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Annual Supper
Report from the Gaelic Society


The Annual Supper was held on the 26th December, in the Royal Hotel. We give the report which appeared in the Inverness Advertiser;—

There was a large and influential attendance. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh of Drummond occupied the chair, and the croupiers were Mr. Dallas, solicitor, and Mr. Murdoch. The company included—Sheriff Macdonald; Mr. Colvin, solicitor; Mr. Alex. Fraser, solicitor; Mr. Fraser, C.E. ; Mr. Mackintosh, Bank of Scotland; Mr. Barclay, accountant; Mr. Maclennan, Tartan Warehouse; Mr. R. Grant, do.; Mr. Macdonald, the Exchange, Treasurer of the Society; Mr. Duncan Maciver, cabinetmaker; Mr. Finlay Maciver, gilder; Mr. Donald Maciver, student; Mr. Charles Mackay, Drummond; Mr. Alex. Mackay, Rose Street; Bailie Simpson; Bailie Macbean; Bailie Baillie; Mr. Mackenzie, Clachnacuddin House; Mr. T. D. Campbell, Church Street; Mr. G. J. Campbell, writer; Mr. J. H. Mackenzie, bookseller; Mr. Mackay, bookseller; Mr. D. Campbell, draper; Mr. A. Mackenzie, Church Street; Mr. A. Macdonald, New Market; Mr. Huntly Fraser, merchant; Mr. Angus Macdonald, Bard to the Society; Mr. Boss, Gas and Water Co.’s Office; Mr. Tulloch, painter: Mr. Kenneth Fraser, writer; Mr. Alex. Fraser, do.; Mr. W. B- Forsyth, Advertiser; Mr. Barron, Courier; Mr. W. Mackay, Secretary to the Society; Mr. John Munro, wine merchant ; Mr. Alex. Grant, Church Street; Mr. Cumming, Allan-feam; Mr. Wm. Mackenzie, Workman’s Club Buildings; Mr. D. Fraser, Glenelg; Mr. Wood, Courier Office; Mr. Mackenzie, teacher, Maryburgh; Mr. A Macleod, Huntly Street; Captain Mackenzie, Telford Road; Mr. Logan, Stoneyfield; Mr. William Campbell, Castle Street, &c

After an excellent supper (served up in Mr Christie’s best style, and including a first-class bill of fare) had been done ample justice to, the Chairman rose and proposed in succession the usual loyal and patriotic toasts, Captain Robert Grant, 4th I H R V., responding for the volunteers. At the call of the Chair, the Secretary, Mr William Mackay, then read the following report:—

“At the end of the first year's existence of the Gaelic Society of Inverness, it may not be out of place to refer to a few particulars in connection with its founding and constitution. After some correspondence in the columns of the Inverness Advertiser by “ U. M‘C.,” “clachnacuddin,” “Mealfourvonie,” &c., on the subject of a Gaelic Society in the Capital of the Highlands, an advertisement appeared in the papers announcing that a meeting of those favourable to the proposal would be held in the Association Buildings, on the evening of the 4th September 1871. At this meeting it was formally resolved that a Gaelic Society should be established in Inverness, and a committee was appointed to frame a constitution. By the 28th of the same month, this committee had their work finished, and that evening the Society was formally constituted, the number who enrolled themselves as members being twenty-four. From this date the Society met regularly, and additions were made from time to time to the membership, until, at the first annual assembly, held on 12th July last, there were 119 on the roll. This gathering, at which there were about 1,000 present, was a success in every respect, and the immediate result was a large accession of members. It is now gratifying to report that at this, the close of our first financial year, there are 182 members on the roll The Gaelic Society, haying objects so thoroughly national and patriotic, ought to be one of our most popular institutions, and in order that it should continue to prosper as it has hitherto done, I would suggest that each member should make it a point to secure at least one new member during the year upon which we are now about to enter—a plan which has been so successfully adopted by a kindred Society, the Inverness, Ross, and Nairn Club.

“Of the work done by the Society, I need not give details, seeing that the first volume of our Transactions is now on the table, and that each member will be presented with a copy in a few days. Suffice it to say that our doings have been as varied in character as the objects of the Society. The lectures and essays delivered, to the date of the assembly in July, will be found in the Transactions, except six papers not published, as explained in the introduction to the volume. The opening lecture of this session was delivered in Gaelic by the Rev. Mr. Macgregor, and up to this date the following papers were read at the ordinary meetings, viz.:— “Toireachd na Taine,” an ancient Gaelic legend collected by Mr. Carmichael, Lochmaddy; “The Study of the Gaelic Language,” by the Secretary; “Laoidh nan Ceann,” an ancient Gaelic legend, collected by Mr. Carmichael; and “The Undeveloped Resources and Capabilities of the Highlands,” by Mr. Fraser, C.E.

“One of the objects of the Society is the formation of a library of books and manuscripts bearing upon the genius, literature, history, antiquities, and material interests of the Highlands and Highland people; and in connection with this a valuable collection has already been made, principally by donation. A list of the donations is given at the end of the Transactions.

“From the Treasurer’s account for the year it appears that the amount of the receipts, including subscriptions and money taken at the public lectures, is £102 18s 6d; the total expenditure, including expenses in connection with the lectures, the publishing of the Transactions, &c., £82 9s 9d; leaving a balance in favour of the Society of £20 8s 9d.

“It has to be explained that after each member is supplied with a copy of the Transactions there will be over 200 copies in the hands of the Society for sale; and I may also mention that, as it was decided that the Society’s year should close on 31st December, the expenditure extends over fifteen months, while the subscriptions are only for one year.

“A proposal to found a Gaelic bursary in one of our Universities was brought under the consideration of the Council, and they hope that at an early period the Society will be in a position to carry this proposal into effect.

“The Council take this opportunity of impressing upon the members the desirability of a regular attendance at the meetings, of the Society. Seeing that the office-bearers give their onerous, services gratuitously, their work will be materially facilitated if the members will be prompt in paying their subscriptions, and otherwise assist in furthering the objects of the Society.

"The present acting Council now retire from office, and at a meeting to be held early in January, it falls to the Society to nominate office-bearers for next year. The meeting will be announced by advertisement, and it is desirable that there should be a large attendance, as the appointment of office-bearers for the year is obviously a very important matter.”

The Chairman, in rising to propose the toast of the evening, “Success to the Inverness Gaelic Society,” which was received with enthusiasm, said that before proceeding to read some notes he had prepare} for the occasion, he had a remark to make, suggested by an observation in the excellent report just read. He referred to the importance of procuring additional members to the Society. He undertook to act on that suggestion himself, and he trusted the other members would do the same, and at least secure one additional member each. He was the more pressed to do this, because looking at the handsome volume of the Society's Transactions just published, he felt himself placed in rather a peculiar position. Only two individuals appeared on the list of life members. One of these was their excellent President and Chief, Cluny Macpherson, and the other his humble self. Now, in heraldry a Highland Chief held the rank of an English Baron, and was entitled to two supporters. As to getting additional members, for his part he undertook to procure the one recommended, so he hoped the company would exert themselves, for the importance of a Chief depended upon his following. Another remark he wished to make was with reference to the two hundred surplus copies of the Society’s Transactions. He thought that work would increase their membership and that it would be an excellent plan for procuring members were a circular and copy of the Secretary’s report sent out to forty or fifty of the most influential Highland gentlemen in the north. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh then proceeded as follows :—Twice happy is such a society as the present, since it combines two such potent elements of strength as judgment and enthusiasm. Upon the latter I need not dwell—it is unquenchable; but if we carry the former also, we must attain our ends. Are the ends then we seek, namely,

“The perfecting of the members in the use of the Gaelic language; the cultivation of the language, poetry, and music of the Scottish Highlands; the rescuing from oblivion of Celtic poetry, traditions, legends, books, and manuscripts; the establishing in Inverness of a library, to consist of books and manuscripts, in whatever language, bearing upon the genius, the literature, the history, the antiquities, and the material interests of the Highlands and Highland people; the vindication of the rights and character of the Gaelic people— and, generally, the furtherance of their interests, whether at home or abroad”—-justifiable and necessary? The presence of such an attendance as I now see before me answers in the affirmative. All of us are working men, and in turning for a time from the harassing and anxious exertions of every-day life, could any pursuit or relaxation be more fit than that which, combining judgment with enthusiasm, causes us to investigate the past. In the expressive words of Dr Johnson, “Whatever withdraws us from the power of our senses, whatever makes the past, the distant, or the future predominate over the present, advances us in the dignity of thinking beings;” Our views are not aggressive; they are, on the contrary, defensive and preservative. We are proud of being Highlanders, and of our language; and jealous of the fame of those who have preceded us. We owe much to Sir Walter Scott for his pictures of the Highlands and Highlanders—in truth, a debt which can never be repaid. Such an expression as “my heart warms at the sight of the tartan," merits, and will have, immortality. But when it is gravely said that he created Scotland, and especially the Highlands—while we are forced to admit that such a statement is but the reflex of English opinion—we are called on to deny its truth. These ideas are not confined to the common people, for you will find in works by such an accomplished author as the writer of “The Greatest of the Plantagenets,” &c., such a distortion of facts, such a barefaced justification of Edward the First’s proceedings, as compels any Scotsman of proper feeling indignantly to protest against the language used, the inferences drawn, and the results arrived at. In the matter of our unrivalled scenery, the author of the “ Playground of Europe ” writes of the Highlands as “a country of dumpy heather-clad hills” In the keeping up of national traits and feeling, and in a minor degree, local aspirations, we are broadly and frequently told that being now an integral part of a great empire, we but betray a narrow and petty provincialism. I have yet to learn that men devoted to their country, to its ancient language, to their place of nativity, are thereby generally worse citizens. This field is, however, wide, and I for the present shall confine myself to four points. First, I

Shall touch upon the necessity of societies such as ours removing by every legitimate mode the idea that the Highlands was a barbarous country, and the people little better than savages. Such charges have been iterated and reiterated. Let them be refuted and again related by facts, as these are gathered from cotemporary sources and documents of the past. We at once admit that in the early and middle ages, as they may be termed, of authentic Scottish history, much shedding of blood, cruelties, and rapine prevailed. But I ask, were these so peculiar to the Highlands that they must be singled out and held up to reprobation? Were there no Border feuds? Was there no debateable land, so rife with murder and bloodshed as to have necessitated the most arbitrary exercise of power by one of the Scottish Kings? So much for the South of Scotland. Again, in the north, in the counties of Sutherland and Caithness, and in the northern isles, I say unhesitatingly that more purposeless, more sanguine, and more cruel slaughters occurred among the population of Scandinavian descent than will be found in the darkest annals of the Highlands, properly so called. Just let me ask, would any true Highlander—of whom it has been well said that he is always a gentleman—parade by way of epitaph his misdeeds upon his tombstone? But what says a Scandinavian called Donald Mac-Mhorchifc-eoin-nxhoir of himself? Here it is —“Donald Mack, here lyis lo; vas ill to his frend and var to his fo, true to his maister in veird and vo. 1623.” Why, a dog is faithful to his master. Again, was it a Highlander who ordered the head of a man of some status to be instantly struck off because, in the streets of Inverness more than 300 years ago, the unfortunate took “the crown of the causeway?” The more original documents are searched out, the more will it be found, as I feel satisfied from my own researches, that the general character of the Highlander was peaceful, and the undoubted painful events which are scattered over history will be traced to the fact that the people and their immediate masters were driven to desperation by the grinding encroachments of strangers from the south and west. The Parliamentary and criminal records which exist containing such deplorable complaints of the doings of “broken men” in the Highlands and Islands must be received with caution, now that we are acquainted with the favouritism and corruption which surrounded the Court, and sat upon the bench. I do not deny that these criminal proceedings took place, but I say that many of them were unjustifiable, and instigated for private ends. If the Highlanders were, as they have been so often depicted, how is it that so great a change has taken place within little more than a century? The instincts, habits, and actings of race can not, and are not, removed or set aside by Acts of Parliament. We in the Highlands are perhaps the most peaceable, law-abiding people in the world, and if we wish our posterity to think well of us, as all of us must do, then it is not only our duty, but we ought to esteem it our privilege, to rehabilitate our predecessors, by giving them the justice they have not hitherto received. In reference to our own peaceful state and immunity from crime of any magnitude, not merely in the country, but in our northern towns and villages, is it unjustifiable to notice what has been said a few days ago of the assizes of the south?—“ A succession of murders and minor outrages has presented a picture of drunken brutality such as might be more fitly expected in some savage island in the far Pacific, where the natives have just tasted for the first time the terrible poison of drink. The northern circuit has been the chief scene of these horrors, and they tell a shocking story of the state of the well-paid working classes in the district of which Durham is the centra. Do I refer to these with satisfaction? No. I merely wish to remind dwellers in “Merrie England” of the danger of throwing stones from within glass houses.

Second—I shall refer to the collection and preservation of Gaelic literature of whatever character. In referring to Gaelic literature, we can never overestimate our indebtedness to Macpherson. Before his first appearance, everything connected with the ancient state of the Highlands was looked on with disfavour, and by many then living in the Highlands with contempt. It needed, therefore, some strong stimulant to arouse a counter-spirit of enquiry and defence. This was presented in the works of Ossian, which as given by Macpherson so startled the public, that two violent currents set in, one in disparagement and the other in vindication. The enquiries instituted by the Highland Society, and by private parties, had the great good fortune to bring to light vast masses of song, recitation, and legend, which otherwise would in all probability have been lost. We now know pretty well what parts are authentic, and what Macpherson’s own. In justice to Macpherson it may be admitted that the portions supposed to be his own are equal to the originals; and his great poetic genius is undeniable. We, of course, don’t justify his conduct in respect of the famous poems, but really his reputation, private and political, was so bad, that as concerns the poems, the indirect results having been so important, a veil, at least by Highlanders, may be drawn over his translations. Fresh upon the discussions, Dr. Johnson, rough but honest, conies upon the scene, and were it only for his language in regard to Flora Macdonald and his reflections upon landing in Iona, we do forgive all his harsh sayings. He says—“We are now treading that illustrious island which was once the luminary of the Caledonian regions, whence savage clans and roving barbarians derived the benefits of knowledge and the blessings of religion. Far from me, and from my friends, be such frigid philosophy as may conduct us indifferent and unmoved over any ground which has been dignified by wisdom, bravery, or virtue. That man is little to be envied whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona.”

Talk of Scotland being destitute of wood. What now-a-days would English railways and collieries do without our Highland timber? What would Johnson say, what would the hundreds of scribblers say, when decrying the antiquity of the Gaelic language, if they had lived to read the “Book of Deer ” This discovery marks a white stone in the history of Gaelic literature. It is neither more nor less than this, that the oldest Scottish document known to exist, is not written in the English language, but in the Gaelic. Aye, and in Gaelic which is readable by ordinary Gaelic students. I observe Professor Innes describes the writing of the Gaelic chronicle as the hand of the 11th century. Others put it earlier but in any case it now stands as the very first document purely relating to Scotland which exists. The few other documents remaining of that century are in Latin. The antiquity of the language as a written one being thus so satisfactorily established, it would be highly becoming in a Society like ours to search for and print all manuscripts in the language, and to issue in a convenient form new editions of scarce and curious works. Further, all poetry, songs, stories, legends, riddles, incantations, and others should be carefully sought out, collected, and printed. That much in this way has been done, and particularly of late by Campbell of Islay and others is gladly admitted; but much more can yet be preserved of what still floats about in the Highlands and Islands. And here I would hope and trust that the first volume of our Transactions, so satisfactory in every respect, is but the beginning of a long and useful series. A word of caution, however, is perhaps necessary in the collection of stories. If we are listening to a fairy or other legend, imagination alone is at work, and the more vivid the scenes the better. On the other hand, historical stories must be very carefully sifted, for it is well known that events and persons have become blended, though having in reality no connection with each other. And as for dates, few Highlanders only speaking Gaelic can be relied on for periods prior to Culloden. There are many enquiries, no doubt, of a minor character, but still of interest, which our Society might undertake, serving for “Occasional Papers,” as I may call them.

We must not forget to keep in view that the sure mode of permanently and widely enlisting the sympathies and support of Highlanders generally is by popularising Gaelic literature, and the past history of the Highlands. It will not do to have learned essays alone, which, to many, and these leal Highlanders too, are as pleasant reading as a dictionary or grammar. Carrying out these views I would suggest such an investigation as the real origin of Piobaireachd Dhomformill Duibh, If you were to ask nine out of ten, they would doubtless say, of course, it is a tune composed in honour of one of the chiefs of the Camerons. Is Lochiel not Mac Domhnuill Duibh? But, notwithstanding, there will be found one man who will say, and perhaps he alone is right, that it was composed in honour of Donald Bulloch, at the time of the first battle of Inverlochy. The name of Donald Balloch has had to me from a child something of a charm—as I doubt not it has had to many of you—and I, just in passing, notice that lately, when painfully deciphering an old charter, signed at Inverness in 1446, I was delighted to find the name of Donald Balloch as one of the witnesses, bringing him, as it were, almost bodily before me. Another enquiry might, as I have referred to Inverlochy, be this—Was or was not Montrose actually present at the battle therein 1645? Did he command the royal army, and see Mac-Cailean-Mor sneak off ignominiously in his galley? Most people will say—Yes, he was present; but others will say No: that the battle was a surprise brought on by the wonted impetuosity of the Macdonalds, and that Montrose, who had been in the neighbourhood of Killychumin, did not get back until all was over.

Third—The placing of monuments, tablets, or memorials in honour of distinguished Highlanders, or to commemorate great historic events, might well form an important part of the objects of our Society. The name of Flora Macdonald has lately been honoured by a monument which confers the highest credit on the inceptors of the scheme, and those who carried it out; and I must particularly refer to Mackintosh, who lent the influence of an ancient and honoured name; to Mr. Walter Carruthers, who brought the tact, knowledge, and perseverance which have made his paper such a power in the north; to Mr. Alexander Ross, whose massive but chaste design will hand down his name with honour to late generations. Here I cannot help saying of Mr. Ross, that I feel assured the polished citizens of Athens would not have used any artist in the shabby and unfair way those who affect to call their city the Modem Athens have used him! Also, Mr. Forsyth, sculptor, who did his part so well. The name of the Rev. Mr. Macgregor, also a true Highlander, who suggested the memorial forty years ago, and assisted to carry it out, should not be overlooked. In looking over the list of subscribers, Highland feeling may be seen in miniature, and although we don’t find the name of the two Skye potentates, we find with pleasure scores of Macdonalds and Macleods giving their shillings and half-crowns.

Next, I would speak of the field of Culloden. The scene of the battle is visited by hundreds yearly, and from the farthest comers of the earth. That visitors are disappointed will I think be conceded. What form the memorial should take it is not for me to say. All I say is that something ought to be done, and I am aware that Culloden is very willing that something be done, and to take that leading part which becomes him. It occurs to me that this is a subject fairly falling within our .province to discuss, and to endeavour in concert with those interested to carry out.

Lastly, we have tablets to erect in honour of poets such as Ian Lom and others. He lived and had his croft of Clachaig in Brae-Lochaber, “the bard’s croft,” from the time of the Lords of the Isles. His politics were so much in unison with my own, that before this I should have caused a monument to be erected at Kilchaoril, where it might, be naturally supposed his remains would lie; but the matter has stood over, as I have read that he was buried in the church of Duthil. Now, with this locality, or the name of Grant, he could have had no sympathy whatever. I will be very thankful to receive information on this point, and if the story about Duthil be mythical, and there be every reason to suppose he was buried with his kindred, then the picturesque and commanding spot which holds the remains of so many of the brave men and fair women of the Brae of Lochaber, shall not want a suitable memorial of the renowned Ian Lorn.

Fourth, I would direct attention to the importance of encouraging feelings of attachment in Highlanders to the place of their own or their ancestors’ birth. This opens such wide questions as to prevent more than a passing reference. We complain that in the past too many have been compulsorily expatriated. I complain of the great indifference shown by many who have made fortunes in the south or abroad to the land of their birth or origin. Unfortunately, land in the Highlands has changed hands greatly; nay, is changing, and will continue to change. Who are taking possession of the Highlands? As a rule, we are safe to reply sportsmen, or business men. The former necessarily wish as few as possible, and they have no common sympathies. The latter look to returns for their money, and that, it is well known, is easier, if not more certain, from large farms and skilled husbandry. I must not be misunderstood on the matter of sportsmen. Through them rents have quadrupled, whereby the area of taxation has been so much enlarged, as materially to reduce it. Superior houses hare been planted everywhere, good wages are given, and the nature of the occupations evokes rude health to the employed, perpetuated in a vigorous offspring. But notwithstanding, the Highlands can sustain a much larger population than now exists, always, however, if judiciously distributed, taking the climate and locality into account. To do away with sport in a rough and ready manner would be fatal to the Highlands; but, on the other hand, how much fine arable land, what pretty green spots, where cattle were wont to be herded, what numbers of houses, with occasionally an ash tree or a rowan, to denote that one with a taste above his fellows had there his loved abode, are to be found on large sheep farms? But the grass of the arable lands is grey from decay; heather slowly but surely encroaches on the natural pastures; and not the ruins of cottars’ houses, but dismantled walls of the habitations of gentlemen tenants, are found on the possession of a large non-resident sheep farmer. Such places ought again to have their healthy and happy occupants; the land should again be tilled; cattle should again abound, and with all this sport could have its fair place and share. Now, it appears to me that as we cannot look for amelioration from the new classes of buyers I have referred to, we can with reasonable assurance of hope look to such an amelioration, if the Highlands were owned chiefly by Highlanders. What I would wish to impress upon every ambitious young Highlander, determined to win fortune, that he ought to keep in view the acquisition of land as his last and ultimate object, and having so acquired it, to do all in his power for its improvement and development, and for the comfort and happiness of the inhabitants. Such as have followed learned professions, engaged in the service of our country, or occupied in trade, and enabled to retire with comfort, should spend as much of the remainder of their days in the Highlands as possible, where their wealth would do good to trade, and their influence be productive of benefit. Now, as an example of what I have been alluding to, take the case of Mr. Matheson, M.P. Is there a better landlord anywhere? How much has he not done for the North? Is not his name and reputation such as may be envied by the oldest, proudest, or noblest of our northern houses? Now when young, let us say when at school at Inverness, and with the world all before him, must he not have often thought that his ancestors had been great Ross-shire proprietors; were unjustly forfeited at Inverness 400 years ago, and it should be his ambition not only to refound his ancient house, but to extend its borders. We cannot doubt that such feelings and aspirations existed, wafting him on to fortune. Why should not others do the same? Rather is there not every call upon Frasers, Macdonalds, Macleods, Macneills, Macleans, &c., to bestir themselves, re-acquire their old habitations, and inaugurate a new and happier era, when wealth and sympathy would go hand in hand. In furthering such and kindred objects, societies like ours may do much good, and I now ask you to drink prosperity to “The Gaelic Society of Inverness.”

A Gaelic song was then sung by Mr. Hugh Rose.

Mr. Dallas proposed the next toast. This duty, he said, is greatly simplified and rendered easier by the very felicitous and lucid manner in which the Chairman has already set forth the objects of such societies as the Gaelic Society of Inverness. My toast is “Kindred Societies”—a very comprehensive style and title of toast as you will presently see, not by the length of my remarks, but by the bare enumeration of societies established and now existing for purposes kindred to our own. Our leading purposes among others are the perfecting of the members in the use of the Gaelic language—the cultivation of the language, poetry, and music of the Scottish Highlands—and the rescuing from oblivion of Celtic poetry, traditions, legends, books and MSS., and also the furtherance of the interests of the Gaelic people whether at home or abroad. The Gaelic language, it is commonly believed, is destined soon to die out as a spoken language. I am inclined to join this belief, and to say for many reasons which I deem cogent, that I think it would not be against the prosperity of the Highlands of Scotland that it should to that extent disappear. It happens that this island of Great Britain is a great commercial country; and I think no one will deny that we should all agree upon one common vernacular tongue for the transaction of our common business. We are not sufficiently extensive commercially even to render separate languages in the least necessary for our own internal or home transactions, and the English language is now the language in which all our business is transacted. The stated periodical and most welcome visits of English sportsmen to our Highland glens has tended greatly to the extinction of Gaelic as a spoken language. This, however, need not in any way interfere with or impede the progress of such societies; but on the contrary, the very fact that a language so interesting as disclosing legendary lore is destined in the course and progress of events to die out as a spoken language is the best reason why such societies should start up for its preservation and proper culture. The kindred societies to whose prosperity I ask you to join me in this toast comprehend no fewer than sixteen separate bodies. But before naming them perhaps you will allow me so far digress as to say that I in common with others regret that we have no ladies present this evening. The ladies must form a part of all such societies as ours. I have no doubt that the different societies whose prosperity you are asked to toast have lady members, and so have we to a limited extent. I have no intention of violating the rules by introducing politics, but whatever may be said of the great question of women suffrage, and whether the concession of that vast privilege to the fair sex would be attended on the one hand with the immense advantages to the human race which its advocates contend for, or on the other with the dire consequences anticipated by some people, I think we will agree here that the co-operation of the silken cords of all society— the bonds that bind men in peace and harmony with each other— would certainly be a most potent auxiliary to such societies as ours and our kindred brethren. Mr. Dallas concluded by enumerating the kindred societies referred to, and asking for a hearty bumper to their health and prosperity. Should any of their members ever come among us here we would receive them with a hearty welcome.

After some excellent pipe music, including a beautiful piobair-eachd, from Pipe-Major Maclennan, the veteran piper of the H.L.I., Militia, who was in attendance, and performed during supper and between the toasts,

Sheriff Macdonald rose and proposed, in the Gaelic language, the toast of “The Gaelic People,” which called forth loud cheers.

Mr. Murdoch proposed “Celtic Literature.” He said that after the very excellent opening address of the Chairman, and the reference of Mr. Dallas to so many kindred societies engaged in advancing Celtic literature, there was little left for him to say at that late hour. He always felt the awkwardness of the position in which he stood, owing to the attitude taken up by considerable numbers who asserted that there was no Celtic literature at all. He seemed as if he were acting in antagonism where he was only asserting facts, which should be known to all intelligent men. There was neither antagonism nor anything narrowing in setting forth the facts and claims of Celtic literature; we were rather insisting upon contributing our share to the literature of the world, and in our researches we came into friendly contact with our friends in Wales, in the Isle of Man, and in Ireland, which were teeming with valuable materials of this kind. Indeed, Celtic literature was to be found where but very few looked for it; and it was curious to observe the different treatments extended to Macpherson when he laid before the world what were really and ostensibly Celtic poems, and to Tennyson when he brought forth really Celtic poems under an English guise. No one raised a question as to the latter, whilst a regular war arose out of the former. The “Idyls of the King” were not only Celtic in their subject and their incidents, but they were positively Welsh ballads, and so much so, that whole lines, sentences, paragraphs, and even pages, with merely artistic touches, could be traced to Lady G. Fullerton’s translations of Welsh into English. Another unexpected quarter in which we found Celtic literature was Buchanan’s History of Scotland, composed by a born Celt, from Celtic authorities, and with an intensely Celtic argument. The spirit of the Celtic polity is particularly strong in his arguments on the succession to the throne. It was, perhaps, after all, consistent, first to steal our literature, and then say we had none! There were three famous Gaelic compositions of which it was said :—“Gach dan gu dcm cm Devrg; gach sgeul gu sgeul Chonail; agus gach laoidh gu laoidh cm amadain mkovr;” conveying that the standard to which each poem was to be referred was the song of the Red; each story to the story of Connal; and each lay to the lay of the Great Fool. “The Red” was Diarmid O’Duine; of all the great Connals, the one in the story was Connal Gulbinn; and the Great Fool was no fool at all. There was no occasion for him to say another word in favour of the toast, unless it were that they should fill their glasses of good Ness water, and drink a bumper to Celtic Literature.

The song “Scotland Yet” was sung in excellent style by Mr. Campbell (of Messrs. Davidson & Scott, solicitors).

Mr. Fraser, C.E., gave the health of “The Provost and Magistrates of Inverness,” and in doing so referred to the importance and extent of their duties, discharged without fee or reward, and frequently he believed at the cost of much time and trouble which might have been devoted to their own business. Three bailies had honoured this meeting with their presence, and were members of the Society; but every member of the Council ought to join them, and thereby show a good example to the rest of the community.

Bailie Simpson responded. Any little time or trouble devoted to the affairs of the town by his colleagues and himself was amply repaid by securing the good will of those they represented. He was particularly well pleased to see presiding over the company to-night his old and esteemed friend so long at the Council board, and would for one be delighted if Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh came back among them and gave them a helping hand. They had fought together for a long time in a minority, but the tables were now turned, and the side with which he acted had things now pretty much their own way. He trusted their excellent Chairman to-night would by-and-bye return with honour to the Council where he served so long and faithfully.

“Come under my plaidie,” an excellent Gaelic translation, was sung in a hearty and humorous style, at the call of the Chairman, by Mr. Cumming, Allanfearn.

The Chairman then proposed “the Ladies" which, he said, might have more appropriately been given to Mr. Alexander Mackenzie, who had lately been acting as gallant advocate for the sex. He expressed cordial approval of the proposal to have lady members, and their presence at the festive meetings of the Society.

Mr. Fraser, Faillie, gave “the Press,” coupled with the local newspapers, which was responded to by Mr. W. B. Forsyth.

The song “Wha’ll be King but Chairlie,” in Gaelic and English, was sung in capital style by Sheriff Macdonald, after which the Chairman proposed a hearty bumper to the worthy Sheriff’s health, and the Sheriff suitably acknowledged the compliment, stating that now he was an enrolled member of the Society he should be only too glad to do all that lay in his power to promote its interests.

Mr. Alex. Mackenzie proposed “the Members of Committee,” coupled with their excellent and efficient Secretary, Mr. William Mackay. Next to the toast of the ladies, this was the one he most preferred to give. The great and successful exertions made by the members of the committee in conducting the affairs of this Society, and the perseverance and sound practical sense they invariably exhibited, led to the gratifying position which the Society had now attained. And to the Secretary they were specially indebted for the attention he devoted to their affairs. he had other duties of his own to attend to, and yet without fee or reward he gave much of his time and talents—many of his hours of sleep, it was to be feared—to pushing forward the work of the Society. He trusted the Society would not loose his services, which had been invaluable up to the present and would be so henceforward.

Mr. Mackay, in thanking the company for the honour done him, said he only regretted that he was not able to devote more of his time to the Society’s affairs; but what he had been able to do, had been a pleasure and delight to him—it had brought him many personal friends, whose acquaintance he might never otherwise have formed, and it had brought him into correspondence with some of the most eminent literary men in the country—a circumstance of which he would be proud as long as he lived. He had been greatly helped in the performance of his duties by Mr. Duncan Mackintosh, Bank of Scotland, and but for that gentleman’s willing and valuable assistance he could never have undertaken the amount of work that had occasionally to be done.

Bailie Macbean proposed “the Chairman.”

The Chairman, in responding, said that he had much pleasure in being present to-night, and when called on to preside over the meeting, though he had much other business to attend to, and his health was not what he would like it to be, he found he really could not refuse, for his sympathies and his heart were with them in this matter.

A Gaelic song was sung by Mr. Charles Mackay, Drummond.

The Chairman rose and proposed “the health of their friends from a distance,” to whom the Society were much indebted for their attendance to-night, and for the interest they showed in its affairs. He coupled the toast with Mr. Fraser, a gentleman who had come all the way from Glenelg to be present at this meeting.

Mr. Fraser expressed his thanks for so kindly remembering the strangers from a distance. The best return he could make for this kindness was to state that having already become a member, he promised to secure another one to the Society. He was much gratified by the success of this meeting, and should have great pleasure in circulating all he had seen and heard to-night.

Mr. Dallas proposed “Our Chief, Cluny Macpherson,” whom they should be proud of having at their head. Their Chief had delivered the best Gaelic address ever given before the members of this Society. Cluny was not a young man, but he was still a splendid specimen of a Highlander. If he remembered aright, it was of Cluny that Sir Walter Scott wrote in 1825 as the “fine spirited lad” who headed the procession of Highlanders on the occasion of Mons Meg being placed in Edinburgh Castle.

The Chairman said Mr. Dallas was right as to the remark of Sir Walter Scott.

The toast of “the Croupiers” was then proposed by Bailie Simpson, and acknowledged by Mr. Dallas, after which Mr. Alex. Mackenzie proposed “the Absent Members,” and in so doing suggested that those members at a distance who were unable to attend the meetings of the Society, might show their interest in its concerns by writing papers, which would be read at their meetings by some other member residing in town—many could write such papers, and would have the pleasure of seeing them in the Society’s handsome volume of Transactions.

Messrs. Mackay and Mackintosh then sung together a Gaelic song, and the Chairman proposed that as the hour was late it was about time to part. He said they were exceedingly indebted to the gentlemen who had favoured them with songs, especially Gaelic ones, and who had contributed so much to the harmony of the evening. Before parting they could not do less than tender their acknowledgments to Mr. and Mrs. Christie for the excellent manner in which they had discharged their part of the duties—the attendance having been entirely satisfactory and all the materials supplied most excellent, for which they deserved the company’s best thanks.

The meeting then broke up, after singing together at the Chairman’s suggestion the bard of the Society’s Gaelic translation of the National Anthem.


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