet, which has but seventeen letters. The particle 
gu is prefixed to everv word, which makes them all ad- 
verbs, and so every ìine of the song begins with g. 
The Eoman order of the letters is followed ; that is, a, 
b, c, etc., which is not the same as the Oghum, or old 
Gaelic alphabet. The whole is a list of adverbs, ex- 
cepting two lines at the beginning, and eleven at the 
end, expressive of various military virtues, all set to a 
lively quick measure.* The number of lines is 336. 

The following is the last stanza of this curious old 
song : — 

Gu urlamhach, gu urmhaiseach, 

Gu urranta, gu uraluinn, 

Gu urchleasach, gu uaibhreach, 

Gu uilf heargach, gu uaillfheartach, 

Gu urchoideach, gu uabhasach, 

Gu urrasach, gu urramach, 

Gu urloisgeach, gu uaimhshlochdach, 

Gu uachdarach, gu uallach, 

* The measure is exactly that of the quick part of a piobair- 
eachd, or piperiDg, called " pibroch" in English. The conclusion 
fits the slow ending of such pieces. 



Gu ullamh, gu usgarach, 

Gu urmhailleach, gu uchdardach, 

Gu uidhimichte, gu ughdarach, 

Gu upagach, gu uilef hradharcach, 

Gu upairneach, gu urghleusach, 

Gu urbhuilleach, gu urspealach, 

Gu urlabhrach, urlamhach, urneartmhor, 

Gu coisneadh na cathlarach, 

Ki bruidh'ne ur biughi, 

A Chlanna Chuinn cheudchathaich, 

'Si nis uair ur n' aithneacha, 

A chuileanan conf hadhach, 

A bheirichean bunanta, 

A leoghuinan langhasda, 

Onnchonaibh iorghuileach, 

De laochraidh chrodha, churanta, 

De chlannaibh Chuinn cheudchathaich, 

A chlannaibh Chuinn cuimhnichij)h, 

Cruas an am na h-iorghuil. 

So dexterously, so gracefully, 
Intrepidly, audaciously, 
So actively, so haughtily, 
AU-wrathfully, so yellingly, 
So hurtfully, so dreadfully, 
Trustworthily, honourably, 
So zealously, so grave-pit-ly, 
Superiorly, cheerfully, 
So readily, so jewelled, 
Well-mailed-ly, high-breasted-ly, 
Preparedly, authoritatively, 


Pushingly, all-seeing-ly, 

Bustlingly, right trimmed-ly, 

Well-striking-ly, well-mowing-ly, 

Eloquently, dexterously, all-powerfully, 

To win the field of battle, 

For the telling of your glory, 

Children of Conn of a hundred fights, 

This now is the hour to know you, 

Ye furious whelps, 

Ye stout dragons, 

Ye splendid lions, 

Ye standards of stout battle 

Of brave gallant warriors, 

Of the children of Conn of the hundred fights, 

Children of Conn remember 

In the time of battle hardihood. 

The arms used at the battle are indicated in various 
lines throughout the piece. It is worth remark that 
no fire-arms are mentioned in the Owl, which is sup- 
posed to be still older than the Battle Ode. 

Gu cuilbhaireach, gu cruaidhlannach, 

Gu sgabullach, gu srolbhratach, 

Gu reimeil, gu ughf heinneach, 

Gu 8uilfhurachair, gu saighid ghear, 

Gu scianach, gu spionach, 

Gu scaiteach, gu sciathach, 

Gu tuadhbhuilleach gu tarbhach. 

So culverined, so steel bladed, 
So scabbarded, so silk bannered, 


So powerfully, so Feinne king like, 

So knife armed, so pullingly, 

So choppingly, so shieldly, 

So axe blow-ly, so bull-like, 

So eye-watchingly, so arrow sharp-ly. 

A " CHOMHACHAG, ,, the Owl, is an ancient piece, 
published in Gillies, and also in the Beauties of 
Gaelic Poetry. It is attributed to one Donald Mao- 
Donald, a celebrated hunter, who lived before the 
invention of fire-arms. This piece approaches nearer 
to the Fenian poems in character than anything to be 
found in the compositions of the above-mentioned bards. 
In one of the stanzas, there is an allusion to the con- 
fessional : — 

"Deansa t-fhaosaid ris an t-shagart." 
Make thy confession to the priest. 

The erection of a mill is spoken of as something 
notable : — 

" 'S rinn e muillean air Allt-Larach." 
And he made a mill on Allt-Larach. 

The hunting life is delineated with glowing enthusi- 
asm, and the various animals of the chase, as well as 
domestic animals, are enumerated — " eilid," the hind ; 
"feidh" deer; laogh, calf; meann, kid; earb, roe; 
loch, duck ; gadhair, hounds. Bogha, bow, is fre- 
quently named, but no other offensive weapon. The 
Fenians are introduced in one line — 


" Chi mi Srath-Oisein nam Fiann." 
I see the Strath of Oisean of the Fiann. 

Though there is a reference to drinking, no special 
drink is named. Among the animals, there is no 

mention of " Ion," which so frequently occurs in the 

Fenian ballads, and which is supposed to be the elk. 

In this poem we meet with much of the poetry of 
nature, but it is very different from that which is found 
in the Ossian of 1807, or in Dr. Smith's Seann Dana 
(old poems), but it is similar in kind to that which is 
found in the compositions of the bards already quoted, 
to that of the Blind Piper, of MacDonald, and of Mac- 
intyre. It is descriptive, but neither philosophical nor 
contemplative. Natural objects are not so much matter 
of speculation as of feeling. The poet speaks of them 
as something that he strongly loves ; something to 
which he is strongly attached ; and which he praises as 
he does his friends, his home, or his country. When 
this Gaelic bard speaks of inanimate objects, he does it 
like those above named, he speaks as if they were his 
familiar friends — we think they live, and that they are 
in his mind by the fireside along with him. He 
enumerates every beauty and excellency connected with 
them ; not so much because he admires the beauties 
that he finds in them, but because he loves them. This 
is the species of poetry which proceeds from the Celt's 
strong attachment to home and country — from that 
feeling which makes him sigh for his native home in 
a foreign land, though successful in life, and surrounded 
with comforts — that feeling which inclines him to pre- 

VOL. IV. p 


fer the barren heaths, foaming cataracts, and rugged 
mountains of the Highlands to the fairest lands on 
which the sun shines. 

In following the long list of Scoto-Gaelic bards 
from the present day to the author of " A Chomhachag " 
(The Owl), we find the spirit of this poetry uniform and 
unaltered. From Macintyre's " Coire cheathaich " 
(the Corry of Mist), to " A Chomhachag " (The Owl), it 
is very much the same in character. The following 
quotation from , M The Owl " will illustrate what has 
been said : — 


Creag mo chridhe 's a* chreag ghuanach, 
Chreag an d* fhuair mi greis de m' arach ; 
Creag nan aighean 's nan damh siubhlach ; 
A' chreag urail, aighearach, ianach. 

Chreag mu'n iathadh an fhaoghait ; 
Bu mhiann learn a bhi ga taghal, 
Nuair bu bhinn guth gallain gaodhair 
A* cur graidh gu gabhail chumhainn. 

'S binn na h-iolairean mu 'bruachan ; 
'S binn a cuachan, 's binn a h-eala ; 
A's binne na sin am blaoghan 
Ni an laoghan mèana-bhreac, ballach." 

Crag of my heart, the lightsome rock, 
The rock where I was partly reared ; 
Kock of the hinds and roving stags ; 
Kock that is verdant, and gay with birds. 


The rock which the hunting shout encircles ; 
To haunt it would be my joy, 
When the voice of the baying hounds was sweet, 
Urging the herds to a narrow pass. 

Sweet sound the eagles in its braes ; 
Sweet are its cuckoos, and sweet its swan ; 
Sweeter than all is the bleating 
Of the spotted, fine-speckled fawn, 

How different is this from the address to the sun 
and similar poetry in Ossian ; yet it will be found to 
be the same in character with MacDonald's, Mac- 
intyre's, and all other modern Gaelic bards. The 
germ of it is to be found in the Fenian ballads, as, for 
instance, that line in the Lay of Diarmaid — 

" 'S gur truagh m' aghaidh ri Beinn Ghulbann." 

From the traces of this style to be found in these 
old poems, it has expanded into its more modern 

In the works of all these bards, which extend over 
a period of several centuries; for one piece, composed 
as a war-song for the Highlanders who fought at Har- 
law, is referred to the same date, 1411, the manners of 
each age are delineated. There is a difference in the 
language corresponding to each period, but that differ- 
ence is inconsiderable. The bards belong to different 
parts of the Highlands, but no marked difference of 
dialect appears in their compositions, and this agrees 
with the prevalent opinion among Highlanders that 
good Gaelic is something definite, though they axe not 


unanimous with regard to the district where good 
Gaelic is to be found. The difference in spoken 
dialects is more in pronunciation, accent, and the use of 
certain words in one place rather than another, than in 
grammatical structure or idiom. In reviewing the 
compositions of these known bards, we observe that, as 
a rule, the earlier the period the purer is the language, 
and the freer from English words. The idiom of the 
language found in this poetry is very far removed from 
English, and, on that account, it is very difficult to 
transfer the meaning of a passage accurately into 
English, and much more so to give its force and spirit. 
Though the works of these modern bards differ in lan- 
guage from the Fenian ballads, they vary in words rather 
than in idiom. The versification differs, but the songs 
approach the ballads nearer, the older they are ; almost 
all these modern poems contain allusions to Christianity 
and scripture names. No superhuman deeds are men- 
tioned, nor anything out of the range of probability ; 
but when we look at "Mordubh," and the other poems 
of the same class, we perceive a style that stands far 
apart from all these, and from the Fenian ballads. 
Between the language of the Fenian poems, that of the 
works of the known bards, and that of spoken Gaelic, 
there is a common bond of union that is easily dis- 
covered ; the others are something apart. 

The preservation of these Fenian ballads for many 
ages may, at first sight, appear incredible, more espe- 
cially when successive generations of poetry relating to 
historical events have died out, and when we have so 
little concerning the chiefs and warriors that flourished 


in Scotland during the seventh, eighth, ninth, and suc- 
cessive centuries, down to the fifteenth. We have 
no traditional ballads that refer to the wars of Wallace 
and Bruce, hardly a tradition relating to them. All these 
great men have passed away from the Highland popular 
mind as if they had no existence, and yet these pre- 
historic traditions remain How is it that no succeed- 
ing poetry, no national history, has been able to supplant 
them Ì If they kept their ground in the midst of the 
compositions of successive ages, we must surely admit 
that they possessed a peculiar merit suiting those times, 
that they were superior to anything new that was pro- 
duced, or at least that they were more fitted to take 
hold of the feelings of all periods. It may be asked 
were they not the compositions of modern bards Ì 
Those bards, so far as we know their history, quote 
them as something older than their own times. Grant- 
ing that they are not the compositions of any known 
bard, may they not have been the composition of 
bards previous to those, but still of a period not very 
remote — of the monks of a certain period ? Had they 
been the compositions and inventions of such men, was 
it likely that there should be so little reference to reli- 
gion, and to known general history, in the ballads 
which give the history of the Feinne, as told by Oisein 
amongst his dialogues with St. Patrick on religious mat- 
ters, or as they are more commonly now sung, without 
these pagan polemics. In monkish compositions, Greek 
and Eoman history are often present, and there is much 
in these poems which we can hardly think monks 
would be inclined to encourage. When \2asa. n**& *0eàs> 


poetry composed ? "Was it in the tenth century ? If so, 
wliat was the poetry of the Gael previous to that 
century? Had they any? Roman writers answer 
— " The Caledonians went to fight the Romans sing- 
ing war songs ;" hut we are not informed what they 
sang, though we may surmise. Did Fenians or Fenian 
traditions exist in the time of the Caledonians? If 
so, probahly there were Fenian ballads then also, and 
these may he the old ballads of the Caledonians modi- 
fied, developed, and altered, but preserved from under- 
going any radical change by popular veneration down 
to our own day. 

Why these have been so well preserved, and have 
outlived so many historical periods, may be accounted 
for by their universality. Highland chiefs were at 
war with each other, and lasting animosities subsisted 
between them. A song in praise of a certain chief 
was not likely to be acceptable to an inimical clan. 
A ballad in praise of clan Chattan would not please 
the clan Kay. A poem that extolled the exploits of 
Robert Bruce, would meet but with a cold reception 
among the Macdougalls of Lorn, or among the depen- 
dents of the Comyns of Badenoch. The bard that 
would run the risk of praising the merits of James the 
First among the Grahams, or among the dependents of 
those relatives of his own whom he had so cruelly 
executed, might risk having his tongue cut out, but 
the Fenian ballads could be sung anywhere. They 
were not likely to excite any feud, or awaken any old 
grudge, or recall any former disgrace. They were 
not calculated to wound either a reigning dynasty, or 


the partizans of a fallen one ; and, indeed, during those 
wild times, when every man's hand was against his 
brother, what better code of honour could have existed 
among such fiery elements. When chiefs violated the 
principles of chivalry, and honour, and fair play, what 
better check could we conceive as a moral restraint upon 
their wild passions than the traditions of the Feinne, 
whose name is still the watchword for Mr play. 
" Cothrom na Feinne," " Fenian's advantage," a fair 
field and no favour. 

To tbe list of modern bards who refer to the Feinne, may be 
added the name of Evan MacColl, the Lochfine-side bard, who 
published a volume of very creditable English and Gaelic poetry 
in 1836. At page 94 is a Gaelic stanza, which may be thus 
closely translated : — 

And thou there standing all lonely. 

As Oisian after the Feinne ; 

Small time, and thou followest kindred, 

Oh Dun ! death's strong hand is upon thee. 

The Dun meant is " castail donnain," in Loch Dubhaich in 
Ross-shire. Other references also occur, and it may be generally 
said, that there is hardly a Gaelic book that does not contain 
such references. William Livingstone, the lslay bard, who pub- 
lished clever poems in 1858, often mentions the Feinne. — J. F. C. 

To this let me add the letter of a labourer, who 
has a good head and small learning, but knowB his 
own language well. 

Douchlais, 28th October 1861. 

Sir — I received your letter of the 24th Saturday 


There is a good many words in Ossian's poems 
that is not common in modern Gaelic. I have Dr. 
Smith's Gaelic book, and I got it from a man because 
that there was so many words in it which he did not 
know the meaning of, and I understand them. 

Them (the poems) that I heard repeated corresponds 
with those that is in the book. 

I am quite convinced that the English was taken 
from the Gaelic, and not the Gaelic from the English. 

It would be quite absurd to think that a man 
would spend his time studying old Gaelic for to trans- 
late English prose, and put it in Gaelic varse, and 
choose the words as they were spoken about seventeen 
hundrid years ago : it would be a very laborious task ; 
and if the publication was printed, the publisher would 
be a great loser by it, as so few would buy it, because 
they did not understand it ; and none would be able 
to do it, unless he was a first-class Gaelic scholar, and 
a good poet ; and also he would have to read some 
other poems, as old as Ossian's, for to find the measure 
of the metre, as some of them is composed to a measure 
that is not used in modern poetry. I understand 
the Gaelic of the published books. I understand the 

words separately. — Yours truly, 

John Dewar.* 

To this let me add a letter from Mr. Torrie, now 
a student at Edinburgh College, who has collected 
stories for me, and lives in Benbecula. 

* It is to be observed that this witness says nothiDg of the 
Hod:- ^i*ian of 1807. 

published and traditional. 2 i 7 

Benbecula, South Uist, 
19th October 1861. 

My dear Sir — As I have conversed with al- 
most all those from whom poems have been collected 
in this quarter, I flatter myself that I am now in a 
position to furnish you with my quota of information 
on this interesting subject. 

Besides these poems which have been collected, the 
proof sheets of which I have perused, a great variety 
of other poems, which go under the name of " Ossian's 
Poems," are commonly recited by the people. A few 
of these I have already sent you ; and I have still in 
my possession two long ones, called respectively — 
" Teanntachd rrihor na Finney" and " Oath mac High 
na Sorcha." " Laoidh Dhiarmid" " Laoidh FJiraoich" 
"Laoidh anAmadain Mhoir" " MhuileartachBhuidhe" 
and " Laoidh a Choin duibh" are, however, the most 
common. Fragmentary pieces of these I have heard 
recited by some of our highest class ; but those who 
have them most entire, are, comparatively speaking, the 
poorest and most illiterate in the land — those from 
whom they might be the least expected — so circum- 
stanced that they have had no access to books, and even 
should they have, the most of them could not make any 
use of them. Neither were they in a position to mingle 
among those who could read, and had books. Books, 
however, which contain collections of Ossian's Poems, 
are not so common here as might be expected. None 
of the reciters that I have met, ever heard of Gillies', 
MacCallum's, or Stewart's. I have never seen any of 


these in the islands ; and if they are to be found at all, 
it is with those who prize them too much to lend to 
such of the poorer classes as could read, to run the risk 
of being disfigured with black drops, and sure to have 
the not very agreeable odour of peat-reek. Donald 
Macintyre, Aird, Benbecula, the best reciter of poems 
that I have met, and who can read Gaelic well, never 
saw any book of the kind until I shewed him Dr. 
Smith's collection. I have traced out another copy 
of Dr. Smith's at Iochdar, which was presented to 
one Peter M'Pherson, a bit of a poet, by the Reverend 
Duncan M'Lean, now Free Church Minister at Glen- 
orchy, when missionary here about thirty-five years 
ago. Every person with whom I have conversed 
about Ossian's Poems, and who knows anything about 
them, admires them very much, and believes them to be 
the genuine composition of Ossian, as pure as might be 
expected, considering that they were handed down by 
tradition, and consequently lost a great deal of their 
pristine splendour ; and received additions which, in- 
stead of adding, detracted considerably from their ori- 
ginal merit. I believe there are very few in the 
Highlands, especially adults, but know something of 
Ossian's Poems. Like the " Popular Tales," which are 
universally found throughout the Highlands, Ossian's 
Poems have formed a very important part of the High- 
landers' pastime through the long winter nights. 
When on my way home from Edinburgh last spring, 
I read Laoidh Dhiarmid to a few in Skye. They re- 
membered to have heard it before ; and some old men 
remarked that, when they were young, tales and poems 


were very common, and regretted very much that they 
were so much out of vogue with the present generation. 
I never met with any of Ossian books there but one, 
the Eev. Mr. MacLauchlan's Gleanings, presented to a 
"guide" by an English tourist. I never heard of any 
Irish book containing these pieces in the islands, nor 
have I ever seen any myself!, As I have not MacPher- 
son's, which is the best known of them all, nor Gillies*, 
nor Stewart's, I cannot say whether those who repeat, 
recite passages a la MacPherson, a la Stewart, or a la 
Gillies. Donald Macintyre recited to me a poem entitled 
"Cath MacEigh na Sorcha," which I find in Dr. 
Smith's collection, note page 176. They Tesemble 
each other very much ; in some passages the language 
is the same ; Macintyre's version, however, is longer, 
though Dr. Smith's, upon the whole, is more beautiful. 
In the course of a conversation lately with a gentleman 
of no mean authority, on the Ossianic controversy, he 
expressed his surprise that the anti-Ossianics would use 
such futile arguments as that MacPherson was the 
author of these poems, or that the people get them from 
books, while he himself had a distinct recollection of 
hearing one Eory M'Queen, commonly called Euairi 
Euadh, who was a catechist in this parish, recite poems 
which can be found in MacPherson's. This M'Queen 
died about thirty years ago at the advanced age of eighty. 
He had a great many of Ossian's poems, which he learned 
when a boy by hearsay, and with which he afterwards 
used to entertain his hosts when travelling from village 
to village on his catechetical visits. A niece of his, 
who now resides at Paible, North Uist, has the same 


hereditary talent which procured her uncle more 
celebrity than his catechetical acumen. This Mac- 
Queen was no less than fifty-five years of age when 
M'Pherson's Gaelic was published, and fifty-seven 
before Stewart's or M'Callum's appeared. In what- 
ever way, therefore, people came to have these poems, 
it is a well-known fact that they never got them from 
books, for nothing can be more patent than the fact 
that these poems existed long before MacPherson's, or 
Stewart's, or M'Callum's, or Gillies', or Miss Brooke's 
came into existence. Nor is it consistent to suppose that 
MacPherson, were he really the author of the poems, 
would give them unto the world as the composition of 
Ossian, while they were of themselves sufficient to raise 
him to the pinnacle of fame, and establish his name as 
the greatest poet that Scotland ever produced. I do 
not believe, however, that these minor pieces are the 
composition of Ossian. They differ as much from them 
as a school-boy's attempts at painting do from the 
sublime efforts of Baphael or Michael Angelo. As to 
the question whether these are Irish or Scotch, I can- 
not give a definite answer. After some reflection, 
however, my opinion preponderates to the latter, for 
though there are some words and phrases which to me 
were unintelligible until the reciters explained them, 
and which they considered Irish, still I would not be 
justified in calling such ballads as contain them Irish, 
on the slender ground of this mere " ipse dixit," for 
they may have retained that much of the language 
in which they were originally composed, and which 
may have been the dialect common in Scotland at that 


time. They are apparently very old, and it is possible 
at the time they were composed the language of both 
countries was the same, considering they had one 
common origin. By whom they were composed, or at 
what time they were composed, cannot, with any de- 
gree of certainty, be determined. They stretch back 
into a period of whose history I know very little, and, 
consequently, I am precluded from adding more. — 
Meanwhile, I remain, yours very faithfully, 

D. K. Torrie. 

J. F. Campbell, Esq., etc. etc. 

To this let me add the opinion of a Highlander, who 
had had much to do with the publication of Gaelic 
books, and lives in a city. 

62 Argyle Street, Glasgow, 
November 9, 1861. 

My dear Sir — In compliance with your request, 
I will now proceed briefly to give you my opinion of 
the poems attributed to Ossian and other ancient Celtic 
bards. Although a doubt never crossed my mind re- 
garding the genuineness of these productions, yet after 
a careful investigation of the subject, I have now a 
more definite and satisfactory impression of the matter 
than I had heretofore. I believe that " Fingal fought, 
and that Ossian sang," as firmly as I believe any other 
historical feet. I have now the same opinion of them 
that I had thirty years ago, when I first began to take 


an interest in these matters, namely, that such indi- 
viduals lived many centuries ago, and composed poems 
that have been handed down from generation to genera- 
tion by oral recitation, and that many of these fragments 
have been collected and translated into English, and pub- 
lished by Mr. James MacPherson of Badenoch, exactly a 
hundred years ago, and by others since, such as Dr. John 
Smith of Campbeltown, Duncan Kennedy, Hugh and 
John M'Callum, etc. I believe all that is truly poetical 
and ennobling in MacPherson's translation are the pro- 
ductions of Ossian and other great bards of the same era ; 
but while I believe and maintain all this, I give it as my 
humble conviction that MacPherson used unwarrantable 
liberties with his originals. Ossian never composed 
" Fingal " and " Temora " as they are given by him, and 
it would be much more to the credit of our country had 
he given these fragments just as he collected them, 
without linking them together as he has done, and 
called them " Epic Poems." I also complain of Mac- 
Pherson for excluding passages which accorded not with 
the theory which he wished to establish, and thus en- 
deavoured to fix the Fingalian era according to his own 
fancy ; but this is not the worst — I have a graver charge 
than any of these to bring against him. I have no 
hesitation in affirming that a considerable portion of the 
Gaelic which is published as the original of his trans- 
lation is actually translated back from the English. 
I have discovered this by the aid of fragments (no 
doubt genuine) published in the Highland Society's 
Keport. These fragments begin at page 192, and 
end at page 260. A literal translation is inserted 


on opposite pages, with. MacPherson's translation in 
foot-notes. MacPherson's translation is pretty faithful, 
with the exception of omitted passages, which under 
other circumstances might be supposed to have been 
translated from a different version ; but when we 
are presented with the Gaelic, purporting to be the 
original, the deception is too transparent to pass unde- 
tected. I am aware that this assertion is detrimen- 
tal to the honesty and veracity of Mr. MacPherson, and 
perhaps to the character of those who superintended 
the publishing of the Gaelic after his death, but I affirm 
this as my honest conviction of the matter ; and any 
Highlander of ordinary intelligence may satisfy himself 
on this point by comparing the Report and MacPherson's 
Gaelic. From this, and other circumstances, it is evi- 
dent that MacPherson determined to appropriate to 
himself the literary glory of these productions. If not, 
why bequeath in his " last will and testament " £1000 
to defray the expenses of publishing Ossian's poems in 
Gaelic, English, and Latin Ì This fact, I think, ought 
to exonerate those superintending the Gaelic, as they 
were merely carrying out his request as his executors. 

But, notwithstanding all I have mentioned, we are 
indebted to Mr. MacPherson for what he had done. 
He was the first to draw the attention of foreigners to 
these wonderful compositions, and others following his 
example, matter has been collected and preserved that 
would have been for ever lost. Mr. MacPherson's 
translation, in my opinion, is superior to the paraphrase 
of Dr. Smith ; but the Gaelic of Dr. Smith is genuine, 
with the exception of his emendations and occasional 


interpolations, where he thought the sense required it, 
and which he candidly acknowledged. Dr. Smith being 
a ready poet, and a thorough Gaelic scholar, spared no 
pains in making his " Seann Dana " worthy of the 
patronage of his countrymen ; and no wonder although 
he was disappointed when his labours were not suffi- 
ciently appreciated. 

There are other parties who have done some harm, 
alleging that they were the authors of some of the com- 
positions which passed as Ossian's. Mr. Kennedy 
claimed some of his collection as his own. Mr. M'Callum 
of Arisaig published a volume of Gaelic poems and songs 
in 1821, in which he gives a "Seann Dan* 1 under the 
designation of " Collath" which in course of time was 
honoured by a place in " The Beauties of Gaelic Poets," 
the editor endorsing it as an ancient poem; but in 1840 
Mr. M'Callum published a new edition of his poems, 
and very coolly " removes the deception," using his own 
words, and avows himself the author of " Collath" and 
very modestly retains the fulsome notes which he him- 
self appended to it on its first appearance. It is doubt- 
ful if the author would have been so ready to remove the 
deception had " Collath " not been so highly honoured 
by the editor of the " Beauties." Mr. M'Callum added 
a third part to " Mordubh" and 259 lines to the second 
part more than is given in Gillies' collection. He does 
not say that the supplement to " Mordubh " is his, nei- 
ther do I charge him with imposing on the reader by 
this ; but I am not satisfied that either the first, or 
last, or any part of " Mordubh " is genuine. 

I have mentioned tihssfc cYccwmstances in order to 


remove, so far as I can, all that has the appearance of sus- 
picion or doubt about the matter ; but all the deceptions 
that have been practised do not affect the sterling worth 
of the poems of Ossian any more than the base coin 
affects the value of the real one. It will only make 
those into whose hands it may come try it and make 
sure that it is genuine. 

It may be objected, a How could so much matter 
be preserved on the memories of the people without 
the aid of letters ?" Those who have lived in the 
Highlands for any length of time know well how these 
productions have been preserved. In former times 
Highlanders had very little else to remember; or, 
rather, they did not remember much else. Socially 
disposed, they spent much time together ; on the long 
winter evenings they assembled in a certain house, re- 
hearsed and listened to these records of Fingalian 
achievements which were thus interwoven with their 
mental development. Hence the continual opposition 
manifested by the religious instructors of the High- 
landers to " Sgeulachdan" and Ossianic poetry. These 
teachers had serious difficulties in getting the attention 
of the people, in consequence of their minds being pre- 
occupied and absorbed by this ancient lore. 

Bishop Carswell, in 1567, complains of those who 
spent their time and intellect in perpetuating the re- 
cords "concerning Tuath de dannan, Fionn Mac- 
CumJiail and his heroes, rather than write and teach and 
maintain the faithful words of God, and of the perfect 
way of truth." But Mr. Eobert Kirk, of Balquhidder, 
who published the first metrical Gaelic \ets&fflL <& ^aa 



Psalms in 1684, is more charitably disposed towards 
the Fingalians. (See page 76.) 

The assertions of Bishop Carswell are fully borne 
out by the well-known Christian poet, Peter Grant of 
Strathspey, who composed about forty years ago. He 
says in " Gearan nan Gaidlieal :" — 

" An t-Sàbaid ghlòrmhor bu chòir a naomhadh, 
'Stric chaith sinn faoin i o cheann gu ceann, 
Le cainnt ro dhiomhain mu thiomchioll Fhianntaibh, 
'S gach gnothach tiomal a bhiodh 'n ar ceann ; 
Air cnuic 's air slèibhtean, 's na tighean ceilidh 
Bhiodh-mid le chèile a' tional ann, 
Ach cha b'e 'm Blobal a bhiodh 'ga leughadh 
Ach faoin sgeul air nach tigeadh ceann." 

The glorious Sabbath that should be hallowed, 
Oft spent we in trifling from end to end 
With useless chattering about the Feeantain, 
And each timely matter that was in our mind. 
On knolls or hillsides, or in visiting houses, 
We w r ould be together all gathering there ; 
But 't was not the Bible that was read there, 
But a silly tale told without an end. 

I think these quotations prove two things ; first, 
that Ossian's Poems are older than James MacPherson; 
and second, that it is not a matter of astonishment that 
Highlanders could preserve so much of the poetry of 
former ages, seeing that they applied all their mental 
powers in remembering and^i^etuating it. I cannot, 


indeed, wonder at the clergy, teachers, and catechists 
opposing the " conventicles" (to use an ecclesiastical 
term) for rehearsing and hearing Fingalian lore, as the 
practice interfered so much with their usefulness. But 
these traditions served a purpose, and accomplished 
their mission ; and like other dispensations of anti- 
quity they passed away. They were the " elementary 
school-books " of the Celts in bygone ages ; they 
helped to strengthen and expand their memories, and 
to sharpen their intellects ; and the morals inculcated 
by them were generally sound. Those who are fami- 
liar with our national proverbs and maxims, must ac- 
knowledge that the men who first uttered them, and 
those who gave them currency, studied human nature 
deeply. The Highlanders had also many problems and 
riddles, as you are well aware, that required much in- 
genuity and application to solve. I will refer you to 
one of these as a specimen ; it goes under the designa- 
tion of " Aireamh Fir Dhubkain" You will find it, 
I think, in Stewart's collection. There is much truth 
in what Dr. M'Leod of St. Columba, Glasgow, uttered 
on one occasion, although he was laughed and sneered 
at by some for it : — " Even the superstition of the 
Highlanders, dark and wild as it may appear, had a 
happy tendency in forming the character of the Gael." 
Undoubtedly it had ; and while I am anxious that my 
countrymen should possess knowledge that will be 
more serviceable to them in time, and shall make them 
happy in eternity, I am ready to pay my tribute of 
gratitude to the memories of the teachers of former 
generations, for inculcating a sense oi \Jd& \x&\&X£&&3 <& 


everything in this world, and the folly of expecting 
ranch from creature comforts — for the love of country 
and kindred, and for the noble, generous, and hospi- 
table spirit they infused into society — the fruit of 
which I, in common with my countrymen, am reaping 
in the latter half of the nineteenth century. 

It is evident that the learned pride of many of our 
Anglo-Saxon neighbours was roused on the appearance 
of the Ossianic fragments. They could not conceive 
how an unlettered people could produce such poetry ; 
but they ought to have remembered that the knowledge 
of letters is but one avenue for conveying knowledge to 
the human mind. I have met and associated with 
individuals who had " book knowledge " in abundance, 
but yet had neither the sense or the wit of some who 
knew not the letters of the alphabet, and could not be 
consulted with equal advantage in a case of emergency. 
A knowledge of letters, and of the English language, is 
the essence of all knowledge and wisdom in the estima- 
tion of the " Gall" These two items are certainly re- 
quisites in our education ; but it is doing the Celt great 
injustice to conclude that because he is ignorant of 
these he must be very stupid and ignorant of every- 
thing. Highlanders have serious difficulties to contend 
with, which require indomitable courage and perse- 
verance to overcome. A young Celt leaves his native 
hills with scarcely a word of English " in his head," and 
comes to the Lowlands. In course of time he masters 
the language of the " Gall" competes with him, and 
often beats him on his own soil. There is no evidence 
of inferiority of intellect in tins. 


Fearing that I have done more than what you wished 
me to do, I remain, my dear Sir, yours faithfully, 

Archibald Sinclair. 

To this let me add the opinion of a Highlander who 
has been stationed in many districts of the country as 
an excise officer ; a gentleman of good education, and 
well able to write Gaelic and English, who has been 
kind enough to collect stories, etc. for me. 

" It is well known that, in the absence of literature, 
men supply the deficiency by tales, which may be of 
their own creation, or that of ages long gone by. It 
were strange if the imaginative, the sensitive, the en- 
thusiastic Gael were without his. Strange it were if 
the children of the mist themselves were without this 
poetic element in their constitution. But it is not so. 
In all ages the Celtic tribes have been noted for their 
tales, poetry, and music, and all these are characteristic. 
They breathe the same melancholy sadness, the same 
enthusiastic wildness, and the same daring chivalry. 
Their tales are pure and simple, their poetry is assuredly 
that of nature. It is wild and romantic, sensitive and 
sad, affectionate and kind. Their music is known and 
admired all over the world. 

There are all sorts of Highland tales — fabulous, and 
romantic ; fairy tales, and tales of superstition, family 
tales, tales of gallant deeds, and, I regret to say, tales 
of deadly feud. 

The Highlanders distinguish between all these. To 
the fabulous tales they give no cxeafcuca, \s\& TaKt&^ 


repeat them because they are curious. The romantic 
tales they do not exactly believe, but think they might 
possibly be true. Fairy and superstitious tales are not 
now generally believed. But family tales, feudal tales, 
and tales of other years form the history of the 
Highlanders. These they believe, and repeat with 
pride. A Highlander always takes pride and plea- 
sure in the noble actions and gallant deeds of his 
country. His own clan is a special pride to him. It 
is his standard of honour, and he would as soon tell of 
anything disreputable to his own family as he would to 
his clan. His clan may be few now, its members may 
be scattered to all ends of the earth, but he speaks of 
it when it was a clan, and he recounts its fall with 
sorrow and regret. These tales are generally to be 
found amongst the poor and unlettered people. They 
cherish the memory of their fathers ; they tell their 
tales, recite their poems, and sing their songs ; they 
have the pride and generosity of their fathers, and, 
alas ! the penury consequent on their fathers' misfor- 
tunes. These tales are to be found amongst the old. 
For obvious reasons, the young do not take the same 
interest in them. Consequently these relics of anti- 
quity must necessarily be lost, and scarce a trace of 
them be found in another generation or two. 

These old men and women are, indeed, generally 
poor, but they have generally seen more comfortable 
circumstances. Their houses may not be perfect speci- 
mens of architecture, but they are of kindness and 
hospitality. Their furniture may not be comfortable, 
ag to the modern acceptation of the term, but 


it suffices for their use, and every article is endeared 
by family associations. Their dress may be humble, but 
it can boast of having been teazed, carded, and spun by 
a wife or a daughter. It may not be fine, but it is 
comfortable, and it is, notwithstanding, pleasant enough 
to look upon. Their fare may not be over plentiful, 
but the stranger is always welcome to a share of it. 

They are never rude, boorish, or vulgar, uncivil, 
disrespectful, or insolent. On the contrary, they are 
naturally civil and deferential, but they are naturally 
reserved. This I have experienced. I have often gone 
to old men, and although I was told they had the 
greatest stock of old lore of any in the place, yet 
they would either equivocate, or maintain the most pro- 
voking silence. They would much rather know who 
I was, if they did not know me, and why I was so 
desirous to get sgeulachdan faoin sTieana bhan — old 
wives' silly tales. I had always to wait till I had gained 
their confidence. To shew them that I was interested 
in their tales, I have often told them one myself — 
perhaps one I had got a few days before ! If they 
knew of any expressions belonging to the tale which 
I had not, they would repeat them at my request. 
Thus I have often got many valuable additions. 

Fabulous tales are the most difficult to get, not 
because they are the rarest, but because they are un- 
willing to tell them to strangers. Historical tales are 
the easiest to get. They are known everywhere, and, 
more or less, by every person. " Sgeulachdan na Feinn" 
or the Fingalian tales, are very common. Clan or 
historical tales, and those of the Fingalians, are the 


most admired. These are believed in, and consequently 
talked of seriously. Many of these correspond to a 
nicety with Ossian's poems. Bat many more hare no 
coincidence with them. 

I met an English tourist in summer, and we had 
occasion to speak of FingaTs Cave in Staffa. He said 
very authoritatively that Frugal, Ossian, and his compeers 
must have been all fiction — in short, mere creations of 
MacPherson's own fency ; that no person ever heard of 
Ossian till MacPherson's days; that no MSS. of Ossian's 
poems were ever seen; and, finally, that they were 
never known to exist amongst the people. This was 
certainly a new theory to me, but, like many others, I 
saw that the gentleman who felt himself at liberty to 
speak thus freely of Ossian's poems, did not take the 
trouble to examine for himself. That he heard or read 
of this, and believed it. I told him that hundreds of 
years before MacPherson existed, the poems of Ossian 
were well known, and alluded to in writing; that Mac- 
Pherson stood exactly in the same relation to Ossian as 
Pope did to Homer, or Dryden to Virgil ; that MSS. of 
Ossian's poems were well known to exist in the Highlands 
long before MacPherson's time. That some of those 
MSS. were to be seen at an eminent London publisher's 
at the very time Dr. Samuel Johnson was declaiming 
against the authenticity of Ossian's poems ; and, lastly, 
I told him that, so far from it being at all true that 
Ossian's poems were not known amongst the people, 
if he would have the goodness to accompany me, and 
in less than five minutes' time I would bring him to a man 
who could repeat hundreds of lines of Ossian's poems. 


While speaking of MacPherson, I may state that 
many Gaelic scholars think he might have done greater 
justice to their darling Ossian. Without averring that 
MacPherson might not have rendered Ossian much 
more effective, I think he has done remarkably well. 
He has deserved the gratitude of every Highland heart, 
and of every man of taste. 

Ever since I remember myself I remember hearing 
of the Fingalians. Who that has lived in the Highlands 
but must necessarily have heard the same. Their ex- 
ploits, bravery, and battles have been the theme and 
admiration of Highland seanachaidhean from time im- 
memorial. That these may have been exaggerated is 
possible, that they had a foundation in fact is unques- 

I have frequently questioned old men concerning 
the Fingalians in almost all parts of the Highlands, from 
Cape Wrath to the Mull of Cantyre. If they had 
heard of them — what they heard of them — and if they 
believed in them? I have never in one single in- 
stance met a negative. All had heard of them, and all 
firmly believed in their existence. Some could give 
me anecdotes of them, some tales, some their poems, 
and all could give me something. I could mention 
scores, but I must necessarily confine myself to a few 

1. Dugald Ban Mac a Chombaich, i.e., Colquhoun, 
Port-Appin, is, I should think, somewhat over seventy 
years of age. He is a most decent old man. He could 
tell me lots about the Feinn. He heard much about 
them when a boy. They were believed in, and their 


memory honoured by his fathers, and he could see no 
reason why he should not do the same. I took down 
a few tales from him. One of them I had taken down 
previously from a decent old man in Islay, who lives 
at Cultorsay. Another was about Diarmad, how he 
killed the wild boar, and how he was killed in turn. 

Diarmad was a nephew of Fingal, and one of the 
handsomest men amongst the Fingalians. He had a 
" Bàllseirc," or a " Gradh-seirc" — a beauty-spot on hia 
forehead. To conceal this he was obliged to wear a 
vizer. Otherwise he was in danger of committing sad 
havoc amongst the tender hearts of the Eingalian fair. 
This is alluded to by one of our Gaelic poets. The 
passage may be thus translated — 

Thou hast from Diarmad got a charm, 

And beauty rare, divine ; 
A hundred souls are bound to thee — 

A hundred hearts are thine. 

There is a very common tradition that the Campbells 
are descended from Diarmad, and hence their crest — 
the wild boar's head. 

2. Alexander Macdonald, Portrigh, Skye, is eighty- 
four years old. Heard a great deal about the Feinn 
when young. Ossian's poems were quite common in 
his day. Had lots of them himself, and even yet can 
repeat a good deal. I took down some from him. 
Amongst other things, part of "Laoidh na Nhighin." 
This old man was serving with the Rev. Mr. Stewart, 
who kept, he said (if I remember right), two clerks 
employed collecting the poems of Ossian throughout 
the country. 


3. Donald Stewart, Ardfhraic, Skye, is ninety-two 
years of age. He is still hale and cheerful, and his 
faculties quite unimpaired. He is a quiet unassuming 
man, and is altogether a fine specimen of a fine old 
Highlander. He rememhers well the days of his youth. 
Great and sad changes have come over the country 
since then. He heard much about the Feinn. Heard 
often the poems of Ossian. They were quite common 
in his day. Every person knew them, most could recite 
them, and all admired them. As long ago as he can 
remember anything, he remembers distinctly how the 
people used to collect to each other's houses in the long 
winter nights. They used to tell tales of all descrip- 
tions, sing the songs of their fathers, and recite the 
poetry of Ossian. The old men recited while the young 
listened. Those who were the best recited, and all 
endeavoured to excel. They took a special pleasure in 
tMs^andinùnpresaingtheLmo^of'the /oung with 
what they were reciting. Some of the men were very 
old. They said they got them from their fathers when 
they were young. That their fathers — that is, the old 
men of their day — told them they had those tales, 
traditions, and poems, from their own fathers. That 
Ossian's poems were then as well known and as much 
admired as anything at all could possibly be. 

Assuming, then, that some of these men were as 
old as Donald Stewart is to-day, when he was a boy, 
we have thus direct and truthful evidence of the 
authenticity of the Poems of Ossian for the last one 
hundred and eighty-four years. What more need be 


From Donald Stewart, of whom I have often heard, 
but whom I have only once seen, I got some curious 
old things. I shall endeavour to see him again ere 
long, when I have no doubt I shall get extracts from 
him of Os8ian, in all his purity. 

4. Kenneth Morrison, Trithean, Skye, is old and 
blind. I need scarcely mention that he heard much of 
Ossian in his young days. A very decent old man, 
John Macdonald, Iain Maclain Eoghain, Talamhsgeir, 
Skye, used to come to Kenneth Morrison's house. 
This John Macdonald died more than twenty years 
ago. He was about eighty when he died. He was a 
very good poet, as were his fathers before him, and so 
are his sons. One of his sons, who composed some 
very popular songs, died some years ago. 

4 a. John Macdonald was a passionate admirer of 
Ossian. He had a great many of his poems, and could 
recite them most beautifully. Wherever he went he was 
welcome, and every person was delighted to get hold 
of him. He was a very pleasant old man, but his 
recitals of his darling Ossian fascinated all. His own 
house was full every night, and whenever he visited 
any of his friends he was literally besieged. He often- 
times came to see Kenneth Morrison, and when he did, 
Kenneth Morrison's house was sure to be crowded — 
literally crammed. From him he learned the most 
of what he has of Ossian's. He has forgotten the most, 
but he has a good many pieces yet. Amongst other 
pieces, I have got from him "The Death of Oscar," 
"Ossian's Address to the Sun," " Fingal," the 
beginning of Duan iv. Also, " The Arms, 1 * and 


" Laoidh an Amadain Mhoir" as in "Smith's Sean 
Dana" I have got another piece from him, en- 
titled " Bàs Ghaoiril " — CaorreaTs death. Caorreal 
was a son of Fingal and brother of Ossian. He and 
Gaul, the son of Morni, disputed. They fought, and 
Caorreal fell.* 

5. An old man, whose name I cannot just now 
recollect, and who is now dead, lived at Toat, opposite 
Airdeilhh, Lochalsh ; he was very old, and died some 
years ago ; he had known almost incredible quanti- 
ties of Ossianic poetry. I have been assured by more 
than one who knew him intimately, that this old man 
had as much Ossianic poetry as would take him whole 
days in the recital ; yet he could recite for whole 
nights together without the slightest hesitation, with 
as much ease as he could pronounce his own name, 
like all the rest of his class, he used to say that he 
heard Ossian's poems from old men when he was a 
boy ; that they were perfectly common, and much ad- 
mired in his day ; that every person knew them ; that 
most recited, and many sung them. This old man is 
understood to have given a great deal of Ossianic 
poetry to MacPherson's followers. 

6. I have the pleasure of knowing a much respected, 
enthusiastic Highlander, a member of the Glasgow 
Ossianic Society, and a clergyman, who has many 
Fingallian airs ; he is himself an accomplished musician, 
and a fond admirer of the airs and poems of Ossian. 

Although I have frequently heard the poems of 

* The poems in question have been sent to me, and are pre- 
served with the rest See list at the end.— J. F. C. 


Ossian half-recited, half-sung, I never heard them be- 
fore set to music. I can, however, assure those who 
have not had this privilege of hearing them, that the 
Ossianic airs are wild, melodious, and altogether most 
beautiful ; they are typical of the poems. 

7. Mr. Donald Nicolson, parochial schoolmaster, 
Kilmuir, Skye, had a great deal of Ossian's poems; his 
father, he assured me, had more Ossianic poetry than 
all ever MacPherson translated ; and even he himself, 
when a boy, could repeat what would form a tolerable 
sized volume. These he heard from old men in the 
long winter nights ; he personally was acquainted with 
many old men who could repeat lots of Ossian's 
poetry. These old men declared that Ossian's poems, 
in their day, were known by every person, and by 
every person admired. Mr. Nicolson says that much, 
and deservedly, as Ossian's poems, as given to the 
world, are admired, they are much inferior to the ver- 
sions he was in the habit of hearing in boyhood ; that 
he is of opinion MacPherson must have got his versions, 
generally speaking, from indifferent reciters ; I have 
heard others say the same. I believe those collected 
by Smith and some others, are generally thought to be 
purer versions than those collected by MacPherson. 

Thus I have given the names of many unquestion- 
able witnesses to the authenticity of Ossian's poems. 
Did necessity require it, I could easily give ten, aye, 
twenty times more.* 

* January 1862. Mr. Carnrichael has sent me the names 
of several other persons who can repeat traditional Ossianic lays, 
and specimens of these compositions, taken down from dictation. 


If the ancient Highlanders had not their gods and 
godesses like the Greeks of old, they had what was 
much more natural, their heroes and heroines. If they 
had not an invulnerable Achilles, they had their mag- 
nanimous Fingal ; if not their bewitching Juno, they 
had their Dearsagrena, whose resplendent beauty was 
like that of the sun. If they had not their Apollo, 
they had their venerable Ossian, " the sweet voice of 
Cona," the darling of Highland hearts. 

If it should be said that Ossian exaggerates the 
gallantry, the bravery, the magnanimity of his heroes, 
why, Homer does the same. If there is poetic license, 
why should it be denied to those who knew no restraint 
but that of nature. "Saul slew his thousands, and 
David his tens of thousands ;" and why should not 
their enemies fall before Ossian's heroes, " like reeds 
of the lake of Lego," and their strength be terrible. 

We have not only their names accurately handed 
down to us, but the names of many places were derived 
from those of the Fingalian heroes. There is Gleann 
CJionnain, Connan's vale ; and Amhain Chonnain, Con- 
nan's river, in Eoss-shire ; and even Gleann Bhrain, 
Bran's- vale, in honour of FingaTs celebrated dog Bran. 
There is a Dun-Fionn, Fingal's height or hill, on Loch- 
lomond. There is Slidbh nam ban Fionn, the Fin- 
galian fair women's hill, in Iiosmor. 

Many of these closely resemble ballads which I had got elsewhere, 
and prove to demonstration that these are very commonly known 
in all parts of the Highlands. Others resemble parts of the 
Ossian of 1807— such as <4 Cuchullin in his Car"— which I believe 
to be an old passage, and which has been found in Ireland also.— 
J. F. C. 


Liosmor, it is said, was a favourite hunting place 
of the Fingalians ; and there is even a tradition amongst 
the people, that here they had some of the very best 
sport they ever had. There is nothing improbable in 
this. Game must have been once very abundant in 
Liosmor ; there are traces still to be found ; antlers 
of the deer, the bison, and the elk, have been found 
in the bogs; these were of immense size. There is 
in Liosmor a place called Larach tigh nam Fiann, 
the site of the Fingalian's house ; it is a large cir- 
cular mound, of perhaps eighty yards diameter, and 
surrounded by a deep foss. There is a deep well 
inside, possibly it may have been used for the purpose 
of entrapping game. Dr. Livingstone, Gordon Cum- 
ming, MacKenzie, all Highlanders by the by ; and, if I 
remember right, Park, give a description of similarly 
constructed places amongst the Africans. Perthshire 
is replete with reminiscences of the Fingalians ; there 
is Cill Fhinn, pronounced in Gaelic and written jn 
English, Killin, " FingaTs tomb ; here, tradition says, 
Fingal is buried. In the neighbourhood is Sornach- 
coir-Fhinn, " the concavity for Fingal's boiler." Sorn- 
ach means thin oblong stones raised on end in the form 
of a triangle ; a fire is placed between, and here the 
culinary operations are carried on. 

In Strathearn is the village of Fianntach, of or be- 
longing to the Fingalians ; in the neighbourhood are 
numberless cairns raised to the memory of Fingalian 
heroes. These cairns are the " gray mossy stones " of 

" Cam Chumhail," Cuval's cairn, was opened some 


years ago and found to contain an immense stone 
coffin ; near this was " Ossian's tomb." In 1746, when 
General Wade formed the road through the county, it 
came across this spot. A deputation waited on the 
General, asking if he would take the road to a side so 
as not to disturb the last repose of " the first bard of 
antiquity." The General, however, did not find it 
convenient to comply with this very reasonable desire. 
Perhaps the engineering would not admit of it ; and 
perhaps he had a secret desire to put the merit of the 
tradition to the test. Certain it is that the inhabi- 
tants of the surrounding country collected ; they 
opened the grave, and there, sure enough, found the 
mortal remains of their loved Ossian. The coffin was 
composed of four large flag stones set on edge, covered 
over by another large massy stone. They lifted all 
with religious care and veneration, and with pipers play- 
ing the wail of the coranich they marched in solemn 
sileice to the top of a neighbouring hill. There, on 
the'top of that green heathery hill, they dug a grave, 
and there laid the last mortal remains of Ossian, the 
*weet voice of Cona, the first bard of antiquity ; and 
there they are likely to rest ! no rude hand will touch 
them, no desecration reach them there. 

There is a place in Glenelg called "Iomaire-nam-fear- 
mor," the tall or big men's ridge. Tradition says that 
two of the Fingalians were drowned whilst crossing 
Caol-reathain, and that they are interred here. A gen- 
tleman, an English gentleman I believe, who was tra- 
velling in the Highlands, heard of this tradition ; he 
hinted that the tradition had no foundation, and, it is 



said, made maxxf gratuitous remarks on Highland tradi- 
tions in general, and those of the Fingalians in parti- 
cular. To refute their " idle tradition," as he chose to 
term it, he insisted that one of the supposed graves 
should be opened. The people have a religious venera- 
tion for the dead, and perhaps a latent superstition 
against disturbing the grave, and consequently they 
were very much averse to opening the mound. Bather, 
however, than that their venerated tradition should be 
termed a fable, they agreed to open one of the graves, 
and the grave was opened. It was very deep ; first 
there was the gravelly soil common to the place, and 
then a thick layer of moss ; after that the gravelly soil, 
when they came upon another bed of moss, in which 
was a skeleton. Moss preserves, and it was for that 
purpose the body was placed in it. The bones were 
found to be quite fresh and of an extraordinary size. 
No person ever saw anything to compare with thenl 
before, and it is said no person could at all credit or 
even imagine the size of them but those who saw them. 
One gentleman who was present, the late excellent 
Eev. Mr. Maclver of Glenelg, and father of the much 
respected present minister of Killmuir, Skye, stood six 
feet two inches high ; he was very stout in proportion, 
and was altogether allowed to be one of the handsomest 
men of his day. Every one was wonder-struck at the 
immensity of the bones ; he took the lower jaw-bone 
and easily put his head through it. 

It is added that it was a beautiful day ; but all of 
a sudden there came on thunder and lightning, wind, 
and deluging rain, the like of which no man ever heard 


or saw. The people thought judgment had come upon 
them for desecrating the bones of the dead, and inter- 
fering with what they had no right, so they closed the 
grave and desisted. Possibly^some may think this 
bordering on the marvellous ; but let no one gainsay 
the truth of it. There are many yet living who were 
present, all of whom declare that they "shall never 
forget the day and the scene till the day of their death." 
There were a number of people present, gentlemen from 
Skye, and many from the mainland. 

I have never heard who the gentleman was whose 
scepticism caused the opening of the grave, but the 
incident took place about sixty years ago.* 

GUann-comhan — Glencoe, that is, the narrow glen 
— is said by tradition to be the birth-place of Ossian. 
If there is in Scotland one spot more than another 
from which such magnificent creations asOssian's poems 
could be expected to emanate, that spot is Glencoe. 
Nothing can be more terrifically sublime than Glencoe 
during a storm. "Their sound was like a thousand 

* I cannot answer for these facts, but I can vouch for the cur- 
rency of this story in the district ; it is fully believed there. 
Unless the people stumbled upon the grave of a real giant, they 
must have got hold of the bones of some antediluvian creature. 
A grave marked by two large stones, some ten feet apart, was 
once opened by a relation of mine elsewhere, and was found to 
contain large bones and coarse hair "like horse hair." It is 
asserted that the skeleton of a fossil man has lately been found, 
and that several "fossil" skeletons were found in France some 
time ago, and buried by order of a priest. The learned are 
engaged upon the discovery. One skull is said to bo small, and 
of a low type ; but there are giant Lapps now. — J. F. C. 


streams that meet in Cona's vale, when after a stormy 
night they turn their dark eddies beneath the pale light 
of the morning." ..." The gloomy ranks of Lochlin 
fell like banks of the roaring Cona." " If he overcomes, 
I shall rush in my strength like the roaring stream of 

Ossian himself is frequently called "the voice of 
Cona." " Why bends the bard of Cona," said Fingal, 
" over his secret stream Ì Is this a time for sorrow, 
father of low-laid Oscar ]" . . . " Such were the words 
of the bards in the days of song ; when the king heard 
the music of harps — the tales of other times ! The 
chiefs gathered from all the hills and heard the lovely 
sound. They heard and praised the voice of Cona, the 
first among a thousand bards !" 

In Eadarloch — " 'twixt lochs " — Benderloch is the 
Selma of Ossian. It is still called Selma. It is also 
called Bail-an-righ — the king's house or town ; and 
Dun-MacSnitheachain — MacSniachain's hill. Here also 
is the Beregonium of ancient writers. There are yet 
many traces that Selma was once the residence of regal 
splendour. There is a vitrified fort, in which are 
found " swimming-stones." There were found, some 
years ago, in a moss close by, some pieces of a wooden 
pipe. This pipe is supposed to have been used for the 
purpose of bringing water to the fort or castle from the 
hill hard by. It is said that Garbh-MacStaini set 
FingaTs castle on fire, after which Fingal left the place, 
and resided at Fianntach, already alluded to. This 
tradition seems very probable. The marks of some 
great calamity are yet to be seen. 


In the neighbourhood of Selma are a great number 
of those stones that are supposed by some to have been 
Druidical temples. I think they are more likely to be 
stones erected to the memory of fallen warriors — " the 
dark gray stones" of Ossian. The Fall of Connel — 
Ossian's "roaring Lora" — is only about three miles 
from Selma. Not far from Connel is the " Luath," one 
of Ossian's streams. "Dwells there no joy in song, 
white hand of the harp of Luath V Opposite Selma, 
on the other side of Loch-Etive, is Dunstaffnage Castle, 
the residence of Sir Angus Campbell, Bart., and the 
Dun-Lora of Ossian. The Lora — Loch-Etive — washes 
its base. The Gaelic name for it is Dun-sta-innis, but 
more properly Dun-da-innis, from two islands near by. 
The noise of the roaring Lora is certainly awful during 
flood-tides. In a calm summer evening it is heard in 
the island of Iiosmor, distant at least ten or twelve 

After what has been said, I do not think it is. 
necessary to say more. That there was a race of people 
called the Feinn or Fingalians, I think no unprejudiced 
mind can question. That these Fingalians were tradi- 
tionally remembered throughout the Highlands is per- 
fectly certain, and that much of their poetry has been 
plentifully scattered and is well known there still, is 
equally true. 

I have given the names of some from whom I 
myself have got Ossianic poetry, and I could give the 

* All this is very strong internal evidence that the poems 
published by MacPherson were composed by some bard well 
acquainted with the west of Scotland.-^!. F. G. 


names of ten times more from whom I could get it I 
know where and with whom it is to be got in abun- 
dance, and, did necessity require it, I could easily pro- 
cure it. Some, I believe, imagine, in the simplicity of 
their heart, that MacPhereon, the translator, was the 
author of Ossian's poems. Perhaps it was MacPhereon 
that also composed the thousand and one Fingalian 
tales that are floating throughout the Highlands l and 
all the anecdotes of the Fingalians ? Well, if so, I can 
only say that MacPhereon must have been very busy 
in his day. 

Why should not Ossian's poetry be handed down 
from generation to generation like the rest of the Fin- 
galian tales Ì I do not think that any can be found 
bold enough to question the authenticity of the tales. 
I do not believe that any person doubts the antiquity 
of the Celtic fables and romances. It is more than 
probable they were composed at least three thousand 
years ago, and brought by the Celtic nations in their 
migrations from the East. If, therefore, the Celtae 
have preserved their fabulous tales and romances for 
the long period of three thousand years or more, and 
repeat them still, why not, on the same principle, pre- 
serve amongst them the magnificent creations of Ossian 
for, at least, half the time Ì 

Homer flourished more than nine hundred years 
B.O., and his poems floated amongst the Greeks for 
more than Ave hundred years, till the Greek historian 
collected them. Yet their authenticity was never ques- 
tioned. Were the ancient Greeks more addicted to 
poetry, and consequently more capable of preserving 


the creations of Homer than the Celtae those of Ossian Ì 
I can hardly believe so. There is a very strong resem- 
blance betwixt Homer' and Ossian. Both flourished 
in a primitive state of society, and both are equally 
the poets of nature and of nature's laws. If there 
is an analogy betwixt Homer and Ossian, why not 
betwixt the preservation of their works ? 

That poetry of the most magnificent description 
has been common throughout the Highlands from ages 
immemorial is unquestionable ; that much of that 
poetry has always been ascribed to Ossian is equally 
certain ; and that he was the author of much of it is 
more than probable. The ancient Highlanders never 
for a single moment doubted the authenticity of Ossian's 
poems. The modern Highlanders believe in those which 
they know and repeat as certainly and as implicitly as 
they do in the Song of Solomon or the Psalms of David. 
This I can testify to from personal observation. I 
believe in them myself — fully believe. I am literally 
convinced that Fingal lived and that Ossian sang. 

Alexander A. Carmichael. 
Skye, 28th November 1861. 

Mr. Carmichael has also referred to many of the 
printed authorities quoted by me above, to prove that, 
shortly before MacPherson's time, collections of poetry 
attributed to Ossian had been made in the High- 
lands of Scotland. 

In a letter dated December 9th, the writer of the 
above able paper gives an amusing account of a walk 

248 OSSIAN. 

through rain and storm to visit an old dame, Catrina 
ni Mhathain, who is seventy-six, and fully confirms 
what has been said above. She is a capital singer of 
Ossianic lays, and praises the singing of a certain cate- 
chist, Donald Maclain ic Eogbain, of whom frequent 
mention is made, and* who died many years ago. It 
was his wont to gather crowds of people by chanting 
these old lays. I have heard the same account of a 
Sutherland reciter. It seems that preachers and mis- 
sionaries did not formerly condemn Gaelic poetry, and 
the minority who do so now are not of the best edu- 
cated, so far as my experience goes. 

The old dame was asked if she had ever heard tell 
of Osein. "Who, my dear?" she said in surprise. 
" Osein and the Fein ; did you ever hear tell of them?" 
"Lord bless us!" said the old lady, "who has not 
heard tell of Osein ! gentle Oisein, the son of Fionn — 
Oisein after the Feinne V 9 

I agree with Mr. Carmichael that this exclamation 
is worth volumes of argument. 

And now, having given all the evidence which I 
have, let me give my own opinion on this much vexed 

I hold that there is nothing to prove that MacPher- 
son, Ossian, or any other individual, composed the Gaelic 
poems of 1807 — or that they are older than MacPher- 
son's time as a whole — but there is a mass of evidence 
to prove that he had genuine materials, some of which 
we also have got for ourselves, and there is a strong 
presumption that he had something which we have 


not Nothing was forthcoming after MacPherson's 
death except his manuscript which was published; so 
that is one " fact," at all events. 

When it is considered how much old poetry rests 
upon the existence of single manuscripts in other lan- 
guages, and that MacPherson certainly had a mass of 
materials, it is possible that there may have been some 
compounder of poems far older than the man who 
gets the credit and discredit of " Ossian ;" still there is 
nothing but "Ossian's Poems" to prove that their 
composer lived anywhere at any time. It is certain 
that the heroes have been Celtic worthies for centuries, 
and that their exploits have been celebrated in Gaelic 
verse ever since the ninth century, if not the seventh : 
but of the published Gaelic Ossian as an entire work 
there is not a trace before MacPherson's time. I have 
no doubt that the work is founded upon genuine old 
popular materials, and I would rank it for originality 
with Tennyson's " Idylls of the King," or " Homer," if 
the Greek poems were floating ballads before they were 
made into epic poems. But till the author is dis- 
covered, MacPherson's name must be associated with 
his publication. That must rank as a Scoto-Gaelic work 
at least a hundred years old, and till the contrary is 
proved, Ireland has not a ghost of a claim to it. 

" MacPherson's Ossian " is, as I conceive, without 
doubt a composite work, to be ranked in the class 
which I have numbered 5th or 6th ; poetry made up of 
various materials, ancient and modern, like houses which 
I have seen in ancient Greece. There, an old Corinthian 
capital is placed upside down in one corner, its graceful 

t$0 06S1AN — OOlfOLUSION. 

acanthus leaves drooping upwards, and beside it lies 
a fluted shaft, with boulders and turf resting upon it, 
— sculptured white marble is mingled with ordinary 
stones of the roughest description, and the whole is 
bound together with lime and cement, overgrown with 
weeds, and, it may be, daubed with ignoble mud ; but 
MacPherson's Ossian, like the Greek hut, is, in the 
main, composed of genuine materials, and a clever 
antiquary, or a good critic, might yet pick out all the 
old fragments, and mayhap arrange them more scienti- 
fically. To do so would be loss of labour, for we have 
a mass of similar materials, Scotch and Irish. The 
Greek hut, with all its incongruities, dirt, and discom- 
fort, with its dress of shrubs and lichens, and utter 
disregard of the rules of architecture, is more likely 
to attract a painter's eye than the most symmetrical 
museum of antiquities, geology, and botany, or the 
most luxurious brick palace in London ; and so Ossian 
has attracted the notice and the admiration of famous 
men, who would not have bestowed a thought upon 
popular tales and ballads separately arranged, and 
classed in due order, as I have striven to do with my 

Ossian is a fiction, but a structure founded upon 
facts, a work built mainly of Scotch materials, worked 
by Scotch minds long ago — a very famous work a 
century old, which is known far and wide, while that 
of honest John Gillies is almost quite unknown. But 
the fame of the architect is not to be coveted, for the 
stigma of dishonesty rests upon his name. MacPher- 
son undoubtedly tried to deceive, and especially when 


he denied to Ireland all share in the heroes of Ossian, or 
seemed to claim the entire work as his own invention. 
If this be correct ; if such was the real nature of 
the work; when the author held his peace and refused 
any explanation; when party spirit ran high, and Scotch 
were rebels, there was room for controversy. Anti- 
quaries might fall upon the traditional and genuine, 
because it seemed modern, and deny the antiquity of 
the whole. Irishmen might recognise bits of their 
property, and claim the entire work. Indignant Scotch- 
men, knowing their own, might fret and fume and 
plead possession, and defend the right and the wrong > 
and the " Grail," the stranger, knowing nothing of the 
case, hearing the din, and called on to accept the whole 
as historically true, and a genuine work, complete, and 
completely preserved by tradition alone, for some 
fifteen centuries, might well indignantly reject the 
whole as a set of impudent forgeries and fictions. 
John Bull is " not going to be gulled," and " he will 
not believe anything of a man who tries to do him 
once," and so everything Gaelic is suspected to this 
day. In this battle of the inky plumes all sides might 
well lose their tempers, or spoil them. But, for all 
that, truth may now be found amongst the relics of the 
strife, amongst wasted ink and spoilt paper ; and the 
truth, as I imagine, lies as usual somewhere in the 
middle. She may be enticed out of her well by coax- 
ing, patience, and perseverance, but she is only driven 
deeper, and far out of sight, by wrangling critics, who 
fight for her favours as men have fought, and are still 
fighting, for the truth of this Ossianic controversy. 


When " Flosi (in the Njal Saga) undertook to tell 
the story of the burning, he was fair to all ; and there- 
fore what he said was believed." I have tried to tell 
my story fairly, and if any one holds a different 
opinion, let him not quarrel with mine. 

" Cogadh na sith," strife or peace, is an old Gaelic 
watchword. We have tried the first for a century, and 
made very little by it, except bad blood ; let Celts try 
a turn on the other road, and, at all events, let us give 
up fighting amongst ourselves. 

There is an old monkey of my acquaintance whose 
wont it is to hoist his hind leg over his shoulder, and 
lean his head confidingly on the sole of his foot, and 
caress his ears with his toes, till his toes, in some 
strange unaccountable manner, excite his wrath ; then 
he seizes the offending foot in both hands, and grins 
defiance at it, and cuffs it and bites it, till a new freak 
comes over him, and he sits down upon his heels, and 
goes to sleep again, at peace with himself and the rest 
of the world. 

I never see this venerable pug without thinking 
that he must be the embodied spirit of the Ossianic 
controversy, which it is my ambition to lull fast asleep 
for good and alL 


Gaelic proverbs mention the Feinne, and do not 
indicate the existence of a petty quarrelsome spirit in 
former days amongst them. 

ossian proverbs. 253 

396.* Clanna nan Gael an guaillin a cheiile. 

Gaelic clans at each other's shoulders. 

Shews at least an appreciation of the blessings of 
concord, and it is a great pity that they will not 
now act up to this, their favourite sentiment. 

379. Cha b' ionan O'Brian is na Gael. 

O'Brian and the Gael were unlike. 

They certainly were once unlike those of the pre- 
sent day who quarrel with each other. These 
are rather like another worthy. 


Bad 's thy being Conan. 

148. Cha d' fhuair Conan riamh dorn gun dorn a 
thoirt g*a cheann. 
Conan never got cuff without giving cuff back. 
Their treatment of each other is 

154. Cairdeas Chonain ris na deonabh. 

Conan's kindness to the demons, i.e., "cuff for 

cuff," or " claw for claw."t 
This quarrelsome spirit was not that of the Druids. 

5. Ga fogasg clach do lar is foisge no sin cobh- 
air choibhidh. 
Though a stone be near earth, nearer than that 

is Coivi's aid. 
(The arch Druid Coivi or Cefaeus. See Bede.) 

* The numbers refer to Macintosh's Collection. 

+ There is a story which I have not yet got, about Conan 
going to the Is e of Cold and holding combat with its ghostly 

It is probably something like the story of the Master Smith 
in the Norse Tales. 

254 os81an proverbs. 

147. Cho teomadh ri Cotbhi Druidh. 
As clever as Coivi Druid. 
This was a wise helpful character. 

24. Deas-ail air gachni. 

Sunwise (ready able) for everything. 
Fionn was like him. 

113. Cha d' chuir Fionn riamh blar gun chumh- 
achd (or (?) chumha). 

Fion never joined fight without might (or (?) 

229. Cha do threig Fionn riamh car aid a laimh 


Fionn never forsook his right hand friend. 

His was the character of a sagacious, successful 
military leader, who agreed with his friends, 
though he did not forgive one great injury 
till too late, and avenged it by subtlety. 

178. Cho chumseach lamh ri Conloch. 
As powerful-handed as Conloch. 

336. Cho ladir ri Cuchullin. 
As strong as Cuchullin. 
Are the characteristics of brave soldiers. 


Be theirs the Feme's advantage. 

" Clean pith and fair play" (Kelley's Prov.) is 

a soldier-like motto, but it is not quarrelsome. 

It does not indicate the life which modern. 

writers have led each other on this subject. 
32. Beath 'Chonain a measg nan deamhain, ma's 



Conan's life amongst the demons. If bad for 
me no better for them. A sort of dog's life. 

46. Mar e Bran is e bhrathair. 
If not Bran, his brother. 

A life of strife which destroyed the Fenians long ago, 
when they took to it, and fought till there was 
but one left. 
66. Mar bha Ossian an dei na Fiannabh. 
As Ossian was after the Fians. 
A miserable old man in the house of a stranger 
to his race. 

213. Cha 'n fhiach sgeul gun urrain. 
A tale without warrant is worthless. 

2. Mas breug uam e is breug thugam e. 
If lie from me it is, lie to me it was. 
The Gael fell out amongst themselves, and thereby 
lost the plain long ago, according to the proverbs. 

105. An lon dubh, an londubh spagach ! thug mise 
dha choile fhasga fhearach ; *s thug esan. 
domhsa am monadh dubh fa8aich. 

The black elk, the shambling black elk, I gave 
him the sheltered grassy wood, and he gave me 
the black desert mountain. 

For whether the word means Elk or Ousel, and 
the proverb applies to Eomans or Scandinavians, 
or to something else, it is applicable to the 
present time. The Gael have fought till they 
have been driven to find other fields. Many 
an American back-woodsman may turn his 
thoughts to the old country and think of the 
old battle cry. 



The cry is far from Lochawe, and aid from the 
clan of O'Duibhne. 

Whether the Fenians were Scotch or Irish it is 
the same. The most of their Gaelic descen- 
dants have left the hills and plains for which 
they fought, chiefly because they fought 
amongst themselves. 

Family History. 

About 1706, Mr. Alexander Campbell, second son 
of Campbell of Craignish, was employed by John 
Duke of Argyll to examine and sort his archives and 
charters, and he left what is called the "Craignish 
manuscript" He mentions old manuscripts in the 
Irish character then extant, genealogical and historical, 
and tells that Irish historians had traced the " clan 
Duin" from the Dalruadinian colonists of ArgylL 

"The Craignish manuscript " is quoted in a history 
of the Campbells which was written about the begin- 
ning of this century, and is now in my possession in 
MS. The following passages bear upon the Ossianic 
controversy : — 

" When but a boy, I listened with a greedy ear to 
the traditions and poems of my country, of which there 
are very many ; ornate, flowery, and elegant as those 
of the ancient Greeks and Eomans, and had they but 
as much art, might, for natural invention, stand in the 
roll of feme, and vie with the most celebrated poems 


of these ancient nations, which have been handed down 
to our times ! " 

It is thus proved that in the youth of a man who 
wrote more than fifty years before "the fragments" ap- 
peared, poems existed in the West Highlands, which a 
well-educated gentleman considered to be comparable to 
the works of the classical poets, and these could scarcely 
be the popular ballads now recited. But they were not 
the poems of 1807, whatever they may have been. 

" With regard to the Fingalians," he says, " they 
were an Irish militia, raised in the ninth century, 
under the command of Fion MacCouill, who was ap- 
pointed by the provincial kings of Ireland General-in- 
Chief, with several inferior commanders, one of the 
most eminent of whom was Diarmid. This force con- 
sisted of 7000 men in time of peace, and 21,000 in 
time of war, and was levied and maintained for the 
purpose of repelling the Danes and Norwegians, whose 
frequent incursions and bloody invasions had desolated 
that country for many years before." 

To this quotation the writer of the history, who 
was an implicit believer in MacPherson's Ossian, adds 
this note : — 

" This mistaken idea, that Diarmid was an Irish- 
man by birth, misled the ancient genealogists, of the 
family of Argyll and those of some of their kinsmen, 
as will appear afterwards ; and they sought in Ireland 
for what was to be found in Argyll 11 

Hence it appears that as late as 1707, the author 
of the Craignish MSS., like the early genealogists of 
one of the west country clans to whose records he had 
vol, rv. s 


access, claimed a descent from Diarmid O'Duin, and 
believed his clan to be of Irish extraction. 

About forty years later, the existence of this belief 
was referred to by Duncan Forbes in his " Memorial 
on the Clans," drawn up for Government in 1745, 
when he wrote — 

" The Campbells are called in Gaelic Clan Guin or 
O'Duine. The Duke of Argyll is their chief ; he is 
called in the Highlands MacCalain Mor." 

It is thus made evident that FingaTs kingdom of 
Morven had not been heard of in Argyll in 1707, for 
those who claimed to be descended from Fionn's nephew 
would surely have mentioned Fingal's misty dominions. 
The man who admired the poems which were cur- 
rent in his day would never have claimed a descent 
from the Fenians of Ireland if he had known of a 
Scotch historical epic about "Fingal" and "Diarmaid;" 
and the ancient poets, and family bards and genealogists 
whom he quoted, must have heard of these poems, if 
they had existed in their day. 

Several clan genealogies (e.g., the MacGregor's) claim 
a descent from Arthur, " Art," and Irish kings, but I 
have never heard of one that mentions " the King of 
Morven," though it has been common to speak of the 
Highlanders as the descendants of the Feinne. Thus 
family history agrees with tradition. There probably 
were Fenians, whose chief was Fionn, but in the lapse 
of time these have acquired a fictitious history, in 
which the traces of a pagan mythology appear. 

Note. — On referring again to MacNicol's book, mentioned above 
under 1779, 1 find that he had read the Gaelic of the seventh book 
of Temora, and held that it was not composed by MacPherson. 



British Traditions. 

In the preceding pages I have endeavoured to 
separate the "Poems of Ossian" from the popular 
traditions on which they are partly founded, and to 
shew that many of these are of great antiquity, whatever 
may be the real date of Gaelic poems, popular ballads, 
or their common heroes. It is now thought probable 
that old British traditions were the materials of which 
the romances of the middle ages were made ; so it may 
be of interest to point out that Gaelic popular romances 
now current have some relation to ancient romance. 

In 1805 three volumes were published by George 
Ellis, Esq., which gave specimens of " Early English 
metrical romances, chiefly written during the early part 
of the fourteenth century." Amongst these an account 
is given of " Marie's Lays," which are twelve in num- 
ber, and were offered by the authoress to the king 
" probably Henry the Third," she says — 

" Li Breton ont fait les lais," 

which she translated, " which she had heard, and had 
carefully treasured in her memory ;" and which she 
knows to be true. This lady was the Armorican 
MacPherson of the thirteenth century. 

Her heroes and heroines are all Celtic, and current 
Gaelic popular tales and Breton ballads can still be 
traced in her lays. No. 4, " Bisclaveret," is the well 


known " Loup Garow " which the Normans call " Gar- 
wolf," and which is well known to the peasants of 
France at this day, and was known to ancient authors. 
I have no story like that of the old lay, but a glance 
at these volumes will shew that the notion of men and 
women and supernaturals, who assumed the forms of 
animals, and resumed their own by putting off a 
"cochal," a husk, or dress, is one of the commonest 
incidents in Gaelic popular tales ; so this wolf is only 
one of a class. 

We have transformed deer, seals, a hen, horses, 
ravens, crows, little dogs, grim hounds, and all manner 
of creatures ; and in this, Gaelic tales do but resemble 
those of other countries, including those of India, which 
are full of talking creatures. No. 7, " Ywonec," is very 
like the well-known story of " the blue bird," and has 
relations in Gaelic. It is a story of a fair lady who 
was visited by a lover, a great personage, in the form 
of a bird, and had children by him, who lost him by a 
fault of her own, followed him to his distant country, 
where he was a chief ruler, living in splendour, and 
brought him back. No. 3 is a specimen of this legend ; 
so is the story of beauty and the beast ; so is No. 1 2 • 
so is the legend of Cupid and Psyche; and the story 
in various shapes will be found in nearly every 
modern collection of popular tales. Marie's lay varies 
from the usual ending of the story, for her great falcon 
prince dies. The characters go to "Caer-leon," and 
I have no doubt this was a popular English story. 
No. 9, "Milun," is about a knight of South Wales, 
whose reputation spread to Ireland, Norway, Gothland, 


Loegria (England), and Albany (Scotland); and his 
name is like Gaelic " Milidh," a hero (Latin, miles). 
The story is something like that of the son of Cuchulin, 
of which MacFherson has made an episode. A knight 
has a son by a beautiful lady, and gives her a gold ring, 
which she ties about the child's neck, and then they send 
it away to be brought up secretly. The son grows up, 
sets off in search of adventures, and finally has a fight 
with his own father, whom he does not know^t first, 
but whom he afterwards recognises. The tradition 
varies considerably from the frame-work of the old lay, 
but it has been worked up into a vast number of shapes 
in tales preserved in Irish manuscripts. An abstract of 
a traditional version will be found at page 184, voL iii 
The scene of the legend is laid in Skye, Scythia, England, 
Brittany and Cornwall ; but I strongly suspect that it 
was originally laid somewhere in the far East All 
these ancient lays are dressed by their authoress in the 
costumes and manners of the court of that day. There 
are knights, and noble ladies, tournaments, and church- 
men; they are not true, for men do not assume the 
forms of animals, but they were surely founded on 
popular traditions, as their authoress said, and some, 
of them are still popular tales in the West Highlands. 

A glance at O'Curry's lectures will shew that the 
Gael have delighted for ages in dressing up their own 
traditions in a romantic dress of their own contrivance, 
and that they did not copy the decorations of such 
court bards as Marie. 

" Sir Tristrem " is attributed to Thomas the Rymour 
and the thirteenth century ; and Chrestian de Troyes, 


a French poet, is said to have composed a romance 
about the same hero in the twelfth ; the incidents of 
the romance were very widely known and used in 
Europe. The hero is supposed to have been a chief- 
tain of the sixth century, and one of Arthur's knights, 
therefore a Briton. The scene is laid in Cornwall, 
Wales, and other parts of Britain, by all the authors 
who made poems out of the story. The whole romance 
turns upon the attachment of a knight for his uncle's 
wife. It is said that " Mark," king of Cornwall, is not 
a Celtic name, but one derived from " Marcus," but it 
is a Celtic word, and means a horse. The whole story 
of the poem, as given in the history of Scottish Poetry, 
is like a building made of an old red sandstone, foil 
of pebbles of popular tales. Tristrem disguised is like 
the story of the Great Fool, which is like the boyish 
exploits of Fin in old Irish. The sailing about in 
ships with the Norwegians, the landing in ufcknown 
countries, the travels through "the seven kingdoms," 
the chess playing, the " Croude " (harp), " Seyn 
Patricke," " Carlionn," the " Queen of Ireland," the 
ladies tending the sick knight, the dragon and the 
story of its death, the false steward and his punish- 
ment, the rash promise to give something before 
asking what is required — the names, which have a 
Gaelic meaning, and the ground work of the whole 
story, all point to a Celtic origin. It is but a phase 
of the story which Irish and Scotch Gael have worked 
into so many forms, the story of Diarmaid and Graidhne. 
But the language of the old ballad has nothing to do 
with Gaelic idioms, the metre is different from any 


Gaelic poetry which I have read, and above all, the 
spirit and sentiment are wholly different from the 
Gaelic of " Ossian," "Mordubh," and " Seann 
Dana" It seems from Sir Tristrem that Celtic tradi- 
tions were worked into poems in Scotland in the 
thirteenth century, and that they are now attributed to 
the lowland Scotch mythical " Bymour," as they are 
attributed to the mythical " Ossian" in the Highlands. 
Eut the Irish assure us that the elopement of Finn's 
wife was a real event, though the story is like that of 
Venus and Adonis, and is probably as old as Sanscrit 

But of all these ancient romances the story of 
"Morte Arthur" and that of Sir Lancelot most re- 
semble current Highland traditions. The story, when 
stripped to the bones, is almost identical with the love 
story of the history of the Feinne. Arthur, a king of 
the Britons, not in the prime of life, courts a fair 
maiden, Guenever, whom he afterwards makes his 
queen, and who was distinguished for cleverness as 
well as beauty. Fionn, the king of the Feinne, courts 
Grainne, daughter of Cormac, who was the wisest as 
well as the handsomest of women. Lancelot du lac, 
on his first appearance at court, inspires Guenever or 
Ganore with love. 

Diarmaid, Fionn's nephew, at his first meeting 
with Grainne, inadvertently shews a spot on his fore- 
head which no woman can see without loving him. 

Arthur marries Guenever, Fionn marries Grainne. 
Guenever the queen is sent to a distant province, and 
Lancelot follows willingly. Diarmaid runs away from 


Grainne, and is pursued by her, and she by clever 
artifices obliges him to run away with her. 

Guenever is carried off from Arthur by a felon 
knight. Grainne runs away from Diarmaid with a 
wild man. Sir Lancelot recovers the queen. Diarmaid 
rejoins Grainne. Sir Lancelot throughout the story is 
the queen's paramour. Diarmaid yields to temptation 
at last, or as the story is often told, does not yield 
at alL At last Arthur's eyes are opened, and he seeks 
revenge with perseverance, and determination, and 
rancour. Fionn, when he is convinced of his wife's 
infidelity, plots the death of his nephew, and pursues 
him to the death Arthur pursues Lancelot with 
knights and armies, and besieges him in castles, but 
always within Celtic bounds. Fionn pursues Diar- 
maid all over Gaelic countries, and at last devises a 
treacherous hunting party for his destruction. In 
Irish versions of the story the castles aTe replaced by 
magic trees. In the Highlands they are simply caves 
and deep glens. Lancelot is never overthrown, and is a 
full armed, peerless knight. Diarmaid is a peerless 
" Fenian/ ' "the expert shield," armed with sword and 
dart and helmet, invulnerable save in the sole of his 
foot ; and neither the Breton nor the Gael will do any 
hurt to his king and uncle when they meet in fight 
Sir Gawain is Lancelot's foe ; the name is Gaelic, for 
" Smith'' now spelt Gobhainn or Gobha. Gow (or Goll) 
Macmorn was the rival of Fionn and his clan, and here 
the parallel fails, for the Gaelic hero was killed by a 
magic boar, by Fionn's contrivance, and the British 
hero survived Arthur, and there is no boar-hunt in 


the romance ; but the parallel holds good with another 
story, which is also part of the history of the Feinne. 
Arthur loses his army, and destroys that of his foe 
in the great battle of Barrendown. When the fight 
was over, and no one left but the leaders and two 
of Arthur's knights, he rushed at Sir Modred, pierced 
him with a spear, and received a mortal wound 
from his expiring foe. So died Oscar and Cairbre. 
Arthur is led to the strand, where he is taken on board 
a ship, and carried to the isle of Avilion to be 
healed. Fionn is not killed in any tradition that 
I have collected, but Irishmen kill him before the 
battle of Gabhra, where there was a general slaughter 
of all the Fenians but two. He is supposed, by tradi- 
tion, to live in the " Green Island," and the chief 
products of that Celtic^paradise are " Avian" apples. 
The body of Arthur is brought by ladies to a bishop, 
and buried, and Guenever, Sir Bedwer, and Sir Lan- 
celot, all take refuge in convents, where they die 
devoutly. According to endless traditions Arthur is 
yet alive; according to popular tradition, James the 
Fourth survived Flodden; and in France, Napoleon 
the Great is supposed yet to liva Men voted for him 
in the west of France in 1849 ; and Fionn like these 

Ossian, the last of the Feinne, is always represented 
as the last of his race, living with a churchman or his 
father-in-law; and in Irish versions, he, like Lancelot, 
dies a good Christian. So here are the same traditions 
worked up into wholly different stories, and differently 
put upon the stage, according to the manners of the 


age in which romances are written, but the people 
go on telling their own story in their own way. The 
author of Morte Arthur dressed up his story according 
to his ideas, and made a connected story; the people of 
the Highlands tell their story in broken bits, but they 
also sing the fragments, and the music fits the Gaelic 
ballad, and would also fit the poem of Morte Arthur. 

Gaelic Ballad Metre and Assonance. 

Hearken a space, if ye wish a lay; 

Of the day 8 that from us have GONE; 
Of Mac Coaitt, and of the Feinne; 

And of Mac o* Duine, a woeful SONG. 

Morte Arthur. 

" Lancelot wist what was her will, 
Well he knew, by other mo; 
Her brother cleped he him till ; 

And to her chamber gonne they go." 

The rhythm is nearly that of the old Irish air " The 
Groves of Blarney," and probably the whole series of 
traditions, English, Scotch, "Welsh, Breton, German, 
and Irish, have been sung by wandering minstrels, in 
various shapes and to various tunes, time out of mind. 
The story is at least as old as the time of Geoffrey of 
Monmouth, who relates that after the battle of Cam- 
blan, Arthur was transported by his bard and prophet 
Merlin to " The Fortunate Island, or Island of Apples." 
" Sir Guy of Warwick" is also like Gaelic stories. 
Like Manus he was attended by a faithful lion, and 
the story of Eaymond, Sir Guy's son, has much in 


common with one of Marie's lays and the story of 
Cuchulin's son above mentioned. 

" Sir Bevis of Hamptown" is also very Celtic in cha- 
racter. The hero, like " the great fool," loses his father, 
is nursed in secret, becomes a herd boy, and, as a child, 
performs the feats of a great warrior. When wounded 
he is cured with a wonderful balsam. One of his 
adventures is the slaughter of a boar which devoured 
men, which no spear would pierce nor sword bite — like 
the magic boar slain by Diarmaid. His sword is called 
Mor Glay, which is evidently Gaelic, and two lines of 
the romance are in Shakespere — 

" Eats and mice and such small deer, 
Was his meat that seven year." 

Sir Bevis, like the man in Murdoch MacBrian, and other 
heroes, comes disguised as a poor man, and is recog- 
nised by his love. lions are like ConalTs lions, they 
kill and devour a man and his horse, but lay their 
heads in the lap of a king's daughter — 

" For it is the lion's kind y wis, 
A king's daughter that maid is, 
Hurt nor harm none to do, 
Therefore lay these lions so. " 

There is also the magic healing well which is in so 
many Gaelic stories. 

The romances which treat of Charlemagne also bear 
a strong resemblance to the rest. " Roland and Ferra- 
gus" introduces a Gaelic name, though it is that of the 
pagan villain of the piece, who is sent by the Soudan 


from Babylon to fight Charlemagne. He is a giant, 
black, and a great deal bigger than Fergus the son of 
Fionn — 

" He had twenty men's strength, 
And forty feet of length, 
And four feet in the face, 
And fifteen in brede." 

" His nose was a foot and more. 
His browe as bristles wore." 

Nevertheless, after a severe fight with Eoland the 
Christian warrior, he is overcome, but first he sits down 
and argues against the true faith, exactly as Oisein does 
with St. Patrick in Irish Fenian tales. 

The romance of "Cceur de Lion" makes that chival- 
rous monarch dine upon boiled Saracens more than 
once, and is as wild and impossible as any of its prede- 
cessors, though it treats of real events in the life of a 
real king. 

And so, throughout these mediaeval romances, and 
the history of the Feinne, the same stories and cha- 
racters can be traced. There is always a leading king, 
and a knight who is more valiant than his leader ; a 
Fionn and a Diarmaid, a Charlemagne and Eoland, an 
Arthur and Lancelot, a Mark and Tristrem, and a bard 
who is a chief actor in the piece, which generally ends 
in a great battle and general slaughter, such as Eonce- 
valles, Barrendown, Camblan, Gabhra, and, shall I add, 
the battle of Mons Grampius.* 

* On this battle William Livingstone has published a Gaelic 
prize poem, called " Cath Mhonadh Bhraca." Glasgow, 1858. 


There are, of course, two ways of accounting for 
this resemblance. Those who believe in creations 
of the human brain will look on the traditions as frag- 
ments of a ruined romance. Those who think that 
creations of the brain are very rare, will look on tradi- 
tions as the quarry whence materials have been taken 
by a succession of romancers, who said nothing about 
their mine of wealth. The difference between the two 
may help to turn the scale. There is not a single 
mediaeval battle, or armed knight, such as Sir Lancelot 
and his fights, to be found in modern Gaelic tradition. 
There is not a trace of the Gaelic Diarmaid, as he is 
described by tradition, or of the battle of Gabhra, as 
described by the Irish, to be found in any mediaeval 
romance that I know of. But they have this common 
want : I know of no single description of a battle on 
the sea in any British tradition, romance, or popular 
tale, old or new, though people are always sailing about, 
and fighting battles on the strand. But the moment a 
saga is taken up, a sea-fight is a prominent object 
amongst the endless plunderings and battles on shore. 
The sagas are the history of the Northmen, and bear 
the stamp of matter-of-fact narratives. The romances 
ia which the Northmen delighted, when they had taken 
root in France and England, were, as I believe, made 
from the Celtic histories, traditions, popular tales, and 
pagan mythology of the newly -converted half-pagan 
tribes of the now united kingdom of Great Britain and 
Ireland, and of ancient Gaul. 


Welsh Stories. 

Now let me try to make peace with our Welsh 
cousins, for they have dealt hard blows at British 
literature. If they were provoked thereto by Map- 
Pherson, he did them good, for the work of Owen 
Jones, which is a standard work still, was not began 
till long after MacPherson had set the world upon the 
study of Celtic literature, and Chatterton to invent 
African odes and Rowly's poetry. 

As an example to be followed, let me point to the 
work of Hersart de la ViUeinarquè.* 

The first thing which must strike the reader, is the 
contrast between the language of this distinguished 
foreigner in speaking of Welsh antiquities, and the 
spirit of most writers on the Ossianic controversy. 

One aims at discovering truth, the others at 
proving their own case. Villemarqu6 is a Celt, but he 
upholds Celtic antiquities ; he is no Welshman, but he 
upholds Welsh literature, instead of running it down ; 
he can refer to hundreds of ancient Welsh manuscripts, 
but he does not therefore insist that all Welsh manu- 
script poems of great age are far more ancient than the 
manuscripts in which they are found ; he can quote French 
versions of old romances, but he does not therefore 
claim them for France. Finding a poem attributed to 
Taliesen, written in a vellum manuscript of great anti- 
quity, he does not therefore assume it to be Taliesen's 
composition ; but working steadily onwards, he com- 

* Poems des Bardes Breton, Paris 1850. 


pares manuscript with manuscript, till he finally sifts 
out a residuum which seems to bear the stamp of age 
and originality, he assumes that this may have been 
the work of the ancient bard ; he does not, like Mac- 
Pherson, assert it ; and he gives the original, and quotes 
his authorities ; he alters the orthography, but he states 
the fact ; and he translates the result of this process 
into the plainest of French, without aiming at anything 
but an honest rendering of what he believes to be 
genuine old poetry. He collected the traditional songs 
of the Bretons, and their prose tales ; but he does not 
claim for Bretons all the traditions which he found in 
their country. In short, he is a man of sense, learning, 
and liberality ; and the fame which he has acquired is 
well earned. He does not even stand up for the Celtic 
dialect of his native country, to the injury of all others; 
but in his difficulties he has recourse to all surviving 
Celtic dialects alike ; and he seeks, and finds aid in 
translating old Welsh, in Irish, Gaelic, Cornish, and 
Breton, and thereby he arrives at a valuable result, 
instead of maintaining a contemptible squabble ; and he 
can point to Owen Jones of Myvyr, a Welsh peasant, 
who devoted his life to the publication of Welsh poems 
from ancient manuscripts. He was the MacPherson of 
Wales, in that he drew attention to the literature of 
his country ; but warned, perhaps, by the errors of his 
predecessors in the field of Celtic literature, his work 
was the very opposite of MacPherson's, for it was all 
Welsh, instead of all English, and all founded upon 
ancient documents which still exist. The work was 
published in 1801 and 1807 — that is, at the same time 


as the Gaelic of Ossian. For the one there is old autho- 
rity, for the other there is none. 

Now, in this work of Mons de Villemarqu6, 1 find 
traits which recal Gaelic traditions and Ossianic poems, 
as published by Gillies, Stewart, and MacCallum, in 
Scotland ; and by Miss Brooke and the Ossianic society 
of Dublin in Ireland. For example, there are three 
chief Welsh bards, and all of these, like Oisein, join 
in battles, and sing of their own exploits. Two of 
them, like Oisein, live to a great age, and survive 
the Mends of their youth. Liwarch Henn, Aneurin, 
Taliesen, and Oisein, have much in common in their 
story, if not in their poems. Taliesen ends his days 
with St Gildas in Armorica ; Aneurin laments the 
loss of all his friends and comrades ; Liwarch Henn 
holds parley with an angel in the form of a churchman, 
and is urged to repentance in his old age ; and Oisein 
holds parley with St. Patrick, and closes his life 
with him in the practice of forced austerities, in 
constant regret for the departed glories of his race. 
Even in Protestant Scotland the old blind bard is 
sometimes represented as singing his songs, and tell- 
ing his stories to Padraig or PauL If this religions 
element has been weeded from the Ossian of Mac- 
Pherson, the bard is still an old man, singing of the 
past ; he is always miserable and worn out, blind and 
deserted, but with the mind of a warrior still fresh 
within him, and the spirit of an old pagan to argue with 
Malvina, if she had been a Christian angeL So much 
there is in common, and it would seem to point to a 
struggle between the old religion and the new faith, 


Paganism and bards against Christianity and Church-, 
men. One poem, the song of Urien, is like the lay of 
the heads published by MacCallum in 1816, and repeated 
to me by a man in Uist in 1860. Cuchullin had been 
slain by numbers, and Conall, his " oide," heard of it. 
The messenger told that Cuchullin had got a new 
house ; when he lay down, his nose touched the roof, 
and the back of his head was on the floor ; and when he 
stretched himself, his feet were at the lower end, and 
his head at the upper, and so the messenger saved his 
life, for Conall had sworn to slay any one who brought 
tidings of Cuchullin's death. Then Conall and another 
swore that they would not stop till they had filled a 
withy with the heads of king's sons, as eric for Cuchullin. 
They did so, and let the knot at the end slip thrice, 
and the song is a dialogue between a lady and Conall, 
who tells the history of the heads, and the exploits of 
their former owners. The traditional version of the 
song, as written down for me, gives the name of the 
comrade " Laoghaire," says that they filled seven withies 
with heads, and adds a great many details which are 
not in MacCallum. There are sixty-two lines instead 
of sixty, but there is little difference in the versions, 
except in arrangement and substitution of words. The 
song of Urien is in like manner a dialogue, and one of 
the speakers is returning from battle with a head, and 
he describes the prowess of the man who owned it. 

But the "Welsh poetry quoted differs entirely from 
the Gaelic. The stanzas consist of three lines instead 
of four ; the whole system of assonance and rhyme, so 
vol. rv. T 



far as I can make it out, seems utterly different ; there 
is hardly anything in common, except that both treat 
of heroic actions, war, and slaughter. 

There is not much resemblance, then, between the 
poems of these two branches of the Celtic stock, and it 
would be strange if there were, for the languages, though 
Celtic, differ widely. But fortunately a distinguished 
lady of high rank has enabled us to judge of another 
class of popular lore, as it existed long ago in Wales — 
the popular tales of the fifteenth century — and in these I 
should expect to find the remains of something far 
older than Oisein or Taliesen ; the old myths which 
wandered westward with the Celtic race, which are em- 
bodied in Gaelic tales, written and unwritten, Scotch 
and Irish, and which seem to be common to most of 
the Aryan languages, of which the Celtic is one of the 
oldest. The poor despised popular tales, which are 
branded as wicked lies in the West Highlands, and 
which such men as Grimm and De la Villemarquè* 
believe to be some of the oldest known products of the 
human mind. Let me shew, so far as I can, wherein 
Scotch and Welsh popular tales agree, and wherein 
they differ. 

The Mabinogion, by Lady Charlotte Guest, is a col- 
lection of ancient Welsh popular tales, taken from a 
MS. supposed to have been written about the close of 
the fifteenth century. These contain the frame-work of 
many of the romances of chivalry which pervaded all 
Europe at a far earlier date. 

For instance, " The Chevalier au lion," is the same 
story in the main as The Lady of the Fountain ; and 


the romance is attributed to " Crestien de Troyes " at 
the close of the twelfth century. 

These romances "are found in England, France, 
Germany, and even Iceland." They are in various 
metres, but the same stories can be traced in all ; the 
heroes are still British worthies, and their exploits are 
traced back to Welsh popular tales and to Celtic tra- 

It is impossible to read the text of the Mabinogion, 
and the notes, without seeing the strong resemblance 
which these traditions bear to modern Gaelic popular 

The resemblance is not that of one entire story to 
another; were it so, it would be less striking; but it is 
a pervading resemblance interwoven throughout, and 
which pervades in a less degree the whole system of 
popular tales, so far as I am acquainted with it. The 
Welsh and Gaelic stories are, in fact, often founded 
on, and consist of the same incidents variously worked 
up, and differently told, to fit the various manners and 
customs of different ages, different people, and different 
ranks of society. 

Take, for instance, the Lady of the Fountain, strip 
it of all that is local, and makes it specially Welsh, and 
fixes a date, the names, the dresses, and decorations, 
the manners and customs, which were, without doubt, 
those of the people who delighted in the Mabinogion 
when it was popular in Wales, and there will remain 
a bare skeleton of incidents, many of which will be 
found in these volumes. These I take to be Celtic, 
to have travelled West with Celtic tribes, and to be 


founded on still older traditions — the common stock 
from which the popular tales of Germany, and of that 
whole family of nations were also drawn. 

First, the frame-work is the same ; one man tells a 
story, which starts another, as is the case in Conall, 
Nos. v. vi. and vn. ; and in Conall Gulban, No. 
lxxvi ; in Murdoch MacBrian, No. xxxvin ; and 
in many others which I have in manuscript. The 
knight comes to a castle, where he finds maidens who 
shew him the way, and entertain him, as happens in 
popular tales of all lands ; for there is always some one 
who provides the adventurer with a bowl, or a due, 
which shews him the road to his place of trial, or with 
some other means of conveyance, as in the story of the 
Calenders ; but in this case the number is 24, as in 
the Gaelic story of Magnus, No. lxxxiv ; and the 
dress is yellow, as is the dress of the mysterious people 
in the Lay of the Great Fool, and generally in the Gaelic 
and "Welsh tales, and yellow was the colour of dresses of 
honour in the west long ago. The first person he meets 
is a great black giant with a club, who appears in the 
Breton tale of Peronek the Idiot, and in the Eider of 
Grianaig, No. lviil, and in a great many other Gaelic 
tales. He comes next to a mystic fountain ; and mystic 
fountains are the scene of wonders in endless Gaelic 
stories — for instance, Nos. xlvi. and LVin., where 
the transformations occur at a fountain. Then there 
is the arrival of a man on a black horse in a shower, 
who insults the warrior; which incident occurs in 
Nos. l, Lii., lxxvi., and is common to many others, 
and is especially distinctive of Gaelic tales. There is 


the healing vessel of balsam in the keeping of a female, 
which is continually turning up in every possible 
shape in Gaelic. There is the fight between a snake 
and a creature of another kind, which opens the story 
of the Battle of the Birds, No. n. ; and there is the 
animal who helps his deliverer, as the raven helped the 
prince ; and as the lion, wolf, and falcon, help the 
fisherman's son in the Sea Maiden ; and in Straparola's 
Italian version of that old tale, which is at least as old 
as 1567. 

There is the knight who wanders about with his 
rescued lion, conquering giants and monsters, like 
Magnus, in No. lxxxiv. ; and like the boy in the 
Norse tale of the Blue Belt; and like heroes in plenty 
of other tales besides. 

In short, through these old Welsh tales of chivalry, 
there shines an older system of popular tales, as clearly 
as the Welsh tales shine through the French and Eng- 
lish romances ; and the remnants of these very tradi- 
tions exist in fragments at this day amongst the other 
branches of the Celtic race. 

I do not mean that Gaelic-speaking tribes have a 
peculiar claim to them, rather than the Welsh, or that 
Celtic tribes invented them ; I mean that these tradi- 
tions are Celtic, and probably were Eastern ; and that 
the popular tales now current amongst the poorest and 
least instructed of the Gaelic population, dwelling in 
the far west, throw light upon the subject so ably 
treated in the Mabinogion by a distinguished lady, 
aided by Welsh scholars. 

Compare the Breton traditions and popular ballads, 


founded on these same traditions of Arthur and his 
knights, with the next story in the Mabinogion, "Pere- 
dur, the son of Errawc," and with the story of the Great 
Fool, No. lxxiv. ; and the general Celtic resemblance 
for which I am contending will appear in strong 

Peredur is the last of seven sons of the " Earl of the 
North," and he is brought up by a wise mother, in a 
distant country, so that he should not be a warrior, and 
perish as his father and brothers had done. 

One day he sees some hinds, and not knowing what 
they are, he drives them in with the goats. So the 
great fool sees deer, and not knowing what they are, 
catches them by speed of foot. 

On another day, Peredur sees knights on horseback, 
and knows as little what they are ; but having found 
out, he gets him a horse, and goes to the king's palace, 
and there he begins by slaying a warrior. So the great 
fool catches a horse, and rides to the king's palace, and 
slays a man ; and so Peronek, the Breton idiot, is a fool, 
and becomes a hero ; catches a horse, and rides to 
Kerglas ; and there are numerous other traits in Breton 
ballads which represent similar incidents, though in a 
wholly different dress. 

Where the parallel fails with one story, it holds 
elsewherA Peredur is recognised, and is saluted by 
two captive dwarfs, who had been his father's dwarfs. 
Conall Gulban is recognised, and is saluted by Duanach, 
who had been his father's " draodh." 

Peredur, when he sets off in quest of adventures, 
comes to old men, brothers, who instruct him, and for- 


ward him on his way, as happens in the story of Black, 
White, and Ked, in a story told me by tinker Mac- 
Donald, in Norse Tales, and in endless popular tales 
besides. The old men replace the maidens, and the 
old man who entertains the knight in the Lady of 
the Fountain. And through all the magnificence of 
knightly pageantry, there peep forth such traits of 
popular manners as the scarcity of food. 

When it comes to battles, the principle on which 
they are conducted is to be traced in Gaelic tales. 
There is the arrival of knights of increasing rank, and 
their overthrow by the hero ; and further on, Peredur 
overthrows three hundred warriors exactly as Conall 
Gulban and other Gaelic warriors do ; but these are 
not the mailed knights of the romances. 

There is the incident of the bird of prey, the blood 
and the snow, which suggest love to Conall Gulban, 
and remind Peredur of the lady of his love ; and that 
one incident joins the whole Celtic family, for it is 
all over the Highlands now. See page 201. It was in 
Wales in the fifteenth century. It is in a manuscript 
in the Advocates' Library, where " Darthula," in the 
story of the children of Usnoth, is joined to it. This 
is " Hiberno-Celtic," " intelligible to a Gaelic scholar," 
according to the account which I have of it ; and the 
same incident is a Breton tale. 

Kai, the counterpart of Conan, " ever in scrapes, 
ever ready for a fight," appears in his usual character. 

Caerleon is the dwelling of King Arthur. Turleon 
is that of the King of Lochlann in " the witch," No. 



There is the lady in the dwelling of the wild hea- 
then people who befriends the wanderers — the character 
who appears so often, for example, in Nos. L, v., vl, 
vii., xll, xliv., lii., lviii., lxxx., and still oftener in 
Norse and German stories. 

There are even such little touches of resemblance, 
as " Bald swarthy youths " in Gaelic " Maol Carrach;" 
and such strong bonds of kindred as the three wounded 
men, who are always fighting Addank, a monster, and 
mystic armies ; who always conquer, but never win ; who 
are wounded, and healed with precious balsam ; exactly 
like the youths in the Knight of the Red Shield, who 
appear in many other Gaelic tales in other shapes. 

There is even the Talisman, the stone of mystic 
virtues, which occurs in Conal Gulban, and elsewhere, 
and which is actually used at this day as an amulet to 
cure sick cattle. 

There is the warrior who comes to a trial of arms 
disguised, who borrows money and clothes from a 
craftsman, wins, and will not come for his reward ; who 
resists force by force, but comes at last for fair words ; 
like the " Gille Carrach dubh " in No. iv., vol. i, and 
the Smith's Apprentice in No. xvi. ; and like Boots 
in many Norse tales, a character who appears in German 

There is the hideous woman with the enormous 
teeth, who appears so often in Gaelic tales. There are 
sorceresses who, like the big women of Jura in 
No. xlvi., have to do with feats of arms, and generally, 
if this story of Peredur were modern, and the subject of 
adverse criticism, it might be said that it was composed 


of the incidents of half a dozen popular tales, dis- 
jointed, separated, shaken together, reunited, and 
polished ; but as it is older than Straparola, an illi- 
beral Welsh critic, if such there be, might claim all 
collections of later date as borrowed from "Welsh 

Now, this story of Peredur has been worked into 
romances, and exists in many of the languages of 
Europe, including Icelandic. The question for argu- 
ment is, Did the old fishermen of the Hebrides, the 
old wives of Norway, the old nurses of Germany, the 
people of Brittany, and the writers of " Hiberno-Celtic" 
manuscripts, all learn their incidents, which they have 
in common with " Peredur," from their ancestors, the 
ancestors from wandering minstrels, the minstrels from 
manuscripts, and the authors of the manuscripts from 
Welsh bards 1 or, Have the peasantry of Europe pre- 
served the traditions from which writers and reciters 
made books and romances 1 and, in particular, have the 
Highlanders of Scotland preserved the Celtic traditions, 
which were also written in " the Welsh Eed Book," in 
another guise, in the end of the fifteenth century ? I 
hold the latter as the more probable, if only, because I 
have found no trace of some romances which are as 
widely spread. The story of Geraint, the son of Erbin, 
is in as many languages, including Icelandic, as the Lady 
of the Fountain, and I have not yet found a single 
incident in Gaelic common to it, unless it be the old 
knight and the dwarf encouraging their Mends in the 
combat with the knight of the Sparrow-hawk, as Dua- 
nach encouraged Conall in his battles ; and the magic 


mist which was dispersed by the hero, which occurs in 
the lay of the Great Fool, which is in a Manx tradi- 
tion, and which occurs in several Irish stories — for 
example, " The Chase/' in Miss Brooke's collection of 
Irish poems. 

Take the story of Kilwich and 01 wen, in the second 
volume, as another example. It opens like many 
Gaelic stories. A king has a son, and marries a second 
time. He conceals his son with a swineherd, and the 
stepmother finds him out and brings him to court, and 
he is sent off to encounter great perils, and seek objects 
difficult of attainment — adventures suggested by the 
stepmother. So the son goes off in the " Knight of 
Riddles/' and one of his adventures is to obtain the 
hand of a lady, and so a whole system of popular tales 
is founded on a stepmother's dislike for her step- 
children. The manner of telling the story agrees 
closely with the manner of telling Gaelic stories ; many 
of the names could be explained by Gaelic — for example, 
Lychlin is surely Lochlann ; Mil du, Maol dhu ; Kilh- 
wich, son of the king of Kellydon, is surely Gil mhuic, 
the swine lad; and the Welsh word has the same 
meaning, for the king's son was so called because he 
was hidden in a swine's barrow. 

The whole principle of the story is popular, in that 
the hero rises to a palace from a stye. 

The first thing he asks from King Arthur, when he 
gets to court, is to have his hair cut, and though this 
is said to have been an ancient ceremony, I am inclined 
to think it is nothing but the common incident in all 
popular tales, which the following sketch from nature, 


made on the Tana river, on the Russian bank, in 1850, 
may save me from explaining in words. 

her Up, and she dressed his hair." 

i quotation from the Norse tale of Soria 
Moria Castle. 

De eatte sig da der, og da de havde siddet en stund 
sagde den yngste Prindsessen : " Yeg faaer vel lyske 
dig lidt jeg Halvor," ya Halvor lugde hovodet i hendes 
havn, saa lyskede hun ham, og (let varede ikke lrcngo 
forend Halvor sov ; etc (page 153, Norske folke 
eventyr. 1852). 

In the list of Arthur's warriors, too, there are many 
old familiar friends, the gifted men of Fortunio, who 
appear in many languages, and who have counterparts 
in Gaelic, see vol. L, p. 250. In another story, Bolagam 
Mor, I have Luuaoa Luath, nimble shanks, who 


catches deer by speed Clarsnrachd Mhajth, who 
hears the grass grow. Toin Chruaidh, who is found 
clearing a field of stones by sitting on them. Cuimsb 
Direach, the marksman who is found with a gun at his 
eye aiming at a bird in Eirinn; and Bolagam Mob 
Great Gulp, who is found swilling a lake, and spouting 
it out again. They all join " the widow's son," and 
sail in a ship which could go over mountain or sea, 
Muir na Monadh, which is like Arthur's ship, and they 
go to win a king's daughter, and do win her by feats. 
Nimble shanks runs a race with " nighean dubh na 
luideag," the black girl of the clouts, to try who could 
first take a bottle of water from the green well that was 
about the heaps of the deep. " Tobar uaine thu 'n 
iomal torra doinhain," the keen eared man, hears all the 
plans, the swift man is enticed into falling asleep, and 
his head is laid on a horse's skull by the black girl 
who runs off with the water, but the marksman shoots 
the head away, and he awakens and wins. 

The next feat is to bring " Tore Neanihe," a deadly 
boar that is in a forest, alive to the king's house. 
Nimble shanks goes to catch him, and Hard haunches 
to ride him home, and home they come with him, and 
here is manifestly the same boar with the deadly spikes 
in his back which appears in the story of Diarmald 
and elsewhere. 

The third feat is to sit at meat with the king in a 
chair with a deadly spike in it, and this Good hearing 
finds out, and Hard haunches performs. 

And the fourth is to bring a loch from the hill top 
to a hollow near the king's house, which Great Gulp 


accomplishes by swallowing it, and spouting it out 
again till the people were nearly drowned, and then the 
lady was married and won, and she is the daughter of 
the king of the island of women. This was written in 
1859 by Hector Urquhart, from the telling of old John 
Mackenzie, and I know that I have not got half the 
story yet. There is a man who made a bridge of his 
foot, and another who shot arrows into the moon, of 
whom I have heard, and there is the man who produced 
intense cold by moving his hat, who is in Grimm, and 
who appears in a story which I got from Gairloch. 

Now, all these and more are in stories collected in 
modern times elsewhere, and they are all in this Welsh 
story at the court of Arthur. 

There is the man of sharp sight. " When the gnat 
arose in the morning with the sun, he could see it from 
Gelli wic, in Cornwall, as far as Pen Blathaon in North 
Britain,' 7 explained to be from the Land's End to the 
ord of Caithness. 

There is the " marksman," Gelli wic, " he could in 
a twinkling shoot the wren through the two legs upon 
Esgeir Oervel, in Ireland." 

There is the man of hard feet who cleared the way 
for King Arthur, and struck sparks of fire from hard 
things with the soles of his feet. 

There is Gilla coes Hydd, the chief leaper of Ireland 
was he. 

There is the nimble man who could run over the 
tops of the trees. 

There is Clust Reinad ( (?) cluas an ear), " though he 
were buried seven cubits beneath the earth he could 


hear the ant fifty miles off rise from her nest in the 

There is the man who made a bridge of his dagger, 
like a lady who came to visit Fionn in a story which 
I have. 

There is the man who could suck up the sea. 

And there are many others of the same stamp, some 
familiar, some who, so far as I know, do not appear 
elsewhere in popular tales, but every one of whom is 
intensely popular, and mythological^ and might be, and 
probably was the hero of a separate myth. 

Kai, in particular, is here an epitome of much which 
is told of several gifted men in Grimm and elsewhere, 
and therein he agrees with Conan, who in a story about 
the Feinne (I think Irish) is invisible and able to fly, 
and blinds the Lochlanners with a sting. 

Now, to leave the region of popular tales for a mo- 
ment, and turn to mythology. In Gylfis mocking Thor, 
the Norse god goes to the land of giants, where he is 
cheated most ignominiously ; but he plays the part of 
" Great Gulp," for he swills at a horn whose end is in 
the sea, and makes the sea sink down many feet by his 
mighty draught, but he cannot empty the horn. Loki 
plays the part of the great eater (vol. i p. 138), but he 
is beaten, for his adversary is fire. Thor is the strong 
man who appears in Fortunio, but he is beaten again, 
for he cannot lift up the great serpent, which appears 
to him as a great gray cat, though it goes round the 
world ; and Thor's companion plays the part of the 
swift man and is beaten, for his adversary is thought, 
and no one can run a race with thought ; and, as it 


seems to me, the same thing may be meant by the 
Gaelic " black daughter of the clouts." Anything 
which is invisible, and hidden, and incorporeal, is 
called " black." As, — i€ Each dubh 's each donn bonn 
ri bonn 's luaithe n t each dubh' na'n t each donn." 
A black horse and a brown horse sole to sole, swifter 
is the black horse (the wind) than the brown (water). 
And lastly, Thor is the wrestler, but he is beaten, for 
his adversary is old age ; and this seems to indicate 
that Thor, though a divinity, had once been a mortal. 

Here then is King Arthur placed on the same level 
with Thor, and the same incidents associated with 
both, the one in a Welsh MS. collection of popular tales, 
the other in a very early Icelandic manuscript, which 
gives nearly all that is known of the pagan creed of 
the Northmen, and the very same characters and inci- 
dents are found to pervade the popular tales of the 
greater part of Europe, including those of the West 

The only possible deduction from these facts seems 
to be, that these are traces of a mythology once common 
to Celts, Scandinavians, Italians, Germans, and may* 
hap ancient Greeks, Eomans, Egyptians, and Aryans, 
And so with the rest of the story of this Welsh prince 
of Kellydon. When he goes out with his gifted com- 
rades, they meet with a mythical herdsman, a captive, 
with a dog as mythical as they are themselves, and he 
plays the part of the herdsman in the Slim-waisted 
Giant, as told me in Uist, and in the Eed Etin of 
Ireland, printed by Chambers in broad Scotch in 
1858. The herdsman, like the maidens in the Lady of 


the Fountain, shews the way, and tells what is to be 
met with in this land of wonders, and he entertains the 
adventurers ; and when they are set tasks by the king 
whose daughter they have come to win, it is like read- 
ing a list of tasks picked out of a library of popular 
tales, with scraps of Norse mythology and classical 
mythology all jumbled up with other tasks which I 
nave not found elsewhere. 

Here is a list of similar tasks from the tale men- 
tioned above, as preserved in the Advocates' library, 
which I assume to be written in Irish. I quote from. 
an abstract of an abstract. 

Tale 1. The fate of the sons of Tuireann. In the 
reign of Nuadh the silver-handed, the Foghmhairs, 
a Scandinavian race (I should say the giants), had 
the Tuatha de Dannans under tribute. The officers 
come to a king seated on a hill ; Lughaidh Lamhfada 
comes in splendid attire, rushes on the Foghmairs and 
kills them all but nine, whom he sends back. They 
tell, and an expedition is decided on. Cian meets Uar, 
Iuchar, and Iucharba, three sons of Tuireann Beagruin. 
Cian transforms himself into a swine. The sons trans- 
form themselves into swift hounds. Iuar kills him, 
and buries him under a heap of stones. As compen- 
sation for the crime, they are required to procure for 
Lughraich — 

1. The apples that grew in the garden of the King 
of Hisbheirna. 2. A sow's skin that belonged to the 
King of Greece. 3. A Persian spear. 4. The horses 
and chariot of Doghair innsendhe. 5. The seven 
swine of Easol, King of Colchos. 6. A whelp in the 

British traditions; 289 

possession of the King of Toruath. 7. Some magic 
rods from an island in the Tyrrhene sea, and seven 
other articles of magic properties, which are not given 
in the abstract. They were also to utter three cries 
on the summit of the hill of Miodachan. After sixteen 
quarto pages of adventures, they return with the 
articles, but have not uttered the three cries, so they 
ask for a magic curach and go. The eldest brother, in 
a cover of glass, explores the sea for fifteen days. They 
get a magic rod, utter the three cries on the top of the 
hill, after a severe battle return to Ireland, die, and are 

This manuscript is supposed to have been written 
about say 1750. " It is evidently a transcript." The 
language bespeaks high antiquity. The man in a 
glass case occurs in a story mentioned to me in Uist 
in 1859, and the tale of the sons of Tuireann is one 
of those mentioned by Professor O'Curry as probably 
composed before a.d. 1000. 

Now let these Irish tasks be compared with the 
Welsh tasks, and they will be found to resemble each 
other in nature, though they are not the same ; and 
they also resemble, in the same general way, the labours 
of Hercules and the tasks in the battle of the birds, 
in the Master Maid, in Straparolas' Fortunio, and in 
many of Grimm's German stories. 

When the Welsh heroes set off to accomplish their 
tasks it is the same thing. They go to the beasts, 
birds, and fishes for information, as men go to the 
winds in the Norse tale of East o* the Sun and West 
o' the Moon ; and the three old men who herd the 
vol. rv. u 


beasts, and the birds, and the fishes in the Three Prin- 
cesses of Whiteland, characters who appear continually 
in Gaelic talcs in various shapes. Sometimes they 
are old men, sometimes three old women, sometimes 
herds. These generally provide the wanderer with a 
cup, or a boat, or a pair of old shoes, which carry him 
on his journey, and come home. But the Welsh crea- 
tures are especially old and mythical ; one is an eagle, 
which has sat on a rock and pecked at the stars for 
some extraordinary number of ages ; another is a stag; 
who is as old ; and the third is a salmon, who takes 
Kai on his back and carries him to his destination. 

And when the grand climax is approaching, it ap- 
pears in the shape of a magic boar, who is a transformed 
king, and behind whose ears are scissors, a comb, and a 
razor, which, like Gaelic combs and iron instruments, 
are the keys to the whole magic. King Arthur rouses 
the boar, and hunts him from Ireland to Wales, and 
over the Welsh mountains, and he is finally slain ; and 
surely this magic boar and boar hunt by the mythical 
British king and his gifted warriors, is the same as 
the magic boar of Gaelic tales ; and the hunt by Fionn, 
the mythical king of the Feine ; and the hunt of 
Adonis, and must be some old myth as old as the races 
who have worked up the common stock into so many 

When I first read this Welsh story, it was like a 
confused dream, made up of fragments from all that I 
had read and collected during the last two years, and 
yet though thus interwoven with the general mass of 
Gaelic, Norse, German, French, and Italian tales, the 


justice of the observation in the first note is unde- 
niable. It is " purely British/' in that it has no 
parallel or exact counterpart in any other language. 

The dream of Ehonabwy has few incidents which I 
can recognise. There is a horse who, like the giant in 
Conall, drew men towards him when he drew in his 
breath, and blew them away when he breathed out. 
It is a strange tale of chivalry, and Owen's army of 
ravens are peculiarly mythological. I have a great 
deal about ravens, as, for instance, in the battle of the 
birds ; but I have no army of ravens, and I know of 
no such army in any other popular tale ; but in a note 
at page 436, is the outline of a story of which I have 
given an abstract at page xcv., Introduction. That 
story was repeated to me by an old tinker at Inverary, 
and it is in the metrical and prose versions of Perceval 
de Galles, according to the note. 

The story of Pwyll, prince of Dyved, has a great 
many incidents which I recognise. The opening is 
like the lay of the Great Fool. The prince goes alone 
to hunt, and falls in with hounds whose like he had 
never seen, " white with red ears." They catch a stag, 
and he drives them away, and sets his own hounds on 
the deer ; and there comes a man clad in garments of 
gray woollen, the owner of the hounds, who accuses him 
of discourtesy. He is Arawn, a king of the Annwoyn. 

The next adventure is like the opening of Murdoch 
MacBrian, NoJlxxviii., and an incident in ConalL 
The king sits on a mound, and there comes a maiden 
on a steed, whom no one can overtake, which again has 
a relation to the opening of Boighre Borb, and the Irish 


story of the chase. Then comes the incident of a king 
disguised as a beggar, which is in the end of Murdoch 
MacBrian, in the Odyssey, and in many stories in Gaelic, 
Norse, and German. 

And then there is the man enticed into a bag and 
beaten ; as the giant's mother was enticed by Maol a 
bhoibean, and beaten to death. 

Then comes the woman who is mysteriously robbed 
of her children, and accused of eating them, which is in 
many stories ; for example, in the French story of 
Princess Fair Star ; in the Norse story of the Lassie and 
her God-mother ; in the Hoodie, No. 3, and in No. 12 
in Gaelic, and in endless stories besides. For example, 
in one called, "an t urisgeal aig na righre, High na 
thuirabhinn agus righ nan Ailp," The king of the Ailp 
quarrelled with the Druids, and was killed, leaving 
a single daughter and a son. She was educated by the 
Druids till she was able to do many of their tricks, but 
they coloured her skin as green as grass. But the son 
fled up a mountain, called Bean ghloine, because it was 
always covered with glass (or ice) in the winter, and he 
took his father's sword and sceptre. Then came a Druid 
and smote him as he slept, and turned him into a gray 
dog. Then he returned to the palace, leaving his 
sword and sceptre, and his sister got leave to come and 
see him, and there they staid ; the green woman and the 
greyhound, and there they were to stay till some one 
would marry the greyhound of her own accord, and 
till the king's daughter should nurse three children, 
and get a kiss from a king's son. And no one was to 
bury the bones of those who fell in the Druid's battle 


till their grandchildren should do it. Then the king 
of the Urbhin went off with his men through the hills 
to fight with another king, and lost his way in a mist, 
and he cried out " keep with me ; " and there answered 
him but a hundred. Then the mist was so thick that 
he could not see the end of his sword, and he shouted 
again, and there answered him but a score ; and he 
cried out again, and there answered but three ; and 
next time he cried, none answered at all ; and so he 
wandered alone till he came to the palace, where he 
found nothing but a greyhound. He wandered about, 
found food and a bed, and ate and slept. Next day 
he wandered about and found a lot of bones, and 
began to kick the skulls idly, when the gray dog 
sprang upon him, and threw him down, and spoke, 
and abused him for kicking his father's skull, and 
then comes the story of beauty and the beast. The 
king had three daughters and a son, and he promised 
that a daughter should come in his stead, and the 
green girl went to carry the news. She put on "a 
chaisbhairt shiubhal," her travelling foot-gear, and a 
face cloth, and went and returned with the three 
daughters in a trice, for she had travelling foot-gear 
for them also. The youngest staid as hostage for the 
king, and the rest went home, and she slept in the 
same room with the dog and the green sister till the 
year ran out, and the king came back. Then, to save 
her father's life, the youngest sister agreed to marry the 
hound, and the green girl got a priest, and they were 
married. In the morning when she woke, of course 
it was a fine young man who was beside her ; and she 


asked where was the gray dog. Then the two elder 
sisters were furious; and the king fell in love with 
the green girl after he had taken a draught of the 
" mheadair Bhuidh," yellow mead, from her hand. The 
two sisters concoct a scheme with a Druid to become 
queens instead of the brother and sister ; and the first 
step is to get hold of their sister's child, and give it to 
the Druids. They carry her off, and when the child 
was born, " there came a green hand in at a window, 
and it took away the child." So in Welsh there came 
a great claw, and so a lake fairy took away Lancelot 
in the romance. And so it happened thrice, but a 
drop fell from the eyes of the children, and the mother 
gathered the drops, and treasured them. 

Then the king who had been twice deceived, and 
who did not know that he had seen his wife, determined 
to marry again, but he would marry none but she who 
could fetch his sceptre and sword of victory from the 
top of the glass mountains. Many tried, but failed ; 
and the wicked sisters who had made the youngest 
lose the strength of her feet, cured her, and when she 
succeeded, stole the prize, and claimed the reward. 
Then they were set to wash the bloody shirts of those 
who had been slain in the great battle of the Druids; 
the sister washed them all but one, and before she 
would wash that one, she must sleep three nights in 
the king's room, but he had his sleepy drink, and she 
sang — 

Rug mi do thruir cloinne dhtdt, 
S' dhirich mi a bhein ghloine dhuit, 


S' nigh mi do leindean fala dhuit, 
S ; tha mi nam laidhe maille ruit, 
I com' a gaoil nach teaon thu rium. 

I bore thy three babes for thee, 

And I climbed the glass peaks for thee, 

And I washed thy bloody shirts for thee, 

And I am laid beside thee here, 

And why my love not turn to me. 

On the third night he heard. And in so far the story 
is like many others, but it has many adventures which 
I have found nowhere else. 

The king, and his wife, and his green sister, go 
back to the palace of the Ailp, and hold a feast; Dubh- 
malurraidh the wicked Druid comes, and a wicked 
sister is transformed into the likeness of the queen, and 
when the true queen came her rival was in her place-, 
and no one could make out which was the right queen. 
Then came the green sister, and produced a garter with 
which the queen had tied the sword and sceptre when 
she brought them from the glass hill, and the true 
queen had the other on. 

Then the green sister brought in the three children, 
which she said she had carried off from the uirabhinn 
to save their lives, and they all three squinted for 
want of the drops that had fallen from their eyes, 
and the true mother had the drops, and put them back, 
and they saw straight. 

Then the green girl marked the sham queen with 
a black spot, and put salt into the Druid's food, and a 
sleepy drink into his cup, and when he slept she put 


him amongst the bones, where he could work no more 
spells. The Druid, to get free, told her to wash in 
the water of the well that was at the foot of the blue 
rock, in the Island of Deer, in a high hill, and the 
young prince of the uirabhinn fetched it and she was 
cured, and they married. 

The wicked sisters try to burn the house, and put 
magic draughts into their sister's drink, but they fail. 
The Druid is made drunk and beheaded; the sisters 
drink their own draught, lose the power of their legs, 
and fall into poverty and disgrace, and the young 
sister and the king of the Ailp who had been a gray 
dog, and his sister who had been green, and the young 
king of the Ura Bhinn, lived happily thenceforth, and 
their grandchildren buried the bones. 

Now this was a nursery story told to John Dewar, 
by a servant maid, about 1812 ; and this rough outline 
will shew that it is a version of the same popular tale 
which was written in Wales about 400 years before, 
which was in the Golden Ass of Apuleius 1600 years 
ago, and has to do with Cupid and Psyche, and is in 
the Arabian Nights. I have other Gaelic versions of 
the same incidents, including a detailed account of the 
manner of climbing the mountains, and the accusation 
of eating the children; but my object here is to shew 
the relationship between Gaelic and Welsh stories, and 
this must suffice for the present. 

In the next story, Branwen, the daughter of Iiyr, 
which, if Gaelic, might mean black and white daughter 
of the sea, there is little which I can recognise. There 
is a great deal about ships which come from Ireland ; 


and the caldron which, brings warriors to life when 
they are slain is like the vessel of balsam. The origin of 
the " five-fifths of Eirinn" is given, and, as I have not 
found the myth elsewhere, and as the term is common 
in Gaelic stories, I quote it After a great battle there 
were left alive but five women, and they bore five sons, 
and these, when they grew up, took each other's mothers 
to wife, and they peopled Ireland and divided it. 

The name of the smith is like Gaelic. Llasar 
Uaesgywdd might be kindled flame. 

I have nothing in common with the next story 
except a magic white boar, nor with the next, nor with 
the dream of Maxen Wledig, nor with the story of 
Lludd. Some of these I should class with popular history. 

But the next, " Taliesen," begins with the well- 
known incident of the man who mysteriously acquires 
knowledge by tasting unwittingly drops of magic liquor 
from a caldron. The man's name is Gwion Bach ; and 
the story is now told of Fionn MacCumhaiL This 
seems to join Fionn and Gwion, and to this I have 
referred elsewhere. 

The pursuit, in various forms, by the witch lady, 
has an exact counterpart in a story of which I have 
many versions, and which I had intended to give if I 
had room. It is called " The Fuller's Son," " The Col- 
lier's Son," and other names, and it bears a strong 
resemblance to the end of the Norse tale " Farmer 
Weathersky." That belongs to the Arabian Nights 
also, and so carries us eastwards as usual. 

The incident of sending a man to try the fidelity of 
a wife, and his deceit with a ring token, has a counter- 


part in No. xvin. which leads to Shakespeare and 
Boccacio, and proves what I had suspected, that there 
actually was a British popular tale current before the 
time of Shakespeare, from which he might have taken 
some of his ideas. The very same idea will be found 
in a Breton tale (Invention des Ballins Foyer Breton, 
vol. i., p. 180), where a Breton gentleman goes to court, 
boasts of his wife's beauty and fidelity, and a French 
courtier goes to test his words. He gets a ring and 
other tokens, and sends them to Paris, and when the 
enraged husband comes home to take vengeance on his 
lady, he finds that she is innocent. The gallant is 
found weaving sacking in a room where he had been 
enticed by the lady, and where she had starved him 
into submission, and taught him to weave, after his 
own fashion, a new kind of cloth of his own invention. 
Here, then, one incident joins Gaelic, Welsh, and 
Breton, and joins them to English, French, and Italian 
tales, and brings them into contact with famous names, 
and carries them back a long way. 

But while this is true of incidents, the groundwork 
of the Welsh story and the poetry of Taliesen have 
little in common with any popular tale of which I 
know anything. Taliesen, according to the notes, was a 
Welsh bard of the sixth century, his history is mixed 
with Irish adventures, he was a knight of the round 
table, with Arthur at Caerleon, upon Usk, in Glamorgan 3 
but if so, the Taliesen of the story is a very different 
personage ; he is a kind of demigod, and in all like- 
lihood ancient myths about the spirit of song have 
clustered round a famous name. 


The names Taliesen, the offspring of Gwion, and 
Oisein, the son of Fionn, suggest that these mythical 
bards may once have been the same. 

In a note, I find that Cardigan Bay was once the site 
of a submerged country ; the same, no doubt, which 
can be traced in Breton, in Irish, in Manks, and Gaelic ; 
in Norse, and in Italian, a country submerged for 
wickedness, and whose houses can be seen under 
water, and occasionally rise to the surface ; a tradition 
common to many nations which bears upon that of the 
mysterious western land hidden in the mist, which 
once was the Isle of Man, and is now to the westward 
of Man. 

So far, then, I have endeavoured to shew that 
Welsh popular tales of the fifteenth century, and Gaelic 
popular tales of the nineteenth, have a strong rela- 
tionship to each other, that they are both intimately 
connected with mediaeval romances, and with modern 
Norse tales, and with old Norse mythology ; with the 
oldest known collections of popular tales made in 
Europe, and with the last ; with Irish traditions in the 
Far West, and with the Arabian Nights in the East 
My opinion is, that these are all founded upon incidents 
which have been woven into popular tales almost ever 
since men began to speak ; that they are Celtic only 
because Celts are men, and only peculiarly Celtic be- 
cause Celts are admitted by all to be a very ancient 
offshoot from the common root They are peculiarly 
Cymric or Gaelic, because each fresh branch has a 
separate growth, and different tribes have varied their 
stories, as they have altered their language. 




As to the origin of popular tales, there are three cur- 
rent opinions. 

First, it is said the minds of men are similarly 
constituted in all parts of the world, and when they 
are similarly placed will produce similar results, there- 
fore similar stories have sprung up simultaneously all 
over the world, and though they resemble each other, 
they have really nothing in common. They are weeds 
of the human understanding which should be rooted 
out, but which spring up wherever there is a proper 
soil, and climate, and sufficient ignorance, idleness, and 

Secondly, it is said " These were the work of wise 
men in the East, whose writings we know ; we know 
when and where these writings first appeared in Europe, 
and these have spread all over the world." For ex- 
ample, " Cupid and Psyche," and all stories like it> 
originated with the author of the " Golden Ass." 

Thirdly, it is held that these ideas were originally 
the offspring of the minds of men in the East, at a 
period when great part of the earth was waiting for 
men to own it ; when language itself was young, before s 
the ancestors of those who now dwell in India and in 
Barra set off on their travels, before Sanscrit grew to 
be a language. In short, it is held that these despised 
stories are the fragments of the early myths and beliefs, 


moral tales, and heroic pastimes of the early ages of the 
world, and that Cupid and Psyche is but one phase of 
an Aryan myth. I have been drawn to all these in turn. 

When I sit in a room surrounded by printed books, 
and trace one story through them for centuries ; when 
I read an English translation of Apuleius, printed in 
1566, and my own translation of a Gaelic story, like 
one of those told by " Lucius," that most amusing of 
asses, I am all for books ; but when I sit in a cloud of 
peat reek beside an old Highlander, with white hair 
and a skin like crumpled parchment, who cannot speak 
English or read a word ; and listen to the same inci- 
dents told in a language which is not in any such 
book, and in a style which is the narrator's own, I am 
driven from my paper entrenchments, and all theories 
which are founded on books and writings are scattered 
to the winds. 

I am driven to remember that libraries are but 
museums, in which collections of ideas are stowed away 
in paper, like herbariums of dried plants, and that such 
mental plants grow in men's minds, and are propagated 
there, from seeds, like other plants. I feel that as 
every blade of springing corn is not a separate creation 
or a full grown plant, so ideas may spring and grow 
and come to maturity, and sow themselves, and spread 
far and wide, as plants do, without artificial culture. 
And so, after two years, I hold the third opinion, having 
tried the other two. 

To make the first theory probable, it is necessary to 
shew some case in which two men similarly situated have 
composed the same speech, sermon, or novel, with some 


twenty or thirty common ideas, following each other in 
the same order; with the same end in view, and the 
same plot ; and without any previous common knowledge 
of any historical fact or incident in every-day life from 
which to set out. We must have two separate creations 
of the mind. 

We must have two " Waverleys," or two " Hamlets," 
without any historical foundation, the pure offspring of 
man's invention. It is not only possible, but exceed- 
ingly probable, that two men should each contrive a 
story, which should begin with the birth of its hero, 
go on with his adventures up to his marriage, and either 
end with his death, or leave that conclusion to the 
imagination. Take almost any modern novel whose 
author is known, and strip it to the bones, and the 
skeleton will be found to consist of ideas about the 
birth, education, and marriage of one or more couples 
of human beings, and in so far popular tales do certainly 
resemble novels, and might spring up independently 
without a model, but that is not the resemblance with 
which we have to deal. 

We have not simply a back-bone, but a whole 
skeleton. We have to deal with such a resemblance 
as exists between a Turbot and a John Dory. Both are 
fish, both are flat, both are good; their skeletons are 
made on the same plan, and consist of the same bones ; 
they are creatures of the very same kind, though the 
one looks as if he had been crushed vertically, and the 
other as if his sides had been squeezed together ; and 
a superficial observer sees no resemblance at alL 

In order to maintain the second theory, it is neces- 


sary to shew how it is possible that uneducated men who 
never stir from the far west, the most unlikely to have 
any acquaintance with anything inside a book, should 
come to know that which is only to be found in rare 
Italian or Latin books, while few of those who most 
cultivate books have the same knowledge. It must be 
shewn how Donald MacPhie, cotter in South Uist, and 
his class, came to be acquainted with the incidents of 
the story of Fortunio, in Straparola, and Cupid and 
Psyche in the " Golden Ass," and, when that is shewn, 
how Grimm's old German women got hold of the same in- 
cidents, and when that is donB how they got to Norway : 
and, when all that is done, it remains to be discovered 
how all the stories which resemble Fortunio have some- 
thing which none of the rest have got, some incident 
which might be added without interfering in any way 
with the symmetry of the general plan, and which the 
oldest books want; some detail which helps out the 

Is it possible that a Minglay peasant and Straparola, 
neither of whom can have seen a giant, or a flying- 
horse, or a dragon, or a mermaid, or a talking animal, 
or a transformed man, could separately imagine all 
these impossible things, and, having imagined them, 
simultaneously invent the incidents of the story, and 
arrange so many of them in the same order 1 

Is it, on the other hand, possible that all these 
barefooted, bareheaded, simple men, who cannot read, 
should yet learn the contents of one class of rare books 
and of no others ? I cannot think so. 

I have gone through the whole sea-maiden story, 


and all its Gaelic versions, and marked and numbered 
each, separate incident, and divided the whole into its 
parts, and then set the result beside the fruit of a simi- 
lar dissection of Straparola's Fortunio, and I find nearly 
the whole of the bones of the Italian story, and a great 
many bones which seem to belong to some original 
antediluvian Aryan tale. The Scotch version is far 
wilder and more mythical than the Italian; the one 
savours of tournaments, kings' palaces, and the manners 
of Italy long ago ; the other of flocks and herds, fisher- 
men, and pastoral life; but the Highland imaginary 
beings are further from reality, and nearer to creatures 
of the brain. The horses of Straparola are very ma- 
terial, and walk the earth ; those of old John MacPhie 
are closely related to Pegasus and the horses of the 
Veda, and fly and soar through grimy peat reek to 
the clouds. 

Fortunio used his magic power to become a bird, 
and fly to the chamber of a princess, who provided him 
with arms and armour; but the son of the fisherman 
won his fortune and his princess by hard blows, and 
by doing his duty faithfully. If it were possible that 
the rough Highlander had got knowledge of the work 
of the polished Italian, it is certain that he did not 
copy its morals. And what is true of the Italian and 
Gaelic versions is equally true of all others which I 
know. Shortshanks in Norse, Fortunio in French 
(Contes des Fees, vol. v., p. 49), the nix of the mill- 
pond, the ball of crystal in German, and any other 
versions, if examined, will be found to consist of a bare 
tree of branching incidents common to all, and so 


elaborate that no minds could possibly have invented 
the whole seven or eight times over, without some 
common model, and yet no one of these is the model, 
for the tree is defective in all, and its foliage has some- 
thing peculiar to each country in which it grows. 
They are specimens of the same plant, but their com- 
mon stock is nowhere to be found. 

Mythology — Aryan Theory. 

I lately had the advantage of hearing the modern 
science of language explained by a master of that art. 
Its principles, as I gathered them, appear to be these. 
Men are different from brutes in that they are gifted 
with reason, and having reason they are also gifted with 
speech. Parrots have organs of speech, and speak, but 
they have no language, because they have no reasonable 
ideas to express. Such ideas as they have, they express 
in their own way, by tones, not words. Men then 
being gifted with reason and the faculty of speech, 
began to speak ; and expressed their ideas by sounds, 
which are the roots of language. Languages pass 
through stages of growth and decay, and so far as has 
been ascertained, there are three stages, of which 
examples exist 

Languages whose words are all roots, which have 
neither verbs nor adjectives, nor terminations, such as 
Chinese, which, as it would seem, has never grown, 
though much cultivated. 

Languages in which one word is glued to another 

VOL. IV. x 


and becomes a termination, and loses its independent 

And languages which have passed through these 
two stages, where the roots and terminations have be- 
come so intimately joined and altered by time and use 
that it requires a practised workman to distinguish 
them, and hunt them back to their sources. 

All languages, it is assumed, have passed, or will 
pass, through these three stages of growth and decay ; 
and the modern languages of the great Aryan family are 
in the third stage. Of the Aryan family of languages, 
the Sanscrit, is the oldest known, and this system of 
roots and growths, the principle on which letters 
change, and the framework of the whole science, 
existed centuries ago amongst the sages of the East, 
where writings have been discovered, read, and adopted, 
by modern philosophers. 

A philologist, then, with sacred and profane history 
pointing eastwards, with Sanscrit books, and eastern 
learning at his command, with a stock of roots gathered 
in the East centuries ago, begins at some leaf or twig, 
some word, in the West, and works backwards to find 
the root ; or he starts at the root, and works upwards 
to the modern word, and so by patient grubbing, and 
bold leaps, by force of intellect and power of speech, 
men strive to reach the truth in this, as in other 
sciences. They use the faculties which have been given 
them to solve this problem, as other men have used 
the same implements to solve problems as hard. 
As geologists have dug into the history of the wtold, 
and astronomers have scaled the stars, so a philologist 


hops like a squirrel from bough to bough, and strives 
to understand the growth of the great tree of human 

Now, surely if it be a study worthy of philosophers 
to trace out the sounds which are the seeds from which 
speech grew ; it is at least as interesting to trace the 
growth of untutored thoughts which words express ; 
and so this study of popular tales must come to take its 
place beside the science of language, if that is to be ad- 
mitted to a high place in the mystic circle. 

If men began to express ideas by language, they 
must have had ideas to express, and if ever these early 
ideas, the growth of unaided minds, are to be discovered, 
it will be by a process of patient inquiry, and bold 
speculation, like that which has raised up the sciences 
of Philology, Geology, and Astronomy. 

When we hold a tradition, we have something like 
a modern word, or a leaf; when we have ancient 
writings we have something like a Sanscrit root, and as 
time goes on and knowledge increases, the connection 
between the peasant's nursery tale and some old world 
belief will become clearer and clearer. And when 
that has been done, and when many old pagan beliefs 
have been hunted out, the truth will certainly appear 
beyond it all by following this road as well as another. 

The science of philology has not yet proved, but it 
points to a single common language, and an eastern 
origin for the human race; comparative mythology 
points the same way, and this wonderful community of 
popular tales throughout the world joins with them in 
pointing to a common eastern origin for mankind. 


And that origin certainly cannot be a gorilla, for in 
all their researches men find no trace of primaeval 
gorilla roots, languages, myths, or tales. 

Men are distinguished from gorillas, for they have 
intellects and tales ; birds still differ from men in that 
they cannot learn the use of their organs of speech, 
though there was once a magpie who told tales of her 
mistress, and was taken in by her superior cunning, and 
unjustly put to death. On fine days the whole neigh- 
bourhood of a certain square in London echoes to the 
most lamentable sounds of human woe — heart-rending 
shrieks and wailings fill the air. It is a green parrot 
expressing his delight at the bright sun and the fresh 
air, by repeating what he must have learned in a very 
cross nursery. 

Now if " storyology " be a science, it is worthy of a 
system and systematic study, and the process might be 
somewhat like this: — Begin anywhere; and read any 
collection, and there will appear a certain number of 
incidents which are repeated over and over again. 
They are never expressed twice in the same words, 
but they are clearly the same nevertheless, and they are 
easily recognised. 

Take, for example, the idea of a giant whose life is 
not in his body, but stowed away elsewhere (No. rv., 
vol. L), and wherever that idea turns up hereafter, com- 
pare it with the first mention of it ; and so by degrees 
it will appear that the notion of a man with his life 
elsewhere is very commonly associated with certain 
other ideas which have to do with a hostile dragon, 
beasts, birds, fish, and trees, earth, air, water, super- 


natural powers, and the loves of a man and woman* 
When this cluster of ideas is commonly found in one 
country, it becomes an incident belonging to the 
people of that country, and all that specially belongs 
to that people and no other may be removed, and then 
with a fossil incident picked out of the stratum in 
which it was first found, the " storyologist n may pro- 
ceed to pick out other notions in the same way. When 
he has subjected any one collection to this sifting, there 
will certainly remain a number of primaeval fossil in- 
cidents, and a lot of historical debris which may be 
left, in the meantime, for historians to sift in their 
turn. With such a collection of incidents stored and 
arranged, it is easy to recognise similar specimens else- 
where, and it is startling to find them in some of their 
resting places. No doubt hereafter a scientific nomen- 
clature will be devised. The incident which I have 
taken as an example might be called the hieroglyphic 
incident, for it occurs, as I am told, in an Egyptian 
papyrus, and the Norse giant with no heart in his 
booTand the Arabic djinHho kept his life at the 
bottom of the circumambient ocean might be called 
the Norse and Arabic varieties. And so when many 
collections have been made and explored, it will be 
found out who has, and who has not got this and that 
idea, and what ideas are common to alL I have little 
doubt that this particular notion will be discovered to 
belong to some ancient system of mythology, like that 
of Egypt, and to relate to a deluge and a creation. It 
would seem to be very old, and it is very widely spread. 
The question is, who were the people who held this 


notion of a common terminable life for all nature, and 
a man and a woman who overcame the natural powers 
by the help of a superior intelligence, and when and 
where did they live, if they lived before the Egyptians. 

I have formed no theory on the subject, but it 
seems worth inquiry, and this is one way to puzzle out 
some parts of the ancient history of the human race, 
from the traces of the human mind. Let a sufficient 
number of incidents be gathered together, and treated 
as roots, wherever they may be found; exactly as ar 
and tra are hunted through forests of Aryan words, 
and storyology will become a science like any other 
ology, and it is fully as amusing as most of that dusty 
tribe. It is more amusing to read faces than it is to 
read books ; it is quite as satisfactory to catch a new 
idea as it is to land a fresh salmon, bag a pheasant, 
run a fox to ground, or draw a badger, and the pursuit 
may best be carried on in the open air, amongst the 
wildest of glens, and mountains, and mountaineers. 

And what were these first efforts of reason left to 
itself Ì Surely to find out the reason of things. 

In early youth, I was taught a definition which I 
have never been able to forget. 

a " What is a river V 

A. " A river is a stream of water running through 
the lowest accessible levels of a country into the sea, 
and returning to it the water which having evaporated 
had formed clouds and fallen over the land in rain." 

A simple man in search of knowledge, who had 
found all that out for himself, might well think he had 
got the two ends of his chain of reasoning fast linked 


together, and describe a circle in the sand, to express 
the discovery completed. 

The river runs because the rain falls ; the rain falls 
because the river runs, so the chain is endless and un- 
broken, and the river something everlasting. Men 
having a tendency to admire the fruit of their own 
brains might well sit down content, and mayhap fall 
down and worship the river itself or set up a circle, or 
a symbolical serpent with his tail in his mouth, to ex- 
press eternity, and exclaim — " how bountiful is this 
great everlasting river, which is older than my grand- 
father, which flows down from his lofty clouds in the 
air to water my fields, and returns to his native skies/' 
And so the river might become a god, and acquire a 
name, and a history, and temples, and priests, and a 
religious system, and a form, mayhap that of a fish's 
tail tacked on to a human body. 

But some other thinker might feel cramped within 
this water circle flowing about the earth, and seek to 
know why the river was material, and ran down north- 
wards, and flew up and southwards, and suspect that the 
water god had more to do than water fields. If he thought 
hard, he might find out that water rose up when it was 
heated by fire, that the sun was hot, and that the river 
flew through the air because the sun shone ; that the 
fields gave their increase, not because of the water god, 
whose own watery regions produced nothing but weeds 
and fish, but because the sun compelled the water to 
work, and then warmed the fields into fertility. And 
so a new astronomical circle, and a larger symbolical 
serpent, with his tail in his mouth, new priests, images, 


and ceremonies, might be set up in honour of the 
"bountiful Sun God, who rose and set to watch over the 
fields of his faithful worshippers. And then the de- 
throned river god, with his scaly tail, would sink in 
public estimation, and might become " Abdallah of the 
sea," and his wife a mermaid, and then all the history 
of the past religion would gradually sink into a nursery 

Another thinker might upset the worship of fire, 
and point out that the air in which the sun, and moon, 
and stars had their lofty being was something greater 
than fire, for no animal, or man, or fire could live with- 
out it, and a good blast of it would extinguish the best 

A fourth might discover, that without the earth all 
else was nought, and that everything grew and had its 
being from the earth, and returns to it. And so a 
whole host of elemental divinities might spring up from 
a study of nature, flourish and decay, and so become 
the spirits of the earth, and the air; the djinns of fire, 
and air, and water ; Peris and earthly ghouls dressed in 
their old idol forms, and retaining shreds of their former 

But as each new circle became too narrow for reason, 
one set of despairing philosophers might come to think 
the whole world of nature a fortuitous concurrence of 
atoms, and worship nothing at all ; while a second 
worshipped their own passions ; and a third still pressed 
onwards, and sought to know whence the atoms came, 
and why they concurred, and how the particular con- 
currence of atoms, of which they were composed, 


managed to think about such things, or to think at all. 
Such thinkers must be driven at last to say, "We 
cannot explain this; but we believe that there is a 
reason greater than ours, which we cannot attain to, 
beyond it all." 

So nursery tales are often the debris of natural 
religions, which are all fading away before the light of 
revealed religion, but subsisted along with it before the 
flood. Plain men and women are found dealing with 
heroes and heroines, mermaids, dragons, great birds, 
and subterranean powers; the powers of water, fire, 
air, and earth, who were once gods and goddesses ; the 
elements personified, worshipped, dethroned, and now 
degraded to be demons and hobgoblins, fiends and 
fairies, ghosts and bogles, and monsters of land and 
sea. But above and beyond all these there is always 
some dimly seen power greater and more powerful than 
they; the hidden reason and cause towards which 
every train of just reasoning must certainly tend, though 
it never can reach it without its aid. 

Jupiter was subject to the Fates ; the world and its 
supporters stood upon a tortoise, or rested upon the 
shoulders of Atlas, but what they stood upon no one 
knew. Fairies are more powerful than mortal men, 
but they are but "fallen angels," and the wise man 
who advised the fisherman's son in the " Sea-maiden" 
was a greater power than he, or any of the monsters 
which he destroyed, or the magic creatures of air, earth, 
and water which aided him and his wife to overcome 
the evil powers of the sea. 


West Highland Stories. 

Assuming that stories do really contain the debris 
of ancient beliefs, this particular collection should con* 
tain fragments of the ancient Celtic creed. They seem 
to me to point to an astronomical pantheon at war with 
meteorological, aqueous, and terrestrial powers. 

The early religion of the Vedas seems to have been 
mixed up with solar worship ; so was that of Egypt, 
Greece, and Home. In the second century, in the days 
of Apuleius, who was a native of Northern Africa, and 
manifestly a collector of North African popular tales, 
it was necessary, in order to propitiate the good powers, 
to "put the best foot foremost," as we say; to start 
with the right foot, not the left, as Apuleius explains, 
and in these days men still swore by the divinity of 
the sun. 

Irishmen will have it that they are of Milesian 
descent, and came from the Mediterranean. Scotchmen 
will have it that they, too, have a like origin — from 
Pharoah's daughter — and Apuleius calls his " Milesian" 
tales, whatever he means thereby. 

It seems pretty certain, at all events, that Phoenician 
traders visited Britain at a very early date, whether the 
Celtic Britons first came overland or by sea. To secure 
a prosperous result in the days of Martin, in the Western 
Isles in 1703, it was requisite to take a turn sunwise 
at starting. A boat was rowed round sunwise ; an old 
Islay woman marched sunwise about the worthy doctor, 
to bring him good luck ; the fowlers, when they went 


to the Flannen Islands, walked sunwise thrice about 
the chapel, saying prayers. Sometimes fire was carried 
round some object, sometimes they rode in procession. 
They made forced fire for mystical purposes by rubbing 
planks together. In short, there were then a number 
of superstitious observances connected with fire, and 
with moving in a circle from left to right if the back is 
to the centre, from right to left if the centre is faced ; 
sunwise, east, south, west, north, and so thrice. Every 
English sailor coils a rope sunwise ; but I have never 
been able to find out that he alters the direction of his 
coil when he crosses the line, and ought to coil it the 
other way. When a soldier faces about, he goes right 
about face ; when boys play at rounders, so far as I can 
remember, they always run first to the stance on the 
left of the circle within which they stand. Girls dance 
in a circle, and all England commonly dances in a circle 
about the mistletoe when we dance the old year out 
and the new year in ; and, so far as I can remember, 
the dancers face the centre, and move to the left, which 
is sunwise, and planetwise, if the earth be the centre 
intended. Long ago, when in Greece, I came upon a 
lot of peasants dressed in their white kilts, performing 
their dances. Men and women held hands in a circle, 
advanced and retreated, and moved slowly round to a 
very monotonous music, while every now and then one 
of them broke out into a fit of violent twirlings and 
eccentric whirlings in the midst, which, if originally 
astronomical, must have symbolized a comet. 

This summer I saw the national dance of the Faroe 
islanders. A great number of men and women, boys 


and girls, joined hands and walked round a room, sing* 
ing old heroic ballads in their old Norse tongue. They 
walked sunwise. When we waltz we go sunwise round 
the ball-room, when we go round in a reel we do the 
same, and start with the right foot The wine bottle 
and the whisky noggin both circulate sunwise about 
the table. Lawyers in their revels used to hold hands 
and dance thrice round the seacoal fire in the Inner 
Temple Hall, according to ancient usage. Boys hold 
hands and dance round bonfires. Men and maidens 
still dance round the Maypole in some benighted 
parishes in England. In short, this system of dancing, 
and doing things in circles, sunwise, is almost universal 
in the north. 

Mons. de la Yillemarque tells of a game which he 
saw played by children in Brittany. A small boy was 
seated on an isolated stone, and a circle of small Breton 
peasants revolved about him thrice, prostrating them- 
selves thrice with their faces to the earth, and singing — 

Roue Arzur me ho salud, 
Me ho salud Roue a Vrud ; 

! Roi Arthur, je vous salue 
Je vous salue, Roi de renom. 

The hill known as the " Cobler," in Argyllshire, is 
called " Aite suidhe Artair." The seat of Arthur, the 
hill above Edinburgh, is called Arthur's Seat, and 
Art is one Gaelic word for a god. Art adhair would 
mean god of the air, which would be a fit name for 
the sun. 


There is a childish game played in the Highlands 
called "uinneagan arda," high windows, in which a 
circle of children dance round one who tries to escape. 

Another amusement is to whirl a lighted stick so as 
to produce a circle of fire, but that is forbidden by old 
dames, who say, " Tha e air a chrosadh," "It is crossed," 
or forbidden. There are plenty of crosses on stones 
which seem to have pagan symbols on them. 

There are several " knocking-out games," which are 
played in circles, or a half circle, round the peat fire in 
the middle of the floor. 

A string of words is repeated by a performer with a 
stick in his hand, who strikes a foot of one of the 
players as he says each word, and at the end of the 
performance he says, " Cuir stochd a staigh," and the 
last player sticks his right foot into the circle. The 
game goes on sunwise till all the right feet are in, and 
then all the left, and the last has either to take three 
mouthfuls of ashes, or go out and repeat certain quaint 
disagreeable phrases, one of which is — 

" My own mother burned her nails scraping the 
sowen's pot." 

" Loisg mo mhathair fhein a h-inen a sgriobadh na 
poite chabhrach." 

Another is, to light a stick and pass it quickly round 
while it is red. The player who has the stick says — 

" Gill' ite-a gochd." The next to the left replies — 
" Cha 'n f hior dhuit e ;" and the fire holder repeats 
as fast as ever he can — 


" Cha 'n 'eil clach na crann 
'San tigh, mhor 'ud thall, 
Nach tuit mu d 1 cheann, 
Ma leigeas tu as Gill ite-a-gochd," 

and when that is said he passes the stick to his left- 
hand neighbour as fast as he can. When the fire goes 
out the holder of the stick pays some forfeit I have 
played this game myself as a child. The words 
mean — 

" Servant of ite-a-gochd." 
Untrue for thee. 

" There's neither stock nor stone 
In yonder great house, 
But will fall on thy head, 
If thou lettest out the servant of ite-a-gochd." 

What the last word may mean I cannot say. 

Now, if a man anywhere north of the equator will 
face the sun all day, and the place where he is all 
night, he will revolve right-about-face in twenty -four 
hours, and meet the rising sun in the morning with his 
right hand to the south, his back to the west, his left 
hand to the north, and his face towards his object of 
worship, if he worships the sun. If he walks round 
the gnomon of a dial on the sunny side, seeking light 
and avoiding shade, he will describe a portion of a 
circle from left to right, and if he crosses the arctic 
circle he may so perform a whole circle in a summer's 
day; but if an Asian or European walks continually 
owards the sun at an even pace, whenever he can see 


him, he will necessarily walk westwards and south- 
wards, in the direction in which Western Aryans are 
supposed to have migrated. 

The Gaelic language points the same way. Deas 
means south, and right, and ready, dexterous, well- 
proportioned, ready-witted, eloquent. Consequently 
to go south, and to go to the right; to coil a rope 
dexterously, or southwards; to be dexterous, southern, 
and to be prepared to set out; are all expressed by the 
same Gaelic words — " Deas," " Gu deiseal," etc. Now 
all this surely points to a journey from east to west with 
the sun for a leader ; to a camp awakening at sunrise 
and facing the great leader in the morning, watching 
his progress till noon, and setting off westwards when 
" Dia," god of day, was south'; — Deas* ready to lead 
them westwards on their pilgrimage. Surely all these 
northern games, dances, and ceremonies, and thought- 
less acts, point to astronomical worship, and an imita- 
tion of the march of the stars round the world, or 
round the sun, if men had got so far in their astro- 

A short ballad, taken down from the recitation of 
an old tailor in South Uist, who is utterly illiterate, 
and has hardly ever worn a shoe or a bonnet, begins 
thus : — 

Gun d dhubhradh an Ràth soluis ; 

Fuamhair mor anns an iadh-dhorus ; 

Fuamhair mor a' tighinn o'n traigh, 

B* fhear an t'-eug na 'dhol 'na dhàiL 

* Pronounced Djee^à. Ejdys. 


Seachainn mi gu direach deas 
S 1 nach ann air do thi a thainaig. 

Tlie light circle was shadowed; 
A great giant in the wheeling door; 
A great giant coming from the strand, 
Better were death than to go to meet him. 

Pass me bye straight and south (right readily). 
For it was not on thy track I came. 

So here is poetry, which is not to be found in 
any book that I know, and which is highly mytho- 
logical. Caoilte, one of the Fenians, sees the circle 
of light (pronounced ra, spelt rath ; English, ray ; 
Egyptian, according to Sir Gardener Wilkinson, ra or 
re, the sun god) shadowed by a great giant with five 
heads, who was in the wheeling door, that is, I pre- 
sume, the sun, the door in the Zodiac, whence light 
emerged ; and the giant desires him to pass him 
straight, south, and avoid him ; but Caoilte will do 
nothing of the sort ; they fight, and he slays the giant 
with a " brodann," a short spear, according to the re- 
citer ; but Caoilte was sore wounded in the fight ; 
and Graidhne, the daughter of the King of Connachd- 
aidh (Connaught) carries his shield to " Dun TiL" 

Cha lotadh i 'm feur fo 'cois, 
S' cha mhò a lubadh i meangan. 

She would not hurt the grass under foot, 
No more would she bend a sprig. 



The following is an air to which a song about 
Caoilte used to be sung. I have not got the old 
tailor's air, but it was very pretty and wild. I have 
but three lines of the other version. 

Dan Chaoiltb, from Mrs. MacTavish. 

A Chaoilte laoich a teannragan 
Annir og an or-ftroilt reidh 
Ciridh e cinn le cir airgiod. 

Caoilte hero from battle. 

Young maiden of smooth golden hair 

Combing her head with a silver comb. 

Villemarque holds that Arthur and his knights are 
but Celtic gods in disguise. Surely the Fenians are 
but another phase of the same astronomical worship of 
the host of heaven. 

Again it appears in many ways that the dead were 
supposed to live ; but far away to the westward, where 
the Sun God seemed to go to his rest. Ossian Fionn, 
and heroes innumerable, were gone before towards the 



setting sun, and dwelt in a green island, where all 
the mysterious objects in Gaelic popular tales abound. 
The mystic fountain, which in the story of Cupid and 
Psyche is the river Styx, and flowed from a lofty 
mountain ; the mystic apples which changed men 
into animals, and cured them ; (in the Golden Ass a 
rose did the same); the mighty smiths who forged 
" Dure Entaille," for Arthur. " Avalon," the earthly 
paradise, and " Eilean iomallach an domhain," " Island 
uttermost of the lower earth," were surely the same 
mysterious country over which the Sun God was sup- 
posed to preside.* 

All these strange matter of fact stories which per- 
vade the whole of the western islands, from north 
Eonaldshay to the South of Ireland, about seals which 
turned out to be men and women, who came from 
their home in the west to visit the world ; all these 
strange semi-heathen practices of taking the sick to 
the shore ; all these accounts of strange islands occa- 
sionally seen in the far west, are surely traces of the 
ancient Celtic notions of a future state ; and the 
chapels perched upon the most distant western rocks 
on the coast of Europe, were surely set up to coun- 
teract and take advantage of this ancient heathen 
Celtic tendency to western worship, and the belief in 
an earthly paradise. Surely the same idea is expressed 
in the African fable of the hyaena and the weasel. 

The one, who was a priest in other stories, pointed 
to the setting sun, and said, "there is fire, go and 
fetch it." The other went as fast as he could towards 

* See Note, page 344. 


the sun, till it set, and then it came hack, for the 
hyaena was a fool, and he lost his food and his tail; 
hut the weasel was the wisest of all creatures, he was 
the philosopher, and got the prize. 

But "beyond the Green Island beneath the western 
waves, there was still something unknown and unex- 
plored. When Diarmid had found his princess under 
the waves, he had to cross a great strait to get the cup 
of the king who ruled over the dead. And there was 
more "beyond. 

"They believe," says Giraldus Cambrensis,* "that 
" the spirits of the dead pass into the company of the 
" illustrious, as Fin MacCoul, Oskir MacOshin, and the 
" likes, of whom they preserve tales and traditionary 
" songs." Beyond the Green Isle and the land of the 
dead was the Island of Youth, which was further ofl£ and 
harder to get to, according to a story got from Skye. 

It would be tedious to point out all the mythology 
which is scattered through Gaelic stories, and it is im- 
possible to unravel the details of the system without a 
thorough knowledge of the oldest Irish mythical tales, 
but this much appears — there is more foundation in 
Gaelic mythology for the Mediterranean, Phoenician, 
Trojan, Egyptian, and Milesian stories than is generally 

Taking Sir Gardiner Wilkinson's names of Egyptian 
gods, and his account of their attributes to be correct, 

• West of Scotland Magazine. 842. (1858.) I have not 
found the names or the passage in the author quoted, but he 
describes an island which rose from the sea, and sank, and became 
firm on shooting a fiery arrow into it. 


a great many of the names have a resemblance to 
Gaelic words of appropriate meaning. 

Thus, Neph is the equivalent of Jupiter, and father 
of all gods. Neùmhr(nèv) means heaven; and naomh, 
often pronounced nev, means holy. 

Amun was a name of the god who presided over in- 
undations. Amhain, avon, etc., are words which mean 
river, and can be traced over great part of Europe. 

Amun re was the ram-headed god, who was also 
the sun. Reith, pronounced ray, means a ram. Bath, 
pronounced rA, means a circle, and is applied to the 
sun in the ballad above quoted. Re means the moon; 
roth, pronounced raw, means a wheel or circle. 

Pasht was Diana Lucina. Paisde means a child. 

Ra or Re, was the sun god of Egypt, and repre- 
sented as a hawk ; he was supported by lions "which are 
solar animals," and he is the equivalent of Baal. Beul 
means the mouth, the front, the opening, the dawn of 
day, the mouth of night, the beginning. Every one 
has heard of beal-tainn, the 1st of May, old style, and 
" belten-fires," when branches of the tree which bears 
red rowan berries were very lately placed over the cow- 
house doors in the west, and when all sorts of curious 
ceremonies were performed about the cattle. Birch 
branches, primroses, and other flowers, were placed 
upon the dresser, tar was put upon the cattle, snails 
were put upon a table under a dish, and were expected 
to write the first letter of a lover's name, holes were 
dug in the ground and fortunes foretold from the kind 
of ft.ninifl.lH which were found in them. People used to 
get up early on the morning of Easter Sunday and go 


to the tops of hills before sunrise, in the full belief that 
they would "see the sun take three leaps, and whirl 
round like a mill wheel" for joy, which seems to be a 
mixture of Paganism and Christianity. The ram, the 
hawk, the lion of Manus, and all that tribe of mytholo- 
gical beings may be derived from astronomical symbols, 
and those of Egypt and the far East may perhaps 
explain those on the sculptured stones of Scotland. 

Athor presided over Egyptian night. Adftar means 
tbe sky. Athair means father, and night according 
to the ancients was the mother of all things. 

Osiri was the greatest of Egyptian gods. O-shior- 
righ, king from everlasting, would be something like 
the sound 

Arabic popular mythology, as given by Lane (Arabian 
Nights, vol. i., p. 37), also bears upon that of the west. 

Ghool is a species of demon, and Delkan is another. 
Djeeoul is the sound of the Gaelic for a demon, though 
the modern spelling rather points to a Latin derivation 
for the word. 

Sealah is a species of demon which haunts an island 
in the China sea ; the Gaelic name for a seal is Eòn, 
but the seals are supposed to be uncanny everywhere. 

Ghaddar is another demon of hideous aspect ; 
Cradhar is a hound ; Grobhar a goat ; and there are 
plenty of stories of demons appearing as goats and dogs ; 
Boc is a buck goat, and Bòcain are bogles. 

Shirk is a demoniacal creature, having the form of 
half a human being, like a man divided longitudinally. 

The Nesnas is described as having half a head, half 
a body, one arm, and one leg, with which it hops with 


much agility. K"o each creatures appear in German or 
Norse tales, but the smith, in the Lay of the Smithy, 
had one leg and one eye. In a very wild version of 
No. xxxviii., got from old MaePhie, the Dieeach 
Ghlinn Eitide MacCallain, the desert creature of 
Glen Eiti, the son of Colin, is thus described : — " With 
one hand out of his chest, one leg out of his hannub, 

Fachao (ns 


and one eye out of the front of his face." He was a 
giant, and a wood-cutter, and went at a great pace be- 
fore the Irish king Murdoch MacBrian, who had lost 
sight of his red-eared hound, and his deer, and Ireland. 
In the same story a " Fàchan" is thus described : — 


" Ugly was the make of the Fachan ; there was one 
hand out of the ridge of his chest, and one tuft out of 
the top of his head, it were easier to take a mountain 
from the root than to bend that tuft." 

Djinnee is a term for all sorts of magical creatures ; 
Djeeanan is the sound of the Gaelic for " Gods." 

And, on the other hand, no sort of Gaelic meaning 
can be extracted from the names in other mythologies ; 
for instance, from that of the nearest race, the Norsemen. 
Har and Osee, which resemble Athair, father, and 
Oscar, are almost the only names in the Edda which 
seem to bear any likeness to a Gaelic word. When so 
many old fables point towards the eastern shores of 
the Mediterranean as the cradle of the Celtic race, it 
is surely worth considering such resemblances as are 
pointed out above, however far-fetched they may seem 
to be. The Scotch pleaded a descent from Scota, 
Pharoah's daughter, against Edward's claim, founded 
on his descent from Brutus of Troy ; the Pope was 
umpire, and Bannockburn the final action in the case, 
so this is no new idea. 

If Celts be Aryans, and these followed the sun 
from central Asia, some of them would reach the shore 
about Tyre, if others made their way to Scotland, and 
called it " Tir nam Beann," the shore of hills. 

It is at least certain that the groundwork of several 
popular tales now current amongst the peasantry of the 
West Highlands, were written by Apuleius in the second 
century, and it is probable that these wore current about 
Carthage some seventeen hundred years ago. Nearly 
the whole of the story of Cupid and Psyche, as told 


by Apuleius, will be found in these volumes, though 
in a very rough dress, in Nos. il, iil, xil, xxxm., 
zxxix., and the story abstracted above. It is all 
over Europe in all sorts of shapes, and it was in India 
as a tale of the love of the sun for an earthly maiden, 
who was also the dawn. It was part of classical 
mythology, though Venus had surely begun to lose her 
power when Apuleius made her a scolding mother-in- 
law. It seems hopeless to speculate on the origin of the 
story anywhere short of the dawn of time ; but if there 
be any truth in the " eastern origin of Celtic nations," 
it is reasonable to look eastwards for the germ of Celtic 

On the other hand, the bodily forms, which the 
creatures of Gaelic mythology bear, often seem to have 
a foundation in fact. 

The water-bull is like a common bull, though he 
is amphibious and supernatural, and has the power of 
assuming other shapes. He may have been a buffalo, or 
bison, or bos primogenious long ago ; or even a walrus, 
though mythology may have furnished his attributes. 
There were human-headed bulls at Nineveh, and sacred 
bulls in Egypt, which had to do with inundations. 
Bulls are sculptured on ancient Scotch stones; and 
there is a water-bull in nearly every Scotch loch of any 
note. Loch Ness is full of them, but " they never go 
up to the Fall of Foyers." 

Here are some conversations which took place on 
the hill-side and elsewhere. 


D. " Water bulls ! Did not the uncle of that man 
see him ! " 

C. " Well, what was he like % " 

D. tt Well, my father's brother was a herd, and he 
was herding at the end of that loch, and he saw the 
water-bull coming out of the water ; he was close to 
him. He was a little ugly beast, not much more than 
the size of a stirk, and rough, and * gorm-ghlas ' — blue- 
gray, * * * and my uncle marked down the day, 
and the hour, and all about it/' (Here some details 
omitted.) " "Now, my uncle was not a man to think he 
saw a thing when he did not see it ; he was a quiet, 
steady man, and he told his master all about it" 

E. " Oh, yes ; that 's true enough." 

D. " I would not give a snuff for what a man sees 
in the night ; he might go wrong. Many a time have 
I gone to look at a thing which I saw in the night, and 
it was but a stone or a tree. But what a man sees in 
the bright, clear white day-light, that is another thing. 
There 's my brother, he was working one day at the end 
of that loch. I remember the day chosen welL It 
was a choice fine day ; I was working myself at the 

end of Loch , and it was so calm, and still, and 

quiet, not a breath of wind moving. Well, my bro- 
ther saw that loch with great waves breaking all round 
it, from the middle on the shores, and that is certain 
sure ; a thing which a man sees by the white light of 
day, in the light of the sun, is not like what a man 
sees in night. Well do I mind that day." 

C. " And did you ever hear that the bull did harm 
to any body?" 


D. " No, never ; but it cannot be a good thing, or, 
in a small loch like that it would be seen oftener. It 
could not keep hid." 

C. takes a mental note of the narrator's earnest 
poetical figurative language and features, which tell of 
firm belief in the mystic bull, and proceeds to ask 
questions of other inhabitants. 

Boy. " Oh, yes, they see water-bulls often about 
that loch. My father has been herd there for four- 
teen years and he has never seen anything, but there 

was a woman one evening coming across Loch in 

a boat, and she heard him blowing and snorting, and 
she turned back, and left the boat, and stretched out 
home. That was the water-horse, not the bulL" 

C. thinks of the rules of evidence and the blowing 
of an angry otter, and smokes gravely. 

Boy No. 2, carrying knapsack along a road distant 
some twenty miles from boy 1. " There are no water- 
bulls down here (the sea), but up at the small loch 
which is in that glen there are plenty of water-horses. 
Men have seen him walking about the shore of the 
lake. He is just like another horse, but much wilder 
like. He is gray. There was an old soldier up at that 
loch last summer ; he was living in a booth with his 
wife, fishing trout, and getting small white things out 
of shells that he finds there. He says he gets eighteen 
shillings and a pound for them ; they will be setting 
them in rings." 

" One night he heard the water-horse blowing and 
splashing in the loch, and he got such a fright tliat he 


stretched out and left the place, and he would not go 
there again." 

C. smokes, and sees a vision of a pearl fishery 
guarded by the water-horse-guards, of a knowing old 
genius whom he had met on the road, moving his 
camp to the south. 

Man, a hundred miles away in another island, de- 
clares " that he has often seen bulls feeding about the 
lake sides with the cattle, and the cows often had calves. 
They are 'corcach/ short-eared, a cross between the 
water-bull and a land-cow. They are easily known. 
No one has ever seen a water-cow." 

" Loch- Ard na h'-uamh is famous for water-horses. 
They have been ridden to market. Some men who 
mounted them have been drowned, others had very 
narrow escapes. The other water-horses sometimes 
tore the one that had been ridden to pieces. They are 
just like other horses, but live under water." 

Boy in another island. "There are no water-bulls 

here, but in a loch near B , where I come from, 

they are seen very often. I saw a man that saw one 
in that loch. He saw nothing but his back, but the 
loch was all in waves, though it was a calm day. 
That has been seen not once or twice, but various 

Audience suddenly remembers that Scotland was 
shaken by a slight earthquake some years ago. 

Boy in another island. "That is not the lake 
where the water-horse was seen. It was down south. 
It is a large lake where there might be many a thing 
that a man might not know ; but the man saw, as it 


were, the likeness of a man rising tip out of the water, 
and that must have been a bad spirit." 

As this was a place where the telling of stories, and 
music are interdicted, and the poor, mild water-bull had 
now become a bad spirit, it seemed worth finding out 
what change had followed in the popular manners. 

C. " Will there be many people at the market ? " 

B. " There will be a great many." 

" Do they all come to buy and sell Ì " 

" Oh ! no ; they just come." 

" Will there be music there Ì n 

" There will not." 

" Or dancing Ì " 

" No." 

" WiH there be drinking ?" 

" Oh ! that there will indeed. " 

L. "They will be so wild after the market that I 
cannot let you take the gig, unless a big man goes 
with it ; they would kill the boy and the horse." 

C. meets a most quiet, orderly, decorous set of 
polite, civil men and women going to market with their 
beasts, and wonders. He remembers the old fun and 
frolic of a Highland fair, the dancing, the games, the 
shinny, the processions, the races, the happy faces, the 
sober family parties returning home ; and if he does re- 
member to have heard of a drunken riot now and then 
amongst the wilder spirits, that was not the prominent 
feature of a Highland fair thirty years ago. At night 
he is told that if he persists in asking a man to play 
the fiddle, the neighbours will certainly " commit a 
breach of the peace." Wonders still more. A few 


daya after lie is overtaken by some very noisy, drunken, 
uncivil, riotous, quarrelsome creatures, who have not 

enough brains left to whistle a tunc or to tell a story 
withal, and therefore the suppression of innocent amuse- 
ment does not appear to Tiim to have done much good. 
Here are men naturally polite, full of fun, wit, imagi- 
nation, and poetry, forced to let off all the steam at 
once, and making beasts of themselves in consequence. 

Within a few miles, men who had not been to 
market were sober, pleasant, and amusing, repeating 
good poetry to a pleased audience, but they too were 
very glad to have a dram. More's the pity. 

Why should not the uneducated be taught with a 
liberal spirit 1 


But to return to the water-bulL The following 
story shews him as the friend of man, and the foe of 
the savage water-horse, and that is his usual character 
in popular mythology. 

No. 383. — In one of the islands here (Islay), on the 
northern side, there lived before now a great farmer, 
and he had a large stock of cattle. It happened one 
day that a calf was born amongst them, and an old 
woman who lived in the place, as soon as ever she saw 
it, ordered that it should be put in a house by itself, 
and kept there for seven years, and fed on the milk of 
three cows. And as every thing which this old woman 
advised was always done in the " bailie/' this also was 
done. (It is to be remarked that the progeny of the 
water-bull can be recognised by an expert by the shape 
of the ears.) 

A long time after these things a servant girl 
went with the farmer's herd of cattle to graze them at 
the side of a loch, and she sat herself down near the 
bank. There, in a little while, what should she see 
walking towards her but a man (no description of him 
given in this version), who asked her to " fasg " his hair. 
She said she was willing enough to do him that service, 
and so he laid his head on her knee, and she began to 
arrange his locks, as Neapolitan damsels also do by their 
swains. But soon she got a great fright, for, growing 
amongst the man's hair, she found a great quantity of 
u liobhagach an locha," a certain slimy green weed that 
abounds in such lochs, fresh, salt, and brackish. (In 
another version it was sand.) The girl knew that if 
she screamed there was an end of her, so she kept her 


terror to herself, and worked away till the man fell 
asleep, as he was with his head on her knee. Then 
she untied her apron strings, and slid the apron quietly 
on to the ground with its burden upon it, and then she 
took her feet home as fast as it was in her heart. 
(This incident I have heard told in the Isle of Man and 
elsewhere, of a girl and a supernatural) Now when she 
was getting near the houses she gave a glance behind 
her, and there she saw her "caraid" (friend) coming 
after her in the likeness of a horse. 

He had nearly reached her, when the old woman 
who saw what was going on called out to open the door 
of the wild bull's house, and in a moment out sprang 
the bull 

He gave an eye all round about him, and then 
rushed off to meet the horse, and when they met they 
fought, and they never stopped fighting till they drove 
each other out into the sea, and no one could tell which 
of them was best. "Next day the body of the bull was 
found on the shore all torn and spoilt, but the horse 
was never more seen at alL 

The narrator prefaced this story by remarking that 
it was " perfectly true," for he had it from a lobster 
fisher, who heard it from an old man who witnessed 
the whole scene. It was suggested to him that the 
" old woman" was a witch, but he would have his story 
told in his own way, and said " Well, I suppose she 
was a witch, but I did not hear it." 

Mr. Pattieson, who wrote down this version, regrets 
that he did not get a fuller description of the 
animals. I have a fuller description of them, and of 


the girl, with all the names of the people, and the 
places, fully set forth. The ball was large and black, 
he was found groaning in a peat hag, and was helped 
by the girl's lover, who brought him food, though he 
suspected him to be the water-bull The girl was 
dark-haired and brown-eyed, and the farmer's daughter. 
Her lover was an active Highland lad, and a drover, who 
went by the name of " Eachan coir nan ord," " Gentle 
Hector of the hammers," and he was fair-haired. 

There was a rejected rival suitor who takes the 
place of the water-horse, who threw his plaid over the 
girl's head when she is at a shealing, and carried her 
off, but the black water-bull rushed in just at the nick 
of time, crushed the wicked wooer to the earth, invited 
the lady to mount on his back, and carried her safely 
home, when he disappeared, singing — 

Chaidh conadh rium le ogair caomh, 

S' ri oigh rinn mise baigh 

Deigh tri cheud bliana do dh aosa chruaidh 

Thoir fuasgladh dhomh gun dail. 

Aid came to me by a gentle youth, 
And to a maiden I brought aid ; 
After three hundred years of my hard age, 
Give me my freedom without delay. 

This clearly then is as mythical a bull as the " black 
bull o* Norroway," and Mr. Peter Buchan's bull in 
Eashencoatie, and the dun bull in Katie Woodencloak, 
the Candlemas bull which was looked for in the sky, 


and the sign Taurus ; and perhaps the "Tarbh uisge," is of 
the same breed as that famous Egyptian bull who Was 
the god of the land of Scota, Pharoah's daughter. 

The water-horse is generally but a vicious, amphibi- 
ous, supernatural horse ; and there is a real sea-creature 
whose head may have suggested that there were real 
horses in the sea. But there were sacred horses every 
where in the East, so the attributes of water-horses are 
probably mythological. But the water-horse assumes 
many shapes ; he often appears as a man, and some- 
times as a large bird. In this last form he was " seen" 
by a certain man, who described him. The narrator 
waded up to his shoulders one cold day in February, 
in a certain muir loch, to get a shot at him ; but when 
he got within " eighty-five yards " of him, the animal 
dived, and the sportsman, after waiting for "three 
quarters of an hour/' returned to shore. There he re- 
mained for more than " five hours and a half," but the 
creature never rose. In form and colour he was very 
like the Great Northern Diver, with the exception of 
the white on his neck and breast ; the wings were of 
the same proportion, the neck was " two feet eleven 
inches long," and "twenty-three in circumference:" 
bill about " seventeen inches long," and hooked like an 
eagle's at the end ; legs very short, black, and power- 
ful ; feet webbed till within five inches of the toes, 
with tremendous claws. Footprints, as measured in 
the mud at the north end of the lake, cover a space 
equal to that contained within the span of a pair of 
large antlers ; voice like the roar of an angry bull; lives 
on calves, sheep, lambs, and otters," etc. If that "eye- 

VOL. iv. z 


witness" had only taken his long bow with, him in- 
stead of his gun, I have no doubt he might have 
secured a specimen of the " Boobrie." Nevertheless, I 
have heard of the Boobrie from several people who 
were beyond the reach of this " eye-witness f so he has 
a real existence in the popular mind. 

The dragon which haunts Highland sea lochs and 
Gaelic stories surely had the same origin as the Noise 
sea-serpent, figured in the wood-cut, and the great sea- 
snake of the Edda, which encircled the whole world* 
The bodily shape might have been that of a survi- 
vor of an extinct species, the attributes those of a sea- 
god. The creature figured by Pontippidan has rela- 
tions at the Crystal Palace, and in geological museums; 
and yet the bishop knew nothing of geology a hundred 
years ago. 

Even the fairies seem to have a foundation in feet. 
If the Dean of the Isles told the truth in his book of 
statistics, quoted above, the bones of pigmies have 
been found ; and the ancient habitations of a diminu- 
tive race are still found occasionally in the sand hills 
of South Uist, and elsewhere. In a " Sithchean," near 
Sligechean in Skye, piping used to be commonly heard, 
according to some of my informants. One of my ac- 
quaintance is commonly reported to fly with the 
fairies. They take him to certain churchyards, and 
bring him back again. A lout of a boy, who in- 
formed me that stories were very wicked, nevertheless 
added — 

" That fairies are, is certain. I know two sisters — 
one of them is a little deaf — and they heard a sound 


in a liill, and they followed the sound ; and did they 
not sit and listen to the piping there till they were 
seven times tired ! There is no question about that." 

A worthy antiquary shewed me, amongst a lot of 
curious gear, a stone arrow head, and said — 

" That is a fairy dart, which a man brought me a 
few days ago. He said he heard a whistling in the 
air, and that it fell at his feet in the road, and he 
picked it up, and brought it away with him." 

A tinker assured me, with evident belief that a 
man had taken such an arrow from an ash-tree, where 
he had heard it strike. 

A doctor told this anecdote — 

" Do you see that kind of shoulder on the hill ? 
Well, a man told me that he was walking along there 
with another who used to " go with the fairies," and he 
said to him— 

" ' I know that they are coming for me this night. 
If they come, I must go with them ; and I shall see 
them come, and the first that come will make a bow 
to me, and pass on ; and so I shall know that they are 
going to take me with them.' 

" 'Well/ said the man, 'we had not gone far when 
the man called out, ' Tha iad so air tighin.' These are 
come. I see a number of ' sluagh' the people ; and 
now they are making bows to me. And now they are 
gone/ And then he was quiet for a while. Then he 
began again ; and at last he began to cry out to hold 
him, or that he would be off. 

" Well," said the doctor, "the man was a bold fellow, 
and he held on by the other, and he began to run, and 


leap, and at last (as the man told me) he was fairly 
lifted np by the ' sluagh/ and taken away from him, 
and he found him about a couple of miles further on, 
laid on the ground. He told him that they had car- 
ried him through the air, and dropped him there. 
And," said the doctor, "that is a story that was told me 
as a fact, a very short time ago, by the man whom I 
was attending." 

Not far off I was told this in a house full of people, 
all of whom knew the story, and seemed to believe it 

" There was a piper in this island, and he had three 
sons. The two eldest learned the pipes, and they 
were coming on famously ; but the youngest could not 
learn at all At last, one day, he was going about in 
the evening, very sorrowfully, when he saw ' bruth/ 
a fairy hillock, laid open." (There was one close to the 
house, which had been exactly like the rest of its class. 
It was levelled, and human bones were found in it, 
according to the minister). " He went up to the door, 
and he struck his knife into it, because he had heard 
from old people that if he did that, the ' sluagh' could 
not shut the door. Well, they were very angry, and 
asked him what he wanted, but he was not a bit afraid. 
He told them that he could not play the pipes a bit, 
and asked them to help him. They gave him ' Fea- 
dan dubh/ a black chanter, but he said — 

" ' That's no use to me, for I do'nt know how to 


play it/ 

" Then they came about him, and shewed him how 
to move his fingers ; that he was to lift this one and 


lay down that ; and when he had been with them a 
while, he thanked them, and took out his knife, and 
went away, and the ' Bruth' closed behind him. 

" Now that man became one of the most famous 

pipers in , and his people were alive till very 

lately. I am sure you all know that 1" 

Chorus^" Oh yes." " Yes, indeed." " It is cer- 
tain that there were such people, whether they are now 
or not." " yes, that is sure" — 

" Do I not know a man who was in the island of 

, and he was sitting by himself in a hut, with a 

fire lit ; and it was a wild night. The door was pushed 
open, and a gray horse put in his head. But the man 
was not afraid, and put up the palm of his hand this 
way to the horse's nose, and he said, ' You worthy- 
horse, you must go away from this;' and the horse 
went out backwards." " And were there no horses in 
the island Ì " " No ; never, never." Chorus — " Never, 
never." " That was the water-horse." " That's 

A boy, some hundreds of miles away, told me that 
" there was a man who built a house, and as often as it 
was built it was burned down ; but they told him to 
put a bit of ivy into it, and he did that, and the house 
was not burned that time. 

All England was dressing its churches and dinner 
tables with Christmas ivy a short time ago, but few 
will think that this is a Celtic charm against the 
fairies, or that ivy was planted against houses to guard 
them from fire. 

An old Welsh dairymaid, from near Shropshire, 


denied all knowledge of King Arthur. " She had never 
heard of him, not she." She did not know of her own 
knowledge that the fairies carried people away, but she 
had heard that a woman, who lived some distance from 
her father's house, had two children carried off by 
fairies. They left her two others, which were just like 
her own ; but they were always crying. She went to 
a wise woman, and she told her to go to a river where 
there was a bridge — a single plank like — and to take 
one of the children in each hand, and drop them in the 

" Well, I cannot say if it is true. I can only tell it 
as I heard it ; but I heard that the woman did take 
the two children, and drop them into the middle of 
the stream ; and when she got home she found her own 
two children, quite safe and well, in the house before 

There must be some foundation for all this wide- 
spread belief in the existence of a small people. A 
woman lately described their dress and appearance as 
seen in Islay. " They were dressed in green kilts, and 
green coats, and green conical caps — sharp caps like the 
" Clogadan," helmets which children make of rushes." 
A rim is woven into a kind of basket-work coronet, 
and the points are gathered together and make a high 
cone. Swedish Lapps now wear caps of the same shape. 
Fairies thus dressed have been seen marching " like a 
wedding," with a piper playing before them; and 
such a procession goes by the name of " Banais shith," 
a fairy wedding. 

" And did they ever wear arms 1" 


" No ; they had not pith enough to bear arms ; 
they were but spirits." 

Nevertheless, they had bodily strength, and worked 
hand mills, if all tales be true. 

This class of stories is so widely spread, so matter- 
of-fact, hangs so well together, and is so implicitly 
believed all over the united kingdom, that I am per- 
suaded of the former existence of a race of men in these 
islands who were smaller in stature than the Celts ; 
who used stone arrows, lived in conical mounds like 
the Lapps, knew some mechanical arts, pilfered goods 
and stole children; and were perhaps cotemporary 
with some species of wild cattle and horses, and great 
auks, which frequented marshy ground, and are now 
remembered as water -bulls, and water -horses, and 
boobries, and such like impossible creatures. 

I leave it to ethnologists and geologists to say 
whether this popular supernatural history has any 
bearing upon modern discoveries ; whether it may not 
be referred to the same period as the lake habitations 
of Switzerland, Denmark, Ireland, and the Scotch 
Isles ; the sepulchral chambers containing human re- 
mains, and surrounded by bones which appear to be 
those of animals now extinct ; the works of art in the 
drift ; and the relics of fossil men. 

And here, with an apology for this lengthy postscript, 
I will leave Highland Tales for the consideration of 
learned men well read in mythology and like subjects.* 

* Note to Avaloh, on Page 265. 
Another explanation of this ancient British tradition may per- 
haps be found in the discovery of America by the Northmen in 


the tenth century, described in the abstract of evidence taken 
from Icelandic Sagas, and published by the Society of Northern 
Antiquarians in 1837. 

It there appears that in 986 Eric the Red emigrated from 
Iceland to Greenland, and in subsequent years other voyagers 
made their way down the coast of America, and named one part 
of the country Vinland, from the vines which a German who was 
of the party found there. 

In 1006 a certain Thorfinn, who was sprung from " Danish, 
Norwegian, Swedish, Irish, and Scottish'* ancestors, some of whom 
were kings of royal descent, effected a settlement in Vinland. 

In 1003, an exploring party had fallen in with a place called 
" Irland it Mickla," which was inhabited by white men, who had 
iron implements, and it seems to be implied that these were 
Irishmen settled in Florida. The stories of the voyages of Biorn 
Asbrandson, and Gudleif Gudlaugen, are extremely like the tra- 
ditions now current in the west, about voyagers who discover a 
mysterious western land, and there find ancient heroes still living 
in their old way. 

Some Norse traders, as it is said, after a trading voyage to 
Dublin, were driven far to the South West, and found an un- 
known land, where inhabitants spoke Irish, and who seized and 
bound them. A man of distinguished appearance, with gray 
hair, and with a banner carried before him, came riding down to 
the shore, addressed the strangers in the Norse language, and 
after some time the natives, who paid him great respect, agreed 
that he should decide the fate of the strangers. 

He was Biorn Asbrandson, and he, after taking counsel with 
twelve of the natives, sent his countrymen away with gifts for his 
friends in Iceland. The voyagers returned to Dublin, and next 
year to Iceland. Now, if this is not a Celtic myth in an Icelandic 
dress, the Celtic myth now current has a foundation in fact. If 
the Sagas are to be depended upon, America was discovered by 
Icelanders, but by men who frequented the Hebrides and Ire- 


].ind ; and it it expressly stated in these Sagas that Hebridians and 
Irishmen accompanied some of these American expeditions. It 
seems quite possible that the real event maj now be remembered 
as a legend in the countries whence T o y a ges were made. There 
is a resemblance between Fionn and Thorfinn, and Fionn's land 
and Yinland, and apples are now common enough in America, 
whether they grew there. Avalon is like AvLm (apples), as 
written by one of my correspondents. 

A Plea fob Gaelic. 

And now let me add a word about the Gaelic lan- 

It is commonly said, " You have no literature ; 
the language is not worth learning." 

A writer in the newspapers, who was kind enough 
to praise me, nevertheless found great fault with the 
publication of Gaelic. The publishers say, " Gaelic is 
a dead weight in the trade." My friends say, "Give 
us no more Gaelic." 

The British Museum Library is a national institution, 
and spends very large sums on books, but such Gaelic 
books as " Gillies " and " Carswell " were not there in 
1861. The Advocates' Library in Edinburgh has 
"Gillies," but no "Carswell," not even "Eeid's Biblio- 
theca Scoto Celtica," which gives a list of Gaelic books. 

What there may be at Oxford and Cambridge I do 
not know, but I do not believe that the published Gaelic 
books are to be found together in any one public library. 
I bought " Gillies " for a few shillings in Glasgow, and 
the Duke of Argyle has " Carswell," under lock and 
key, for it is valuable, and has been lost. I lately at- 
tended the lectures of one of the best of modern phi- 


lologists, chiefly with a view to Gaelic as it relates to 
Sanscrit. The Celtic tribes were placed by him in the 
front ranks of the Aryan migration, the names of the 
most distinguished German scholars were associated with 
Gaelic learning, but still in lectures addressed to an 
English audience, of whom a large proportion must have 
had " Celtic Crania," and all of whom use Gaelic words 
in their ordinary speech, there was scarcely a word 
about the old languages of Great Britain in early days, 
and yet Gaelic and Sanscrit are allied, and Gaelic 
throws light on the relationship which exists between 
Sanscrit and English. 

Compare the form of the verb " to be" in the three 
languages. The Gaelic verb is an assertion of exist- 
ence, followed by the name of the person or thing 
referred to ; and if the corresponding English words be 
taken instead of the verb, and the Gaelic sounds are 
spelt, the three languages are like each other, and the 
Gaelic is the simplest form. 

I am thou art he is English, 

àsmi asi asti Sanscrit, 

ha-mee ha-oo ha-e Gaelic sound, 

is me is thee is he literal translation. 

The past tense of the verb is an assertion of past 
being Bha, pronounced VA. 

Gaelic is closely related to the classical languages. 
Pritchard's Eastern origin of the Celtic nations, and 
Armstrong's Gaelic dictionary, and similar works, will 
shew how much there is of resemblance between Gaelic, 
Latin, Greek, etc. ; and it is generally admitted that a 



Keltic language is at the foundation of the classical 
tongues. An eccentric Gaelic schoolmaster is quoted in 
the West of Scotland Magazine, who used to spout in- 
telligible Gaelic imitations of Latin authors for hours 
— such as, " Anna virumque cano." " Airm a's fir se 
chanum." The dominie said he was cracked, hut there 
was method in his madness. 

The following words which I have gathered from 
hooks and from my friends appear to bear upon Gaelic — 

68th Psalm, 4th verse, " Extol him that rideth upon the heavens 

by his name J AH. 


God . . 
heaven . 

Day . 


Deva . . 
Div . . 


Light. . . jwàlà 

flame . . . iwala 
light . . . heli 

Sun . . . heli 
house. . . Griha- 

heaven . . nabhas — 
smoke . . nabbolaya 

Phonetic Gaelic. English, àc 

DjeeA. YeeA 
djaw . . 
an dew . 
an djay . 
djee . . 
tjays . . 
djArs. . 
glAn . . 
lies . . 
solus . . 



greeAn . 
grai . . 
nyèl . . 

God (Vocative) 











clear glancing 


light, a gleam 



house, dwelling 
Sun (fsem) 

heaven holy 
a cloud 





a shore 
water . 

water . 

an eye 




earth . . . Dhàrà 

agriculture . krishi 
to plough (ear) Ar — 

to make . . 

man . 

a man . . 

I live . . . 

knowledge . 

wise . 
a sage 
a tree . 

king . 





^ivà mi 
juà — 

vid . 
Dru — 

kufa - 




horse . . . As' va 



Phonetic Gaelic. English. 


tidal shore 

tjeer . . 


ooisge - 


aigean . 



(to the) sea 
(of the) sea 


mmr . . 

the sea 

Lochan . 

a pool, also 
called a trem- 

gArt . . 

bling eye 
corn land 



troosh . 



standing corn 

ei— ir . . 

a boat 

djèn . . 

make — do 

duine . . 


fèr. . . 

a male indivi- 

dual — one 

vA mee . 

I was 


It is known to 

gA-goot . 

me, to him, 

to thee 

fees . . 




bodach . 

an old man 

dru . . 

an oak 

druiAch . 

a conjuror 

druy . . 

a house, chariot 

ree . . 

. king 

whelp, young 

coolain . 

of any ani- 

mal, term of 


clAn . . 


brAair . 


mar . . 

mere, mother 

A — air . 


A — ar . 

Heaven, the air 

Art . . 

. a God 

Art . . 

Arthur, a com- 

mon name of 


Each . . 




bo . 








to eat 



he . . 





sunah* . 


ad . . 





Phonetic Gaelic. 
shiunAch . 


re . . . 

re . . . 

ro . . . 
ree • 

ooAn . . 

caora . . 

ooksa. . 

aog . . 

eecD . . 

djeud . . 

AnAm . 

An Ail . 

mArAv . 

bAs . . 

n' niche . 

oosa . . 

she . . 

esAn . . 

shee . . 

eeshe . . 

ko? . . 



the moon 

a circle 




a large fish 

a hind 





dead, kin 


the night 


it is be 


It is she 


who, which? 

The numeral 1 is u» — like " nn" (Fr.) " one." The numeral 5 
coig, I cannot trace in Panchan, though it has a resemblance to 
cinq and quinque, which are traced in Sanskrit by experts, but 2, 
3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10 resemble the Sanskrit numerals. The formation 
of higher numbers up to 20 is on the same principle — one ten, 
four ten, etc. Thence the Gaelic counts by 20 and the Sanskrit 
by 10. The Gaelic says ten and two twenties, or half a hun- 
dred — the Sanskrit says five tens. 

Any Gaelic scholar may extend this list by a reference to 
books on philology, but Gaelic ought most to resemble the 
oldest known Aryan speech, if it be one of the oldest survivors of 
the Aryan family. There is a likeness, but many surviving 
European languages are much nearer to Sanskrit. 

* Pritchard, p. 210. 


A vast number of places out of the Highlands still 
retain their Gaelic names/ and it is interesting to 
understand them ; for example, Tintock is the highest 
mountain in Lanarkshire ; and the name has a mean- 
ing in Gaelic, " The house of the mist" (Tigh n' to-ag); 
and a local rhyme shews that to be the true meaning 
of the name, which has no English meaning. 

On Tintock tap there is a mist, 
And in the mist there is a kist, 
And in the kist there is a cup, 
And in the cup there is a drap ; 
Tak up the cup and drink the drap, 
And set the cup on Tintock tap. 

There was a popular tale about this mountain which 
I have failed to get; but a cup, with some myste- 
rious drink, is common in Celtic traditions. There 
are cups taken from the fairies; cups from which all 
sorts of drinks came; the cup of Fionn which 
healed diseases ; the great caldron of the Feinne, which 
is hidden somewhere ; the kettle of the " Korrigan " of 
Brittany ; the St. Graal of mediaeval romance, for 
which there is no Scriptural authority ; and the 
Ballan iochshlaint, or vessel of balsam. And when 
we get back to Sanscrit mythology, a chief object of 
worship was a drink, the juice of a plant, the " soma," 
to which all sorts of virtues are attributed in the 

So lowland mythology is explained by Gaelic, and 
so is lowland topography. " Craignethan" Castle has 
no meaning ; but a similar Gaelic sound means the 



crag of the rivulet, and correctly describes the site of 
the ruin of Scott's castle of " Tullietudlem," in Lan- 

Cam, in Cambridge, means the crooked, which is 
a correct description of the river Cam ; Bournmouth 
means Watermouth, and is situated at the mouth of a 
"burn" or rivulet; Bannokburn means Cakewater in 
Gaelic. Jn short, no history of the English language 
is complete without its Celtic first chapter ; and no 
one has yet tried to write the Scotch Gaelic part of it. 

Modern English is certainly more Teutonic than 
Celtic, but it is full of Gaelic words, and they are 
creeping in stilL 

Here are a few words, chiefly written down as they occurred 
in translating, and which seem to be common to Gaelic and 
English. Any dictionary will give many more. 


Tuig (understand) 

Twig (modern slang). 

Gillie (lad) . 

Gilly (sportsman's ditto) 











Mireadh (playing) 



Mountain moor (mons). 

Muir (sea) 


Bourn (water) 

Burn \ 

Loch . 
Srath . 

Loch f , , 
Strath > m0dern WOrd8 ' 


Glen ) 

Dail . 


Geil . 

Gill, a field. 



Sraid (a walk) 




Rathad-Mor . 


Bata . 


Sgoth . 

Scow or Skiff. 

Seol . 


Ropa . 


Port . 


Lin (lint) 








Sgiath (a wing) 






Sron (nose) 

Snort, snore. 

SUp . 






Corp (tbe body) 

Corpse (corpus). 

Cinne . 


Cal . 


Boglaichean . 


Bog . 


Sgor . 


Creag . 


Solas (joy) 



Hist! whist. 



Feachd (battle array) 







Through the sack. 

Onair . 


Sliom (smooth) 


Measan (lap dog) 


Cart (to clear a byre) 


Stoirm (great noise) 


Halla . 


Bard • 


Catbair (seat, city) 

Chester (cast rum). 

Dun (heap, fort) 

London. Dunstable. 

VOL. IV. 2 





Tùr (a journey) 


Tùr . 

A tower. 


A little bit 



DrAchk (Phonetic) 






All Gaelic words ending in ear, which mean a male individual 
who does something, embody the Gaelic word fear (a man, or a 
male unit), which word, when combined with another, is spelt 
/hear, and pronounced as A* or i//>, if a sheep's note is properly 
spelt HV' Thus, 

Muilleor • . Miller, 

is a contraction for 

Mullinn /hear . Millman. 

Saigh-dear . Soldier. 

Saighead /hear . Sagittarius. 

The Latin word thus seems to be founded upon /hear rather 
than Vir f though vir is supposed to come from the Sanscrit "Vìra ; 
but of the Aryan languages (so far as I know) Gaelic alone 
explains how the V was lost, for Gaelic inflections are often 
made at the beginning of words. 

Supposing that the word for an archer to be a remnant of the 
old Keltic of Italy, preserved in Latin, Sagittarius is made up of 

Saighead - f hear - his, 
Arrow - man (with a termination.) 
And if the g had the value which it has in many languages, the 
sounds would be almost identical in Latin and Gaelic. 

If this be right, the termination er, and the (now) Gaelic word 
fhear, appear in most of the Aryan languages of Europe, — 
Eng., Baker ; Gaelic, Fuineadair ; German, Backer ; French, 
Boulanger ; Norse, Bager ; Spanish, Panadero ; Italian, Fornaro ; 
Swedish, Bagare ; Latin, Pistor : but Greek àproiroiòs will not 
do, though the words an fhear, the man, reappear in àrrip, a 
man- and aran, bread, in diros. 


It nowhere appears in Lapp, for olmush is the equivalent of 
Fear, a man, and laibbo is a baker, though hepwh, a horse, is 
like inroj. 

Now, any English tradesman may he named hy adding er to 
the proper words, as trader, railway-engine-boiler-riveter. Any 
Gaelic tradesman may also he named, in like manner, hy adding 
/hear, or ear, or air, to other words ; hut neither in Gaelic nor in 
English will these terminations properly apply to a trades-woman. 
In English the proper addition is seamstress, in French it is erne 
— and here again is Gaelic — Ise is the equivalent of she, and 
esan of he, and aiche is the termination which is common to 
both genders, as— 

Ban-flraaghl-atcAe, a female se&mstress, 

but in English there are two ways of forming such words. We 
say horse man, horse woman; but if we say rider, we must add 
another word to express a female rider; so the termination er, if 
Keltic, is equivalent to man in horse man, which is Teutonic. 

Any one who knows Gaelic can easily put a meaning on num- 
bers of Italian names. For example, " Monte, Soracte," Monadh, 
Sorachan (mountain, peak or hillock), is a small peaked mountain 
standing alone near Borne. " Monte Appennino," Monadh na 
Beinne (the mountain tract of the hill country), is at least as de- 
scriptive in Gaelic as Italian, and the sounds are very like still. 

In like manner, the connection between Gaelic and any one 
of a large class of European languages, can he shewn, hut it has 
no apparent relationship to Lapp. Hence, Gaelic is useful to a 
Sanscrit scholar, and necessary to the full development of any 
system which treats of the Aryan family of races and languages ; 
and it is a very useful accomplishment for any student of the 
Eastern languages, which pave the way to promotion in India. 
It is also useful to a classical student who wants to go deep into 
Greek and Latin. 

No Frenchman can fully understand the origin of his own 
language without knowing Gaelic, for French is still full of words, 


and especially sounds, which seem to be Gaelic. If French be 
Latin, it is Latin spoken with a Celtic brogue. 

Do blè, corn, and bleth, to grind, are pronounced in the same 
way. French sentences, which to the best-taught English tongues, 
are as hard as this and thai, and the other tAing, to a Frenchman, 
are easily pronounced by a Highlander. On dit, qu'un bon garcon 
gagnait cinq cent, cinquante cinq ecus, and such sounds, present 
little difficulty to a Gaelic peasant ; and there are Polish and 
Russian and Welsh liquids of which the same is true. JEVtZZ, 
holes full of mud, has the same sound as the Russian for dust, 
and the French Mouillè, wet, which are sore puzzles for a Saxon, 
but easy for a Celt. Ecda gheal, a white swan, contains a Polish 
liquid sound, which a Polish lady assured me she had never 
heard mastered by a foreigner, yet it is one of the commonest 
sounds in Gaelic. So Gaelic is of the greatest use in learning to 
speak and pronounce other languages. 

He who can utter the following sentence must have a nimble 
tongue for liquids — 

" Laogh na laidhe an an lag an lochain air la luain *b ag òl 
leann ladir a ladar." 

In the specimen of <( old Saxon," given by Latham (page 46, 
Handbook of the English Language), a few words which resemble 
Gaelic can be traced. 

Ehu8ca.\coB (horsegrooms) . Eich (horses). 

Ueros (men) . . . Fear (a man). 

Fehas (cattle) . . . Feidh (deer). 

UuarMco .... Fior (true). 

Cadean (" show " strength) Dean (do.) 

Cunneas (races) . . . Cinne (kindred). 

Firiho (of men) . 
Rikiost (noblest) 
Kind (child) . 
Louodun (praised) 
Rikea (kingdom) 

Fir (men). 

Righail (kingly). 

Gin (to beget). 

Laoidh (to laud. A hymn). 

Rioghachd (realm). 


Spoken Gaelic has altered very little in the course of the last 
three centuries in the islands. 

Dean Monro's statistical account of the Western Islands was 
written in Scotch, 1549, and the names are spelt phonetically. 
The names of the islands and families, as now pronounced, could 
hardly he hotter expressed for English ears. " Skibness ; Elian Ew ; 
Lochebrune ; M'Enzie ; the haley isles of Flanayn ; Elian Vic 
Couil, perteining to M'Cloyd ; " and some hundreds of names are so 
spelt as to express their present value. Icelandic, which has also 
been shut up in islands, has altered but little for many centuries. 

To me it appears that a living language of this 
kind, which certainly is a dialect of " Keltic/' which was 
spoken in Great Britain and Ireland in the days of 
Caesar, and was also spoken in all the outlying corners 
of Europe, in Spain, and Portugal, France, Jutland, 
in Italy, Greece, and Asia Minor, and which is now 
spoken by settlers in America, and Australia, and 
India, is an interesting study. 

It is peculiarly interesting, for the same reason 
that a great auk's egg is now worth a large sum. 
Gaelic, like the great auk, will soon have ceased to 
exist, and the process by which it is extinguished may 
serve to explain the extinction of languages elsewhere. 

Its very corruptions are lessons in the science of 
language. The manner in which a new word is altered, 
when it is received into common use, is a practical 
lesson, which holds good for all human speech, and 
serves to test the rules laid down for phonetic changes. 

The inflections at the beginning of words, which 
are an essential part of spoken Gaelic, seem to be espe- 
cially worthy of attention for their singularity. There 
is no good reason to suppose that " Gaelic," " Welsh," 


or " Dutch," was the " language of Paradise ;" but there 
is no reason why Gaelic should not contain remnants of 
some form of speech older than Sanscrit, and this may 
be one example. But my wish is to call attention to 
this subject, not to pronounce opinions on questions 
which require hard study, and knowledge which I do 
not yet possess. 

In the Highlands generally, I find the language 
rapidly mixing with English ; and striking illustrations 
of the changes which take place in human speech, 
phonetic and grammatical, meet me at every step ; but 
they are all changes which tend to decay. I find that 
lectures are delivered to Sunday-school children to prove 
that Gaelic is part of a divine curse; and Highland pro- 
prietors tell me that it is "a bar to the advancement 
of the people." 

Let me endeavour to shew that Gaelic is good for 
something more ; it has been shewn above that it is 
good for something. 

First, English is a " bar to the advancement" of pro- 
prietors, if they cannot speak to those who pay their 
rents ; and it is the want of English, not the possession 
of Gaelic, which retards the advance of those who seek 
employment where English is spoken. So Highland 
proprietors should learn Gaelic and teach English. 

Gaelic is no bar to advancement. It did not clog 
the steps of the Lord Justice-General, or his brother 
the Ambassador, or of the Vice-Chancellor, or of dozens 
of other men of mark, whose learning included Gaelic. 
It has not weighed in my slower race through life ; 
and it gave me a stock of sounds which occur in other 


languages, and which an English tongue can rarely 
pronounce. It is worth learning, if only to see the 
pleasure which shines like sun-light through a clouded 
Highland face, when Gaelic is unexpectedly heard. 

Some time ago I was walking along a lowland road, 
dressed in the genteel chimney pot, and broad cloth of 
this age, and as I went, the sound of a plaintive Gaelic 
song caught my ear. It came from a bevy of girls who 
were working in a field by the road-side, and singing 
a lamentable love song over their work. So I called 
out over the hedge, " S' math sibh fhein a ghaladan," 
" well done girls." The whole field was in a pleased 
commotion directly, for these were people from Skye; 
and we were friends on the instant, by virtue of a 
cabalistic word of our common language, and so it has 
been in thousands of cases. 

Gaelic is the key to a Highlander's heart ; and pro- 
prietors and utilitarians should learn it before they 
condemn it They would not so easily part with their 
people if they knew them, and could talk with them. 

If Irish proprietors would try to speak Gaelic to 
their people they would be better liked. Officers who 
speak Gaelic to Highland soldiers command their affec- 
tion. If officers in Highland regiments would try more, 
they would have more recruits. 

Without printed Gaelic I feel sure that I should now 
be enjoying the blame of another MacPherson. I submit 
to my adverse critics that they would not have believed 
in Gaelic stories without the originals, and that Gaelic 
as now spoken in various districts was something worth 
preservation, for they will find it nowhere else. 


Let those who say that there is no Gaelic litera- 
ture read Professor O'Corry's Lectures, and they will 
there find that the best scholars only distinguish be- 
tween Scotch and Irish Gaelic as between dialects of the 
same tongue, and that there is a mass of unexplored 
Gaelic literature still extant. There are two Professors, 
one at the New Catholic University; a Government 
Commission is employed about " the Brehon laws/' as 
they are called, and a Gaelic MS. about " Danish inva- 
sions/' forms one of the historical series published under 
the authority of the Master of the Rolls, All sorts of 
questions are sure to arise as these documents are brought 
to light and read ; and without Gaelic no scholar can 
give an opinion on them. Questions relative to early 
Christianity may turn on words in Gaelic manuscripts, 
and who is to say what may be found in such an un- 
explored field? Old Irish prophecies have actually 
been spread amongst the peasantry for political pur- 
poses. If it was important for the interests of 
the State to found a chair of Sanscrit, which nobody 
speaks, surely there ought to be some means of learning 
Gaelic devised for England, where a large section of 
the people speak the language still. Surely the few 
relics of Scotch Gaelic literature which remain are 
worthy of more attention. Till rescued from oblivion, 
and placed in safety by the patriotic exertions of Mr. 
Skene, their very existence had been forgotten, and 
some valuable MSS., the property of the Highland 
Society, have disappeared within the last sixty years. 
It is surely a mistake to say that there is no lite- 
rature in a language, and to set about proving it to 


be true by allowing the little which remains to be 

Without a common language men misunderstand 
each other, and those who are employed in a country 
should be able to talk to its people. It is a rule of the 
Danish Government that no official shall hold office in 
Iceland unless he speaks both Danish and Icelandic, and 
the rule is good. A philanthropist who cannot speak 
to the people, and judges from what he sees, must de- 
scribe the poor of the west as living in squalid hovels, 
amidst peat-reek ; silent, and dull ; for they cannot 
speak to him, and they are very poor, and they are awed 
into silence by the broad-cloth, and black hat, and gold 
watch and chain of a government gentleman who 
suffers from peat-reek. A few specimens of those most 
mysterious of beings, which are found in all classes, 
men without reason, may lead to the conclusion that 
the rest are but idiots of a higher grade; but one who 
understands Gaelic may learn a lesson beneath these 
lowly roofs. He may hear the story of Cinderella, and 
of the black rough-skinned herd; and the "idiots," 
who all rose to be princes, and the song of the mighty 
fool who did his duty manfully and succeeded. He 
may look about him and find that very many historical 
names have in fact sprung from a cottage, and from 
such cottages; and if these are turf heaps over which 
a man can walk, he may be reminded that without 
Gaelic he can know as little of the better part of those 
who inhabit them, as Gray knew of the minds of those 
who mouldered beneath the mouldering heaps of a 
country churchyard. The Begistrar-General and the 



clergyman will prove that 
those who live in direct 
contravention of all the 
"rules of sanitary science" 
and "common decency,'' 
because they are too poor 
to lire otherwise, are at 
least as long lived, chaste, 
and religions as any class 
of Her Majesty's poor. 
Those who live in Buch 
houses claim their descent 
from, and trace it to the 
warriors buried under 
stones, some of which are 
figured above, and many 
of them are as proud of 
their ancestry as the Ice- 
landers, some of whom 
claim to be related to the 
Queen of England, and 
live in similar huts. When 
they go elsewhere their 
strongest desire is to re- 
turn ; their bodies are often 
carried "home" when they 
die, far away ; and history 
will shew that many a dis- 
l began life 
black house, and there 
stories, and 


to bettor lessons first heard 
in Gaelic. 

I have said this much, 
hecause there is a vague 
idea in English-speaking 
society that a Celt is an 
inferior animal, and that 
is a " vulgar error." An 
Englishman, say what he 
will, has a large cross of 
the Celt in his composi- 
tion, as the shape of bis 
head proclaims. Many 
Lowlanders and the people 
of the midland counties 
of England are " Celts," 
and a Frenchman is not 
inferior to an Englishman 
in most things. The purest 
specimens of Scandinavian 
blood are to be found in 
Iceland, and there are no 
signs of superiority of race 
there; on the contrary, 
there is a strong resem- 
blance to the people of the 
West Highlands, and to 
many of their peculiarities 
of temper and manner. I 
doubt if even the country 
whence the Anglo-Saxons *»m«»-*Mj"^aiwm**. 

Neither of these cats do Jnitlce to the design on the stones. 


came, can now shew any superiority oyer the countries 
where Celt and Saxon, and good feeding, have pro- 
duced a good cross. In Norway, Iceland, France, Ger- 
many, and Italy, a man of five feet ten inches feels 
himself above the average size. He is below the 
average size of "West Highland gentlemen. Whole 
families of men above six feet high could be named. 
I know a Highlander, who is a little over six feet, and 
measures fifty-six inches round the chest, and who in 
his youth was " as strong as a bull" A London draw- 
ing-room is the only place in Europe where a race of 
men better grown than West Highland gentlemen is 
to be met. Having associated with peasants in every 
country which I have visited, mixing with all classes 
on equal terms, so far as I could, I have arrived at 
the conclusion that a Celt is an average human animal, 
equal mentally and physically to any other species of 
the genus homo similarly placed. Much the same can 
be said of Lapps, though they are a small race, and 
I am no believer in the natural superiority of any one 
race over another,. It seems to be in the nature of 
races to dislike and despise each other, and I would 
willingly " speak up" for the minority, who cannot 
speak for themselves, "having no English," and who 
are apt quietly to despise the Saxon fully as much 
as he despises them. Both are wrong, as much and 
as surely as the members and the stomach erred when 
they fell out. The one cannot suffer but the other 
must ache. 


nts. From «. rongh sketch taken from 8 picture at Tay- 
» be a portrait of *' The Begent Mnnay." The aims are : 
jwder bom, dirk, and (woi& 

Dress hardly belongs to my subject, but those who 
deny the existence of Gaelic poems, and affect to des- 
pise Celts, often assert that the Highland dress is of 
modern invention. I have so often heard this gravely 
maintained, that it may be as well to give some reasons 
for a different opinion, and quote some authorities for 
the antiquity of the " Garb of old GauL" 


The patterns of tartan are produced by crossing and 
twisting threads of various colours. It is easy to dye 
hanks of yarn of single colours, and the simplest ar- 
rangement of coloured threads is to cross them ; conse- 
quently the first effort to produce a pattern by the 
weavers' art, generally results in squares and bars 
something like Scotch tartan. The South Sea Islanders, 
who wear home-made woven cloths, either colour them 
by painting patterns on them, or by crossing coloured 
fibres. The bands woven by the Lapps on their small 
hand looms have similar patterns; their coloured 
baskets are woven into squares, and the early weaving 
and basket-making of all nations have a general 

But each savage tribe has some peculiarity in its 
patterns which distinguish them from others, and the 
manufactures of savage and civilized communities are 
alike marked by the development of some original 
design, which must have been the invention of some- 

The idea of ornamenting woven fabrics with stripes 
of various colours, crossing each other at right angles, 
and blending where they cross, would result from the 
simplest arrangement of coloured fibres that could be 
devised, and was probably the invention of the first 
maker of mats, but in Scotland that idea has produced 
an enormous number of "tartans." Every year pro- 
duces a new crop, but nevertheless there are a number of 
old " sets " which are of unknown antiquity, and these 
being made in particular glens or islands, came to be the 
distinctive uniform of the families or "clans" who 


lived in the glens, and who earned on the manufacture 
of tartan, spinning on distaffs, and weaving in hand- 
looms at home. 

The Irish, the Germans, the Celts, and many ancient 
nations, wore striped garments. 

From the lives of the saints, it appears that in the 
seventh and eighth centuries Scotchmen used cloaks of 
variegated colours, and fine linen, used chariots, and 
made swords and other weapons, had glass drinking 
vessels, leather boats for the rivers, and oaken gallies 
for the sea. — (Scotland in the Middle Ages, 227.) 

The oldest tartan " sets " ought to be those which 
can be made from native dyes, and this test will weed 
out a considerable number which profess to be " Clan 
tartans." The art of dyeing is attributed to the Tyrians, 
and it is asserted that they visited the British Isles. 
There are fish which produce a dye on the British 
coasts, but the inhabitants do not use them, so far as 
I know. Neither " Tyrian purple " nor " ssepia " are 
amongst Highland dyes ; but the ancient Britons knew 
of a blue dye, the Irish knew many, and old wives still 
colour worsteds of their own spinning with plants that 
grow on their own Scotch hills. 

With the root of the bent they make a sort of red. 

With "màder" they dye blue and purple. With 
some other root, whose name I have forgotten, I have 
seen thread coloured yellow by boiling it in a pan, and 
thus the Highlanders still produce the three primitive 
colours from native dyes. Wool and goafs hair give 
black and white. 

Green they produce with heather, and a very rich 


brown of various shades from yellow to black with a 
species of lichen which grows on trees and rocks, and 
is called " crotaL" 

The art is now giving way to improved manufac- 
tures, and there is often a kind of mystery about it. 
Some old woman is quoted as the authority, who knows 
a particular old Highland dye, and there is every indi- 
cation of an old traditional art not quite forgotten. 

Tartans, therefore, especially some sets, ought to be 
old. If not as old as the seventh century, they are at least 
as old as 1603, according to the author of "Certayn 
Mattere concerning Scotland," who says, "they de- 
light in marbled cloths, especially that have stripes of 
sundrie colours ; they love chiefly purple and blue ; 
their predecessors used short mantles or plaids of 
divers colours, sundrie ways divided, and among 
some the same custom is observed to this day, but 
for the most part they are brown, most near to the 
colour of the hadder, to the effect, when they lie among 
the hadders, the bright colour of their plaids shall not 
bewray them ; with which, rather coloured than clad, 
they suffer the most cruel tempests that blow in the 
open fields, in such sort, that in a night of snow they 
sleep sound. " 

Tartan was worn during the thirty years' war, and 
the Germans thus described the wearers : — 

In such dresses go the 800 Irrlander, or Irren, 
newly arrived at Stettin, a.d. 1631. 

" This is a strong hardy people, content with common 
fare ; if they have no bread they eat roots, when need re- 
quires it. They can run more than twenty German miles 


in a day ; they have by them muskets, their bows and 
quivers, and long knives." 

There are plenty of bits of old tartan preserved in 
Scotland. There are pictures at Dunrobin, at Tay- 
mouth, at Armidale, at Holyrood and elsewhere, all of 
which prove that tartan was anciently worn, and that 
particular patterns were worn in certain districts. 

Dr. Johnson and Boswell saw men dressed in plaids 
and tartans when they made their tour in 1773, and 
whence the notion sprang that the Highland dress is a 
modern invention I cannot imagine, unless" it is the off- 
spring of the same spirit which passed an Act of 
Parliament to forbid the dress. 

The form of the dress is undeniably old. A 
sculptured stone was dug up some years ago at St 
Andrews, in a position which proves its great antiquity; 
and General Stewart's description of the dress of 1740 
applies as well to the figure, probably sculptured long 
before St. Andrew's Cathedral was built, as it does to 
pictures at Taymouth, and prints of 1631. 

Copies of some of the figures on the St Andrews 
stone are at pages 38 and 390. I have endeavoured to 
trace every fold, and those who would look at the sculp- 
tured figures will find a cast in the Antiquarian Museum 
at Edinburgh. The whole design is given in Wilson's 
Prehistoric Annals of Scotland, and in " the Sculptured 
Stones of Scotland." The style of ornament is exactly 
that of old Gaelic crosses and manuscripts, and that 
is pronounced by good judges to be "British" or 
"Celtic;" but the general look of the sculpture re- 
minds me strongly of similar Boman stone chests of 

VOL. IV. 2 B 

370 CELTIC DRE88. 

the time of the Lower Empire. It was found in the 
immediate vicinity of St. Andrew's Cathedral, which 
was founded by Malcolm IV. a.d. 1159, consecrated 
1318, and destroyed after a sermon by Knox in 1560. 
The position in which the stone was found indicates 
that it was far older than the Cathedral ; and as there 
are no Christian symbols on it, I suspect that the 
sculptor must have studied art from some Eoman mas- 
ter, though he studied design and nature at home. 

Apes and lions never frequented the forests of 
Caledonia, and these indicate some knowledge of foreign 
ways or of foreign design, unless the Eomans exhibited 
such creatures in Britain, and the artist saw them there. 
Wolves, foxes, dogs, and deer, were clearly familiar to 
the sculptor, for they are well done. The men were 
probably copied from familiar models, and one of them 
(page 38) is dressed in a belted plaid, and armed with 
a leaf-headed spear. Another wears a leaf- shaped 
sword, and such weapons are referred to a very ancient 
period by the best lowland authorities. A third is 
figured page 390, and he also wears a belted plaid. 

The picture from which the woodcut on page 365 
was tal$n, is at Taymouth, and is a well painted full- 
length in oils. From sketches of "Early Scotch His- 
tory," page 350, it appears that Jamesone, the Scotch 
painter, worked at Taymouth between 1633 and 1641. 
In 1635 he executed a family tree, " in which Sir Dun- 
can of Lochow, the great ancestor of the family, is re- 
presented in a red plaid and kilt, with a shirt of mail, 
checked hose, and bare knees." 

Mr. Innes does not mention a picture of the "Begent 


Murray/' so the owner may have erred ; perhaps it is 
" Johne Earl of Mar, 1637." It is at least'certain that 
before Jamesone's time kilts were worn by the nobility, 
and were supposed to have been worn by their remote 
ancestors. There are several other pictures at Taymouth, 
which are portraits of men and boys dressed in kilts of 
various fashions, though the dress of the nobility gene- 
rally must have been that of the Court, and the High- 
land dress was probably abandoned by Scotch kings at 
an early date. 

We have foreign authority also for the antiquity of 
the Highland costume. 

At the British Museum there is a curious collection 
of broadsides and ballads, printed in Germany during 
the thirty years' war. One of these designs heads a 
ballad, and represents an " Irlànder," a " Lappe," and 
a " Findlànder." In the ballad the Lappe asks what 
has brought them all so far from home, and the " Ir- 
lander " explains the reason of their coming, which was 
to assist the Protestant cause. This was in 1631. 
The Lappe is partly dressed in skins, and is armed with 
a bow and arrows. His face is very characteristic ; 
his boots are of the same pattern as those now made in 
Lappmark, and his knife and its scabbard resemble 
those now used on the Tana river. 

The Finlander is evidently in uniform; and the 
Lapp wears knickerbokers ; so he was probably clad in 
part at the expense of his country. 

The " Irlander" is dressed in tartan; his face is the 
face of a Scotchman, and he carries a bow and arrows. 
All three have the same kind of guns, so probably 


they were partly armed and dressed according to their 
national costumes, and partly in uniform. 

The Irlander has his feet and legs enveloped in 
something like the Gaelic " mogan," which is a bit of 
cloth or tartan cut into the shape of a stocking; and 
tied round the feet and legs, leaving the toes and the 
soles of the feet naked as often as not. The head-dress 
is a broad bonnet, which appears to be made in the 
same way. 

Another print (789, g. 104, 24) gives four pictures 
of these Wanders, and was probably done by the same 
artist at the same time. As all the archers are shooting 
with their left hands, it was probably drawn on the 
wood direct, consequently the plaid is on the wrong 
shoulder, and the sword on the wrong side, but the 
drawing may well be taken from life. 

The man with the walking-stick is dressed in the 
belted plaid, shirt, bonnet, brogues, and "mogans." 
The man next him is accoutred in a plaid, a bonnet, 
and a bow and arrows, and looks like a newly-caught 
very rough specimen of a " redshank." 

The next has knickerbokers and a jacket, but mo- 
gans, and no brogues, and looks like No. 2, changing 
into a soldier. 

The fourth appears to be another view of the man 
drawn in No. 1. 

In the back ground the plaided army is seen 
marching to battle, while a lot of archers, apparently 
dressed in shirts only, are running in front, shooting 
as they run at a scattered mass of cavalry, who, of 
course, are retreating in disorder. A mass of spear- 



men follow the kilts. Thus we have the dress, arms, 
and mode of fighting of these strange, outlandish 
allies of the Protestant cause, as they appeared to the 
Germans when they landed at Stettin in 1631. 

A tliird ballad represents one of these new allies 
with a cavalier in armour. 

These three prints were apparently done for the 
purpose of informing the people of the appearance 
of their allies. Either these were called "Ereche," 
and were Scotch Highlanders, whom the Germans un- 
derstood to be "Irish ;" or Irishmen then wore the same 
dress as the Scotch of an earlier period, and sported 
tartan, and supported the Protestant cause. The faces 
are remarkably like Scotch faces at all events. 

It appears from the history of Gustavus Adolphus 
by Harte (1759), that about 1630, 700 Scots, who 
were coasting the Baltic from Pillau in order to join 
the main body of the Swedish army, were shipwrecked 
near Kugenwalt, and lost their ammunition and bag- 
gage. Monro, their commander, got fifty muskets 
from a friend in Eugenwalt, took the town by a mid- 
night assault, and maintained himself there for nine 
weeks, till joined by Hepburn with a small army of 
6000 men. These probably were the " Irren " of the 
German ballads, who are variously stated at 800 and 
8000, and in 1631 are said to have newly arrived at 
Stettin. Monro published an account of his cam- 
paigns in 1637. 

From that work it appears probable that the "Irren" 
of the print were the shipwrecked veterans of the 
" Scotch regiment," which had received the thanks and 


commendations of Gustavus Adolphus a short time be- 
fore in Sweden, which had done good service in former 
campaigns, and which did right good service after- 

Numbers of the officers bore Highland names. 
There were Munros, Mackays, MacDonalds, Guns, etc* 
" Murdo Piper" was drowned in trying to swim ashore 
at Eugenwelt. They had a "preacher ;" Monro him- 
self was a stanch protestant, and a very religious man ; 
and yet he gives an account of a vision which one of 
his Highland soldiers had seen, and which came true in 
every particular. In short, it is manifest that these 
warriors, clad in tartan plaids, were Scotch Highlanders 
in their national costume, and lowland Scotchmen in 
tartan uniforms. Sir Donald Monro, High Dean of 
the Isles, writing in 1549, calls the people of the He- 
brides, "Erishe," and their language "Erishe" or 
"Erish." In 1633, the Countess of Argyll called 
Gaelic "Erise" and "Irishe," so the German words 
" Irren " and " Irlànder n are easily explained, if there 
were Scotch lowlanders in the regiment to name their 
Highland comrades. 

About the same time a body of Scots, under one 
Sinclair, landed in Norway, and tried to force their 
way to Sweden. The people rose upon them, over- 
powered them, took some prisoners, and after a time 
killed them in cold blood. A small museum has been 
set up at the road side in Gulbrans-dal, and comprises 
dirks, powder-horns, and the clasps of sporrans. The 
shipwreck of the party, who landed at Stettin, would 
account for the absence of ornament in their dresses. 


The Highland dress then of the beginning of the 
seventeenth century is well known, and corresponds 
with one of the oldest sculptured representations of 
dress known to exist in Scotland. It also corresponds 
with one form of the dress as now worn, though modern 
tailors have diminished the amount of tartan, and im- 
proved upon the ancient simplicity of the belted plaid. 

In 1822 General Stewart published a work, called 
" Sketches of the Character, Manners, and present state 
of the Highlanders of Scotland," which went through 
several editions, and the dress is therein described and 
authorities are quoted for its antiquity. There was the 
" truis" or tartan breeches and stockings in one piece, 
with a coat or jacket variously ornamented ; secondly, 
the belted plaid, which was worn on guards and full 
dress occasions, in 1740, by the first Highland regiment 
embodied, the Black Watch. It was a tartan plaid of 
twelve yards (that is, six yards long and two wide), 
plaited round the middle of the body, the upper part 
being fixed on the left shoulder, ready to be thrown 
loose, and wrapped over both shoulders and firelock in 
rainy weather. At night the plaid served the purpose 
of a blanket, and was a sufficient covering for the High- 
lander. " In the barracks, and when not on duty, 
the little kilt or philibeg was worn." 

This form of dress, then, was the simplest possible 
use of a web of cloth, as the pattern of tartan is its 
simplest ornament. The word plaid is the Gaelic 
plaide — a blanket. The Gaelic for a plaid is breacan, 
the variegated (garment) ; the Welsh is brychan. The 
Gaelic for a kilt is feile, the covering or the shelter ; 


the garment now worn is called " feilo beag," the little 
covering which my friends often pronounce " filly-bag," 
and suppose to mean the "sporran" or purse. The 
kilt is sewn, and is made of a web three feet wide 

bland Drfln, a.r 

Copied from 

of !■ 

Scotland lu 173«. ' 


tartan Tarics 

■re disposed In diamonds inatesd of at 

instead of sis. The wide web was put on by f 
it backwards and forwards along a belt laid on the 
ground, lying down upon it, and fastening the belt 
round the waist. One half of the cloth fell in folds to 
the knee, the other half was fastened up to the shoulder, 


and in wet weather was raised over the head. At 
night, the whole could he cast loose and worn as a 
blanket, and the wearer was often boned in his plaid. 

This striped blanket, then, ought to be a very ancient 
form of dress, and the early drees of most nations is 
something like a kilt. The Greeks and Bomans, for 

nep&rate garments. 

example, wore kilts, and their great men wore a broader 
web of cloth variously wrapped about their bodies, as 
primitive people elsewhere in the world still do. The 
dress ought to be old, and it is old. The modern alter- 
ation is but an improved method of sewing the folds 
of one half to a band, and wearing the rest of the 
plaid over the shoulder, and in so far, but in no other 
sense, the dress is modern. 


Again, it is said that gentlemen did not wear the 
Highland dress, that it was the dress of peasants, 
churls, outlaws, . and such like, but this is surely an 

Every Highlander thinks himself a gentleman by 
birth, and often behaves all the better for holding the 
opinion. The wearers of the kilt now include many 
titled names; George the Fourth and the Duke of 
Sussex wore it ; the officers of the Black Watch and 
Prince Charley wore it in 1745 ; Monro's men wore it 
in 1630 ; the Regent Murray (or the Earl of Mar), 
Sutherlands, MacDonalds, and Breadalbanes, have been 
painted in the Highland dress ; Magnus of Norway, 
who wore it, was surely a gentleman, if none of these 
were ; and so, I presume, was the individual on horse- 
back who figures on the St. Andrews stone, and has 
not a shred of covering on his bare legs, though he 
is going to ride into a wood, and get terribly scratched 
by a lion. 

There is no standing ground for the notion that 
the dress is modern, or that it has not been the dress 
of gentlemen in Scotland from a very early period. 

John, Duke of Argyll and Greenwich, is supposed 
to be the author of the well-known Scotch song, which, 
for popularity, almost equals " The roast beef of old 
England." It begins thus : — 

" Argyll is my name and you may think it strange 
To live at a court and never to change ; 
Falsehood and flattery I do disdain, 
In my secret thoughts nae guile does remain." 

3^0 CELTIC DBK88. 

In the third verse the author of the song repre- 
sents this " Argyll " returning to the Highlands, and 
arraying himself in the Highland dress. 


I'll quickly lay down my sword and my gun, 
And I'll put my plaid and my bonnet on, 
Wi' my plaiding, stockings, and leather heerdshoon, 
They'll mak me appear a fine sprightly loon. 
And when I am drest thus frae tap to tae, 
Hame to my Maggie I think for to gae ; 
Wi* my claymore hinging down to my heel, 
To whang at the bannocks 0' barley meal" 

Whether this duke ever wore the dress described or 
not, the author of this song clearly considered it a 
fanner's dress ; and if the popular tale is to be credited, 
some courtiers who invited him to a dinner of barley 
meal brose, were called to account for their joke. He 
praised the food set before him, and acted up to his 
principles ; dined on the barley meal, but slew the man 
who had tried to make game of him. 

Speaking from the experience of one who wore no 
other dress in his youth, and has worn it at odd times 
all his life, it is the best possible dress for shooting, 
fishing, wading, walking, or running ; one of the worst 
possible for riding, or boating; it is inconvenient at first 
for cover-shooting in whins or brambles, or for watching 
at a pass when the midges are out on a warm evening. 
It is a capital dress for a healthy man, and tends to 
preserve health by keeping the body warm and dry. 
Many a man has caught cold when he changed his 


dress, and exchanged the thick folds of a kilt for a pair 
of trousers. It is commonly worn by hoys in the 
Highlands till they grow up to be striplings. It is 
hardly ever now worn by labourers, boatmen, or farmers. 
It is the dress of individuals of all classes — game- 
keepers, deers talkers, peers, pipers. It is worn by 
Highland regiments, and occasionally by all classes of 
the community as a gala dress, when they attend High- 
land demonstrations, or go to court; but it can no 
longer be called the common dress of the country, 
though there is not a Highlander in it or out of it, 
whose heart does not " warm to the tartan." 

I have heard it related that a tartan plaid worn 
in Canada, there helped to rouse up a whole Highland 
country side, who flow to arms when it was known that 
one who wore that tartan was in danger, and rescued 
the wearer and the plaid. 


Celtic art, like Gaelic mythology, points eastwards, 
and to a very early origin. It may be new to many 
to hear of " Celtic art," but nevertheless it is classed 
in the GtammaT of Ornament by Owen Jones, who 
is an acknowledged authority in such i 

books and sculptures and in ornaments of known date, 
from the fourth and fifth centuries to the eleventh or 
twelfth; in ornamental writings, on stone, pottery, and 
metal, found in the British Isles, there is a peculiar 


style of interlaced ornament, which is not to be found 
in Germany or in Norway, though it is similar to Anglo- 
Saxon ornaments found in England. Something of the 
kind has been found about Mount Athos, and in a few 
places in continental Europe where Irish or Anglo- 
Saxon missionaries have been. And as Britain was 
formerly celebrated for basket-work, it has been in- 
geniously suggested that these patterns, which can be 
imitated in basket-work, were copied from ancient 
British osier patterns, and so spread eastwards to 
Borne, and Byzantium, and the East. It is said that 
in the oldest manuscripts, foliage is not represented. 
Basket work might well be the foundation of pottery 
and of defensive armour. It is quite common for 
herd boys to make bottles and shields of rushes, and 
even conical helmets and long swords of the same 
materials, and therewith to hold sham fights, with the 
cattle for spectators. Early British clay vessels seem 
to bear the mark of similar workmanship, and the 
crow, in No. vin., advises the girl to carry water by 
stuffing a sieve with clay. A basket covered with 
leather makes a good shield. Boats were so made, 
and a basket lined with sunbaked clay would serve to 
carry water, and the shape of the basket might well 
suggest decorations, but I would rather believe that the 
basket-makers brought their patterns from the East. 
At all events the interlaced design given below was 
taken from a bronze which belongs to a set on which 
the signs of the Zodiac, elephants, camels, lions, and 
Eastern emblems are represented, together with similar 


Thi» Western tombstones of Iona are rich i; 
patterns, and so are the crosses of Ireland, the aculp- 
tured stones of Scotland, and crosses at Sandbach, in 
Cheshire. The pattern on the cover is taken from a 
stone, hi Islay, the taU-pieco is from an ancient Gaelic 
manuscript; several interlaced designs will be found 
in voL iii., and these complicated knots appear to be 
the distinguishing feature of ancient British Celtic a 

But on crosses and other monuments in Scotland 
these interlaced patterns are often found associated with 
other designs; with human figures, and those o; 


sters, and with certain symbols which have not yet 
been explained. 

On the bronze vessels, from one of which the above 
pattern was copied, a great number of figures and 
symbols are also engraved, and as their meaning is 
generally clear enough, and the style of ornament is the 
same with that which is called "Celtic," the bronzes 
and the sculptured stones may perhaps throw light upon 
each other. One of these Scotch hieroglyphics is very 
roughly drawn at page 206, vol. iii, and is better re- 
presented at page 499, Prehistoric Annals of Scot- 

In the one case it forms part of a very rudely 
sculptured stone, of unknown date and origin, in the 
other it is part of a design copied from a suit of silver 
armour discovered in Scotland. It may be described 
as three spiral lines starting from a common centre, and 
comprised within a circle, and these spiral lines are 
characteristic of Celtic art according to Owen Jones. 
In the silver ornament this symbol is twice repeated, 
and is associated with the "Z ornament," the "crescents," 
and the head of some creature which seems to have 
horns. The question is, what do these symbols mean Ì 
for they are frequently repeated on sculptured stones 
in Scotland. 

I have imagined that they have an astronomical 
signification, and that they may have related to solar 
worship before they were adopted as ornaments on 
crosses. — See page 339, vol. iii 

The Isle of Man has always been the stronghold of 
fairies, and it was the refuge of the Druids ; the Druids 

vol. iv. 2 o 


were astronomers, as it is said, and the Mkulni penny 
bean a device which is the same in principle as the three 
spiral lines, though these have grown into three armed 
legs ; and thereby bangs a popular tale, and it is this : — 

" Soine fishermen long ago arrived on the shore of 
an Island which they had never seen or heard o£ be- 
cause it was always enveloped in a magic cloud, raised 
by little Manain, the Son of the Sea. They landed, 
and presently there came rolling on the mist something 
like a wheel of fire, with legs for spokes, and the portent 
so frightened the men that they fled to their boats." 
But the charm was broken, the Isle of Man had been 
discovered, and its possession has been disputed by men 
and fairies ever since. 

The " legs of Man " then have to do with a wheel 
of fire. 

It is common in the Highlands now to speak of the 
" wheel " of the sun, and it was the custom not long 
ago to ascend some high hill on Easter Sunday to see 
tln» sun rise, and " whirl round like a mill wheel, and 
give three leaps." But a peasant of a practical turn of 
mind rebuked a friend, saying — 

" Fool ! And dost thou think to see the sun rise 
from there, when she rises beyond Edinburgh, and so 
many hills as there are in the way?" 

The characteristic spirals, the circle, the wheel, and 
the sun are thus associated by Celtic traditions and de- 
vices. The design given below was traced from the 
bronze vessel already mentioned, and it represents the 
sun, with three lines starting from its centre. These are 
not exactly the " Legs of Man," but they are drawn on 


the same spiral principle, and the spaces enclosed are 
filled by three human races, rudely carved. The design 
resembles that on the " Nome's law relics " found in 
Fife, and in the east it clearly related to fire or light. 

But the design given above is only one of a great 
many on the same vessel ; all bound together and 
enclosed by endless lines, turning, and twisting, and 
sprouting into heads, leaves, and buds ; and twelve of 
the designs represent the signs of the Zodiac. Thus 
the particular style of ornament which experts have 
agreed to call "Celtic" and "Byzantine," here occurs 
on a "Hindu" sacred bronze almanac, and the sun in 
" Leo " has the spiral lines in its centre, so these once 


The Lion's tail grows into a serpent, and the inter- 
laced ornament sprouts into a whole crop of buds, and 
monstrous heads, over which the lion stalks triumphant 
" Aries " is a man riding on a monstrous ram. with a 
flourishing tail; "Taurus" is mounted on a bull; 
" Gemini" are dancing about two bulls' heads ; " Cancer" 
has got the sun in his claws; "Leo" is described 
above ; "Virgo," men gathering autumn fruits; ** Libra" 
is a lady playing on a guitar ; " Scorpio" a man fighting 
with two scorpions ; " Sagittarius " is a Centaur shoot- 
ing back at a monster which grows out of the end of 
his own tail ; " Capricornus" is looking back, and riding 
on a goat ; " Aquarius" has a bird : and " Pisces " his 
two fish ; so there is no doubt of the meaning of these 
designs at all events. 

A six-pointed star, made of interlaced triangles and 
curves and interlaced patterns, is in the inside of the 
bronze vessel, and as the star is surrounded by fish, it 
is to be argued that the symbol relates to water, though 
it is also surrounded by forty-nine points like rays. 

But the Scotch crosses, and standing stones, and 
sarcophagi on which interlaced designs appear, often re- 
present animals with which Scotch artists could not 
well be familiar. There is an elephant on a very 
beautiful cross in Islay ; there is a camel on another 
stone, figured in the " Sculptured Stones of Scotland ;" 
On the St. Andrews sarcophagus there are lions, and 
apes with globes, a griffin, and a knot of snakes ; 
and though the system of ornament might be of home 
growth, the most patriotic of Scotch antiquaries must 
refer these to some foreign source. The question now 


is, Whence did the Scotch artists borrow these ideas, 
which they could not have got at home 1 Beneath the 
signs of the Zodiac, on the eastern bronze, is a kind of 
frieze of figures, all fighting, and inarching sunwise 
round the bowL Beneath Aries are two men mounted 
on a camel, one shooting arrows backwards, the other 
shooting forwards at the tail of a nondescript animal 
like a hare. The falconer, in the wood-cut below, is be- 
tween " Cancer " and " Leo." Beneath " Virgo " is a 
man on foot resisting the progress of the others with 
a long spear, and also an elephant with several riders ; 
and beneath these is a procession of birds, probably 
to indicate that the whole has to do with the powers 
of the air. Beneath them are human-headed snakes. 
Above the signs of the Zodiac is another frieze, com- 
prising forty-two human figures engaged in all sorts of 
occupations : — playing the harp and the tambourine, 
fighting and drinking ; and above all these, on the 
cover of the vessel, are eight compartments, of which 
one is figured above ; and the rest are in like manner 
occupied by figures which appear to represent divinities 
or the heavenly bodies. Two of these comprise legends 
which are almost effaced ; one is in a " Persian" charac- 
ter, the other has not been identified, and neither has 
been read. Still it is evident that this is of Eastern, 
probably "Hindu" workmanship; that the designs 
relate to matters connected with the heavens, and the 
gods ; that the sun is one of these, and that the style 
of ornament is that which is called " Celtic." With 
these designs are animals which are associated with 
like designs on stones in Scotland ; camels, elephants, 


lions, horses, hawks, rams, hulls, goaty, snakes, 
dragons, ami monsters. 

" Celtic ornament " then is found in the far East, 
and in the fur West ; and the foreign animals asso- 
ciated with "Celtic ornament" in Scotland are as3o- 
eb&ed with ■ similar style of ornament on ancient 

Hindu vessels. The iiwlhiìiil; vl the symbols 
hitter case is sufficiently plain. It seema posdbh 
the others may have a liko signification. 

Is in the 
dUa that 


With this view, the horseman on the St. Andrews 
sarcophagus may have the same meaning as the horse- 
man figured below. 

Figure between Leo and Gemini, on a chased silver Inlaid Hindu bronze. 

They are dressed in some national costume ; the one 
wears a belted plaid and has bare legs ; the other ap- 
pears to have a Persian dress, but both carry hawks 
and swords, and are fighting lions, without any appa- 
rent reference in the one case to a bronze howl, or in 
the other to a sarcophagus. In both cases the figures 
are marching " sunwise ;" in the one case the figure 
clearly has to do with astronomical symbols ; it is pos- 
sible that the St Andrews stone and the Eastern 
bowl may have been sculptured with a like intention. 

Another curious ancient bronze sacrificial vessel 
was brought from Java in 1817 by my friend Mr. John 
Crawford, and proves that the signs of the Zodiac were 
associated with Hindu worship, in a place nearly as 
remote from Central Asia as Scotland is. The vessel 
was found amongst the ruins of Hindu temples, and 


bean a date equivalent to a.d. 1320. It is a rough 
casting, and the style of art is different In the in- 
side, at the bottom, is an eight-pointed star, with some 
rude figure in a circle within the star. On the outside 
are twelve symbols, with twelve figures above them. 
These are — 

1. A ram, or some other horned and bearded animal 
of a like kind, above which is a long-armed, long- 
bearded, large human figure, in profile. Both are 
facing the same way — " sunwise," westwards. 

2. A bull, or cow, with a hump ; above which is a 
human figure with a crown, or a glory ; seen full face, 
and therefore stationary. 

3. Instead of " Gemini," semething like a triple 
claw emerging from a sleeve, or a cloud, and pointing 
back at the bull ; above which is a short, thick, human 
figure, with a helmet, or a monstrous head, with a bill 
like that of a goose, facing the usual way.* 

4. A crab with his claws upwards, ready to run 
either way sideways ; above is a man carrying some- 
thing over his shoulder on a stick, and walking sun- 
wise about the bowl. 

5. Instead of " Leo," a two-legged dragon, without 
wings, and with a long tail, facing sunwise; above 
which is the stationary figure in No. 2, repeated. 

6. A draped female figure, moving sunwise ; above 
which is a stationary female figure, very like the male 
figure in No. 5. 

7. The scales. The figure above is moving sunwise, 
but is not easily made out. 

* The sun in Gemini is north of an observer about the lati- 
tude of Bombay. 


8. A scorpion, facing sunwise ; above is a repetition 
of the figure in No. 2. 

9. A bent bow, with an arrow on the string point- 
ing sunwise ; above is a monstrous bird, like an eagle, 
walking the other way. 

10. Instead of " Capricornus," a creature like a lob- 
ster, crayfish, or shrimp ; all of which walk forwards, and 
swim backwards. This symbol, therefore, corresponds 
to the crab, which walks sideways in 'either direc- 
tion ; and it probably indicates the Southern tropic, or 
Northern winter. 

11. A jar, above which is a man walking sunwise, 
and carrying something ; probably " Aquarius " in his 
Javanese dress. 

12. A fish, with something like an elephant's trunk, 
the head as usual pointing sunwise, or to the right of 
the vessel. Above the fish is the same figure which is 
repeated in 2, 5, 8, 10, and 12. The human figures are 
dressed in some scanty costume which bears a resem- 
blance to Javanese dresses ; it is therefore probable that 
the vessel was made in the country where it was found. 

Java is to the south of the equator, and conse- 
quently, stars which seem to move along the equator 
or ecliptic there appear to move about an observer or 
a vessel set upright, in a direction contrary to that in 
which they seem to move in the northern hemisphere. 
The sun, during the greater part of the year, is to the 
north of an observer whose head is towards the South 
Pole, and there appears to him to move East, North, 
West, South, from his right hand towards his left from 
morning to evening. But the symbols of constellations 


on the Java sacrificial vessel, like those on the Hindu 
bowl, are facing in the opposite direction ; the direc- 
tion in which the constellations would appear to move 
about the vessels if they were placed on their bases 
north of the tropic of Cancer. 

When the sun in our spring seems to move north- 
wards, up, and back, from "Aries 11 to "Taurus," the 
ram and the bull seem to move from East to West, 
and from left' to right, and down, and to the south of 
the sun, on the ecliptic, because the earth is moving. 
But to an observer in the southern hemisphere who has 
put his head the other way through the hoop, towards 
the South Pole, the constellations seem to pass the 
sun, and rise and set, still moving from East to West, 
but from right to left, not from left to right On the 
Java bronze they are facing to the right, consequently it 
is probable that the symbols were not invented in Java 
or south of the line, but somewhere in the northern 
hemisphere, and the agricultural operations represented 
in the signs of the Zodiac agree with northern seasons.* 
But if these symbols were invented in Central Asia, or 
in Babylon, 3000 years ago, or in Egypt or Greece, it is 
just as likely that they should have arrived in Scot- 
land, as it is that they should have got to Java 540 
years ago. It is thus proved that certain symbolical 
creatures have been associated with astronomy ; that 
in Java, India, Greece, and Home they have been 
associated with worship ; and in India with a particular 
style of ornament. That style of ornament is found in 
Scotland, on sculptured stones of unknown date, and 

* On the Farnese globe the signs, except Taurus, face westwards. 


associated with the figures of the animals, which in 
Home, Greece, India, and Java, have represented con- 
stellations. The meaning of these, and of certain Scotch 
symbols,* is unexplained, but it is not unreasonable to 
suppose that they once had a similar meaning in India 
and in Scotland, when there are so many hands point- 
ing towards Central Asia as the common starting place 
of so many human races. 

It would be going too far to call the ram on the 
St. Andrews stone "Aries/' and the lion "Leo;" but 
till something has been found out concerning the stone 
falconer of the long locks, and the naked legs, and the 
flowing dress, he may perhaps pass for a relative of 
the Eastern bronze falconer who is fighting a lion, 
between " Cancer" and " Leo," amongst twisted snakes, 
and branches and buds, under the sway of the sun and 
moon, and of divers many-armed graven images, whose 
meaning is not so clear. 

Perhaps the oldest bit of Celtic ornamental art 
known, is to be found in Gavr Innis, in Brittany. A 
large sepulchral mound was opened some years ago, and 
was found to cover a passage formed of large boulders, 
one of which is figured above, p. 382. The cut is taken 
from a very hasty sketch, made in August 1855, in a very 
bad light The design appears to be a rude attempt 
to represent the inside of a house, like the tomb 
itself, or such as a Lapp hut, or an Icelandic house, 
or a Highland cottage, now is. A sketch of part of 
the interior of a Lapp hut will be found in vol. iii., 

* Some of the symbols are like the letters Z. V. A. 0. A S. 
K • See page 339., 


frontispiece. Such dwellings are thus made — a num- 
ber of rough sticks or trunks of small trees, or big 
stones, are set in the ground about the plan or floor «f 
the house, which in Gaelic is called " larach," and in 
Scotch " stance." If the house is to be of sticks and 
round, the sticks slope over towards the centre, and 
form a cone. If it is to have a passage, like Icelandic 
houses, stakes or large stones are set in two rows, and 
planted nearly upright If it is to be square, the pass- 
age walls are separated and repeated, and the roof is a 

This, so far, is an imitation o£ and only an improve- 
ment on the frame-work of a round or square tent. 

The next step is to place sticks across the others to 
keep them steady, and in the Gavr Innis design, as 
in the sketch of the Lapp hut, this appears to be 
indicated. In Highland stone and turf cottages, the 
partitions are still made of hurdles plastered with clay. 

In the Morea, the shepherds still make temporary 
conical wattled huts in which they live, but as the 
climate is warm, a thatch of branches is sufficient. 

The frame- work being made, the hut is covered out- 
side with birch bark, turf, or some contrivance to " stop 
up the sieve," or "line the basket ;" and then big stones, 
and earth, and rubbish, and turf, and other available 
materials, are heaped up and stamped down to keep out 
the wind and cold, till there remains a hollow, conical, 
or pyramidal mound, on which, after a time, the grass 
grows. To extend this principle, it is only necessary 
to place the cone or pyramid of earth upon the upright 
passage walls. To make this a really comfortable dwell- 


ing, it is only necessary to line the sides with planks ; and 
many comfortable hospitable dwellings, in which well- 
educated polite ladies and gentlemen now reside in Ice- 
land, are mainly built of boulders and turf, lined with 
planks, and look like a nest of green hillocks at a dis- 
tance. The long passages in tombs at Gavr Innis, and 
in Greece, are very like those in old Icelandic houses 
which I have seen. No material, it is said, resists cold 
so well as earth ; and as fuel and timber are scarce in the 
north, so Highland cottages are like Icelandic houses. 

The architectural design on the passage wall of the 
tomb in Gavr Innis appears to represent the inside 
view of such a building, with its stakes, stones, and 
turfj but the waving lines cannot be so explained. 
They look like serpents, and there are similar designs, 
like a serpent pierced by a zig-zag line, on stones in 
Scotland. (See vol. iii., 339.) In the immediate 
neighbourhood of Gavr Innis, there are great numbers 
of " standing stones," like those which exist in England, 
etc. Some of enormous size have fallen and are broken, 
but others remain erect. At Carnac* there is an array 
of smaller stones which extends for about three miles. 
There must have been many thousands of them ar- 
ranged in rows at some period, and many hundreds 
still remain erect. It is hard to believe that this 
enormous work had not a religious meaning. If 
so, then, similar monuments on a smaller scale, such 
as " Stonehenge " in England, and " Calenish " in 
Lewes, and standing stones and barrows all over the 
world, even to the obelisks, and pyramids, and temples 

* Gaelic earn, a heap of stones ; achadh, a field (?) stonefield. 


of Egypt, may be but various growths of the primitive 
ideas of dwellings, tombs, and temples. From a tree 
came a post, a gnomon, and a pillar ; from a tent came 
a hut, and thence a house ; from a sepulchral mound 
came a cairn, and thence a pyramid ; from stakes and 
poles grew columns; from sloping tent-sticks, came 
rafters and a roof, and thence a covered temple, with 
rows of pillars : and so architectural ornaments might 
take their origin from wattled branches, leaves, basket- 
work, hurdles, and mats ; plaited straw, rushes, and 
hair, honeysuckle, and birch roots. 

Specimens of the style of design, which is called 
Celtic, will be found at pp. 123, 287, vol. iii, and on 
the cover of this book; and the nearest good hair- 
dresser or maker of straw mats will imitate the design 
on page 123. 

Thus sacred ivy, matted about a sacred oak, may 
have suggested the interlaced ornaments on stone 
pillars and Christian crosses ; and basket-work may 
have suggested the patterns on gold and silver filigree, 
on stone and clay vessels and pottery, on carved powder- 
horns and dirks, and generally the designs attributed to 
Celtic art. Honeysuckle is the object of superstitious 
observances at this day. It winds sunwise about trees, 
and its long stem would be a good material for making 
these basket-work designs. 

But the fact that such designs are found upon 
works of art manufactured in the far East, seems to 
prove that " Celtic art " was not invented in the British 
isles, but imported at some early date. 

It was not brought by the Northmen, for there is 



nothing like it in Scandinavia. For a similar reason. 
it was not brought by the Normans, Anglo-Saxons, or 
Romans ; stones and manuscripts on which it occurs, 
are older than the Saracenic period ; and unless the 
Celts brought the germ of it from the far East, with 
their religion and language, and their popular tales, 
it is hard to explain the occurrence of similar eastern 
animals, monsters, and " runic knots " on the sculptured 
stones of Scotland, and on " Hindu" bronzes. 

There are plenty of cases in which Greek or Italian 
art can he traced in the Hebrides. The ornament 
figured below, is from a stone which was found in the 
ancient stronghold of the MacDonalds in Inlay. 

It is rude enough, much broken, and the atone is 
worn away, seemingly by the hands of those who used 
it. It is very old, but the style of ornament is not 
" Celtic." 

found Bbont 1830 nnder the ruins 
tbe island in Loch Flonnlsgain, tbe 
lay. The inside of " 

It is the style which is to be found in wooden Nor- 
wegian churches, said to be as old as a. d. 1100, and 


which is characteristic of more modem Norwegian 
carving, on knife handles, powder-horns, wooden chests, 
and such. like articles. A glance at the following 
woodcut will shew what is meant. 

■n, carved by d peasant Id Gulbrandsdal, Norway, 
ar designs are common in Norwegian carvings, even 
:b SB old as 1100, according (0 lie dates upon it. I 
iu-csllcd Bunii; knot In Br 

Celtic art then appears to he of Eastern origin, like 
"Celtic nations" and "languages," and like Gaelic 
popular tales. 

The well-known superstitious observances connected 
with Halloween have heen referred to Eastern solar 
worship* The Reverend James Robertson, minister of 
Callander, described tbem in 1791, and alluded to the 
stone circles of Scotland as to Druidical temples. He 
tells that iu his day, in hamlets, a fire was lighted at 
sundown, made entirely of ferns gathered on Halloween. 
The neighbours assembled, and each, according to 
seniority, placed a marked stone at the edge of the 

* Transactions of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol 
iii., p. 223. Other ceremonies are described ÌU Armstroneg 
Dictionary. See Benllninn. 

VOI:. IT. 2 D 


ashes till a circle was made about the aite of the fire, 
which was then abandoned. 

Next morning the place was visited, and if any 
of the party found his foot-print in the aahee, and his 
stone removed from its place, he was doomed to die 
before the twelve months expired. 

I have often seen the site of fires surrounded by 
stones placed there by children ; and once, on a beau- 
tiful Easter Thursday evening (April 5), just at sun- 
down, many fires suddenly appeared blazing and smok- 
ing on the hill-tops in the Isle of Man. In about ten 
minutes they all vanished as suddenly as they had 
appeared, and a Manksman, who was asked to explain 
the cause, looked much disturbed, and went his way in 
haste without answering. 

" Bealtainn," yellow May day, is in spring ; and 
all Saints, All Hallows or Halloween, " Samhuinn," 
1st of November, is late in autumn — so there are Pagan 
as well as Christian observances connected with these 
two seasons. 

The following passage from Mr. Eobertson's letter 
adds to the list of things which were done sunwise in 
his day in the Highlands : — 

" To this day, when the Highlanders go round anything with 
a degree of religious veneration, they go round in the same direc- 
tion as the sun goes round the world on this side the equator, 
i.e., from east to west, by the south side. This is the direction 
in which a bride is placed by her bridegroom when they stand up 
to be married ; the direction in which the bridegroom turns round 
the bride to give the first kiss after the nuptial ceremony ; the 
direction in which they go at least half round a grave before the 
coffin is deposited ; the direction in which they go round any con* 


secrated fountain, whose waters are supposed to have some medi- 
cinal virtues which thej expect to receive by immersion or 

" I have heard it said, that in certain places of the Highlands 
the people sometimes took off their bonnets to the sun when he 
appeared first in the morning." 

It seems, then, that the ancient eastern veneration 
for the son and for fire, which is recorded in the Vedas, 
still survives in the West Highlands in popular super- 
stitious observances which resemble Indian religious 
ceremonies. Perhaps "Bodach" the bogle, may once 
have been " Buddha 1 ' the sage ; " Bramman" the fiend, 
" Brahme" the air ; " Fuath" the spectre, " Fohi" the 
god; "Cailleach" the night hag, "Cale"; and " Aigne," 
thought " Agni," divine fire. 

Note. — " King Arthur's table" is still preserved at Winchester. 
It is hard to believe that it is the real table, but it is what people 
thought it was like a long time ago, about the time of Henry the 

It is round. In the centre are two five-leaved roses, which 
are surrounded by an inscription, which declares that " This is 
the round table of King Arthur and his twenty-four knights." 
Outside the circle in which the inscription is, the table is divided 
into twenty-four radiating stripes of alternate black and white ; 
and at the end of each, at the edge of the table, is the name of a 
knight. All the names read from the centre, consequently they 
read " sunwise." 

King Arthur, crowned and throned with globe and sceptre, sits 
as though he had sat in the midst, facing outwards, and behind 
his head is a kind of glory of light, in which is his name. It has 
been suspected that a real King Arthur has acquired the attri- 
butes of a pagan sun-god ; and this looks very like it, when 
brought to bear upon other Celtic traditions. 



A work on Gaelic music is in course of preparation, 
when that appears there will be another element of 
comparison. Meantime those who are curious in such 
matters may hear bagpipes in nearly all the European 
countries where Celts have been. I have beard the 
pipes in Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Portagal, and Italy. 
I believe they are in Albania, and I have heard tell 
of something of the kind in the Himalayan moun- 
tains. They are to be seen in old English prints, 
and old German pictures ; and the other ancient Gaelic 
musical instrument, the harp, is to be found all over 
the world Who first invented these is a question yet 
to be solved, but both are sufficiently old 

In 1G27, a certain Alexander MaoNaughtan, of 
that ilk, was commissioned to raise a body of Highland 
bowmen, and on January 15, 1628, he wrote to the 
Earl of Morton from Falmouth, where he had been 
driven, with his men, by stress of weather. He says* — 

. . " (and withal) that your L. will haue clothis for 
them quhen it sail pleise god that they come to the He of Wicht, 
f >r your L. knowis althow they be men of personagis, they cannot 
muster befoir your L. with thair Trewis and blew cappis." 

Whether this means that they wore trewis, or had 
none to wear, does not clearly appear, but the post- 
script seems to imply the latter. He says — 

* Transactions of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. 
iii., p. 248. 


" My L. as for new is frome our selfis oar bagg pypperis and 
Marlit Plaidis serwitt us to guid wise in the persuit of ane man of 
warr thathetlie followit us." 

These men, therefore, wore tartans, and followed 
the pipes, and as they were bound to join the forces 
of King Charles I. they were a Highland regiment in 
embryo. It appears that the piper Allester Caddell was 
followed by a boy, and pipers still claim to be exempt 
from menial service. There was also " Harrie M'Gra, 
harper, fra Larg," and another piper ; and as they were 
one hundred on the roll, they had a tolerable band of 
national music. At the end of the roll is the remark : — 
" To be disposed of be the Erie of Morton. They 
haue bene deir guests." 

They were shipped at " Lochkilcherane, ,, 11th of 
December 1627, and it is surmised that they must have 
joined their countrymen and Gustavus Adolphus. 

And now, in conclusion, let me recommend the 
study of Gaelic to Scotch antiquaries. Their worthy 
president lately expressed a wish to be able to knock 
up the dead, by the help of a table, to answer some 
vexed questions : — he could get nothing even from 
them without knowing the language of his departed 

In the preceding pages, strange Gaelic witnesses 
dressed in vellum and parchment and tattered brown 
paper, and some few in gay attire of green and gold — 
queer characters, who live far up the stream of time — 
have appeared to answer questions, and have told 
a great deal about the Ossianic controversy. A 


good number of lowlanders have been summoned from 
the past, and have deponed, sometimes in very bad 
language, that they knew of the Feinne, and thought 
them bad company, but Celtic gods. 

A good number of Welsh and Breton witnesses 
have been called, and have confirmed what the rest had 
asserted. A few Icelanders, Norwegians, Germans, and 
Frenchmen, a Carthagenian, and some Egyptians, Arabs, 
Persians, Indians, and Aryans, have said a few words. 
A good many Highland hills, and a few Edinburgh 
porters, have said their say ; and the best sort of clair- 
voyance, as it seems to me, for my lowland countrymen 
to aim at, is to clear their eyes from lowland prejudice, 
and take a look at Gaelic, when they want to find out 
something which happened before that language was 
driven into corners. A large proportion of the names 
about Edinburgh are Gaelic ; but no one there will look 
so near home as the first Highland porter for an explana- 
tion of their meaning. Men would rather go to Wales 
or Brittany than look at home for anything " British," 
and even Sir Walter Scott, who wrote amongst a Gaelic 
population, made the strangest of mistakes when he 
used Gaelic words. 

As I have done my best to make peace between 
Celt and Celt, and Celt and Saxon, I wished to end 
with a peaceful Gaelic quotation ; but having searched 
right through divers song books, I have utterly failed 
to discover one that will suit. Bards are a pugnacious 
race. I can only say with Motherwell and the Gaelic 
proverb — 

" Gree, bairn ies, gree." 


" Se deireadh gach cogaidh sith." 
The end of each strife is peace. 

Even the strife and confusion of tails, which some 
ancient Gaelic artist Imagined and depicted centuries 
ago ; even the " Ossianic controversy," and its confu- 
sion of tongues and arguments; "Mythology;" "West 
Highland Tales;" even this lengthy postscript and 
its tail-piece— all have a beginning, a middle, and 


it ■ 



Poetry Orally Collected. 

1. Fionn'B Questions 

2. Dianuaid and Graidhne 

3. Derg Mae Derg 

4. Laoidh Dhiannaid 

5. A Mhuilearteach 

G. Laoidh an Amadain Mor 

7. Heaihan MacRigh Beirbh 

8. Moladh (ihuill . 

9. Ijioidh Osgair 

10. Duan na Ceardoch 


11. Rann fhir Strathnihanuis 

12. Righ Breatann . 

13. Leannan Sith 

14. 15, 10, 17. Fraoch 
18. Duan nan Ceann 
1«». Oran don Ghille dubh 

20. Has < )scair (No. 9 version) 

21. Colla Mo Hun 

22. Dan Fir Thrarlochain . 

23. Has Chonlaoich . 

24. 2'». Laoidli (,'baoilte 
20. I^aoidh a clioin duibh . 

7, 28, 21», 30. Conn Mac an Deirg 

31. Macabh Mor High na Sorcba 

32. Dan na Higbean . 

33. MarOighre High na Iorsmail 

34. Cath Mhaimis 

35. Na Brataiebean . 

36. Teanntarbd Mor na Finne 

37. Hriathra Finn ri Oscur 

38. t.'oirral 

39. Duan Choluin 

40. Bas Choireal 

41. Do. 

42. Suire Osein 

43. Laoidh Chlerich . 

44. Na b Ainu . 

Version of 10. 

45. A Mbuirearteach 

Version of 5. 
For the rest see List, No. 335. 

West Highland | M8S. AJn^I 




VoL iiL 



Number on List. 


20, 220, 289. 221 




243, 247 
245, 288, 290, 2: 













Means that a version of the poem is preserved, but the page i 

which are IK 

LIST, AND EEFEEENCES (seepage 142). 

Reference to Page of Printed Books. 




167, 818 






• • 














• • 











154, 176 


• • 





own. Other poems may be contained in these manuscripts 




OSSLANTC BALLADS — Eeferbncbs to Books, etc. 

* Means thai the piece, in some form, is still current. 

1530. Dean MacGregor's MSS. 

See published list of contents Proceedings of the Society of 
Antiquaries, 1856, and papers read, 24th January 1831. 
Report of the Highland Society on the poems of Ossian 
p. 93, and appendix, 302. See also selections to be pub- 
lished 1862. 
The following references have been taken from the other 
authorities, but the selections will probably give a full account of 
this interesting manuscript. 

25. Demand for the head of Gaul. (?) 

63. La mob sealg na Feinne, or Sltabh nam Beann Fionn. 

Kennedy ; the Rev. Francis Stewart ; Malcolm Mac- 

Callum; Macdonald of Staffa; traditional. Appears in 


*145. Praise of Goll. Gillies ; MacCallum ; Miss Brooke ; 

traditional now. 

*147. Diarmaid. Dr. Smith; Sutherland; Islay; General 

Mackay ; R. Campbell, advocate. The Islay version 

had Cuach Fhinn, which was rejected as not historical. 

*172. The Bankers. (?) The traditional poem now current, and 

in Gillies. 
*205. On the Heads. MacCallum ; mentioned p. 302, H. S. 

appendix. (?) The current traditional poem. 
*220. Fainea80li8. Kennedy ; Miss Brooke ; H. S. Report, p. 
95 ; Maid of Craca in English Fingal ; not in the Gaelic 
of 1807. 
*230. Death of Oscar. Kennedy; MacDonald of Staffa; H. 
S. Report, 102 ; traced inTemora (English) (?) Gillies ; 
and now current. 
*232. Battle of Gaura. (?) The one given in Gillies, and now 

current ; traced in Temora. 
*236. Cuchullin and Conlaooh. Carthon in English Ossian ; 
not in Gaelic of 1807 ; Islay ; Miss Brooke, 265, 268 ; 


MacCallam. For tbe story, compare Marie's Lays; 
Zohrab and Rnstam. 
•301 . Fraoch. Jerome Stone, 1756 ; Scotch Magazine ; H. S. 
Report, appendix 7 ; compare Bellerophon for the story ; 
current in fragments. 

1739. Alexander Pope, minister in the Reay country, p. 53; 
appendix iii. H. S. Report. 
Erragoh ; in Temora, under the name of Dibird fli (?) 
•Ca Gaur. Death of Oscar. 
*Du an Deakmot. Dr. Smith ; Diarmaid, etc. 

1756. Clerk's Collection. (?) 

1772. Ranald MacDonald's collection, printed 1772, contains a 
piece which is in the Dean's MS. ; Antiquaries' Transac- 
tions ; H. S. Report, p. 305 ; subject, four wise men at 
the grave of Alexander. 

1774. Kennedy's Collection. List from p. 108, 273, appendix, 
Highland Society's Report. 
*Luachar Leothaid. 

Sgiathan MacSgairbh. 

An Gruagach. 



Mùr bheura. 


Sealg na cluana. 

*Uiri)igh Oisein. 

Erragnn (Battle of Lara). 
*Mancs (part of English Fingal). 

Maire Borb (Maid of Craca, ditto). 
♦Cath Seisear (? the smithy). 
*Sliabh nam Beann Fionn. 
♦Bas Dheirg. 
♦Bas Chuinn. 


High Liur. 

Sealg na Leana. 
♦Dun an Oir (? the Great Fool.) 
♦An Ca dubh. 

Gleann Biamhair. 

♦Bas Cbiunlaich (quoted p. 116 H. S.Keport); MacPher- 

son ; death of Cuchullin, Smith's Manus. 
♦Diarmad, partly quoted, p. 110 H. S. Report. 

Bas Ghuill (different from Smith's.) 


Bas Oscair (Temora) in three parts. 

Tairidh nam Fian. 

Bas Oisein. 

1780. Hill, p. 50, Report of the Highland Society, p. 143, ap- 
pendix, published in the Gentleman's Mag., afterwards 
in a separate book. Gives Fionn's Genealogy, and a 
great deal of speculation. 

♦Ode of Oscar, which seems very like the traditional 


seem to be like the traditional version of Manus. 
*Mar Mharbh, Diarmad an torc Nimh, Diarmaid 

and the boar. 
*Mar Marbhadh Bran ; Bran's death ; seems to be the 

traditional song. 
*Urnigh Ossian ; a bit of a dialogue between Ossian and 

St Patrick. / have not been able to get this book. 

1786. Gillies. Published pieces not found in 1860, 1861. 

/Sentimental. Varying from 
1. Mordubh n I lar baUad8 now cur , 

158. Mian a bhaird aosda C J ^ but Uke „ 0s8Ìan , 8 

210. Mhaline Brughadar J „ 

i poem b» 

211. Claidheamh Cuchullin. (Measured prose.) 
278. Ode. 

302. Laoidh Laomuin Mhic an Uaimh-fhir. 


260. Clan Usnich. Foundation of Darthala ; yery old ; 
well known in Ireland ; given by MacCaHnm, 221. 

1787. Smith. " Seann Dana." These are of a class between 
current popular ballads and the published Ossian. 
1. Dan an Deirg. 
26. Tiomna Ghuill. 
78. Dan na Duthuinn. 
*99. Diarmad. 

This differs from the traditional, and from the manu- 
script versions. 
120. Dan clainne Mhuirne. 
141. Cath Luine. 
158. Cathula. 
♦194. Cath Mhanuis includes the lay of the great fool, 
but something quite different from the traditional 
t poems ; and the doctor says he has rejected much as 

spurious ; a bit of the forging of Finn's sword is given 
in a note, 211. 
210. Trathuil. 
223. Dearg MacDruibheil. 
245. Conn Mac an Deirg. 
297. Losga Taura. 
317. Cath Lamba. 
340. Bas Airt. 

None of these are now current amongst the people in 
their published form, so far as I have discovered. 

1789. Miss Brooke (Irish). 

See Report of the Highland Society on the poems of 
Ossian, and this volume, p. 101. 

1803. MS. Collection by Macdonald of Staffa (Advocates' Li- 


Contains Briathran Fhinn ri Oscar, p. 150, H. S. 
Report. See this vol., p. 152. 

1804. Stewart. 

1. Prosnacha Catha Chloinn Domhnuill. 
* K 47. Aireamh-Muintir Fhin agus Dhubhain. 



549. Coradh-Murcha MacBrian, etc. 
554. Duil MacStairn. 

1816. MacCallum. 

106. Dan air Crom Ghleann 

112. Iamhair Aluinn 
*140. Cuchullin na Charbad - 

153. Colg Shuil is Trathail - 

170. Dan Chiothaich 
*178. Oisian don Gbreinn 

181. Ditto ----- 

183. Mor Ghlan ague Min Fhonn - 

193. Gomhrag Fheinn agus Garbh MacStairn 

196. An t' Sealg a' s Mo rinn an Fhian 

200. Conall Ghulbuinn 

207. Ursgeul Oisian - 

209. Ioma Cheist Oisian 
*221. Laoidh Deirdreann - 




1805. J. Macdonald, MS. Collection (Advocates' Library). 

A number of poems are printed in the Report of the Highland 
Society, 1805, and there are numerous private collections written 
in modern times, of which I have heard. Their owners would do 
well to send them to the Advocates 1 Library to be preserved there 
with the rest of the Gaelic manuscripts, to which attention has 
been called, and which are now arranged and catalogued. Some 
of these pieces have been reprinted in the West of Scotland 
Magazine, and were also translated in Drummond's Irish Min- 
strelsy* One (I am told) was lately made into a kind of musical 
play, and acted in Ireland. 







■ ■ 

• * 








fe 5: 





— ♦ 





1. The Unwelcome Guest. 

Heard by J. F. C. about twenty or twenty-five years ago, in Islay. 

' A man invites a skull to dinner, it comes as an old man, and 

is frightened away by a particular arrangement of bannocks. 

I have seen a similar story, but cannot name the book. — D. D. 

2. Donald Duval Mackay. (? Devil). 

How lie lost his shadow. 

The Cave of Smoo — Fairy threshing. 

3. How he lost his power. 

4. The Great Cave of Smoo (Eastern). 

5. Donald and the Devil, or whatever else the 

creature may have been who ate the griddle 
in the bannock. 

(This is to be found in the manuscript from the Highland Society 
of Scotland : attributed, I think, to Fingal.) 

6. The Fairy asking about his chance of Salvation. 

This, or something like it, is in " Croker's Irish Stories," and 
in the " Popular Superstitions of the Highlands," in Grant 
Stewart's, and seems to shew that the Fairies are the old 
Pagans, probably those who made the Fairy arrow heads. 

7. The Man who flew with the Fairies. 

8. A Water Spirit " Vougka? translated Kelpie. 

Is this the Irish "Phocaf" 

9. Second Sight— The Road. 

This is a good instance, and is probably an article of popular 



10. The Funeral Procession. 

Thin in the name as a story in Grant 8tewart's collection, and is 
probably common. 

1 1. A Si* co nd- night Warning of Death, and the Ghost 

Thin is like some in Grant Stewart's collection. 

1 2. Captain W. Ross and his Descendant, who wanted to 

see him, and raised a whole army. 
I know nothing like this — it is good. 

13. A Morayshire Legend of a Castle that sunk into the 

earth, and is still to be seen at the bottom of a lake. 

This has many foreign relations. The origin of the tradition is 
]H>rhn{>8 to be traced to the destruction of the cities at the 

1 4. The Rotterdam. 

A large ship sunk, with the crew still alive. The Folge Fond, in 
Norway, is said to cover seven parishes which were over- 
whelmed for their wickedness, by the snow and ice. The 
church bells may still be heard ringing under the ice, and the 

Seople will some day be restored to the world. — From a 
orwegian peasant in the Hardanger. — J. F. C, 1857. 

15. A Legend of Loch Spynie. 

A Warlock and his Coachman driving over the ice— Two Crows on 
the carriage. — I do not know this one. 

16. The Three Hunters and their Brides. 

Viile Lady of the Lake, which contains this legend in an improved 


17. Tlie Tailor and the Skeleton. 

Common in Argyllshire and the Isle of Man. 

1 8. The Wakes of Loch Manaar — a talisman. Clacli Buaidh. 

19. The Tree Witness. 

20. The Jewel of Ben Stack. 

Common in Argyllshire. 

21. The Erse version of Jack the Giant Killer. 

It resembles the Norse — It is the best of the collection. 

2 2. Superstitions — Instance of : Gamekeeper. 

23. The Sea, and drowned and murdered people. 

24. Wraith choosing boards for a dying man. 

25. Death Struggle. 

26. Passing, and funeral bell. 

27. Cathedrals expected to fall. 



28. Babes. 

30i } BabeS ' 

31. Spirits of friends haunting a house looked on as a 

reason for remaining in the place. 

32. The lost Wedding Ring— The Witch— The Demon— 

The Escape. 

A Legend which is unlike any I know, and good. 

33. Honeysuckle — Charm against evil. 

34. Evil eye, and those who suffer from it. 

35. Cure of Evil eye — by boiling stones in water — still 


36. Verses of Scripture as charms. 

In Iceland it is a custom to open the Bible by chance to find out 
the result of some undertaking. I tried it, and it came right, 
in 1861. 

Instances of Voghes being seen. Fuath is the Gaelic 

These three have no story ; they are but appearances believed in. 

40. Phantom armies commonly seen. 

41. Snow never lies on the ground where the blood of a 

murdered woman was spilt. 

42. The Lord's Prayer a protection against evil. 

43. Magical disappearance of a Witch. 

44. The Holy Virgin and the Black Beetle. 

This is a very good Legend, and is unknown to me ; it is in Irish. 

45. A Rhyme. 

46. Saint Gilbert and the Dragon. 

Something like St. George and the Dragon; and like the Sea 
Maiden, but not so good. 

47. The Boar of Ben LaighaL Diarmaid and Grainne. 

48. Things Lucky and Unlucky. 

49. The Golden Horse of Loch na Gillie. Each uisge. 

Widely spread. 
VOL. IV. 2 E 



50. The Otter King — common in Argyllshire. 

51. Mr. Alexander Fraser's Pilgrimage. 

Good ; contains the incident of the ring. 

52. Salamander. 

53. The Hour and the Man. 

54. Poetical Sayings. 

55. The Demon Angler — an appearance. 

56. The Herds of Sallochie. 

A Kelpie — well known in books, and widely spread. 

57. The Death of Sweno. 

This is probably the tradition of a fact in the history of None 
invasions — I know nothing quite like it. 

58. The Dun Otter, called Doar-chu. 

59. Why the Wolf is stumpy tailed. 

Well known in Norway and in Central Africa in various shapes. 

60. The Bogie Roschan. 

A kind of Brownie well known all over Germany and elsewhere, 
though I know nothing quite like this. 

61. The Dragon of Loch Corrie Mohr. 

62. The Dragons of Loch Merkland. 

63. The Stupid Boy. 

This is known in Ross and in Argyllshire. It is one of the 
Highland stories, and, so far as I know, has never been 
published. There is more of it which should not be inquired 
for. 1 have two Gaelic versions, got elsewhere. 

64. The Unjust Sentence. 

Very good. It has a resemblance to a tale in the Arabian Nights, 
but I do not think it is taken from that source. 

65. Lauchlin, Dhumohr, and the Witch. 

I know nothing quite like this. 

66. The Sleeping Giants. 

This is known all over the United Kingdom, in all manner of 
shapes. It has come to me from four or five quarters, and 
this differs from the rest. 

67. The Giant in Barra. 

This also is well known, and belongs to British Mythology. 

68. The Vaugh, the Poacher, and the Dog. (Ftjath.) 

I have something like this from Barra. 

69. The Vaugh of the Laxford. 



70. Something about a Mermaid. 

This is common in Germany, in Ireland, in Islay, and elsewhere, 
in all sorts of shapes. Some noble family, I forget which, 
claims to be descended from the mermaid. Thomas the 
Rhymer was said to have been the son of the mermaid. 

71. The Caillach Mhor of Clibreck. 

This tale looks very like a recollection of the Lapps and their deer. 

72. The Mhor Bhain. 

This is probably a tradition of a Witch trial. 

73. Fach Mor. 

This is one of the Gaelic Legends which seem to have been almost 
forgotten on the east coast of Scotland, and which are well 
known in the west. It is an extraordinary jumble of every- 
thing, — King Arthur, Thor in Norse Mythology, Theseus, 
Hercules, Circe, and the Bible, may all be traced ; and yet, 
when this tale was told, it probably contained traits which 
proved it to be a native of Sutherland, as those which come 
from the Islands prove themselves to be islanders. There 
are plenty of these tales in Gaelic MSS. ; their origin is worth 
searching out. 

74. The Callach Mhor. Vol. II, XXVII. 

75. A Badenoch Fairy. 

This is told in Norway ; I remember to have read it in a Norse 
book, at a station, while waiting for horses. 

76. The Assyindach's Mistakes . . Vol. II, XLVIIL 

77. The Fox and the Wrens . . . Vol. I., XVIIa. 

78. The Fox and the Fox-hunter . VoL L, XVIIa. 

79. The Great White Snake . . . Vol. II., XLVH. 

80. The Vougha's Charcoal . . . Vol. II, XXXVII. 
81 and 82. Holy Wells .... Vol. II., XXXIH. 
83 and 84. Of Banshees .... VoL II, XXXVIII. 
8 5. The Vangh of Moulin na Fougha Vol. II., XXXVIII. 

86. The Brolachan Vol. II, XXXVIII. 

87. The Herds of Glen Onar . . Vol. I., Introduction. 

88. Farquar the Physician . . . Vol. II., XLVIL 

A version of this is given in Chambers' Nursery Rhymes ; it is 
told in Islay, well known in Mull. The man was Beaton, 
physician to a Scotch king, I think James VI. His MSS. 
are preserved in the Advocates' Library in Edinburgh. The 
story is in Norway, in an old MS., and may be traced in the 
story of iEsculapius. 

89. The Fox and the Cock and Hen Vol. I., XVIIa. 



90. The Fox and the Goose . . VoL L, XVIIfl. 

1)1. The Last Giant. 

TiiiH jh like a published tale found in Ireland ; like two versions 
heard in Uist by J. F. C, and one written down in Barn. 
It if* probably founded on the MS. of the dialogue of Osaian 
and St. Patrirk, or on something still older. The birds are 
generally deer. The word which means Black Bird in Gaelic 
may also mean Black Elk. 



92. A Champion. (Popular History.) 

93. Water Horses. Each uisge. 

94. Gruagach. Brownie. 

95. A Supernatural Woman. 

96. Water Horse. 

Same as Miss M'Leod's story from Skye. 

From John Campbell, Esq. of Kilberry. 

97. Water Horses and Bogles. (Good.) 

98. The Boobrie. Large bird. 

99. Boobrie as Water-Horse. 

Somewhat like the ploughing of the Asa. Norse Mythology. 

100. Boobrie as Water-Bull. 

Letter from Kilberry. Another story from the same collector is 

101. Donald MacRae and the Witch. 

Letter from Kilberry. 

102. Letter from Urquhart, — Large Fish. 

103. Large Skate (Craken.) 

104. Large Salmon. 

105. Large Cormorant. 

106. Mr. B and the Water-Horse. True, J. F. C. 

107. Letter from Hector Fraser to Hector Urquhart. 

Gruagach— Water-horse— Gaelic Story — Fairies. 



From the* Rev. Thomas Pattieson. Another of his 

storie8 is printed. 

108. Flying Ladies from the Isle of Youth. 

109. Myself. 

Shortened and printed. Ditto. 

110. The Mermaid Bride. 

This in various shapes is well known ; the latter part resembles 
the story of the Wizard of Alderley. 

111. The Glasgow Merchant. 

A kind of Whittington story ; I have it in many shapes. 

112. Letter From Hugh M'Lean — Kilhamuig, Tarbert — 

The Mermaid. 

113. The Mermaid. (Ossianic English.) 

From Hugh MacColl, Gardener at Craigforth. 

114. Ossian. (Genuine Legend.) 

115. The Old Man and the Sleepy Giants. 

Common. Compare No. 110 and Alderley Story. 

116. Fionn's Dogs. (Ossianic, genuine.) 

117. Fionn's Dogs. (Ossianic, genuine.) 

118. The Packman and the Laird. (Witchcraft.) See 

Gaelic, 275. 

119. Cairn Dearg. (Popular History — Good.) 

120. The Brownie, and the Laird of Loch Awe, and the Letter. 

121. The Witch and the Horse Hair Rope. 

122. Stories from a Clergyman. 

Got from E. Campbell of Ardpatrick,. Enchanted Piper. — 

1 23. Nuts and Ghost. 

Same as the Norse story of Goosey Grizzle. A version told by a 
tinker in London. 

124. Mermaid. 

From Thomas MacDonald, Gamekeeper, Dunrobin, Sutherland. 
Another of his stories is printed. 



125. Stories from John Boos, Lord Lovatfs Forester. 

(Spelling copied — Ghost) 

126. The Man that the Cow ate. 

From the Minister of North Ronaldshat. 

127. Orcadian Superstitions. 

128. Saining and Ceremonies at Births. 

1 29. Crossing the Path. 

130. Crows. 

131. Crows. 

132. Frogs. 133. Witch and Fisherman. 134. Milk. 
135. Fowl Buried Alive. 136. Bible and Corpse. 

137. Bible and Key. 

138. Scotch Proverbs, 46 in number. 

139 to 166. From Lady C C , mostly from 


149. Black Bull o' Norway. 

Referred to in a Letter. 

150. Letter from the Rev. Mr. Anderson. 

163. Brownie. 

164. Scotch Tunes. 

165. French Anecdote. 

166. The Mantle Jo. 

A pretty child's song, old, popular; has relatives in Norse, 
Gaelic, and Chinese. 

„ Letter from Lady C , 22d June 1859. 

167. A regular heroic Highland play, written by John Clerk, game- 
keeper to the Duke of Argyll, at Roseneath. I have never 
heard a tale so told by an old man, but they are very dramatic, 
and this is probably an old sguelachd dramatized by a game- 
keeper. If John Clerk had been Shakespear, this would 
have become a play ; if MacPherson, it would have taken the 
form of an Epic poem. It is curious as showing the growth 
of a popular tale. 



168. Written from memory by J. F. C, Tailor and Bogle. 

This is common to the Isle of Man, etc. 

169. MacArthur's Head. 

170. Great Cave at Bolsa. 

A piper goes with a dog to explore a large cave. The dog comes 
out at a great distance, with the hair rubbed or singed off 
his body. The piper is heard playing, but never reappears. 
Commonly told of caves and underground passages in the 
Scilly Isles, South of Ireland, Cantyre, Islay, East Lothian. 
In short, wherever there is a cave and a Celtic population. 
? JSneas and the Sybil, and Cerberus, Cupid and Psyche, 
etc. etc. 

171. MacPharlan's Geese. 

172. Holy Wells and Frog Story. (Printed.) 

173. Alderley Play regularly acted every Christmas. 

174. Water Horse. 

Got in Skye. 

175. The Ghostly Duel 

Got in Skye. 

176 and 177. Gaelic 

Copied by one who does not understand 'the language. I can 
make it out, but I question if any one less used to queer 
spelling would know what was meant ; it is the Gaelic of the 
same tales as 174 and 175. 

178 to 185. A lot of Anecdotes from Airth, the Duke of 
Argyll's Messenger, when he was Postmaster- 

This is a tall strapping Highlander from the east country, a 
capital fisherman. 

186 to 200. Written from memory by J. F. Campbell, 

January 1858. 

186. Black Kitchen Jack. 

Heard as a child. (Popular novel.) 

187. The Man on Laggan Sand. 

Like Washington Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow, I have several 
other versions of it 

188. A Gloss upon Bird Language. 

189. Dr. Beaton and the Snake. 

From memory ; see Sutherland story which was got after this 
had been written down. (See No. 88.) 



190. Sun, and Bain, and Fairies. 

191. The Woman and the Lobster. (Popular Wit) 

192. The Lassie and the Skull. 

8eu No. I., Sutherland Collection. 

193. Sgrioch na Caillich — Jura legend. 

194. Jura Fleas. 

195. The great Eel in Lossit Lake. Very common belief. 

196. A Letter, 3d December 1842. 

197. A Letter and Poem in English on Cony Bhreacan. 

198. The Legend of Slochd Mhaol Dhori 

199. The Fisherman and the Saint. Common in Ireland. 

200. The Princess Eila. 

201. Anecdote. 202. Dream. 203. Rousseau's Dream. 

204. Saying. 

(Mrs. M'Tavish.) 

205. The White Pet Sheep. 

206. Old Saw. (From memory, J. F. C.) 

206«. The King of Lochlin. (From memory, see 125. 
J. F. C.) 

207. A New Years' Rhyme. (Ditto.) 

Mrs. Jf'Tavishyfrom 208 to 248. 

208. Proverbs. 209. Weather. 

210. Dan an Dearg. 

211. Translation of the Song. 

212. Diarmid. (Story.) 

212a. Fairies — Dunbhuilg. Very widely spread. 

213. Fairies Reaping. 

214. Fairies Stealing People. 

215. Fairies. 



215a. Fairies — Gaolin Castle. 

216. The King's Children. 

A very good version of the story in the Leabhar Nan Cnoc. 

217. The Man with the Loose Gray Coat. 

A very good story, something like the story of Murdoch M'Brian. 

218. Dunbhuilg Fairies. 

219. John of the Little Head. 

220. Another Version of the Same. 

(See the Man on Laggan Sand.) 

221. Maoll DorrL 

(See Ante, 19S)A 

222. The Piper in the Cave. 

This is a curious story, because it is so widely spread in Celtic 
districts of the Kingdom. I have heard it in the Scilly 
Islands, in Ireland, and elsewhere. 

223. St. Patrick and the Snakes. 

224. Texa carried from Ireland by a Giantess. 

225. Some account of Breacan, Prince of Norway. How 

he killed a dragon which infested Islay ; all the 
localities are pointed out. 

226. Another story of the same. How he was drowned 

in Corrie Bhreacan. 

I have known these two myself from childhood. 

227. Story of Eila. 

228. Gloss upon Bird Language. 

229. Proverb. 

230. Remarks on Weather. 

(Spelling due in some degree to the Copyist) 

231. Weather Sayings. 

232. Ditto. 

233. Ditto. 234. Ditto. 235. Ditto. 236. Ditto. 
237. Ditto. 238. Ditto. 

239. The Raven. 240. The Weather. 
241. Large Eel (See 195). 242. Cuckoo. 



243. Dr. Beaton. (See 189.) 

244 and 245. Two Stories of the same Personage. 

246. Story of the Old Woman who slid down the Hills of 


247. Song about the same. 

248. Proverbs, 4. 

249 to 273. Letter from Minuter of North Ronaldshay, 

Orkney, and Stories, 
250. The Sealchies. 

This is a widely-spread tradition all over the Islands. John 

- - - ■ e It to _' " ' 

it is" clearly the same as the mermaid stories of which I hare 

Rochfort gave it to me, and said he had got it from a game- 
in Harris. 

keeper in Harris. I think it is in Grant Stewart's Book, and 

itiscl " ■" 


251. Sealchie Song. 

252. Letter from the Minister. 

253. Fairies. 

254. Bogles. 

255. The Smith of Barrigar and Tangie. 

This, and 250, may fit in with the Islay story of the man who was 
begotten by a seal, which bears upon a German romance. 

256. More about Tangie. 

257. Mysterious Light 

259. Fairies. 

260. Selkie Sherry. 

261. Superstitions. 262. Large Fish. 263, 264. Witches, 

or Evil Eye. 265. Dog Howling. 

266. Courtship " langer." 267. Courtship. 

268. Evil Spirit. 

(Curious— well told.) 

269. Exposing Children. 

270. Charms, Gun, etc. 

271. Old Custom at Burials. 



272. Witchcraft. 

A long story. 

273. Note on the MSS. and Glossary of Curious Words. 

274. Dunbhuilg Fairies. 

Story from Hugh Maclean, got by James Campbell of Ardpatrick, 

Stories from Gairloch. Got by 0. H. Mackenzie. 

275. The Soldier. 

A version of Bolgam Mor. Very like Grimm. 

276. Story about a Minister. 

277. Story of a Weaver. 

278. Senn (a poem). 

(The spelling belongs to the Scribe.) 

279. The Wife of Laggan. 

(See Grant Stewart.) 

280. Fairy Tale. 

281. Letter from £. Campbell. 

Stories from a Clergyman in Argyllshire. 

282. Fairies. 

283. The Dead rising and grinning. 


Stories from a Clergyman. Got through the 

Hon. T. Bruce. 

284. Fairies. Ì 

285. Ditto. 

286. Ditto. 

287. Ditto. 

[-These are well told, genuine and popular. 

288. Ditto. ' 

289. Ditto. 

290. Ditto. 

291. Ditto. 



292. Letter from A Campbell of Blythswood, sending a 


293. Legend of St Convalhts. 

From the Breviary of Aberdeen. 

294. Letter from CHARLES EDWARD upon the Ossianic 


295. The Brownie. 

A Poein from Galloway. 

Journals and Stories collected by J. F. Campbell 

in 1859 and 1860. 

296. Cath nan Eun — Easter, 1859 — Ferry Boat, Loch 


297. A lot of Miscellaneous Notes used in the Introduction. 

298. The Tinker— April 25th. 

Incantation — very good. 

299. Sheen Billv. 

From the old Tinker. 

300. The Contradictory Wife. (Popular novel.) 

John Mackenzie. 

301. Party at the Miller's House, Inverary. 

302. " Conall." (Gillies.) 

303. The Uruisg and Farmer's Daughter. 

This is almost the same as a story in Straparola. It is also in 
some old English jest book. I believe it is a Lapp story. It 
is witty, and unfit for publication now-a-days. 

304. Smeuran dubh s an Fhaoilteach. (Tinker.) Good — 


305. The Fox. (Tinker.) Good— long. 

306. The Beetle. (Mackenzie.) 

This is a very curious story, in which a king's son slays a great 
beetle, Daol, in an island, and a bit of the skin sticks on his 
hand. No other version got, 1802. 

307. The Bee. (Tinker.) Good, but cannot be published* 



Old Mary Mac Vicar, Inverary. 

308. Fraoch. Poem — fragment. 

309. The Duke of Argyll's Dairy Maid and Wild Calf. 

(Popular History.) 

310. Rob Roy — Anecdotes of 1dm. Ditto. 

311. The Eagle and Child. 

Same as the legend of the, Stanly Crest. 

The Rev. Mr. MacCalman. 

312. MacPherson and Ossian. 

Summer Trip to the Long Island. 

313. The Cow's legs and Col Kitto. 

314. The Three Questions. 

315. The Smith's Apprentice — Master Thief. 

316. Popular History. 

317. Old Saying of Birds. 

318. Fairy Eggs — Ossian's Poems — Appearance of the 


319. The Piper's Story. 

320. The Dunbhuilg Story. 

321. The Men Dancing in a HilL 

322. The Strong Miller. 

323. The Gael came from Eirinn. 

324. Clan Donald came from EHtiti. 

325. Country possessed by the Lochliners. 

326. Old MacPhie— Conal Gulban. 

327. Morag a chota bhain. 

328. Mother's Blessing. 

329. The Widow's Son the Hunter. 




330. Note on the Spread of Stories. 

331. The Slim-Waisted Giant Same as u Red Etm. w 

332. Murachag and Mionachag. 

333. Rann Colin. 

334. Old Building in Uist 

335. Popular History. 

From a relation of Clanronald, a herd. 

337. Patrick Smith. 

338. The Fisherman. 

(Written by MacLean afterwards.) 

339. Sailor and Sweetheart 

(Popular romance, written by MacLean afterwards.) 

340. Ossianic Poem. 


341. Polchar Inn and Smith's Cottage. 

342. A Song got. 

343. The Maiden without hands. 

A very good version — differs from Grimm. 

344. Monday Sept. 5th, 1859. 

Dance— Reciters— Hear of Old MacPbie. 

345. Young Scottish Lord. 

346. Mermaid. Same as Urquharfs version 'marly. 

347. Naked Sword Incident Common. 

348. The Collier's Son. 

Origin of the story " MacPhie." Common. 

349. The Widow's Son. Common. 

350. MacPhie's Cottage. 

351. The Three Wise Men. ' 

352. The Inheritance. Donald Maclntyre, 

353. Conal Gulbanach. Benbecula. 

354. Ossianic Poem. 

(Written by M'Lean and Torrie afterwards.) 



No regular journal was kept after. Walked back to Lochmaddy 
—drove to the Sound of Harris where I found a lady from 
Wapping domiciled with her husband, a sailor — sailed to 
Harris — walked in two days to Stornoway — found the people 
more'8ophisticated, more used to strangers, and shyer of me— 
— sailed to Gairloch — staid there for a few days at the inn ; 
notes of the proceedings are in the introduction— made my 
way to Dingwall — visited friends and came south to the 
work of the Lighthouse Commission. 

Trip to the hie of Man, April 1860. — Language. 

355. The three legs of Man, etc. etc. 
Fires, etc. 

356. Drift Log. The Glashan. 

357. Glashans. The Fluke. 

The most of this is worked into the introduction to West High- 
land Tales. 

358. Ì Eight stories told by William and Soloman Johns, 
366. J two gipsy tinkers picked up in London. They 

came to the office after hours, and were treated 
to beer and tobacco. Present — the author of 
Norse Tales. They were rather hard to start, 
but when once set agoing they were fluent. One 
brother was very proud of the other, who plays 
the fiddle by ear, and is commonly sent for to 
wakes, where he entertains the company with 
stories. He gave us, 1. A ghost, which appeared 
to himself. Finding that he was on the wrong 
track, told him a popular tale which I had got 
from another tinker in London " The Cutler and 
Tinker." Got 2. " The lad and the dancing pigs." 
This is the same as the "Mouse and Bee," 
and has something of Hacon Grizzlebeard. A 
version of it was told to me by Donald MacPhie 
in South Uist. It is one of the few indecent 
stories which I have heard in the Highlands. 
There are adventures with a horse, a lion, and a 
fox, which the London tinker had not got It 
savours of the wit which is to be found in 



3. A Bailor and others, by the help of a magic black- 
thorn stick, go to three castles under ground, copper, 
silver, and gold, and win three princesses. Same as, 
" the king of Lochlin's daughters," and " the knight 
of Grianoig,*' and several stories in Norse Tales and 

4. " The five hunchbacks." This story was quite new 
to I Kith of us, but a version of it was subsequently 
found in a book of Cruickshank's. The tinker's 
version was much better. 

5. A long and very well told story of a Jew, in which 
there figured a magic strap, hat, etc, same as Big 
and Little Peter, Eoghan luarach ; a story in Strapa- 
rola, etc. 

(5. The art of doctoring — dirty wit 

7. Poor student and. block man travel — dig up dead 
woman — make fire in church — steal sheep— clerk — 
parson — take black man for fiend and bolt Very 
well told. See Goosey Grizzle and several Gaelic 

8. Poor student, parson, and man, with cat which was 
the. fiend in disguise. "Well told ; new to both of us. 

The men said that they knew a great many more ; that they 
could neither read nor write ; that they picked these up at 
waken and other meetings, where such tales are commonly 
told in England now. 

308. A lot of notes collected in September 1860, during 
a trip to Glenquoich, Skye, Uist, Barra, etc 
Many of these are preserved as notes in an inter- 
leaved copy of West Highland Tales (vols. i. ii.) 
Notes of a dinner given at Inverary to Dewar, 
Macnuir, Gillies, Mackenzie, The Miller, The Tinker, 
and others (Mr. Robertson present) ; the whole 
party told stories, and parted quietly and 3oberly 
at midnight exactly, on Saturday night Under 
this number are included some fifty or sixty long 
stories, some of which were not written down. 



369. Letter from Mr. Fraser of Mould, August 2, 1861, 

mentioning a lad who knows a great many stories. 
1. Magnus MacRigh na Albain (a long one). 2. 
An t Uirsgeul Mor (a very long one), of this I have 
several versions. 3. Finn M'Cuile (probably a 
Fenian legend). 4. Caileach Uileam dean Suidhe 
(a short one), probably a story which I know well, 
about ' William Sit Down, which is in Norse in 
another shape. 

370. Collection sent by the Rev. Thomas Pattieson, 


371. 1. From a native of Islay who lives in Glasgow, a 

story of a man who is beset by a female water- 
spirit. This is curious, because it was told me by 
an Irish carman at Waterford. The locality and 
some details altered. A stallion overcame the 
Islay sprite, and a big dog finished her. Good. 

372. A story of fairies stealing a man's whisky, and the 

man himself. A very good fairy tale. 

373. Glenastil water-horses ridden to market. A good 

instance of this popular belief. 

374. A dialogue between a woman and a fairy in Gaelic, 

like the spirit of many popular tales. Ready 

375. Letter, December 24, 1860, about Lachlan Mac- 

Neil, who told a number of capital stories ; he is 
a shoemaker and fiddler, and lives in Paisley. 

376. A Fairy Changeling, very well told, traced back for 

three generations. 

377. Ard na 'h uamh loch — Water horses— dun coloured — 

ridden to market — torn to pieces by the rest on his 
return. "Water bulls, said to be now extinct, but 
to have existed long ago. 

378. See 371. 

vol. iv. 2 F 



379. Iain Ciar, Dun John of Dunolly. Popular history ; a 

very good legend, of a very old date. The hero 
is outlawed and gains his pardon by bringing the 
head of a robber from Ireland to London to the 
king. The narrator added that in these dayB the 
kings lived a good deal at York, and he was not 
sure if the head went to London or to York. 

380. Sgeul Alostair Arranach. A bit of popular history, 

wild and well told. 

381. A Legend of the Island in the Ehinns of Islay. 

382. Supernatural history, water-bulls, etc*, as described 

by the people. 

383. Bull fights water-horses. Nearly the same as a story 

got from Kilberry. 

384. The origin of the name cnoc Angil (in Islay). The 

Feinne appear in this, and an old woman who 
runs off with their arms. 

385. Appearance of a mysterious personage on Laggan 


386. A legend of a stream near Bowmore. A goblin 

appears to some wrecked sailors as a pig, a wolf, 
an old woman, and a ball of fire (letter January 
28, 1861). 

387. Collection sent December 3, 1860. 1. Taoghairm; a 

man raises the fiend and challenges all that are 
dead or alive in the sea to fight. He is saved by 
women who are making Tein 'eigin, forced fire. 

388. The legend which is told of Cawdor Castle : A man 

builds his house where an ass's tether breaks, and 
prospers ; he goes to a bridge and is there told 
that where the peg of the ass's tether is fixed there 
is a pot of gold. The old thorn tree where the 
man stopped stands in a cellar at Cawdor Castle. In 
this the man's name is Caonneach brath na brathin, 
and the place is not named. 



389. A shoemaker flies to London from Coleraine. (I 

don't know this legend). 

390. The Doideag Mhuileach's daughter, Mogan Dubh and 

her son. A legend of witchcraft and flying through 
the air to steaL (Very popular.) 

391. A woman and a frog. There is something like this 

in the Mabinogion told of a mouse, but the Welsh 
story is very long. 

392. A smuggler sees a lot of little people about as big as 

a bottle, with teeth as long as his finger. Fairies ? 
or Lusbirdean. 

393 to 402. A lot of stories got from a carman in Water- 
ford in 1861, included — 1. The water-cow and 
her progeny. 2. The Bansithe, which the narrator 
" had seen and heard." 3. A version of the man 
who travelled to learn shivering. 4. A haunted 
tower. 5. Treasure finding. 6. A spirit haunting 
a road and asking for a ride. 7. A lake spirit 
8. The man and dog in the subterranean passage, 
and many others were alluded to. It was evident 
that the Irish peasantry had the very same legends 
as the Scotch, and these were told in a different, 
and very characteristic way. 

It is to be hoped that some Irishman will collect and publish the 
Irish popular tales. If it be honestly and faithfully done it 
will be the most amusing collection of all ; but if any one 
polishes the language of Irish peasants, he win most certainly 
spoil it. 

I have a lot of notes scattered in note books which would increase 
this number considerably. And I have heard stories told in 
Devonshire, near London, in Cheshire, in Ireland, in Norway, 
Sweden and France. But nowhere have I found popular 
tales so well preserved, or in such great abundance, as in the 
western coasts and islands of Scotland. I have a great many 
notes of stories scattered through some hundreds of letters, 
which are not included in this list. 

February 1862. — Other Stories have been received. 

43 6 




1 . Sgeulachd na Daoil . . . John Mackenzie, fisherman 

2. Bolgum Mor 

3. Procession and Death . . Nurse maid . 

4. Righ Breaton Ì B a n a< j a J John Maclean 

5. Leannan Sith f ' * \ 

6. Proverbs, metncal ... ? 

7. Ditto. 135 in number . . Mrs. Macdonald and Mrs. 


8. Mac na Baintraich . . . John Campbell, June 27, 


9. Sgire mo Chealaig . . . ,, (known also to De-war) 

10. Sgeulachd choise Leun 

11. Fuathan 

12. Fuathan 

13. Ridire Ghrianaig . . . Don. Macniven, lame carter 

14. Nighean Righ na Frainge . Hugh Macindeor . 

15. Na tri Comhairlean . 

16. Mac an Tuathanach Hach 

17. The Widow 

18. MacCuan . 

19. Sgriob liath an Earraich . . „ (known to Urquhart) 

20. Fraoch Ann Darroch, June 30, 1859 

21. Conal 

22. Magach Colgar . . . Alexander Macneil 

23. Conal Gulban . . . „ (known to Dewar) 

24. Bilidh Roderick Macneil . 

25. Iosbadaidh 

26. An Nighean briagh leisg 

27. Nighean Righ fo thuinn . . Roderick MacLean 

28. Alasdair Mac an Impire 

29. Gruan an Eoin's an Sporran oir 

30. Gille Bhadsair . . . . ,, (known to MacPhie, 348, 







Islay . 



H. Urquhart 

Miss Ord Campbell 
H. MacLean 

Lochaweside Rev. D. M'Lean 
Inverary . Mr. Robertson . 

Gifted Servants 
Woman in the hill 

Gearrloch . H. Urquhart 

. No. I., Abstract 
. No. XLVin . 

Islay (Bow- H. MacLean 


■No. XXX, Note 
. No. LVIII . 

Didactic . 

No. XLI. . 

Sea Monster Fion, etc. 



No. XXXV. 

Very Highland . 

Popular Novel . 
Like three Soldiers (Grimm), 
and Arabian Nights ; good. 

Widely spread . • 






31 . Iain MacRigh na Frainge 

32. An da chraobh Ghaoil 

33. An Nighean a chreichdadh 

34. An leaneabh eun bhaisteadh 

35. An duine bochd Bearteach 

36. Three Widows* Sons . 

37. Na tri Leintean Cannach . 

38. Na tri Saighdeiran . 

39. Gruagach Ban . 

40. An da Sgiobair 

41. An Gadaiche Dubh . 

Roderick Macneil 
Roderick MacLean (tailor) 

(see 343, English) 
Hector Boyd, fisherman 


Hector Boyd, fisherman 

„ (known to Dewar) 
Alex. Macneil, fisherman 
Alex. Macneil, fisherman 

42. An t' iasgair 

43. An Gille Glas 

44. Mac a bhreabadair . . 

45. Nighean Dubh Gheal Dhearg . 

46. An Siunnach . 

47. Smeuran dubh 's an fhaoilteachd 

48. Ossianic Poem . . • . 

49. Edinburgh beggar 

50. Robber 

51. Provost of London 

52. An Ceabhearnach 

53. Uisdean Mor . 

54. Mac ille Mhore na emit 

55. Donachadh eillan Iubh 

56. Gille dubh loch a dring 

57. Oran don Ghille dhubh 

58. Jacobite Song . . . . 

59. Riddles . . # . 

60. Historical Traditions 

61. The Soldier . . . . 

62. Historical; pretty good 

63. Poor Wit about a Laird of Islay 

64. Each Uisge . 

65. Domhnul Duileag (a fairy) 

66. Stupid boy . . . . 

67. Gabhar Maol-buidhe 

68. Loircean na luaithe . 

69. Figheadair Mor 

70. Diarmaid agus Graidhne . 

71. A lot of Riddles . ' . 

72. A Fingalian Riddle . 

73. How Cats went to Spain . 

74. The Black Pipe 

John Smith, Polchar 
Patrick Smith, ditto 
Roderick M'Kenzie, sawyer 
John MacDonald, tinker 

• • • • • 

Charles Macintyre 

( TJiis lot got from vari-\ 
ou8 sources by different 
schoolmasters, through 
Osgood Hunbury Mac- 
kenzie, but the collectors, 
after a time,strvck work, 
one saying that he would 
write no more lies for the 

KwhoU estate. 

(Several versions) 
Same as 53, 11, 12 
John Tinker . 
Alexander MacAllister 

(Known to H. Urquhart) 





• • 


• • * 

South Uist 

Gearrloch . 
Inveraray . 


• • 

Gearrloch , 

• • 


■ ••••< 

• • • • 

H. MacLean 

• • • • 

• • • • 

H. Urquhart 

• • • • 

D. Tome . 
: Thomas CameroA ' 

» • • • • 


. Very Highland 
. Novel; tragic 
. Novel; good 
, Handless Maiden 
Arabian Nights 

, Twelve wild ducks 
. No. X., Note 
. No. LI. 
, Whittington 

Good. Version of 
. No. IV., Note 

Good . 
. No. IV., Note 

. Version of No. IV. 
. No. IL, Note 
. No. XLVI., No 
. WUd— good 
. The Heads . 
. Beggar at Bethnal 

No. XVII. 6, N 
. No. XXX., 2d i 
. No. VII., Abstr 
















• • 

. . . ? 

. . . ? 
. . . ? 
. . . ? 
. . . ? 
. . . ? 

H. Urquhart 
H. MacLean 

. No. L. 


No. X. 

No. XXX. 
. No. LIL . 

No. LX. . 
. No. L. 






75. Os.*ianic Part of Baa Osgair 

76. Murachel agus Merachel . . (Known to Dewar, MacNair, 


77. Proverbs . 

78. The Cat and Mouse . . Hector MacLean . 

71). An Ceathearnach . . . James Wilson, blind fiddler 

80. Murachadh Mac Brian . 

81. Gaisgeach na sgiath deirge .... . . 

82. Nighean Rigb to thuinne . John MacKenzie . 

83. Nighean gun bhaisteadh ....?.. 

84. Fear a cnota libesteach Hath Mrs. MacTavish. (H. Ur- 

ghlas quhart) 

85. Domhnul-dona 

8C Domhnul nuch robb glic 

87. Dan an deirg 

88. The Sheep's tail . . . J. F. C, H. Urquhart, J. 

MacNair, etc. 

89. The Widow's Son 

90. Gille Carrach . . . . Stable-boy, John M'Gibbon 

91. Do. Mother's blessing . . MacCraw, drover . 

92. MaeRigh Lochlainn . . A Traveller : Jnn, Inveraray 

93. No name. Cath Nan Eun . John Dewar . 

94. An Leodach . . . .A Minister's Wife . 
9"). Each Visge . . . . 

96. Morachan 'us Mionachan . A Minister 

97. Fear a bhratain Uaine . . John Dewar, labourer . 
9<S. Toad Prince .... Mrs. M'Tavish 

99. A chaora bhiorach ghlas . John Dewar . 

100. lullar og Armailteach . . ... Jan. 7, 1860. 

101. An 't Uirsgeul aig na Righre . ... Aug. 1859. 

102. A Maighdean Mhara 

103. Colla mo Run . . . Song heard long ago 

104. The Sailor's Son . . . Patrick Smith 

105. The Merchant 

106. An t' Uirisgeul Mor . . Donald MacPhie . 

107. Fiachaire gobha . . . Malcolm MacLean . 

108. Bearneraidh 

109. Ribin 'us Robain, etc. . . Donald MacLean . 

110. Mac an Tuathanaich 

111. Loch Alsh (Jan. 19, 1860) . Mary Morrison (pauper, 


112. Skve 

113. Robber Story 




Islay, Port 






• • 

Islay . 

Hector MacLean 

H. Urquhart 
H. MacLean 
Mrs. MacT— 


. No. VIII., Note 

. No. XLIX. 
. No. XVII. 
. No. LII. . 
. No. LII. . 
. Translated . 
. Also in Irish 

. Very old. Grimm 
. No. LX. . 

. No. LVIL 

. No. II., Abstract 
. No. II., Abstract 
• No. II., Abstract 
. No. IL, Note . 
. No. II., Abstract 

„ etc. etc. J. F. C. 

Islay . • 
Inveraray . 
South Uist 

MacLean . 
J. r. C . 
J. r . C. 
J. F. C. . 
J. Dewar . 
Miss MacLeod 

Inverness . 
Islay . 

Mrs. MacT- 
J. Dewar . 

. No. VIIL, Note 
• Good . 

. No. XXXIII. . 
. No. XLIII. . 
. No. LIL, Note 
. No. IIL . 

South Uist 

North Uist 

• • • 


tl • £ • vy» • • • • • • 

J. F. C, H. MacLean Novel 

Arabian Nights ? 

H. MacLean . . See No. I. 

Known to Urquhart 

See Collier, 848 . 

No. XXVIII. . 

. No. XXXIX . 
. No. XL. . 

Mr. MacLauchlan 

D. Torrie 



Na 8TOBT. 

114. Na Fiantaichean 


. Donald MacLean . 

115. Mac Na Bain treach (Bee) . Kenneth MacKenzie, Jan. 

20, 1860 

116. Na tri Saighdearan 

117. 6geulachd ma thaolachd Righ Mrs. MacTavish, Jan. 19, 


1 18. Mac a chiobair . . . Kenneth Boyd, Carnish, 


119. Cu ban an 't Sleibhe . . Marian Gillies, Port an long 

120. Na tri Rathaidean Mora . . Margaret MacKenzie 

121. An Cat glas . . . . B. MacAekill . 

122. Mac a ghobha 

123. Fio8 an Anraidh 

124. Morag an Righ *s Morag a 


125. Bodach na craoibhe Moire . Donald MacLean . 

126. Clann an Righ fo Gheasaibh ? 

127. Maol a bhoibean 

128. An Greusaiche 's a ghille . Donald MacLean . 

129. An Gasgaich Mor 

Numbers L II. III. IV. V. VI. VII. VIII. IX. X. XII. XIII. 

Manuscript bound together 





Ross . 
Glasgow . 

Islay . 

North Uist 

North Uist 
Bermeray . 



Rev. Mr. MacLauchlan Returned .... 

A man rouses the sleeping Fian- 
taichean with a whistle which 
he gets from the oldest of nine 
old men, fathers and sons. 

H. Urquhart . 

No. X., Note . 

March 1861. A version told by 
a tinker in London, gold, 
silver, copper, castles. Curi- 
ous adventures under ground, 

Compare Leabhar nan cnoc 

Mrs. MacT- 

H. MacLean 

No. II. 
No. IV. 

• • 

Edinburgh Mr. MacLauchlan 

Glendaruail J. Dewar . 


Edinburgh Mr. MacLauchlan 

Hacon Grizzlebeard. Short- 

. Magic cave, swords, etc. 
. No. IV., Abstract 

• A woman who has no fear 
. No. XLIII. . 

See Smeuran dubh. A very 
good version. 

. Returned .... 
A mystical old man found in a 

vast tree — let out by king's son 

— adventures — horse, boar, 

. Version of Cannach shirts. 

Wild ducks— good. 

. No. XVII. 

. Returned .... 
A Munchausen story — very 

good. Servant clever— they 
o all sorts of wonders — e.g. 
reap a field by throwing a 
sickle at a hare. 

• Classical — good . 

in order as published. 






150. Sgeul Bhloineagain bhig . JohnDewar's Mother, 1810 

151. Maic a Mhuillear Lonanaich . John Crawford, fisherman 

152. Nighean an Righ *s a Chaill- Donald MacLean . 
eachas Dubh. 

153. An Righ a phos Nighean an 

154. An da Mharaanda . 

155. An t aireach . 

156. An Eaglais Uamhalt 

. Johanna MacCrimmon, 
Aug. 1859 

. Margaret MacKinnon 

157. Brian Briagach 

158. Eoghan agus Alasdair 

159. Tri choin nan sreang Uaine 

1G0. Mac a Ruagaich 

1(51. Maol a Chliobain 

162. Sgeulachd Eoghan Iurach 

163. Conall Guilbeanach 

Donald MacKillop, Aug. 

. J. Dewar. 

. Flora Macintyre 

. J. Dewar 

. John MacNair, May 1860 

164. An Righ us am Muillear . Donald MacLean 

1 65. A Fight between Brothers . A Student 

1 66. Ian Dubh Mor 

167. An Tuathanach O'Draodh . Donald MacKillop, Aug. 


168. Brathair agus Leannan 

169. Cailleach na riobaig 





Arrochar . 
Loch Long 

J. Dewar . 

Edinburgh Mr. MacLauchlan 

Berneray . H. MacLean 



J. Dewar . 

H. MacLean 
J. Dewar . 


D. Torrie . 
H. MacLean 


Buttercup— good . . 

Dr. MacLeod— Mrs. MacTavish 
—Witch, etc., to be referred 

Beturned . 

Good. A king's daughter 
amongst black carlins (?) 
nuns. Carried off by a 
young man, like Hacon 

Beturned . 

Very good. Like Grimm's 
peasant's daughter — I have 
heard it myself in Barra. 

A man and a lion in a desert 
island, and a dead man who 
helps them out — strange. 

No. XXX, Note 
Ghosts and robbers — goat 

A little dog which gets inside a 
giant and a king's sister 
leagued with the giant, Dec 

No. XXXIX, Abstract 

Edinburgh Mr. MacLauchlan ' 

Compare 125, and valiant Tailor, 
Grimm— (certainly old). 

Pigs and dogs 

No. XLV. 

No. XVII., Note 

No. XXXVII., Note 

No. LXXVI. . 
See No. 23 . 


A very good version of the 
" Guid Man o' Ballengeich,' 
Sir W. Scott's — also king and 

Popular history . 

ISo. XXX. 

A fanner finds a bag of money — 
wife sends him to school — 
owners come — says he found 
it when he went to school — 
wife says, " Now you see my 
husband is a fool." 

Robber story 

Fairy lady— common. Lady of 




170. Fuamhair nan coig ceann 

171. Ciotaidh 'as Uilleam 

172. An Bobair a bha Posadh 


. B. Macaskil . 

. Christian MacDonald 

. Marian Gillies, Aug. 1859 

173. An t Amadan Mor 

174. Biataiche Na boine 

Donald MacKillop . 
Christian MacDonald 

175. An darna Mac aig Righ Eirinn John MacNair 

176. Am brathair bochd, etc. . . Angus Campbell . 


177. Domhnul Dona . . . Dewar . 

178. Witch Story, same as Black Duncan MacColl, June 11, 

Dogs 1860 

179. Do. Galloway Story, Lady of Old dog gille, Breadalbane 

180. Cameron Story 

181. The people who flew with the 


182. An Gille Carrach . . . John MacNair and J. Dewar 

183. Domhnull beag Mac Na ban- 


184. Callum Garbh M'Eothain .... 

185. Mogan dearg Mac loch air . James Leitch, shoemaker 

186. Caol Reidhinn 

187. Fionn's Sword 

188. Dan Fir Tharlochain 

189. Brathair bochd 

190. A version — Wife of Laggan 

191. Calum grin, etc. 

192. Islay Mermaid 

193. Duan Chollain ^ . 

194. Nighean Iarla Gliocas 

• • • • • • 

• • • • • • 

. Mrs. MacTavish . 

. R. MacNeill, labourer, July 

. Peter Robertson, June 12, 

. Alexander Fraser . 

. John MacLean 
. Hector Urquhart . 
. Alexander MacNeil, fisher- 

195. Conal Guilbairneach 

196. Conall Ghuilbinich 

. John MacGilvray, labourer 
. An Uist lad . 




Berneray . 
North Uist 


H. MacLean 

Berneray • 
North Uist 

Clachaig . 
Bosneath . 

J. Dewar . 


No. rv 

Quoted in Introduction . 

Diamonds and Toads 

Compares Grimm Robber, 
Bridegroom — Mr. Greenwood 
—Widow and daughters — 
Bluebeard, etc 

^Versions of — 107, Fiachaire 
Gobha— 30, Gille Bbadsair 
MacPhie, one of Peter 
Buchan's — Mrs. MacTavish 
— Righ Eillan a Mhach- 

No. IV 

Compare Straparola 

No. XV 

Glenorchy Peter Robertson 

Good. — Better than published 
version. # 

Mouse and Bee. No. X. 

Dasent's goat fiend. No. X. . 

(Good)— Popular history 

Clachaig • J. Dewar 

. No. XVII. 

. Mrs. MacTavish — heard at Oban 
—Wind and meal 

. Tradition true 
Glendartiail ..... Lady in golden coracle with 

silver oars, who comes from 
Lochia nn. 

Islay. • Mr. Carmichael . . No. LXVI. 

.No. LXVIL . 

Mrs. MacTavish 

Barra . H. MacLean . . No. XV. .... 

Black mount ? 


London . J. F. C. 
Boss . H. Urquhart 

KenTangval, MacLean . 

Semi-Historical Romance — 
Rhymes included. 


Mr. Fraser 

Connal Guilbeanach 

No. XX 

Shakespearean — Known to Mac- 

No. LXXVL . 

No. LXXVI. . 




197. Tom Thumb . 


. Cathran MacFarlan, 1809 

198. Righ nan Ceisd 

. Mary MacCallum, 1812 . 

199. Mac an Fhucadair . . . James Leitch, shoemaker 

200. MorcharachdagusBeagcharachdMary Macfarlane, 1812 . 

201. Gilchrist, Mac Dougall and Frog Hector Mac Lean . 

202. The opening of a story . . A small boy toldto his father 

203. An t'Urraisgeal Mor . . Donald MacPhie, 1860 . 

204. Nighean Righ Chaisteal an oir MacNair . 

205. Bull Story 

206. Donacha na Sgoil . 

207. Muillear Gharlungainn . 

208. Shifty lad 

209. Nighean Righ an Tullaich 


„ Heard by J. F. C. 
Roderick MacNeill, 1860. 


210. Direach Ghlinn Eitidh . 

Donald MacPhie . 

211. Guaigean làdhrach . 

212. Bàs Chonlaoich 

213. Conal 

214. A Bhruighin Chaorain 

215. Riddles . . 

216. Gille nancochail craichion 

217. Righ nan ceisd 

218. Nighean Iarla Gliocas 

219. Fionn's Questions . 

220. Fraoqh .... 


An old man, 1860 . 
John Macneil, 1860 
John Macneil, Nov. 1860 

? 1860 

Angus Campbell, quarry- 
R. MacNeill, 1860 . 
Alexander MacNeill, 1860. 
Donald MacPhie, smith . 
Mrs. MacTavisb, etc., etc. 





Glenfalloch J. Dewar . 

Arrochar . 
South Uist 

Clachaig • 

J. F. C. 

H. MacLean 
J. Dewar . 


No. LXLX. 

Tom eaten by a boll, says 
rhyme— bull killed old wife- 
fox— hounds— Tom escapes. 


See collier's son . 

No. vra. 

No. XVII. a, 275 

No. I. 

This is evidently a very old 
version, bat much broken. 

No. IV 

A long version, with many vari- 
ations, traced to a sailor. 
(Cupid and Psyche ; the lady 
being the mysterious person. ) 

No.LXX., . 

Good .... 

• No. XL 

Shifty lad ; Scottish yeoman . 

• Popular novel 

• No. XVIL 
Good— original 

• No. XLIV. 

A combination. Popular his- 
tory of a Norse battle ; No. 
44, VoL II.; end of Sea 
Maiden belongs to 44, VoL II. 
Curious as containing a monster. 
Same as in Lane's Arabian 

• No. LXXVI. . 
Translated March 1861; Nursery, 


• No. LXXV. . 

Prose and Poetry, Ossianic 

• No. XXXV. 

Prose, Ossianic . 

• No. XXXVI. . 

Fionn , etc. , go to Borne. Prose, 

• No. L 

• See English Index, 73 ; Gaelic, 


. No. XXII. 

. No. XVIII. . 

. No. LIX. 

. Poetry, Ossianic . 

Minglay . 
Clachaig . 




H. MacLean 
J. Dewar . 

South Uist H. MacLean 

Clachaig • Dewar 

Mr. Carmichael 
H. MacLean 

D. Torrie . 
J. Dewar . 

H. MacLean 
Ditto . 


2 G 



221. Fraoch . . . . . Ceite Laomidh 

222. Conn Mac an deirg . . . Padruig Buidhe 

223. An Cu Glas .... Donnacha Laoimidh 

224. Gille Nan Spleadh . . . John MacNeill 

225. The Fox and the Cake . . Hector Boyd . 

226. The Butter Barrel 

227. A Bhràth . . . . R. MacNeill . 

228. An Sitheachan 's an Taillear . A. MacNeill, Ken tangval 

229. An toanach mar bhean taighe . Allen MacDonald . 

230. A Gobhar glas . . . Hector Boyd . 

231. Fox and Cock 

232. The Hen 

233. Cod Cawdy .... Roderick MacNeill . 

234. Am Faine Oir . . . . H. Boyd 

235. Manns Donald MacPhie . 

836. Brian Brigach . . . R. MacNeill* . 

237. A Mhuilearteach . . . Several authorities; see poem 

238. Laoidh Dhiarmaid . . . Jannet Carrie . 

239. „ Alexander MacDonald . 

240. „ See vol. iii., 63 

241. Fionn's Questions . 

242. Poem on J. F. C. . 

243. Laoidh Chaoilte # . 

244. Laoidh a choin duibh 

245. Conn Mac an Deirg 

. Donald MacPhie, smith . 
. M. MacLeod . 
. Jannet Currie,StaoineBreac 
. Allan MacPhie 
. Angus MacDonald and 
Alexander MacDonald 

246. Seathan MacRigh Beirbh . Angus MacKinnon (tailor) 

247. Same as 243 nearly . . „ Dallabrog 

248. Macabh Mor MacRigh Sorcha Patrick Smith 

249. Laoidh Osgair . . - {SSS SSSf*. \ 

250. Osgar MacOisein . . . Allan MacPhie 

251. An Fheanag 's m Madadh Ruagh John Mac Arthur, shepherd 

252. Am Madadh Ruagh, agns an Cat ..... 

253. Am Madadh Ruagh 's an t iasg John Mac Arthur, shepherd 

254. An fheanag s a 

255. Sealgair nam meann . . Marian Gillies, Port an long 

LIST OV 8TOBIB8. 45 1 


Lioa mora Gimnichael . Poetry, Oofaurle . 

Jalay Foetij, Ouluic . 

Lioamore BnglUhTS, Gaelic 310 ;Oanuiio. 

Ban* H. HacLsan . Munchausen story- -very origi- 


No. LXVI. 

Ho. LXV. 

Ho. XXVIII. . 

«■„,' No.xxvni. . . . 

«»» Uirt Noim Tale., etc.; oUwy 


Ho. LXm. 

No. LXIV. 

Ho. XVII. 

• •_. No. XLVDX . 

Honth Uirt No. LXXXIV. 

I him hwd this— J. P. C. 

Mngljy, I860 NoTSXXIX. . . . 

^"S*"^ T™i*odPo«ni . . 

Stony Bridge No. LXI. 

Vol. III., M, Pom! 

B«ngh Bam No. LXI. 

long Hud No. LXI , 

Translated, Poem S 

Bana No. LX. 

Maidatono. The Bard . 

8onth Uirt H. HacLean . ujthiaL '*. Poem .' 

B,n * 4 Poem . 

Sooth Uirt No. LXXVn. . 

Smith Uirt '.'.'.'.'. g. I^S '. 

South Uirt} N0.LXXXI. . . 

_ . flood. 10. Poem 

South Uirt p™, 

Htt- No. LXXH. . 

FoiudCnw; Fables . 

• FOI and Cat— Saoi 

Ialay. . Ditto . . . Fox, and Fiah, and Wolf 

No. LXXI. . I 

Hoodie and young otw{D— good 
North Uirt, witcbrtorr 














Diuchd Earraghaidheal . 

Na Ciad Daoine a chaidh 

Righ Ceolan . 

Padraig beag MacSaain 
Domhnull nan tri laimh 
Iain MacRuairidh . 
Aonghas Nan Core . 
Ailean MacRuairidh 
Iarl An tram . 
An Claidheamh Solute 

An Criathar . 

Na uibhean 

Fio8 na Mionaid Fortanach 


. From Donald MacDonald, 
Aird, August 1859 
do Donald Mackillop, 1859 . 

. From Christian MacDonald, 

Fairy tale 

Do. and remarks 
Iain Mac ic Sheumais 
Nighean a bhaigeir 

The Lay of the Great Fool 

Fear Taighe 's a ghleann 

Ursgeul an dubh cheard 
Dagbadh a chinn 

Donald MacPhie, I860 . 
Donald MacKillop, 1859 
Christian MacDonald, 1859 

Donald MacDonaldj 1859 
Ditto, his father, Page to 

Clanronald, innkeeper 
Ann MacLean 

Mary Morrison 

Christian MacDonald 

Aug. 1859 


Angus MacDonald, con- 
MacDonald, tinker . 

Rob. Stewart, ditto 
John Campbell 

277. MacOighre Righ na lor Smail Donald MacPhie . 

Ditto Breubhaig 

278. Na Brataichean 

279. Catli Mhanuis 

280. Coireal . 

281. Teannachd Mor na Finne 

282. Moladh Ghuill 




283. Airt MacCumhaii . 

284. Am Maighsteir sa Ghille 

285. Mar chuireadh suas an Fhinn 

286. IasgRigh 

287. Bas Gharaidh . 

James Leitch . 
Dewar's father 
Angus MacDonald 
Angus MacKinnon 


45 3 





Popular history 

Berneray Ditto, St Kilda peopled 

North Uist origin of the MacLeods. Ditto. 


South Uist Magic mixed with 

Berneray Like a Saga. 

North Uist 

South Uist 


Benbecula . Donald Torrie 

North Uist H. MacLean 

South Uist 

Inverary . H. Urquhart 

Strath Gair- . 

loch, June 

Barra, 1860 H. MacLean 


H. MacLean 

Arrocher . 
South Uist 

J. Dewar 

• • • 

H. MacLean 


Crying people. 


. Language; Fairies 
. Three golden hairs. Norse 
Tales, and Grimm. 

. Green women with bone beaks 

. Woman in a hill . 

. Popular history . 

. Story of the Beggar of Bethnal 

. 11. Poem .... 

. Man goes to other world.— 
Compare Sean Sgeulachd. 

. Compare 118, English 

Compare Dean's MS. IS. 

Good. 14. Poem 

Compare Gillies — marked 11. 
15. Poem. 

Ossian— marked 12. 16. Poem 
Marked 15. 17. Poem . 

No. LXXIX. . 
Compare page 31. — MacGregor 
MSS.— Marked 16. .18. Poem 




• Version of the death of Conan, 






288. DnananDeirg 

289. Laoidh Fhraoich 

D. Macintyre 

Catherine MacQueen, or 

D. Macintyre 

Kate MacLaomam, aged 95 
Lachlan Robertson*. 

Ditto Kyfeakin 

L. Robertson, Lusaig 

290. Dan an Deirg . 

291. Dan na H. Ighean . 

292. Briathra Fhinn Ri Oscar 

293. Iain Oig . 
994. A Mystic Dog 

295. An Intelligent Dog . 

296. The Woman who was shod 

297. Mac an Tuathanaioh 

298. Nighean Gobha Rasaey 

299. An Seoladair . 

300. Mac Mhic Rhonnnil 

301. „ 
oCfis. ,, 

303. Daan na Ceardach . 

304. An Badan 

305. Feileagan Buadha nan Spog .... 

306. Oscar donn Mac Fhin Mhic R. Robertson . 


307. Gobhar Ghlas .... Several boys . 

308. A chaora Bhiorach Ghlas . Many people . 

. Donald MacPhie 

309. A Chromag 

. Rory Cameron, Duncan 

310. Caisteal Meadhon Chuain . Four different people, boys, 


311. Cigean Cnaigean as Boc geal 

an Renbain 

312. The Hogshead of Wine 

313. Aiseag na h Aimhne 

. Four different people, boys, 

314. The Woman's Son 

315. A lot of Riddles 

316. Seann Fhacaill 

317. Am FearMòr agus 'm Fear beag Donald Fraser, 1817 





Benbecula D. Tome . 
North Uist 


. 19. Poem 
. 20. Poem 


21. Poem 

22. Poem 

23. Poem 


. No. xxvin. . 

. New to me— novel 

. Good— Woman and Water-hone 

. Barra Widow 

. Glamour 

. Ditto 

. Enchantment 

. No. LXXXV. 

Poem . 

South Uist Straparola, like Shortshanks. 

Version of Battle of Birds. 


H. MacLean 


D. K. Torrie 
A. Carmichael 

Curious — very original — don't 

know it at all. 
Fingalian tale 

Best version of the Gray Goat . 

See Urvashi ; enchanted Swans 
appear. A very pretty ver- 
sion of the Sharp Gray sheep. 

Story like the Magic Ass, and 
the Man who went to the 
north wind— very good. 

Mythical, wild, Highland 



Lochlong-eide J. Dewar 

Like "We »11 go to the Wood, says 
Richard to Robin." A child's 
story about baking bread. 

An arithmetical puzzle . 

An arithmetical puzzle about 
crossing a river. 

A genealogical puzzle 
Usual kind— old saws 

Old Saws. These are specimens 
of a large class which shew 
great sagacity. 

The Big and Little Beggar- 
Tales illustrative of popular 

+$6 U3T OF 8TOB1E8. 


318. Am Fear aig an robh an dioch 


319. AmFearbeag agusabhean Mor 

320. Ridire na'n Spleadh 

321. Ditto, more adventures 

322. Riddles 

323. Trod n'am Ban Ma'n Sgarbh . Eet MacDonald, travelling 


324. Creachadh Nid n'an Sgarbh 

325. Toinntein an diorrais . . Mary Bell, travelling pack- 


326. Poem by Ysbol Ni VcKellan . Dean MacGregor, 1529 . 

327. The king of Eirin's son and the R. MacNeill . 

king of Greece's daughter 

328. Grnagach an Eilean Uaine . Donnal MacCuidhean 

329. Bas Choirreil . 

330. Ditto. 

331. Suire Osein 

332. Laoidh Chleirich 

333. Na h-airm 

334. A Mhuirearteach 

335. To Sir Neill Campbell . 

336. Laoidh Oscair 

337. Laoidh Choin Duibh 

338. Cuchullin na Charbad 

339. Osein don Ghrein . 

340. Laoidh an Amadain Mor 

341. Bas Dhiarmaid 

342. Mar Mharbh Cathul a Mhac 

343. A song . 

344. Aireamh fir Dubhain 

345. Na Brataichean 

346. Cath Righ Soracha . 

347. Cuchullin na Charbad . 

348. Same as 344. Version . 

Coinneach Carmichael 

Old MSS. copied 
Kenneth Morrison 
Donald Cameron 
K. Morrison . 

Hector MacDonald 
K. Morrison . 

By R. MacDonald 
Hector MacDonald 

Kenneth Morrison 
Hector MacDonald 






A wife outwits her husband. 
Carfew (?) 

"A little man's exploits,— 
boast, shout, and whistle." 

"Another turn in the ox's 

This story, which is common in 
the Highlands, is the founda- 
tion of Munchausen., 

" Wives scolding about a skart " 


Argyleshire Mr. MacLauchlan 
Minglay . H. MacLean 

Skye . . A. Carmichael . 



John MacNair 
A. Carmichael 

" Let 'every man hold his own 

Curious. Law of women \ in- 
heriting land : how abolished : 
" The thing that took the in- 
heritance from women." 

MSB. Poetry 

The narrator has never worn 
shoes. A very curious, very 
Eastern story, traced back 
forty-five years. 

Story about the Green Isle and 
the Isle of Youth. The 
Celtic Paradise. Good 

40. Poetry. 

41. Do. 

42. Do. 
OssianandPadraig. 43. Do. 

44. Do. 
Poetry .... 
MBS. Poetry 
Poem 47. Part of No. 9 
Poem 48. Part of No. 26 
Poem 49. MacCallum, 140, Fin- 
gal, etc. 
Poem 50. MacCallum 178 
Poem 51. Part of No. 6 . 
Poem 52. Version of No. 4 
Poem 58. Ossianic 
Poem 54 . . 

Numerical Fenian puzzle, Stew- 
art, 547. 

Poem 55. Part of No. 85 
Poem 56. Version of No. 81 . 
Poem 57. Version of No. 49 


Lurr or 8T0RM& 


849. Dnaran agns Qoll . . Kenneth Morrison 

860. Mar Mharbh Cathnl a Mbae . 

861. Laoidh Chatholaioh Mao Chu- 

868. Oaein na sheann Aolf .... 
868. The Black Horse . . . B. MaoHeffl 

864, The language of Birds . . Janet Carrie 

866. Siarlas Off Mao an ridir» aim- Roderick MacNefll 

356. An Gobha 


357. Maxims . 

358. Old Seannaohaidh . 

. Hector MacDonald 



. Poem 58. Ossianic fragment . 

Poem 59 

Poem 60. ? Part of No. 59 


Poem 61. Ossianic fragment . 

Minglay . Hector MacLean . A long story, part of the ad- 
ventures of King under waves. 

South TJist ..... A long andcurious story, unlike 

any yet got Traced back to 
Clanranald's bard MacMhu- 

Glenbarra Romance with measured prose 

passages. Rich knight adopts 
poor nephew— aunt tempts 
him in vain— proves that his 
sweetheart is Princess of 
Wirinn. King of France 
jealous — contrives her de- 
struction—murders cook and 
Suts him in her room — she 
i to be torn by horses and 
burnt— hero pretends to stay 
at home — goes disguised— 
rescues her in three fights— 
is recognised and marries. 
Language very good, measur- 
ed prose ditto. 

Minglay . . . .A widow's son learns to be a 

smith— joins a tailor and a 
cobbler— goes to Glasgow and 
London— they enlist and de- 
sert — adventure of the three 
conjurors — adventure of the 
six black princesses— smith 
wins the daughters of the 
kings of Greece and Egypt 
for his comrades, and the 
Princess of Spain for himself. 
Parts of this resemble a bit 
of the history of Merlin- 
part of Sir Tristrem— several 
of the Norse tales, and Nos. 
4 and 10, VoL L It shews 
that the smith's art was 
honourable. It is a very 
good story, well told, and 
the narrator is uneducated. 

Skye . . A. Carmichael • • These are founded upon Ossianic 

poems and heroes. 

Skye. Ditto Men who knew Ossianic pieces. 

This man, aged 60 or 70, 
declares that he has heard 
his father repeat nearly the 
whole of the published Ossian 
as read to him by Carmichael 
in 1862. ' 



359. A Version of the Address to H. MacDonald 
the Son 

860. Saire Oisein, and fragments 

861. Diarmaid, one verse 

362. Ossein a Caoidh Oscair 

868. Taibhs Fhinn 

864. Oisein na Aois 

865. Bratach Fhinn 

866. DearsaGreine 

867. Brataichean na Feinne 

868. Garbad Alaire Cuchuillin 

869. Laoidh na Nhighinn 

870. Hid-alai 

871. Trothal 

872. Aireamh fir Dhubhain 

873. Declaration written by the reciter in Gaelic, and signed by 

him, to the effect that people do not believe that there 
were snch heroes as the Feinne, bat that people who could 
not read or write Gaelic or English could sneak their history 
from Fionn to Gonnan. He declares to the scribe that he 
learned what he knows from his father, who knew a great 
deal more, and who learned it from his father when he 
was a boy. The family have been noted for repeating 
such poetry for some generations. 

374. Version of Cuchullin's Chariot Kenneth Morrison . 

375. Beannach a Bhaird . . Catherine Mathieson 

376. An t oglach o' n do dh fhalbh Kenneth Morrison 
a bhean 

377. A lot of fragments 

378. The fairy lullaby of MacLeod . H. MacLeod (bard) 

379. Oran an Bidarie . . . Mairiread Nic Cuieim 

380. Tigh Didean nan Gorm lann . Donnul MacCuieim 

381. Duan Ghollain . . . Alexander MacNeill 




Skye . 


A. Carmichael . 


Poem 62 

Poem 63 
Poem 64 
Poem 65 

Fionn's ghost. Poem 66 
Poem 67 

Fionn's banner. Poem 68 
Poem 69 

Part of " the banners. " Poem 

Version of Cuchullin in his car. 

Poem 71. 
Maid of Craca or Fainesotisis. 
Poem 72. 

Poem 73 
Poem 74 
Poem 75 

Poem 76 

A Christmas poem 77. " Duan 
Cholainn , mentions castles 
and heroes, including Fionn. 

This is new to me ; it mentions 
Fionn and Grainne, and other 
Ossianic heroes, and is an 
Ossianic ballad, but the story 
I do not know. Poem 78. 

Some are versions of Ossianic 
ballads. Poem 79. 


H. MacLeod 
A. Carmichael 

U. MacLean 

This is very old. Poem 80 

A ballad. Poem 81 

A poem, not Ossianic, given 

Sartly in the Beauties of 
aelic poetry. Poem 82. 
Composed by the reciter's great- 
grandfather to the young 
Hugh MacNeill in Barra, 
great-grandfather of Alex- 
ander MacRory the white, 
and son of the brother of 
MacNeill of Barra. These 
Christmas poems are com- 
monly composed still. Poem 

46* UBT OF 8TORIK8. 


388. The hen's healing . . Various people 

383. RoUifl chailleach na cuinneige 

384. Treubhantais a hhramanaich . Hugh MacLaochkm, 1818 

385. Ditto 

386. Ditto 

387. Fear na firinn 

" Take heed to thy sayings, and 
choose thy speech ; truth is 
bitter when out of place" 

388. Fear a bhaile mhois '■ na tri 


389. An tnathanach ague an gobha 

February 17, 1862. — The last nine stories are a voluntary 
contribution from John Dewar. They are of the same class as 
the ten which follow No. 316, and they resemble xvii. a in vol. i. f 
xix. and xx. in vol. ii., and lxii. to lxvi. vol. iii. These are the 
popular equivalents of iEsop. Many of the old saws and allusions, 
founded on them, are still familiarly understood in the Highlands. 
11 Blackberries in February," or "He would not sell his hens in 
a rainy day," require no explanation in the Highlands. " Sour 
grapes," or the " Monkey and the Cats," or "King Log and King 
Stork," do not need to have their stories told in England, but 
they would convey no meaning to the untaught Highlander. 


Niddry Lodge. 

February 21, 1862. 






Boseneath John Dewar . " He will not sell his hens in a 

rainy day." 

" The cogieCarlin's Rhapsody" 

(very Eastern) 

Lochlong-side The fool's hardihood. Same in 

principle as part of story 
about an Ass and a lion in 

The fool's haste . 

• A fool's strength . 

Very original, sagacious, humor- 

• A very sagacious farmer's story; 

the principle is that " preven- 
tion is better than cure." and 
that slow and sure win the 
race. A grey coated suitor 

" like the needle that was put 
on the coulter" — very sagaci- 


Fanr Egos. 

Of these cnrionj beans I have now ■ Urge collection. Seven 
different kinds are thrown np on the Scotch coasts, of which 
(bur are roughly shewn in the woodcut. The largest and com- 
morient sort is very like a bean which grows on the Andaman 
Inlands. It is cunous if worthless nnta thrown np bj the sea in 
Scotland grow near India. In 1825 these nuts were mentioned 
in letters from the Irish Highlands. "The Irish then laid them 
under their pillows to keep away the fairies, and it was supposed 
that they drifted from "South America." A Highland woman 
baa twice refused to part with a graj one, which she " had from 
her mother," and which is "good against fire." I hare seen 
one which was left to a girl by her nurse, and had been silver 
mounted. A minister told me that they were blessed by the 
priests and worn by Reman Catholics otdf, bnt I think this was 
a mistake. Protestants keep them, I know. — See Introduction, 
vol. L 

There is no reason to believe that the stories now enrrcnt in 
the Highlands are nearly exhausted by this collection ; whole 
districts are as yet untried, and whole classes of storied, such 
as popular history and robber stories, have scarcely been touched; 
and yet new stories come in regularly. MacLean, Urquhart, 
Carmicbael, Dewar, and others, hare many more written down, 
but not copied fairly out. 791 is the number now reached, and 
the manuscripts would fill a wheelbarrow. Three more volumes 
would hardly contain the collection ; all taken down from the 
mouths of the people within the last three years ; and yet it is 
commonly said that there are "no current popular tradition*." 
One half of ihe world seems to know very little about the other; 
but here ends (he list of what came out of 
Faikt Eoob. 



Adders, ii. 369, 870. 

Advertisement by Dr. John Smith to 

MS. Gaelic Poems, ii 472, 473. 
Advocates' Library, Gaelic MSS. in, 

i xx., bad v., cxvL, 155 ; ii 80, 166, 

187, 188, 193 ; iii. 402 ; iv. 41, 45, 92, 

102, 118, 120, 288. 
JEsop, L 269 ; iv. 463. 
Agricultural implements, L xxvi. 
AUHriin, story of, L xlviiL, 154 ; iL 

" Albannaich," L cxviiL; iL 86. 
America, discovery of, by the North- 
men, in the tenth century, iv. 344- 

Andersen, Hans, L xlviii. ; ii 129. 
Anonymous collection of Gaelic Poems 

(Glasgow), iv. 115. 
Antiquarian Museum, Edinburgh, iv. 

Antiquity, asserted, of Ossian's poems, 

iv. 10. 
Annbis, the dog-star, i. 212. 
Aphophis, the, of Egypt, iL 371. 
Apollo and the Pytho, iL 371. 
Appin, red book of, iL 87-89. 
Apples, magical, their important part 

in traditional tales, L lxxxL-lxxxiv., 

xc, 192, 852;* iv. 322. 
Apnleius, his Milesian tales, iv. 814, 

327 328. 
"Arabian Nights," L xix., xlviiL, 

lxxxiv., cxxxiiL, 101, 154; ii. 302, 

367, 435; UL 21, 410; iv. 124, 296, 

299, 325. 
Arabic popular mythology, its bearing 

on that of the Celts, iv. 325. 
Architectural ornaments, iv. 898. 
Argyll family, iii. 45, 82, 83 ; iv. 64- 

67, 72-74. 
Argyll, John, Duke of, iv. 256 ; song 

supposed to be written by, 379, 380. 

VOL. IV. 2 

Argyllshire, colonization of, by Irish 

tribes, iL 36 ; fairy stories of, 69. 
Armagh, the Book of, iL 134. 
Arran, iv. 75. 77. 

Arrows of fairies, iL 71. See Bows. 
Art, Celtic, iv. 381-403. 
"Art." in Gaelic, equivalent to 

Arthur, iv. 30. 
Arthur and his knights, L xxxv., 

lxxiiL ; iL 435 ; iiL 115, 152 ; iv. 

262, 278, 283, el seq., 321, 403. 
Aryan family of languages, iv. 305- 

Asia, the cradle of the human family, 

L xvL 
Assynt man, mistakes of the, iL 882- 

Astronomy, connection of, with an- 
cient superstitions, iv. 311, 312, 

815-320, 386. See Zodiac. 
Authorship of Ossian's poems, iv. 5, 

Avalon (Avilion, Avian), the Celtic 

paradise, the " Green Island," iv. 

265, 322, 344-346. 

Baal (river god), iL 135 ; iv. 824. 

Badenoch fairy stories, iL 65-67. 

Bagpipes, illustration of a stone satire 
on, iv. 56 ; see also 878, 404. 

Baillie Lunnain, L 281-288. 

Ballads, definition of, iv. 128; dif- 
ferent classes of, 124-128. 160-248; 
references to books containing, 409- 

Ballymote, Book of, iv. 51. 

Balsam, vessel of, in Gaelic stories, 
L 218. 

Bannatyne MS., iv. 24, 69. 

Bannockburn, battle of, iv. 49. ' 

Baptism of a child, story of, iL 888. 



Barbour, the Scotch poet, iv. 49-51, 

Bards, Highland, examination of the 

language of their poetry, iv. 160-248. 
Baresarks, iii. 221. 
Barra, peasantry in, ii. 128. 
Barra, The, Widow's Son, ii. 110-121. 
Battle of the Birds, i. 25-37, 271; 

other versions, 47-62 ; tales resem- 
bling this in other languages, 62 ; 

iv. 277, 289. 
Bauchan or Bocan, a hobgoblin, ii. 

Baxter's "Call," Gaelic version of, 

iv. 78. 
Bealtainn (May-day), superstitious ob- 
servances connected with, iv. 402, 

Bearnairidh (Harris), fairy story, ii 

Beaton family in Islay, ii. 365 ; iv. 51, 

Beatson. Rev. Henry, i. cxxxiv. 
" Beauties of Gaelic Poetry," ii 381 ; 

iv. 35, 107. 
Belief in fairies, widespread, ii. 71. 

See Fairies. 
Bellerophon and the Chimsera, ii 

Berwick, the Friars of, it 228. 
Betham, Sir William, ii. 134. 
Bethune, Malcolm, ii. 368. 
Betrothal ceremonials, ii. 14. 
Bible, a protection against fairies, ii. 

52 ; first Irish version of, iv. 76. 
Birds, i. xciv. ; ii. 303, 360. 
Black-bird's Bone, story of the, ii. 

Black-cocks, ii. 3S1. 
Black-white Red, the Daughter of, 

i. 58. 
Blair, Dr. Hugh, iv. 106, 107. 
Bluebeard, ii. 275. 
Boar, The, of Ben Laighal, iii. 81, 82. 

See Lay of Diannaid. 
Boars, magic, iii. 89 ; iv. 297 ; see i. 

Boatmen, the Highlanders as, i. 

Boats of skin. ii. 303. 
Bocan (a sprite), ii. 89, 101. See Super- 
natural beings. 
Boccaccio, i. 130, 154 ; ii 13 ; iv. 

Bodath, ii. 101. 
Bodleian Library, iv. 17. 
Boobries,gigantic water-birds, ixcvii ; 

iv. 338. 
Book stories, modern, not to be con- 

founded with traditional tales, i 
xlix., 1. 

Borrow's Bible in Spain, i 175. 

Bosses, Celtic, iv. 381. 

Boswell, James, biographer of John- 
son, iv. 369. See Johnson, Samuei 

Bows and arrows, iv. 168, 203, 372. 

Boyce, Hector, iv. 27. 

Boyd, Hector, iv. 178. 

Bragging Brian, ii 233. 

Breadalbane family, iv. 52. 

Breast of Light, iii 202, et seq. 

Bretons, the, a branch of the Celtic 
clan, i cxi ; traditions of, iv. 270- 

Brian, iv. 42. 

Bridge of hair, i 262, 265. 

Bridles, Highland, i 62. 

British Museum, designs in, illustra- 
tive of Celtic dress, etc, iv. 871, 
et seq. 

British Traditions, connection of Gae- 
lic popular romances with, iv. 259- 
269. See Tales. 

Brittany, sketch from a sculptured 
stone in, illustrating Celtic art, iv. 
382 ; description of, 395-398. 

Brollachan, The, ii 189, 190 ; similar 
stories, 190-194 ; see also i liv. 

Bronze vessels, ornamented, iv. 384, 
385, 391. 

Brooke, Miss, iii. 346 ; iv. 45, 99, 126, 
220, 412 ; her Irish collection pub- 
lished, 101, 118, 272,282. 

Brown Bear, The, of the Green Glen, 
i 164-170. 

Brownies, i. xciii ; ii. 55. 

Browns, notices of the clan, iii. 86, 

Bruce, King Robert, iv. 49 ; the poem 
so called, 204. 

Buchan, Peter, editor of Ancient 
Songs, i xlvi., 192 ; ii 275, 435 ; 
iv. 336. 

Bulls, the language of, iii 117. 

Bulls, The, iii. 118, 119. 

Burgh, The, ii. 37, 38. 

" Burnt Njal," iii 254 ; iv. 179. 

Cacus, i. 102. 

Cailliach mhor Chlibhrich, ii 46. 

Cairns, i. xci. 

Californian Indians, i cix. 

Calvin's Catechism, publication of, in 

Gaelic, iv. 72. 
Campbell, Sir Colin, of Glenurchy, 

ancestor of the Breadalbane family, 

iv. 52. 



Campbell, Rev. Dr., of Jamaica, L 

Campbell, Sir Duncan, iv. 70. 
Campbell, John, L xxxiii. 
Campbell, John, of Kilberry, iL 89. 
Campbells, the clan, iii. 82, 83; genea- 
logical incidents connected with, 

84-88. 107 ; iv. 48, 52, 256-258. See 

Argyll family. 
Camps in Lapland, i. ciL-cvL 
Cardigan Bay, iv. 299. 
Carlyle, Rev. Dr., iv. 108. 
Cannichael, Mr. Alex., i. cxxxiv. ; iii. 

107 ; iv. 129 ; letter from, iv. 229-247. 
Carnac, sketch of " standing stones" 

at, iv. 899. 
Carewell, Bishop, iv. 18, 69. 225. 
Cat, The, and the Mouse, iL 889, 890. 
Cats and .witches, L xcv., 200; iL 97. 
Caves, sea-coast, i. 155, 156. 
Caxton, William, iv. 59. 
Ceabharnach, History of the, L 308- 

Celt and Saxon, relations of, i. xxxix. 
Celtic clan, the, L ex. cxL ; language 

of, ex. ; brief outline of their history, 

Celtic dress. See Dress. 
Celtic nations, Eastern origin of, i. 

lxiv., 212 ; who are Celts now? ex. 

See iv. 300-328. 
Chambers, William and Robert, iii. 

19, 101 ; iv. 287. 
Champion, The Slim, Swarthy, L 289- 

300, lvii. ; other versions, 308-314, 

319. See also iv. 165, 190. 
Characteristics of Scotch Highlanders, 

Lxxxh.,249;iL 215. 
Charlemagne, romances treating of, 

iv. 267, 268. 
Charms, iL 53, 370 ; iv. 342. 
Charters, ancient Gaelic, iv. 41, 51. 
Chase, boars in the, L xcL 
Chatterton, iv. 23, 270. 
Chest, The, iL 1-8 ; similar stories told 

by Boccaccio and Shakspeare, 13, 

Chevy Chase, iv. 123. 
Children, cure for their ailments, L 

Children's Tales, i. xliiL ; iL 382 ; nur- 
sery rhymes, iii. 19. 
China, story-tellers in, L xviL ; trans- 
lations of Chinese tales, xliiL 
Chivalric tales, Welsh, iv. 270-299. 
Christmas customs, iii. 19. 
Cider Cellars, L xxviiL 
Cimbri (Cymri, Kimri), the, L cxiL, 


Cinderella, i. 226 ; ii. 292. 
Ciofach, son of the stranger, ill 41. 
Circle of light, iv. 320. 
Circular dancing, origin of, iv. 315. 
Clanranald's bard, iv. 78, 205. 
Clanrannald, red book of, iL 106. 
Clark, Mr. John, his translations of 

Gaelic poems, iv. 99. 
Clonfert, Bishop of (Dr. Young), iv. 

Cock, the, an emblem of JSsculapius, 

L 200 ; a golden, 48 ; fables of, 268, 

271 ; iii. 93. 
Cceur de Lion, romance of, iv. 268. 
Coffin, stone, design from a, iiL 123. 
Cole, King, iv. 27. 
Collector, narrative of a, L IviiL-lx. 
Coluinn the bocan, iL 89 ; air of his 

Lament, 91. 
Colville, his Whigg*s Supplication, iv. 

Combs, golden and silver, their place 

in traditional tales, i. lxxviL-lxxxL, 

53, 61, 69, 260 ; iv. 321 ; as a symbol 

on sculptured stones, iiL 340. 
Commercial principles illustrated, ii. 

Comparative Mythology, L 191. 
"Comparisons, The Forest of," i. 
': xliiL 

Conal Crovi, L 125-135 ; ii. 194. 
Conall era Bhuidhe, L 103-115. 
Conall, iL 137-155 ; notices of other 

versions, 166, 167 ; iv. 276. 
Connal, The Tale of, i. 143-148 ; other 

versions, 152, 153 ; similar stories, 

153 154. 
ConaU Giilban, iii. 188-279 ; remarks 

on the different versions, and their 

various reciters, 185-188 ; notes on 

its phraseology, 279-281. See also i. 

lvL, lvii. ; iiL 396 ; iv. 52, 276. 
Conan, iL 186 ; iv. 29. 
Correspondence, ancient, of the Argyle 

family, iv. 72-74. 
Costume, Highland. See Dress. 
Cowal, iv. 75. 
Craignish MS., iv. 256. 
Crawford, Mr. John, L 156 ; iv. 391. 
Crosses, ornamented, iv. 384. 
Crovan, a king, L 155. 
Crows i 276 
Cuchuilin, L* 156; iL 187 ; iiL 181, et 

Cumhal, the father of Fionn, iv. 27, et 

seq. See Fionn. 
Cupid and Psyche, iv. 300, 303. 
Cups, in mythology, iv. 351. 
Currie, Neil, iv. 203. 



Customs, once identical, in Western 
Isles and in Ireland, iL 475. 

Catting off one side of hair and beard, 
punishment of, iL 474. 

Cymbeline, the, of Shakspeare, iL IS. 

Dan an Dearg (Song of the Red), music 

of, iii. 51. 
Danan, the people of, iL 80. 
Dance of Death, the, iv. 58. 
Dancing in circles, practice of, iv. 815. 
Danish Tales, i. xlviiL 
Darthula, story of, iv. 45, 46, 118, 279. 
Dasent, G. w., translator of Norse 

Tales, i. xlv., 61, 101, 852; iL 257, 

260, 292. See Norse Tales. 
Daughter, The, of the Skies, L 202-207. 
Daughter, The, of King Underway es, 

iiL 408-420. 
D'Aulnoy, Countess, L xlviiL ; iit 406. 
Debtors, mode of torturing, iL 14, 15. 
De Oalles, Perceval, iv. 291. 
Decameron, the, of Boccaccio, L 180, 

154 ; ii. IS. 
Deed of fosterage, Gaelic, iv. 74, 
Deer, iL 46, 109. 
Deer-stalking, i. lxxxviiL ; deer-herds 

in Lapland, ciiL-cvL 
Demons, iL 101. 
Design, Celtic style of, iii. 123, 287, 

398. See Illustrations. 
De Troyes, Chrestien, iv. 261, 275. 
Devonshire piskies, ii. 71. 
Dewar, John, i. xxv., cxxxiv. ; iv. 129, 

296 ; letter from, iv. 215. 
Diana and the Sacred Hind, ii. 435. 
Diarmaid, i. xxxiv., xL, lxxi. ; ii. 186 ; 

the poem so called, iL 473 ; iii. 44 ; 

iv. 134-136. 
Diarmaid and Grainne, the hero and 

heroine of many Gaelic myths, 

stories, poems, etc., iii. 36-90; iv. 

32, 262 ; extensive ramifications of 

the tale of Diarmaid, iii. 89. 
Diarmaid and the boar, iii. 36. 
Diarmaid, The Lay of. See Lay. 
Divona (river-god), ii. 134. 
Dogs, in traditional tales, i. lxxxix.- 

xci., 200, 211; in Lapland camps, 

Donald, King, iv. 37. 
Donkeys, L 191, 229. 
Douglas, Gavin, Bishop of Dunkeld, 

a Scottish poet, iv. 59. 
Dreams, i. cxix., cxx. 
Dress, Celtic, iv. 365 ; evidence of its 
, antiquity, 368, et seq., 879; plaids 

and kilts, 376-381 ; cuts illustrative 

of, 373, 377, 37a (See note 1, p. 479. 

Dress of thongs, L 21. 

Drift-wood, analogy between, and po- 
pular tales, L xviLodx., IzL, bdL 

Druidical temples of Scotland, iv. 401. 

Druids, L lix., xciiL, 212 ; iL 352, 860, 
870; iiL 28, 191; iv. 294-296, 885, 

Drammond's Ancient Irish. Minstrel- 
sy iv. 17 

Dublin Gaelic Society, iv. 99, 100. Sm 
Os8ianic Society of Dublin. 

Duin, the (Campbells), iL 86. 

Dunbar, William, the Scottish poet, 
iv. 62, 54-58. 

Dunstaimage MS., iv. 71. 

Dupplin, illustration from a sculp- 
tured cross at, iv. 25. 

Dyes for tartan, iv. 366-368. „ 

Each uisge, L lrrxvi. ; iL 194. 

Eagles, L 249. 277. 

Easaid Ruadh, the young king of, L 

1-11 ; other versions, 18-24 ; other 

tales which resemble this, 22. 
Eastern origin of Gaelic popular tales, 

L briv., IxvL, cziiL ; iv. 305-307, 

Eastern worship of wells, iL 185. 
Earse and Irish, iv. 17, 20, 61. 
" Edda," the, iL 292, 370, 434 ; iv. 338. 
Eels, ii. 370. 
Eggs of snakes, ii. 369. 
Egyptian deities, i. 23 ; iv. 323-325. 
Eirinn, i. xlii., box. ; iL 80. 
Elibank, Lord, iv. 108. 
Elks, ii. 107-109 ; iv. 168, 169. 
Ellis, Mr. George, his " Early English 

Metrical Romances," iv. 259. 
Elves, ii. 55. 

Encyclopaedia, Gallovidian, ii. 369. 
English opinions, current, on Osaian's 

Poems, iv. 8. 
Europe, its western coast the chief 

receptacle of old traditions, and 

why, L xvL, xvii. 
Eye, an, in the back of the head, iL 


Fables, L 267-280 ; iii. 90-101. 
Fàchan, a, cut illustrative of, iv. 826. 
Fainesoluis, poem of, referred to, iiL 

Fair Chief, tale of the, iL 410-425 ; iiL 

Fairhair, Harold, iv. 40. 
Fairies, "Ferish," L liii., lxxvL, ciL- 

cix., cxvL ; dwellings of, cl, ciL, 



cviL, cix. ; ii 51, 69 ; stories of, ii. 

66-72, 99 ; iv. 813, 338-344. 
Fairs in the Highlands, iv. 332, 333. 
Fair, the son of Coval, ancestor of the 

Feene, iii 61. 
Fairy Tales, i c 
Falcons, ii 349. 
Farne8e Globe, i 212. 
Faroe Islands, national dance in, iv. 

315, 816. 
Farquharson, Mr., his collection of 

Gaelic songs, iv. 78, 80, 81, 101. 
Fates, the, ii 435. 
Fearachur Leigh, ii 861-366. 
Fenian heroes, iv. 26-37. 
Fenian traditional poems, the language 

of, iv. 160-248. See Bards. 
Fergus the First, iv. 172. 
Fergns8on, Dr. Adam, iv. 106, 107. 
Fiend, the, of popular tales, i lxxvii 
Fingai, Fionn, or Finnn, king of the 

Finn or Fein, i xiii, xv.,!xi, lxxvi. ; 

ii 73, 168, 186, 360; family tree, 

iii 60, 61 ; sword of, 107, 345, 368 ; 

date of, 334 ; iv. 10, 26, et seq. ; the 

Fionn of tradition, and of the Gaelic 

Ossian, contrasted, iv. 160-162. 
" Fingai," quarto edition of, published 

by MacPherson, iv. 83; Wodrow's 

edition, 88-92 ; remarks on the lan- 
guage of, 144-146. 
Fin MacCoul, i xi, liii, xcix., 62, et 

passim. See Campbells. 
Finn (Fine, Fein), the, who they were, 

i xiii, xv. ; ii 73-77 ; old history of, 

i xxxii ; Seannachas of, xxxii, xl. ; 

ii 79, 434 ; stories of the, iii 107- 

111 ; armour of, 368. 
Fionn's Questions, iii 36-39. 
Fire, superstitions connected with, 

iv. 314, 315, 387, 401-403. 
Fish, iii 41, 335; Lapp method of 

roasting, 336 ; myth about, 336. 
Fitches, ii 276. 
Fsssil bones, ii 107. 
Foulis, Sir James, of Colin ton, iv. 118. 
Fountains, woreldp of, by the Celts, 

ii 134. 
Foxes, in mythical tales, i xcv., 267- 

275 ; fables of, ii 267-272 ; iii 91-93, 

100, 121. 
Fragments, poetical, i xxxiii 
•• Fragments of Ancient Poetry," pub- 
lished by MacPherson, iv. 82, 106, 

Fraoch, translation of, iv. 78, 79. 
Fraser, Mr. Alexander, of Mauld, i 

xxv., cxxxiv. ; iii 186, 190, 200 ; iv. 


Frogs, i 275 ; ii 184. 

Fuathan, ii. 99-101, 191. See Superna- 
tural beings. 

Funeral customs in the Highlands, 
i 235. 

Future state, Celtic notions about, 
iv. 322. 

Gabhra, Battle of, poem on, iv. 18, 

Gaelic literature, i xxvii, xxviii ; iv. 
360, 415, et seq. 

Gaelic MS., ancient, recently disco- 
vered in England, iv. 41 ; an Argyle- 
shire MS., 77 ; MSS. in Advocates' 
Library, i xx., lxxiv., cxvi, 155 ; ii 
80, 166, 187, 188, 193; iii 402; ir. 
41, 45, 92, 102, 118, 120, 288. 

Gaelic of Ossian (1807), examination 
of. See Ossian, Ossianic contro- 

Gaelic popular romances, relation of, 
to ancient British traditions, iv. 

Gaelic population abroad, i lxv., lxvi 

Gaelic Society of Dublin. See Ossianic 

Gaelic tongue, its characteristics, i 
CXXX.-CXXXÌÌ ; dialects of the, ex. ; 
the spoken Gaelic of these Tales, 
cxx.-cxxiii ; changes in, iv. 133; 
the Gaelic of the bards, 160-248 ; its 
relation to Sanscrit and the classical 
languages, 346-350, 355 ; to English, 
352-354 ; modern European tongues, 
854-357 ; and old Saxon, 356 ; facts 
evincing its importance, 358-364. 

Gallic, Mr. Andrew, his remarks on 
MacPherson's authorities, iv. 104, 

Gallie, Mrs., iv. 105, 117. 

Games, ancient, i 22 ; iii 19, 266 ; iv. 
315-318. See Shinny. 

Gauls, a branch of the Celtic clan, i 
cxi-cxiii ; manners and customs 
of, cxiv., cxv. ; their regard for pigs 
as sacred, xcii 

Gavr Innis, iv. 882, 395. See Brittany. 

Geese, sacredness of, in many nations, 
i 200, 201. 

Geoffrey of Monmouth, iv. 29, 266. 

German broadsides and ballads, illus- 
trative of the ancient Celtic dress, 
iv. 371-374. 

German Tales. See Grimm. 

Giants, in popular mythology, i 
xcviii-c., cxvi, 53, 61, 155, 249, 264; 
ii 97, 107. 



Gilchrist's " Scottish Ballads," ii 22a 

Ofllie Carrach, ii. 264. 

Gillies, John, his collection of Gaelic 

poetry, iii. 107, 118, 145, 295, 846, 

386, 888 ; iv. 100, 118-120, 180, 131, 

«50, 272, 411, 412. 
Gipsies, i. 175 ; Hi. 387. 
Giraldus Cambrensia, iv. 323. 
Girl, The, and the Dead Man, i 213- 

Glaive, L lxxiii, lxxvii, 3. See Sword 

of light 
Glashan, the, i lxxvii 
Glengarry, elegy on, iv. 85. 
Glen Odhar, the herds of, i. cviL 
Goats, i 263 ; ii. 97 ; iii 353. 
Golden Goose, i. 249. 
Goll, The Praise of, iii 293 ; account 

of various versions, 295. 
Gomerini, the, i cxii 
Goose, The, and the Fox, L 267. 
Gordon, Sir Robert, iL 865. 
Gorm, John, iv. 119. 
Gow (Goll) Macmorn, iv. 50, 264. 
Graham, General Sir Thomas, i. xxxvii 
Graham of Balgowan. See Lynedoch, 

Grainne, daughter of King Carmag, 

iii 39-90. 
" Gram," a tale, i lxxiii 
Grant, Mrs., of Laggan, iv. 99, 100, 

Grant, Peter, of Strathspey, iv. 226. 
Graves and gravestones, L 129; iii. 

Gray's poems, iv. 7, 122. 
Greece, ii. 186; dances in, iv. 315. 
Green Island (America?), the Celtic 

paradise, iii. 263. See Avalon. 
Greenock, iii. 19. 
"Green Sleeves,"- i. 192. 
Grey Lad, The, i. 100. 
Grian, the sun, iii. 19, 23. 
Grianaig, the Rider of, iii. 1-18; ex- 
planatory notes, 19-23 ; reference 

to, iv. 276. 
Grimm, Brothers, i. xlvii., Ixvii., 62, 

101, 199, 249, 277; ii. 19, 129, 133, 

194, 215, 228, 261, 275, 292, 359, 381 ; 

iii. 40, 90, 99, 422; iv. 7, 274, 285, 

289, 303. 
Grosart, Alex. B., i. xlvi. 
Grouse, i. 276, 277. 

Growth and development of mytho- 
logical tales, iv. 300, 313. 
Gruagach, the, i. lxxvii., xciii., 23; 

ii. 101, 186. See Conall Gulban. 
Gruagach, The Fair, ii. 410-425. 
Guaigean Ladhrach s' Loirean Spa- 

gach. iii 180-183 ; remarks on 
another version, 184, 185 ; iv. 48. 

Guest, Lady Charlotte, iv. 274. 

Guilbeinach (Gulbairneach). See Co* 
nail Gulban. 

Gunnhillda, story of, iv. 29, 30. 

Guns, i lxxv. ; ii 6L 

Guttenburg, iv. 52. 

Hair, dressing of, i 61 ; sketch from 

nature, representing, iv. 283. 
Hallowe'en, superstitious observances 

connected with, in Scotland, iv. 

Harper, design of a, from a stone at 

Monifleth, iii 122. 
Harry, Blind, the Minstrel, iv. 52. 
Hay, Sir Gilbert, iv. 70. 
Head-dresses, iii 21. 
Healing wells, ii 134. See Wells. 
Hebrides, possession of, contended 

for by the Northmen, iv. 47; an- 
cient chapels in the, 163. 
Helmets, sculptured, on Hebridian 

tombstones, iv. 47. 
Hen, a silver, i 48. 
Hen, The, fable of, iii 94. 
Hercules and his exploits, i lxxiL, 

61, 102 ; ii 871 ; iv. 289. 
Herodotus, i lxxiii, cxii, 352; ii 

Heroes, mythical, of Gaelic tales, 

i. cxv. ; of Ossian, who and what 

were they ? iv. 25-37. 
Highland 'dress, iv. 865-381. See 

Highland peasantry, tale-reciting 

among, i xii.-xv. 
Highland Society of London, i xxxv. ; 

ii. 106; report on Ossian's Poems, 

i. xxxvii. ; iii. 54 ; iv. 7. 
Highlanders, a branch of the Celtic 

clan, i. cxi. ; spirit of nationality, 

cxxvii.-cxxx. ; iv. 361-364, 381. 
Hill, Mr., publishes ancient Gaelic 

poetry in the Gentleman's Magazine^ 

iv. 99, 411. 
Hills, the scenes of fairy operations, 

ii. 51, 52. 
Hindoo bronzes, iv. 384. 
Holland, Sir Richard, a Scottish poet, 

iv. 53. 
Holy wells, ii. 134. See Wells. 
Home, John, author of "Douglas,*' rv. 

107, 10S-113. 
Honeysuckle, superstitions connected 

with, iv. 398. 
Hoodie, The, and the Fox, iii. 121. 



Hoodie, The, Catechising the Young 
One, iii. 120. 

Hoodie, The, L 63-66 ; similar tales, 
69 ; habits of the hoodie, 276. 

Horn, magic, L 191. 

Horse-Guards, cut copied from a book 
kept at, illustrating the dress of the 
" Forty-Second" in 1742, iv. 381. 

Horse-shoes, ii. 87. 

Horse, story of a, doomed to be hang- 
ed, ii 381. 

Horses, place assigned to, in old tra- 
ditions, i. lxxxv. ; ii. 349. 

Hospitality at Highland funerals, i. 

Hounds, in popular tales, i lxxxix., 
zc. ; woodcut illustrative of hounds 
and huntsmen, iii 287. 

How the Een was set up, iii. 831-838. 

Humboldt, iv. 107. 

Hunting in the Highlands, i lxxxvii. ; 
see iii. 287. 

Iain Lorn (John Macdonald), iv. 85, 
166, 203. 

Iceland, wonders of, probable ground- 
work of popular tales, ii 467 ; court 
of appeal in, iii 211 ; practice in, as 
regards vows, 214 ; sagas of, 215, 
226, 263, 868; see also iv. 344-346. 

" Idylls of the King," iv. 6, 128. 

Illustrations from sculptured stones, 
etc., iii. 35, 49, 117, 122, 123, 154, 
156, 180, 206, 231, 242, 287, 339, 
861 ; iv. 38, 47, 56, 57, 58, 168, 326, 
333, 339, 362, 363, 365, 373, 877, 
378, 381, 382, 884, 387, 390, 391, 899, 
400, 401, 407. 

Inch Brayoc, sculptured stone in the 
cemetery of, iii. 206 ; iv. 385. 

Inch, the brownie of, i. zciii. 

Indian mythology, i. lxxxv. 

Indo-European races, their Asiatic 
origin, and westward destination, 
i. xvi. 

Inheritance, The, ii 16-19. 

Innes, Cosmo, his historical works 
referred to, u xxxix., xcix., 99, 274 ; 
ii. 364, 865 ; iv. 52, 70, 367, 370. 

Iona, island of, iv. 38, 39. 

Ireland, first book printed in, iv. 69. 

Ireland; the Finn in, L xiiL, xL ; 
tales relating to, xli. ; equestrian- 
ism in, Ityyìt- 

Irish character, first book printed in, 
iv. 70. 

Irish opinions, current, on Ossian's 
poems, iv. 10, 11. 

Irish, the, a branch of the Celtic clan* 

L cxi. 
Iron, mysterious virtue attributed to, 

L lxxv. ; weapons of, lxxii.-lxxiv. ; 

ii. 86-100. 
Irrlander (Irren), the, iv. 368, 369, 

Irving, Dr., of Edinburgh, iv. 24 ; his 

History of Scottish Poetry referred 

to, 53, 54, 59, 67, 68. 
Island elves, it 55. 
Islay, celebrated smith in, ii 51 ; 

doctors in, 365. 
Isle of Pabaidh, ii. 41. 
Italian tales. See Straparola. 
Ivy, sacred, iv. 398. 

Jack and the Bean-stalk, i. 266. 

Jack the Giant-killer, iii. 184 ; Manks 
version, i. Iv. ; Erse version, iL 327. 

Jame8one, the Scotch painter, iv. 370. 

Japan, story-tellers in, L xvii. 

Java, account of a bronze saciiflcial 
vessel brought from, iv. 391-395. 

Jellies which are attributed to the 
stars, ii. 190. 

Jew of Venice, Shakspeare's, ii. 13. 

John, son of the king of Bergen, a 
unique poetical fragment, iii. 282- 

Johnson, Rev. James, on the Norwe- 
gian expedition against Scotland, 
iv. 46. 

Johnson, Dr. Samuel, i. xxxviii., xciiL; 
iL 106 ; his opinion as to the authen- 
ticity of Ossian's Poems, iv. 16 ; re- 
ferred to, 61, 92, 96-98, 369. 

Johnson's Poets, i. xxxvi. 

Jones, Owen, iv. 23, 270, 271, 382, 

Julien, Stanislaus, i. xliii. 

Jupiter and the Fates, iv. 313. 

Jura, the Big Women of, ii. 850. 

Keg of Butter, fable of the, iii. 96-99. 
Kelpie, the, ii. 193. 
Kelso, Abbot of, i. xcix. 
Kennedy, Duncan, his MS. collection 

of Gaelic poetry, iv. 92-96, 104, 181, 

132, 410. 
Kiln-drying malt, L 218. 
Kilwich and Olwen, Welsh story of, 

iv. 282. 
King Lear and his Daughters, iv. 125. 
King of Lochlin's Three Daughters, L 

236-243 ; similar stories, 249. 250 ; 

moral of the tale, 249. See iii. 23. 



King, The, who wished to marry his 
Daughter, L 219-223 ; other versions 
and similar tales, 224-229. 

King, The, of the World, iiL 347. 

King's Fish, The, iiL 844, 345. 

Kirk, Rev. Robert, his Gaelic Psalter, 
iv. 76, 225. 

Kirkcudbright, the fairies of, ii. 5541. 

Knight, the, of Greenock, iiL 19. 

Knight, The, of the Red Shield, ii 
430-164 ; groundwork of, common 
to many other tales, 409-476. See 
iiL 186 ; iv. 163. 

Knox, John, ii. 238. 

Ladders, Highland, L 62. 

Lady, the, of the Fountain, iv. 274, 

Laing, Malcolm, iv. 107. 

Lamartine, iv. 107. 

Lament, the, of Coluinn the sprite, 
ii. 90, 91. 

Land, notion of a, under the waves, 
iiL 410 ; appears in tales of various 
countries, 411-413, 422. See Sun 

Lane, Mr., i. 1 : iv. 325. 

Language, modern science of, its prin- 
ciples, iv. 305. 

Language of Ossian, iv. 15. 

Language of the Celts, i. ex. cxi. ; the 
spoken Gaelic of the tales in this 
work, cxx. -exxiii. See Gaelic tongue. 

Lapland, journal of a tour in, i. cii.- 
cvii. ; ii. 194, 386 ; method of roast- 
ing fish in, iii. 336. 

Lapp Camp, i. cii. ; ii. 46 ; similarity 
of the camp scenes to Scotch fairy 
tales, i. cvii. ; iv. 344. 

Lapps or Finns, iv. 29 ; huts of the, 
395, 396. 

Latham's English Handbook, iv. 356. 

Lay of Magnus, iii. 350-369 ; notes on, 
346, 347 ; iv. 45, 102. 

Lay of Osgar, iii. 304-328 ; illustrative 
notes, 328-331 ; incidents of an Irish 
poem somewhat similar, 301, 302 ; 
numerous versions of the same story, 
303 ; iv. 138. 

Lay of the Great Fool, story of, iii. 
146-149 ; the poem, 154-176 ; remarks 
on, 150-153 ; iv. 115, 262, 276. 

Lay, The, of Diarmaid, story of, in 
different versions, iii. 54-63, 81, 82 ; 
poem so called, 64-74 ; date of, 62 ; 
Dr. Smith's version, 62 ; notes on, 
74-78, 394 ; remarks on other ver- 
sions, iv. 131-133. 

Leacan, Book of, iv. S3, 5L 

Leech, Farquhar, ii 865. 

Legal documents in Gaelic, iv. 41, 51, 

74, 77. 
Legends in the Isle of Man, i. liii.-iv. 
Leinster, Book of, iv. 26, 83, 42. 
Letters to the author on the Ossianie 

controversy, iv. 217-247. 
Libraries, national and collegiate, 

paucity of Gaelic books in, iv, 

Light, the King of, iiL 847. 
Light, White Sword of, see Sword; 

circle of, iv. 320. 
Lindsay, Sir David, iv. 67, 68, 
Lions, L 22 : iv. 267. 
Lisraore, Dean of, his MS,, iiL 295, 

302 ; iv. 60 ; its importance in the 

Ossianie controversy, iv. 61-47, ISO; 

publication of Selections from, 40k 
Liturgy, the Irish, iv. 69. 
Livingstone, Dr., L lxvL 
Livingstone, William, the Islay bard, 

iv. 215, 268. 
Lochawe, lords of, iv. 48. 
Lochlan (Scandinavia), L xlii., lxix., 

lxxvL, cxviL, 155 ; iL 187; iiL 287, 

368, it al. 
Loch Ness, The Origin of, iL 136. 
Locomotion in the eleventh century, 

iiL 254, 255. 
Lorn, Iain, iv. 35, 166, 203. 
Looking-glass, as a symbol on sculp- 
tured stones, iii. 340. 
Loup Garou, the French, iL 99 ; iv. 

Lynedoch, Lord, L xxxviL ; iv. 108. 

Mabinogion, the, iv. 274-277. 
Macabuin, i. liiL, lxxii. 
Mac-a-Rusgaich, iL 304-318; similar 

story, 327. 
Macauìay, the big, iv. 49. 
MacCall urn's collection of traditional 

ballads, iii. 295, 378, 384; iv. 116, 

117, 131, 143, 272, 413. 
MacCodrum, John, a modern Gaelic 

poet, iv. 198, 199. 
MacColl, Evan, theLochfine-side bard, 

iv. 215. 
MacCumhal, Finn, iv. 27, 28, 33, 48. 
Macdonald, Alex. , his volume of songs, 

iv. 78, 199, 200. 
Macdonald, Christian, iv. 178. 
Macdonalds, clan of, iii. 107 ; see also 

iv. 400. 
MacDonald, Donald, a modern Gaelic 

bard, iv. 180. 



MacDonald's Gaelic vocabulary, iv. 

MacDonald, John (Iain Lorn), iv. 85, 
16«, 203. 

MacDonald, John, tinker, i. 174 ; iv. 

MacDonald, Mr. Hugh, iv. 82. 

MacDonald of Staffa, his MS. collec- 
tion in Advocates' Library, iv. 102, 

MacDonald, Ranald, his printed col- 
lection or Gaelic ballads, iv. 410. 

MacDougall, Allan, a modern bard, 
iv. 184, 185. 

MacDngalds, clan of, iii. 107. 

Macgowans, the, of Tongland, ii 59. 

MacGregor, James, Dean of Lismore, 
iii. 80S, 899 ; iv. 19. See Lismore. 

Mac Ian Direach, ii 828-340; other 
versions, 349-360. 

Maclntyre, Donald M. M., i xxx., 
xxxiii, lvi. ; ii. 24; iv. 218. 

Macintyre, Duncan, the Breadalbane 
bard, iv. 31, 189-196. 

Macintyre, Flora, iv. 85. 

Mackay, John, the Blind Piper, his 
poems, iv. 200. 

Mackay, Robert, a modern Gaelic poet, 
iv. 196. 

Mackenzie, Henry, iv. 107. 

Mackenzie, John, one of the narrators, 
i 38 ; iv. 285. 

Mackenzie, John, his "Beauties of 
Gaelic Poetry," ii. 381 ; iv. 35, 107. 

Mackenzie, Osgood, ii. 68, 100 ; iv. 129. 

MacEenzie, Sir Kenneth, t xxv. ; iii. 
152 ; iv. 131. 

MacKinnon, Angus, iii. 286. 

MacKinnon, Lachlan, his Gaelic songs, 
iv. 202. 

MacKinon, Alexander, iv. 180. 

MacLachlan, Eamonn, his collection 
of poems, iv. 74. 

MacLachlan, Ewen, ii. 88 ; iv. 143, 181. 

MacLauchlan, Rev. Thomas, i. xxv., 
xcii, cxxxiv. ; ii. 229, 257, 261 ; iii 
145, 295 ; iv. 62, 129. 

MacLean, Hector, his account of tale- 
reciting among the Highland pea- 
santry, i xii-xiv., xxv., cxvii ; iii 
889, 390, 394 ; iv. 128 ; on the Gaelic 
of the bards, iv. 160, et seq. 

Maclean, Mr. Hugh, iv. 129. 

MacLean, Rev. Duncan, iv. 218. 

MacLeans, the, iv. 13. 

MacLeod, Dr., i. xx. ; iv. 227. 

MacLeod, Mary, her Gaelic verses, iv. 

MacLeod, Sir Norman, iv. 74. 

MacNicol, Rev. Donald, iv. 96-99, 

MacPhail, Ewan, iv. 71. 
MacPherson, editor of Ossian, l xxxv. - 

xxxix.; ii 106; iii 303, 346; iv. 

MacPherson, Mr. Ewen, iv. 82. 
MacPherson, Mr. Lachlan, of Strath- 

mashie, iv. 83, 87, 196. 
MacPhie, Donald, i xxix., xxx., lxi, 

MacQuae, Captain, ii. 370. 
MacQueen, Rory, iv. 219. 
MacTavish, Mrs., i xxv., xciii ; ii 51- 

53, 133, 350, 865, 370, 478 ; iii. 60 ; 

iv. 321. 
MacTavish, Rev. Mr., i 277. 
Maghach Colgar, ii 168-179; remarks 

on similar stories, 186-188. See i 

lxxi ; iii. 402. 
Magical combs, i Ixxvii-lxxxi ; 

swords, lxxii-lxxiv. ; apples, Ixxxi- 

lxxxiv. ; horns, 191 ; boxes, ii 303. 
Magnus (Manus), the Lay of, see Lay 

of Magnus. 
MakCoul iv. 27, 28, 52. 
Manain (Man), island of, iv. 70. 
Man, Isle of, peculiarly Celtic, i L , li ; 

ineffectual attempts to extract 

stories, Iii ; similarity between 

Manks customs and those of Western 

Isles, liii ; stories gleaned during a 

trip of live days, liii. -Iv. See iv. 299 ; 

the " Legs of Man," iv. 886, 887. 
Manks, the, a branch of the Celtic 

clan, i cxi. ; their fairy creed, ii.69, 

70 ; iv. 385. 
Manners, as exhibited in the popular 

tales, i. lxviii-lxx. 
Manus, illustration of, with descrip- 
tive notes, iii 348, 349. 
Manuscripts belonging to Highland 

Society, ii 472. See Advocates' 

Maol a Chliobain, i 251-256; other 

versions, 259-265; similar stories, 

265 266 
Martin, i'ix., xix. ; ii 134 ; iv. 15. 
Martin, a Lewes doctor, iv. 77. 
Martin, Henri, i cxi. 
Mary, Queen of Scots, amusements of 

her court, ii. 238. 
Mary's WeU, ii 134. 
Master, The, and his Man, iii. 288- 

May-day, the night following, a busy 

season with fairies and witches, ii 

53 ; iv. 402. 
Mediaeval romances, iv. 259-269. 



Mermen and mermaids, iii 410. 411. 
Metempsychosis, doctrine of, iii 23. 
Mice, i. 62, 279 ; iv. 267. 
Migrations, popular, from East to 

West, i xvi, lxiv., lxxxix., 212. 
Milesian race, the, iv. 28, 314. 
Mill story, ii. 189. 
Minstrels, wandering, iv. 46. 
Mistletoe, i zciv. ; dancing about the, 

iv. 815. 
Modern Gaelic bards, iv. 178, et seq. 
Molluka beans, i ix. 
Mommsen, L 102. 
Monk, The, and the Miller's Wife, ii 

Monro, Mr. Donald, Dean of the Isles, 

iv. 70, 357, 375. 
Mons Grampius, battle of, iv. 268. 
Monuments, representations on, i 

lxxx. See Art; Design. 
Moors, exploits of modern, and tradi- 
tional fictions, i Ixx, bad. 
Morison, Roderick, the Blind Harper, 

poems of, iv. 201. 
Morrison, Captain, iv. 104. 
" Morte Arthur," iv. 7, 125, 263-266. 
Moslem bridge to Paradise, i. 262. 
" Mother's Blessing," i. 51. 
Muilearteach, The Yellow, ill 122- 

142 ; notes on, 142-146; see 345 ; iv. 

Miiller, Max, i. 191. 
Murachadh Mac Brian, ii. 195-206; 

notices of similar tales, 215, 216 ; 

iv. 276, 326. 
Murchag a 'a Mionachag, i. 157-160 ; 

similar tales, 160. 
Murchison, Sir Roderick, iv. 156. 
Murray, Regent, supposed picture of, 

i 21 ; iv. 865, 370, 371. 
Music, illustrations connected with ; 

satire on the pipes, dancing, etc., 

iv. 56, 57 ; remarks on Celtic music, 

404, 405. 
Musical airs ; a Sprite's Lament, ii. 

91 ; Song of the Red, iii 51 ; Dan 

Chaoilte, iv. 321. 
Mysteries of the Druids, i. xciii. 
Mythology ; origin of popular tales, 

different opinions regarding the, iv. 

800-305 ; Aryan theory, 305-307 ; 

West Highland Stories, 314, et seq. 

See Tales. 

Napoleon III., apparition to, ii. 72. 

Narrators of these Tales, names of, 
see Contents, vols, i., ii., and iii., 
and List of Stories, iv. 415, et seq. 

New Testament, Irish, iv. 71. 

New year's eve, customs on, iii. 19. 

Nicholson, Mr., iii 153 ; iv. 131. 

Niebelungen Lied, i lxxiii. ; ii 435. 

Nighean High fo Thuinn, iii 403-120. 

Njal Saga, iii. 209, 218, 254, 356 ; iv. 
29, 43, 179, 252. 

Norse Tales, i xlv., lxxiii, et seq., 
22, 61, 101, 226, 249, 266, 273, 352 ; 
ii 228, 237, 257, 275, 303, 367, 382, 
435, 467 ; iii 90 ; iv. 277, 279, 283, 
289, 299. 

Norsemen in Ireland, iii 332 ; Brian's 
battle with, iv. 42-45. • * 

Norwegian and West Highland pea- 
santry contrasted, i xxvi. 

Norwegian Expedition against Scot- 
land in 1263, iv. 46-48. 

Nursery tales, origin of, iii 19 ; iv. 318. 

Oak-trees, in mythology, i. xciL ; ii 
360 ; iv. 398. 

Ocean, circumambient, i 101. : 

O'Connor, Charles, iv. 17. 

O'Curry, Professor, iv. 25, 81, 261, 

O'Daly, Mr., iv. 116. 

Odin, i lxxiii, 100, 277. 

Odyssey, Cyclop of the, i 154, 264 ; 
ii. 193. 

Offerings at wells, ii 134. 

O'Flanagan, iv. 22. 

Olladh Reach (Islay doctor), ii 365. 

OUadh Muileach (Mull doctor), ii. 367. 

Origin of this Collection of Tales, i 
xxi. ; difficulties encountered, xxii- 
xxv. ; names of coadjutors, xxv. ; 
names of narrators, see Tables of 
Contents, and List in iv. 415, et seq. 

Origin of popular tales, current opi- 
nions as to, iv. 300, et seq. 

Ornaments and ornamental writings, 
on stone, pottery, etc., iv. 382, et 

Orthography, Gaelic, i. cxxi.-cxxiii ; 
iv. 133. 

Osean after the Feen, ii 102-104; 
other versions, 106-109. 

Osgar, the son of Osein, ii. 187; iii 
295-300 ; remarks on, 300, 301. 

Ossian (Oisean, Osin), ii 186 ; ortho- 
graphy of the name, iv. 5 ; Gaelic of, 
133-135, 142-160, 173, 177. 

Ossian, poems of, i xxxii, lxxxvii, 
156 ; ii. 81 ; report of Highland So- 
ciety on, i xxxvii. ; subject of, iii 
54-59 ; iv. passim. See Ballads. 

Ossianic controversy, i xxxv.-xli ; ii 



473; popular account of, ii 106; 

. points for argument, iv. 5, 6 ; state- 
ment of the case, 7; current opi- 
nions — English, 8; Scotch, 9, 10; 
Irish, 10, 11J; the Irish argument 
discussed, 12-24 ; heroes of Ossian, 
who and what were they? 25-37 ; 
examination of traditions, writings, 
etc, 37-103; author's theory as to 
the Gaelic of MacPherson's Ossian, 
80-82 ; published evidence, 103-123; 
evidence afforded by popular bal- 
lads, 123-128 ; by current Gaelic 
traditions, 128-142 ; Gaelic of Ossian 
published, 113 ; examination of in- 
ternal evidence, 142-160; of the 
Gaelic of known and unknown 
bards, published and traditional, 
160-248 ; conclusion arrived at, 248- 
252 ; Ossianic proverbs, 252-256 ; 
family history, 256-258. 

Ossianic Society of Dublin, iii 55, 63, 
188, 301, 336, 346, 388, 399 ; iv. 10, 
tt aeq., 99, 109, 115, 272. 

Otterbourne, battle of, a ballad, iv. 

Otters, in mythical tales, i xcv., 22. 

Owl, The, a poem, iv. 207-211. 

Fabaidh, The Isle of, ii. 41. 

Pattieson, Rev. Thomas, i cxxxiv., 
ii. 191, 193 ; iv. 129, 335. 

Paul of the nine clerks, ii 109. 

Peasantry of West Highlands and of 
Norway contrasted, L xxvi 

Percy, Bishop, iv. 60, 123, 128. 

Peredur, iv. 278, 279, 281. 

Perseus and Andromeda, i 102; ii 

"Peter Wilkins and the Flying La- 
dies," i 192. 

Philology, science of, iv. 305-307. 

Phoenician traders, early, iv. 314. 

Picts, i cii ; towers of, iii 43, 107 ; 
traditional references to, iv. 38, 39. 

Pictures, illustrative of ancient High- 
land costume, iv. 369, et seq. See 

Pigs, their place in popular tales, i 
xci ; regarded as sacred amongst 
the Gauls, xcii ; prejudice amongst 
the Highlanders against eating, 

Pinkerton's "Scottish Poets," ii 228. 

Pi8kies, the, of Devonshire, U. 71. 

Plaids and kilts, iv. 376-381. 

Playfair, Professor, iv. 99. 

Plea for Gaelic, a, iv. 346-364. 

Poor Brother, The, and the Rich, i 

Pope, Rev. Mr., of Reay, iv. 79, 410. 

Popular lore in the West Highlands, 
i xxxii-xlv. ; its various branches, 
and their votaries, lvt, lvii ; popu- 
lar ballads, iv. 123-128, 160-248. 

Powder-horns, designs carved on, 
illustrative of Celtic art, iv. 401. 

Powel, Humphrey, iv. 69. 

Prayer-book, Gaelic, iv. 18, 69. 

Preservation of popular tales, illus- 
trated, ii 467, 468. 

Prichard, Dr., i 23 ; iv. 347. 

Proverbs, i xliv., cxvii ; iii 420 ; iv. 

" Provost of London," i 280. 

Psalms, Gaelic, iv. 74, 76. 

Puss in Boots, ii 354. 

Puzzle, A., ii 25, 26. 

Queen, The Sick, ii 130-132; many 
versions still current in Scotland, 

Querns, i 70. 

Questions, The Three, ii 391-393. 

Questions of Fionn, iii 36-39. 

Quiggin, Mary, i xl 

Rainbows over falls, i 262. 
Rampsinitus, classical story of, i 352. 
Ramsay, Allan, i 235 ; iv. 69. 
Rats, country of, ii. 303. 
Ravens, i 52,277 ; iii 20,330 ; iv.44,291. 
Rawlinson, Colonel, quoted or referred 

to, i lxxiii, cxii, 352 ; ii 370, 871. 
Reciters of the Tales, names of. See 

Tables of Contents ; and List, iv. 

415, et aeq. 
Red Book of Appin, ii 87-89 ; of Clan- 

rannald, ii. 106 ; of Wales, iv. 281. 
Reiper-shooting in Lapland, i. cv. 
Reviews of this work, remarks on, iv. 

Rhonabwy, the dream of, a Welsh 

tradition, iv. 291. 
Rhymes of fairies, ii 54. 
Ribin, Robin, and Levi the Dun, ii 

Riches got by killing a dead body, in- 
cident of, ii 236. 
Riddles and puzzles, i xliii; ii 25, 

Ridere (Knight), The, of Riddles, ii 

27-32 : see also iii. 19. 
Rings, gold, iii 399. 
River-gods, i lxxxvi 



Rixxk), David, it 238. 

Robertson, Rev. James, of Callander, 

iv. 401. 
Robertson, James (InveraryX *• xxL 

Rock-climbing, iiL 21. 
" Roman d' Alexandre," translation of, 

into Gaelic, iv. 70. 
Romance and modern civilization, L 

Romances, semi-historical, iiL 333; 

mediaeval, iv. 259-369. 
Romulus and Remus, L 274 ; ii. 34. 
Roncevalles, iv. 268. 
Ross, William, a modern bard, iv. 

Ross, Rev. Thomas, of Edinburgh, iv. 

Ross-shire stories of fairies, ii. 67, 68. 
Rowan-tree, magical, iiL 61. 
Runic knots, iv. 400. 
Rushes, mysterious, L zcvL 

8agas, Icelandic, iii. 215, 226, 263, 368 ; 
iv. 345. 

Saint, the, and the Fisherman, iiL 

8t Andrews, sculptured stones at, iv. 
38, 369, 379, 388-391, 395. 

St Columtia, iv. 39. 

8t. George and the Dragon, L 102; 
iL 871. 

8t Xinian, iv. 8S. 

8t Patrick, ii. 109, 134, 371; iiL 86, 
303 ; iv. 26, 31, 3S, 26$. 

8anntraigh, ii. 42, 43. 

8anscrit and Gaelic, alliance between, 
iv. 347-350, 360. 

8apaid, i. xlii. 

8awdust, proverb regarding, iiL 336. 

Baying grace, i. 267. 

Scandinavia, tales relating to, i. xli. 

Scimitar, worship of the, i. lxxiv. ; iL 

8cotch, frugality of the, iii. 290 ; cur- 
rent opinions among, in regard to 
Ossian's poems, iv. 9, '0. 

8cott, Sir Walter, iv. 124, 126. 

Sculptured Stones of Scotland, illus- 
trations from, iii. 35, 49, 117, 122, 
123, 154, 155, ISO, 206, 231, 242, 287, 
339, 361 ; iv. 3S, 47, 362, 363. 

Scythia, people of, L cxii., cxiii. ; 
tombs of, lxxiii. ; language of, cxiii. 

Seanekl, Countess of, iL 65. 

Sea-horse, iiL 411 ; iv. 337, 339. 

8ea-Maiden, the, i. 71-84 ; other ver- 
sions, 93-100; common to various 

countries, lxiiL, 101. 102 ; referred 

to, IzL, 22 ; its moral lesson, 101 
Sea-monsters, iL 370-372. 
Sea-serpents, illustrations of, iv. 338. 
Sea-snakes, iL 370-372, 
Sea-swallows, iiL 21. 
Seann Dana, Dr. J. Smith's, iiL 44, 49, 

62, 150; iv. 129, 130, 157, 209, 2*4, 

Seannachas of the Fine, L xxxiL, xL ; 

iL 79,434. 
Serpents, in mythology, L xcv.,xcvL ; 

iL 366-369. 
Seymour, Lord Webb, iv. 90. 
Sgeulachd (romance), L xxiL, xlviL ; 

iv. 46, 225. 
8gialachdan (storytelling), i. xxviL 
Sgire mo Chealag, The Tale of, iL 

373-377 ; similar stories, and other 

versions, 381-388. 
Shakspeare, L xlviii. ; iL 13 ; iv. 298. 
Shamas (JamesX King, L xliL 
Shanachie (Sennachie), a, defined, iv. 

Shaw, Colonel, iv. 21. 
Shaw, John, a modern bard, iv.182- 

Sheep, The Sharp Grey, iL 286-2895 

similar tales, 291, 292. 
Shepherds, The Two, iL 82-84. 
Shields, L 264 ; iv. 44. 
Shifty Lad, Tale of the, L 820-338; 

similar stories, 352. 
Shinny, game of, iii. 19, 181, 215, 217. 
Ship, enchanted, i. 249. 
Shirra Muir, battle of, L xliL 
Shirt, magical, i. xcv. 
Shortshanks, Norse tale of, L 101, 

Sibbald's " Chronicle of Scotch 

Poetry " ii. 22S. 
Simpson,' Mr. J. H., iL 107, 215, 435 ; 

iii. 402. 
Sinclair, Mr. Archibald, of Glasgow, 

letter from, iv. 221-229. 
Sinclair, Sir John, iv. 155. 
" Sir Bevis of Hamptown," iv. 267. 
" Sir Guy of Warwick," iv. 266. 
" 8ir Lancelot," a popular metrical 

romance, iv. 124, 263. 
" Sir Tristrera," a Scotch poem treat- 
ing of Celtic worthies, iv. 36, 261. 
Skene, Mr. W. F., iL 80, 187 ; iv. 860. 
Skin boats, ii. 303. 
Slaves in Scotland, i. xcix. 
8mith, Colonel Hamilton, on Ossian's 

Poems, L xxxvii. 
Smith, Dr. Donald, iv. 95. 
Smith, Dr. John, L xx., xxxv. ; iL 106, 



472 ; iii 44, 49, 62, 150 ; iv. 80, 100, 

129, 157, 209, 224, 412. 
Smith, Patrick, i xxx., xxxiii 
Smith, The, and the Fairies, ii 47-50 ; 

similar story, 85. 
Smiths, tales about, L lxxv., lxxvi ; 

iii. 368, 893. 
Snakes and snake-charmers, i. 52 ; ii. 

Solar worship, L xcvii ; ii 857-860 ; 

iii. 338, 347 ; iv. 157, 312-820, 386. 
Soldiers, The Three, i 176-183 ; other 

versions, 188-192. 
Son of the Scottish Yeoman. See 

Son of Light, iii 263. 
Song of the Red {Dan an Dearg), re- 
marks on, by Mrs. MacTavish, iii. 

60 ; music of, 51. 
Song of the Smithy, iii 376-386 ; notes 

on, 388; other versions, 388, 390- 

Songs, i zliv. ; volume of Gaelic, first 

published, iv. 78. 
Songs, Old Gaelic, anonymous, iv. 

Soothsaying by birds, i xciv. ; iii. 

Sorcha(Sark? Saracen-land = Africa?), 

king of, iii 211, 216, 243, 263. 
Spartan shepherds, ii. 368. 
Specimens of MacPherson's Gaelic, 

iv. 83-87. 
Spirits, stories illustrative of the po- 
pular creed as to, ii 85-100. 
" Spiritual Manifestations," ii 72. 
" Standing stones," iv. 397, et acq. 
Stag-hounds, iii. 287, 295. 
Step-mother story, a, iii. 421, 422. 
Stewart, Alexander and Donald, their 

collection of the Works of the High- 
land bards published, iv. 102, 272, 

Stewart, Captain, of Colonsay, ii 474. 
Stewart, Grant, ii. 46, 85. 
Stone circles of Scotland, iv. 401. 
Stone, Mr. Jerome, his translation of 

Fraoch, iv. 78, 79. 
Storyology, i. x., xi ; systematic de- 
velopment of, iv. 808-313. 
Straparola, i 227-229, 266, 852; ii 

237, 263 ; iii. 412 ; iv. 277, 281, 289, 

Strathmashie, MacPherson "of, iv. 83, 

Stuart, Prince Alexander, ii 365. 
Bun God, mysterious country over 

which he was supposed to preside, 

iv. 812, 319, 322. 

Sun Goddess, ii 857-360 ; sun-worship 
in Ossianic poetry, iv. 157, 386. 

Sunwise, things done, in the High- 
lands, iv. 402, 403. See Fire. 

Supernatural beings (bocan, fuath, 
etc.), ii. 87-101 ; iv. 300-344. 

Superstitions, Highland, i cxix. ; the 
best treatment for, cxxxv. ; see also 
iv. 300-346, 401-403. 

Surnames derived from Fenian tradi- 
tions, iv. 172. 

Sutherland stories of fairies, ii 61-65. 

Sword of Light, White, i lxxii, 
lxxvii,8,24,268;ii 349, 355 ; iii 340. 

Sword-worship among the Scythians, 
i lxxiii ; ii. 350. 

Swords and guns, i lxxvii ; ii 51, 849 ; 
iv. 44, 168. 

Symbols, fish as, on sculptured stones, 
iii 338-340; meaning of, iv. 385. 

Table of King Arthur, iv. 403. 

Tain, The, a poem, iv. 40. 

Tale of a Tail, ii 477 ; similar stories, 
477, 478. 

Tale of the Soldier, ii 276-281; other 
versions, 285. 

Tale-reciting among the Highland pea- 
santry, i xii-xv, M., lvii ; ii. 215 ; 
discountenanced by clergymen, i 

Tales, popular traditional, i x., 227, 
229; theory of their distribution, 
xvi ; how they have been regarded 
by educated men, xxi. ; ii.264 ; origin 
of this collection, xxi, xxii ; coad- 
jutors in the work, xxv. ; contrast 
between, and modern book stories, 
xlix., 227; narrative of a collector, 
lviii-lx. ; garbled popular history, 
cxvi ; in what sense hfstorical,cxvi ; 
fictions founded on facts, cxix., 61 ; 
ii 93, 188, 467 ; changes in tales de- 
pendent on locality, ii. 109 ; their 
antiquity, 388 ; illustration of the 
manner in which they are preserved, 
467, 468; versification of, iv. 124- 
128 ; their relation to ancient British 
traditions, 259-269 ; Welsh and Gaelic 
compared, 270-299 ; current opinions 
as to the origin of, 300-305 ; growth 
and development of, illustrated, SOS- 

Taliesen, iv. 272, 297-299. 

Tar, as a disinfectant, ii 53. 

Tartan, in Highland costume, iv. 866- 

Taylor, Mr., iv. 129. 



Taymouth, Black Book of, ir. 51, 70, 

Taymouth, sketch taken from a picture 

at, ir. 3*5, 370. 
Tell, William, and the apple, iiL 54. 
Temora, ir. 1«. 26, 61, S3, 119, 136-138. 
Tennent, Sir Emerson, ii. 369. 
Texa, legend of, iL 371. 
Thane, origin of the term, iL 257. 
Thomas the Rfaymour, iv. 36, 138, 261. 
Thomas of the Thumb, iiL 114, 115. 
Thongs, warrior's dress of, L 21. 
Thor, L lxxrL ; iL 80; iiL 345, 386. 
Thumb Carpenters, family of the, iv. 

Tinkers, L xlriL, xcr., 175; iL 285; 

iiL 387. 
Tlntock, a mountain in Lanarkshire, 

rhyme connected with, iv. 35L 
Toads, iL 371 

Tobacco, quid of , L IiL ; iiL 21. 
Tom Thumb, iiL 115, 184. 
Tombstones, sculptured, in the He- 
brides, iv. 47, 384. 
Torrie, Mr. Donald, L xxv., cxxxhr., 

2S0 ; hr. 128, 216 ; letter from, iv. 

Tradition orrnu books, L xxxL, 227 ; 

iL Id. 
Traditions, writings, etc, connected 

with Oa«ianic poetry, iv. 37-lo3 ; 

current Gaelic, Waring upon, 12S- 

Train, J'>*eph, i. xL , lii. 
Transactions of the <h*sianie Society 

of Dublin, iv. 13. .$« Ossianic 

Tran.-Lati'T., different kinds of, iv. 5- 

7. 13-.M42. 
Translations of the Tales, L exxiiL- 

Tnlman, The, ii. 30. 
Turner's collection of songs, etc., iv. 


Clysses, Adventures of, L 154 ; ii. 193. 

Underground, people living, ii. 275. 

Cnderwaves, Kin*:, story of the daugh- 
ter of, iii. 4«'«3-420. Ste Avalon. 

Undine, legend <»f, ii. 65. 

Un}uh*rt, Hector, his account of tale- 
reeitin^ amonj: the peasantry of 
R<^s*-shire, i. xiv., xv., xxv. ; iv. 
129. 2S5. 

Urskels (UrsgeuLs), i. xx. 

Vatican, statues of the, L 228. 

Vedaa, Hindoo, L Lux v. , xeiv. ; hr. 

403 ; the Yagurveda, L 19L 
Versification of popular tales, hr. 114- 

Vessels, stone and clay, designs on, 

hr. 398. 
Vikings, the, iiL 233 ; iv. 40, 48. 
Vfllemarquè, Hersart de la, hr. x7t, 

321 : characteristics of his work on 

the Breton Bards, 271-274. 
Vinland, America so called by esrfj 

Icelandic discoverers, ir. 345. 
Vocabularies, Gaelic, hr. 77, 347. 
Vulcan, L LxxvL ; iii 347. 

WaMev, Earl, of Dunbar, L xcix. 

Warrior's dress, iii 349. 

War-song, an old, by Clanranakfi 

bard, iv. 205-207. 
Washerwomen, mystic, iiL 330. 
Washing clothes, soothsaying con- 
nected with, iiL 330. 
Water-bulls, L xcviL ; iv. 328, 334. 
Water-horses, L lxxxvt, xcviL, 264; 

iL 97, 191-193 ; iv. 330, 337, 338. 
Water-spirits, iL 191. 
Waves, town under the, iL 303; hr. 

Well, The Wearie, at the Warldis End, 

iL 133. 
Wellesley, Marquess of, iv. 21. 
Wells, mysterious, L xciv. ; poisonous 

and healing, xciv. ; ii. 134 ; iv. 267 ; 

veneration of, iL 134, 135, 358 ; iiL 

Welsh and Gaelic poetry, differences 

between, iv. 273, et seq. 
Welsh, the, a branch of the Celtic clan, 

L cxi. ; traditions of, iv. 270-299. 
Western Isles, account of, iv. 77. 
West of Scotland Magazine, iv. 9, 12, 

323 348. 
White Pet, Story of the, L 194-197; its 

counterpart in Germany, 199, 200 ; 

stories of a similar class, 201. 
Widow, The, and her Daughter, iL 265- 

270; notices of similar tales and 

other versions, 273-275. 
Widow's Son, The, a version of *' The 

Battle of the Birds," L 47. 
Willow's Son, The, iL 293-302. 
Widows, The Three, iL 218-224 ; other 

versions, and similar tales, 228-238. 
Wife, custom of buying a, iL 14. 
Wilkinson, Sir J. Gardner, iv. 320, 323. 
Wilson, Dr. Daniel, his " Prehistoric 

Annals of Scotland" referred to, 

L lxxix. ; iL 107, 370 ; iv. 369, 385. 



" Winter nights, Tales of the Gael in 
the," i. 52. 

Wise Men, The Three, ii. 20-24. 

Witches, l lxxv. ; ii. 53 ; Well of, ii. 

Wodrow, Rev. John, of Islay, his edi- 
tion of " Fingal," iv. 88-92. 

Wolves, in mythical tales, i. xcv. 22, 
273 ; il 99, 101. 

Woroaae, i. 155 ; ii 216. 

Worship of the Druids, i xciii., xcvii. 
See Druids. 

Worship of wells, ii. 134. 

Wrens, stories about, L 48, 52, 277. 

Yagurveda, Bràhmana of the, L 191. 

" Yellow John," L xxxiii. 

Yeoman's Son, The Scottish, ii. 239- 

249 ; other versions, 257-264. 
Young, Dr. * See Clonfert, Bishop of. 
Youth, island of, in Celtic mythology, 

iv. 323. 

Zodiac, the, iii. 338, 847 ; iv. 820, 383, 

Note 1. 

The Acts which relate to the Highland dress are — 1 George 
I., stat. 2, c. 54. 11 George I., c. 26. 19 George II. c. 39 ; 
Enforced 21 George I., c. 34 ; Explained, Amended, and Con- 
tinued, 26 George II., c. 39. So far as relates to dress, repealed 
by 22 George III., c. 63. 

The arms forbidden by the first of these Acts, and therefore 
commonly worn at that time, are " broadsword or target, poignard, 
whinger or durk, side pistol, gun, or other warlike weapon." 

Section 17 of the 19th George II. provides for the dress. 
After the 1st of August 1747 it was unlawful for civilians, " on 
any pretence whatsoever, to wear or put on the clothes commonly 
called Highland Clothes, that is to say, the plaid, philibeg or 
little kilt, trowse, shoulder belts, or any part whatsoever of what 
peculiarly belongs to the Highland Garb ; and that no Tartan or 
party-coloured Plaid, or Stuflj shall be used for Greatcoats or for 
upper Coats." The penalty was, for a first offence, six months' 
imprisonment; and seven years' transportation for a second 

As no provision was made for clothing those whom the legis- 
lature thus stripped, as the climate is severe and unfit for the 
cultivation of figs, and the people were poor ; and as loyal districts 
wefre included, this might be called, " the Act for the un-civiliza- 
tion of the Highlands, and the profit of doth workers." 

480 wots. 

Nora 2. 

March 1, 1862. 

A collection of Gaelic poetry was made some years ago in 
Skye for Mrs. Ferguson, sister of MacLeod of MacLeod. There 
are 795 lines of the usual traditional poetry, with stanzas and 
lines which I had not previously got, and with many variations. 
The collection comprises — 

1. Laoidh Cbuinn, lines 128 

2. „ Dhiarmaid, „ 84 

3. „ na Inghean, „ 65 

4. „ an Amadain Mhòr, „ 222 

5. „ an Dearg, „ 116 

6. „ Phadric na Salm, „ 180 

Several Ossianic pieces were printed in a book published 1814 
at Edinburgh, " Thoughts on the Origin and Descent of the 
Gael, etc. etc 1 * By James Grant, advocate. These include ver- 
sions of— 

1. Bas Dhiarmaid. 

2. Address to the Sun. 

3. Ditto. 

4. Comhrag Fhinn agus Ghairbh Mac Starnn. 

5. Cuchullin in his Car, and some fragments. 

Those which were orally collected for the author in Boss and 
Skye are of the usual traditional character, but he condemns the 
first as wanting in poetical merit. He was a firm believer in the 
published Ossian, and the book is worthy of attention. 




II if 

, . \M- -"U 

The borrower must return this item on or before 
the last date stamped below. If another user 
places a recall for this item, the borrower will 
be notified of the need for an earlier return. 

Non-receipt of overdue notices does not exempt 
the borrower from overdue fines. 

Harvard College Widener Library 
Cambridge, MA 02138 617-495-2413 

Please handle with care. 

o preserve