Check all the Clans that have DNA Projects. If your Clan is not in the list there's a way for it to be listed. Electric Scotland's Classified Directory An amazing collection of unique holiday cottages, castles and apartments, all over Scotland in truly amazing locations.

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh, M.P. and Gaelic in Highland Schools
Great Celtic Demonstration


On Wednesday, April 24, 1878, what has not been unappropriated called “The Great Celtic Demonstration” took place in Inverness. On the 13th of March, the Gaelic Society of Inverness resolved to recognise, in a public way, the services which Mr. Charles Fraser-Mackintosh, M.P., had rendered to the cause of Highland education by presenting him with an Address, and afterwards entertaining him at a public dinner. The result of that resolution was the “Great Celtic Demonstration.” Other Highland Societies were invited to co-operate in the matter ; and all those communicated with cordially approved of the proposal— many of them sending representatives to Inverness. In short, so heartily was the matter gone into that not only were the proposed honours done to Mr. Mackintosh, but also the cause which this Society has at heart received a fresh impetus—the whole demonstration clearly proving there is still more vitality in the “Celtic cause” than even the most enthusiastic Celt could readily believe. The order of the programme was (I) Presentation of the Address, and the passing of resolutions relative to the teaching of Gaelic, (2) Federation meeting, and (3) the Dinner.

MR. FRASER-MACKINTOSH, M.P., AND GAELIC IN HIGHLAND SCHOOLS.

Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh was presented with the Address in the Town Hall at one o’clock, and there was a large attendance of ladies and gentlemen. Pipe-Major Maclennan played appropriate airs at the entrance, and as Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh entered the hall, accompanied by the Provost, he was greeted with cheers, the audience rising to their feet.

The Provost, who presided, mentioned that he had received a number of apologies for absence, some of them of a very friendly and cordial nature. One was from Mackintosh of Mackintosh, saying that it was impossible for him to come to Inverness just now, but that he heartily sympathised with the meeting; another of the same tenor from Cluny, who was obliged to leave Scotland a few weeks ago on account of his health; and others from Dr. Charles Mackay, Mr. Mackintosh of Holme, and many others. There was also a letter from Sir Kenneth Mackenzie, expressing his warm approval of the demonstration, and his regret that owing to the occurrence of another meeting which he was obliged to attend, he could not be present to propose one of the resolutions. And now, the Provost continued (turning to Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh), in the unavoidable absence of the Chief of the Gaelic Society (Mr. John Mackay of Swansea), I have been requested by the General Committee to present you with this Address on behalf of numerous Celtic Societies throughout the kingdom, whose representatives are present to-day. I regret that Mr. Mackay’s state of health prevents his taking the journey here now: I hope he will be with us at the annual meeting in July. The enthusiasm with which Mr. Mackay enters into everything affecting the prosperity and advancement of Highlanders and the Highlands could not have a more fitting outlet than in expressing the thanks and congratulations of the Celtic Societies to you for the good work you have done in the cause of Highland education. I feel how inadequately I can do this, but it may not be unsuitable for me, as representing the Capital of the Highlands, to present you with this Address, seeing that in Inverness Gaelic is still the spoken language of a large number of its inhabitants ; the loved and cherished tongue in which they hold intercourse with each other, and above all, in which they praise and worship God. With this before me I believe I am discharging an important duty when I take my part in congratulating you on what you have done for the instruction of the children of the Highlands through their native tongue. We consider that you have obtained a most valuable concession by the recognition of Gaelic teaching in the Education Code for this year, and the whole subject is now practically in the hands of the School Boards. It will be well that no uncertain sound goes forth from this meeting as to the duty of School Boards in this matter. I would rejoice to see the School Boards of this burgh and parish taking the noble step of initiating the subject, by giving an opportunity, in some at least of their schools, for instruction through the Gaelic. Such examples would be sure to be followed, and so the instruction would soon be universal in the Highlands. a trust you will allow me here to refer to an article which appeared in Chambers's Journal for March, a second article on “The Gaelic Nuisance,” as the venerable and esteemed editor of that journal heads it. He had written strongly on the subject some months before, and finding that he was “apparently misunderstood by some,” he generously comes forward to explain himself, and says that he “offered no objection to the use of Gaelic, provided the young were brought up with a knowledge of English.” It is this use of Gaelic that we have contended for, and that has all along been desired. The article goes on to speak of Highlanders in a way we may well feel proud of and that does hon6ur to the writer. He afterwards quotes from an address of Mr. Simon S. Laurie (Professor of Education in the University of Edinburgh) on the subject of Education in the Highlands, who who gives it as his opinion that “they could not teach English to the Highlanders well except through the Gaelic;” and he adds, “The Highland children learned very quickly—more quickly than the Lowland children. They could soon read with perfect fluency such a book as ‘M'Culloch’s Course of Reading,’ and yet not understand a single word; showing that they would not learn English well except through Gaelic.” All this shows a growing sense of the importance of the subject you have done so much to promote, which has earned for you the well-deserved and honoured designation of “The Member for the Highlands.” I trust that the marked success which has attended your efforts in the past will stimulate you to continue the good work—if your true Highland heart needs any stimulus but the inborn love for the good of your native north. I don’t think it does still one enjoys success, and others seeing yours will more readily also put their hands to the work. We rejoice to see that amidst all the heavy labours of Parliam«ntary life you are enjoying good health. We trust that you may be long spared to discharge the important duties connected therewith, believing as we do how earnestly you desire to help in the advancement of the moral and material prosperity of our common country, but especially of our own beloved Highlands. Meantime I beg your acceptance of this Address, with the hearty good wishes of the Societies here represented and of many others who, had opportunity served, would have been with us to-day. (Loud and prolonged cheering.) '

The Provost then read the address, which was as follows :—

To Charles Fraser-Mackintosh, Esquire of Drummond, M.P.

Sir,—We beg to congratulate you on the marked success which has attended your efforts since you entered Parliament to secure for the Gaelic-speaking children of the Highlands the use of, and instruction in, their native tongue in our national schools.

You have this session obtained a recognition in the Education Code for Scotland of the principle that the language should be taught in the schools and paid for out of the school rates. This we value as a most important admission by Government of the educational requirements and claims so long contended for by the Gaelic speaking people of the Highlands; and as a valuable concession that places the teaching of Gaelic in the hands of the School Boards, which is practically to give to the ratepayers the power to enforce the teaching of that language wherever they desire it. We trust that this is only the beginning of what you may yet be able to accomplish, if properly supported by the united efforts of those who take a real and earnest interest in the education of our Highland youth.

You well deserve the honourable designation so happily accorded you—“the Member for the Highlands.” On the question which we, as representatives of the Celtic Societies throughout the country, have most at heart—the interest of the Gaelic people—you are undoubtedly entitled to that designation, and so long as you, the only Gaelic-speaking member in the House of Commons, continue our representative, and act in the interests of the Highland people as you have done hitherto, you will always secure the sympathy and support of every genuine and true-spirited Highlander.

Wo desire on this occasion to extend to you our hearty sympathy in your valuable advocacy of' the Gaelic cause, and to' offer you every encouragement in our power to persevere, until Gaelic

shall, at least, occupy that place in our educational system which is already accorded to other ancient and modern languages, and until Highland education as a whole, shall be such as to fit our youth for that position, both in our own and in other lands, which they are entitled to occupy.

We tender you our hearty and sincere thanks for what you have already accomplished for your Highland countrymen, and wish you long life and happiness, and that you may for many years to come be able to discharge the important duties of your position.

These expressions of thanks and continued confidence we now most heartily accord to you, in the name and on behalf of our respective societies; and we remain,

Sir,

Your obedient and faithful Servants,

Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh, on rising to reply, was received with loud cheering. He said—Provost Simpson, ladies and gentlemen —It is quite needless for me to say that I feel highly flattered by being here upon this occasion to receive at the hands, not only of my fellow-townsmen, but also of the representatives of numerous Highland Societies, the Address which has now been read. What I may have helped to do for the Highland cause was only what I considered my duty to do—and I must say that when I was first told that this movement was spoken of, I rather felt disposed that it should not be insisted upon. I had already on various occasions received most honourable and substantial recognitions from my townsmen, and were it not that I was informed that an opportunity would be taken of the proposed gathering to initiate a federation of all Highland Societies, I should have preferred that no demonstration such as the present should have taken place. While making these observations I must at the same time—and that with all sincerity—say I feel most warmly the compliment tliat is now paid to me—a compliment enhanced in that it is presented through you, sir, with whom I have been so long and so intimately acquainted, holding as you do with so much credit the honourable position of Chief Magistrate of our ancient Highland Capital. For your own observations I tender you my warmest thanks, :ind at the same time add that the occurrences of this day will not soon be forgotten by me. Provost, ladies and gentlemen, on looking around me it adds to the depth of my feelings when I think that the proceedings of this day are, if not the last, necessarily very nearly the last, of a public character which will take place within this ancient building. Before proceeding to make some observations upon the address just delivered to me, I should like to refer for a moment to the first speech of a political character I ever delivered. That speech was delivered by me in the Music Hall, Inverness, on the 28tli August, 1873, and in it  I used these words—“I also claim your suffrages as a Highlander—speaking and familiar with the Gaelic language, and ready to advocate in the highest quarters all the legitimate requirements of the Highland people—many of which have hitherto been entirely neglected and grievously overlooked and ignored.” The views I then expressed I have- ever since kept before me, and endeavoured to follow out, and if some measure of success has attended them, I owe much of it to the enthusiastic support I have always received from the Gaelic Society of Inverness and Highlanders generally. And now let me refer to the address. Ever since I was returned to Parliament, the matter of teaching Gaelic in the schools in the Highlands has been before me. In 1876 matters had so far progressed that I was in a position to place a motion on the notice paper of the House regarding the teaching of Gaelic in our Highland schools, and it secured what I thought a favourable position. Prior to this, a deputation from the Gaelic School Society—the deputation consisting of those zealous well-known Highlanders and Gaelic scholars, Rev. Dr. Maclauchlan and Rev. J. C. Macphail, Edinburgh—had waited on the Education Department and received no encouragement. A previous motion occupied so many hours in debate that my Gaelic motion could not be brought on. A great step was gained however at a subsequent period, in the Education Department agreeing to issue circulars to a certain number of school boards containing queries—first as to whether or not the school boards were disposed to take advantage of Gaelic; second—whether or not Gaelic teachers could be got; and third—the number of children who would probably attend these schools. This was a valuable concession; and I have a pretty strong opinion that if it were thought that the returns would be so favourable to the teaching of Gaelic, the circular in question would never have been issued. In the year 1877 the returns were printed, upon a motion made by me; and, as most of you know, these returns were of a most satisfactory character, more particularly as they showed there would be no difficulty in getting sufficient Gaelic teachers.2 Again, the publication of the returns was upon the whole so encouraging, that I had no hesitation in placing a resolution similar to that of 1876 upon the notice paper of the House this year. On this occasion I was fortunate to have the first place, and unless anything unforeseen occurred, the debate was certain to take place. In the interval Dr. Maclauchlan and Mr. Macphail, along with our townsman, Mr. Mackenzie, of the Tolbooth Church, Edinburgh, came again to London, and we had an interview with the Lord President of the Council, and a very unsatisfactory interview it was. Here I must express my cordial acknowledgment and bear testimony to the fact .that a great deal of the success which was afterwards attained was due to those gentlemen, as also to Mr. Badenach Mcolson, Secretary to the Lord Advocate. It was through the influence of the Gaelic School Society of Edinburgh that the petitions which I was enabled to present in great numbers to the House were brought up. Several of these petitions were very numerously signed. Erom the parish of Knock, for instance, we had a petition signed by upwards of 1400 persons, and it was a matter of great satisfaction to myself to receive along with these petitions letters couched in most friendly and flattering terms. I recollect particularly being struck with the remarks of the Eree Church minister of Harris, and also of the Free Church minister of Durness. The latter had been himself an inspector of schools, and offered personal and direct testimony of the benefits of teaching Gaelic. Indeed I may say that I was rewarded for all my exertions by the pleasant letters I received from all parts of the country. Two or three days prior to the night fixed for the discussion, I had an interview with Sir Francis Sandford, accompanied by Mr. Badenach Nicolson; and doubtless a good deal owing to the number of petitions which were constantly flowing in and noted in the Daily Journal of the House, the concession, with which I presume you are all perfectly familiar, was then agreed upon, and the limit of two hours which at first was thought of was struck out, leaving the time of instruction in the Gaelic language unlimited. It may be of some little interest that you should know some of the members who -were good enough to promise their support. My motion was to be seconded by Mr. Cowan, one of the members for Edinburgh. It would be supported by Dr. Cameron, one of the. members for Glasgow; Mr. Holms, member for Paisley ; Mr. Stewart, member for Greenock, and Mr. Yeaman, one of the members for Dundee—gentlemen who all represent groat and important southern constituencies. In the north or Highland districts I would have the support of Lord Macduff, of the Marquis of Lorne, Mr. Malcolm of Poltallocb, and, I think I may say, of the Marquis of Stafford. I would also have some support from Wales. I would have the cordial support of Mr. Sullivan, member for Louth, one of our most accomplished orators, and who was good enough to assure me that he would bring up a large Celtic contingent from the Sister Isle. I have mentioned the name of my friend Mr. Stewart, member for Greenock. He has a good Highland name, and I may remark, what I am sure will be satisfactory to those who are interested in our proposed federation, that the Highlanders of Greenock were very active in the late election, and uniting themselves strongly together, voted, I believe, en masse for Mr. Stewart, of course receiving from him an honourable understanding how he was to vote on the subject of Gaelic in Highland Schools. In sad contrast to the case of Greenock, I must refer to the case of Leith. Upon asking the support of my friend Mr. Grant (who also bears a good Highland name), and suggesting that no doubt he had been communicated with by some Highlanders among his constituents, he told me he never heard a word on the subject, and I was really forced to the conclusion that there was not a single Highlander in Leith. If there be any, I trust that as the matter has now been made public, they will immediately associate themselves, and like their brethren in Greenock, make their influence felt ill Parliamentary affairs. I also wish to say that a distinguished member, whose premature death has been a great loss to the House and to Scotland—Sir William Stirling-Maxwell—was entirely with me in this question. There are a great number of Highlanders in the county he represented, and though he was not able himself to speak Gaelic, he had a great appreciation of the Highland character, and thought the language ought to be taught in schools ; and I am informed that Sir William’s address in the last contest was translated into Gaelic, and displayed in large posters throughout the Highlands of Perthshire, being perhaps the only political address ever issued in the Gaelic language in this country. Mr. Ramsay, member for the Falkirk Burghs, is not generally in favour of Gaelic, but he is a most painstaking and conscientious representative, and he agreed that where Gaelic was the mother-tongue, the children should at least be taught to read the Bible in that language. We have made undoubtedly a considerable advance, and we should not rest fully satisfied until Gaelic be made a “special subject;” and I assure you that anything I can do to get this brought about will certainly be done. I cannot, however, hold out any promises that we can get this immediately. At the same time we must keep it before us, particularly when we ascertain the effects of the concessions now made. There are other speakers to follow, and as I am to meet you in the evening, I will not detain you longer just now, but I cannot resume my seat without again expressing my sincerest thanks for this manifestation of your goodwill.—(Loud and continued cheering.)

The Rev. Mr. Macgregor then rose to move the following resolution :—“This Meeting is of opinion that the School Boards throughout the Highlands should take immediate steps to avail themselves of the concession made by the Education Department in the Scotch Code for 1878 in favour of teaching Gaelic in Highland Schools, and desire to impress upon the ratepayers the importance of returning members at the next election of School Boards who will carry out their wishes on this subject.” Having read the resolution, he said :—This resolution is a very important one, and if carried by you, as I hope it may, will give energy and point, to what has been so happily said already by the Provost, whom I am glad to see leading in this important movement, as chief magistrate of the Highland Capital, and likewise so forcibly urged by the eloquence and judicious statements of the honourable Member of Parliament now present. To him we are indebted for the measure of success already attained; and we have met here this day publicly to acknowledge his services to the Gaelic cause, to thank him cordially, and to encourage him to continue his future efforts in the same direction. He has given us a clear illustration and a noble example of- what tact and perseverance can achieve in a good cause, and what happy results may be attained when advocated with firmness judiciously and temperately exercised. Some years ago, when the Gaelic Society of Inverness was brought into existence by a few of our friends, everything which savoured of Gaelic or the Gaelic people was looked upon almost with contempt by a numerous section of the population. Now, however, matters have happily changed, and everything relative to the cause looks more favourable. Led by our excellent representative, so well supported by Dr. Maclauchlan, Rev. Mr. Macphail, and the Celtic Societies throughout the country, we have now scaled the Avails and carried the ramparts of prejudice; but we must not be satisfied with the measure of success thus attained, however important. We must clear the fort completely, and plant our colours on the highest pinnacle of the very citadel. We and the ratepayers in all our Highland parishes must take rare that we receive the full benefit of the concession already made, and although it is but comparatively small, the principle conceded is most important. The Code leaves the matter entirely in the hands of the School Boards, which is practically to place it in the hands of the ratepayers. If they desire to let Gaelic instruction occupy its merited place in our Highland Schools it is their duty to return members to their School Boards who will be favourable to their views. For the teaching of Gaelic they are now allowed to receive payment out of the school rates, which in itself is no small boon. Let us therefore pull hard and pull together—shoulder to shoulder—“Clann nan Gaidheal an guaillibh a’ cheile.” Let all parties concerned see that the proper men are returned at the next election of School Boards, men pledged to have our native language taught in our own schools, throughout the Highlands and Islands. This cannot be too strongly insisted on. It is reasonable and just, and iu accordance with good common sense. It is actually impossible that an intelligent education in English can ever bo imparted, except through the language already known to the children, any more than that we could expect an English child to acquire a knowledge of French or German with any success, without the use of his own language as a medium. This was my own humble opinion upwards of forty years ago, when I wrote a paper to the late Dr. Woodford on the state of education in the Isle of Skye, in reference to a district iu the parish of Kilmuir, where my father and myself were ministers. I beg leave to read the following brief extract from the said paper:— “In this district there are two schools, one from the Gaelic School Society, and the other the Parish School. From the former, English is totally excluded, and the pupils, principally girls, are taught to read a little of the Gaelic Scriptures, but get no knowledge of English, or of any other branch whatever. In this respect, the pupils grow up quite ignorant of the national language and quite helpless and isolated as to associating with their southern brethren, to whom they have frequently to resort for employment. In the Parish School, on the other hand, the very opposite course is practised :—every vocable of their vernacular Gaelic is excluded, and the child that is discovered stealthily speaking it in school receives an infliction from the master’s tawse. There are classes, therefore, of boys and girls in their teens who can read English fluently, distinctly, and correctly, and still do not understand the meaning of one word out of a hundred that they are reading. The system practised in both these schools is palpably erroneous. From the very beginning the vocables in English reading should be explained in the mother tongue of the pupils, and vice versa. In this way the children would take pleasure in their tasks, and would arrive at a proficiency in reading and understanding both languages in half the time that they would otherwise acquire a knowledge of either.” This proper system of teaching was practised in the sequestered district of Aberiachan in this parish, for many years, and I hope it is so still. When visiting the school there twenty-four years ago, and every year since, until of late, it was delightful to see how the pupils acquitted themselves in translating from English to Gaelic, and from Gaelic to English, and how speedily they acquired such an amount of useful knowledge that many of them are filling important situations in different quarters of the kingdom.

The same prudent system has been carried on for the last half century at Culaird, in the parish of Dores, by the worthy veteran teacher, Mr. Whyte. It is repeatedly brought forward as a bar to the desired system that there are no teachers in the Highlands capable of giving instruction in the language. This fallacy, however, has been exploded by the return made to the House of Commons last year on the motion of Mr. Fraser Mackintosh. This return was the pivot or turning-point in the question; for out of the 103 School Boards to which the circular had been addressed, 65, to the surprise even of those who had advocated the Gaelic cause, replied in favour of teaching the vernacular in the schools under their charge, while only 25 were opposed to it. These latter and the 13 Boards that did not condescend to make any returns ought to be watched, and, on the first opportunity, to be quietly relieved of their services. It has been most unreasonably maintained by some, who are either unable or unwilling to take an intelligent grasp of the subject, that a knowledge of Gaelic handicapped the possessor in the race of life. Nothing can be more mistaken. It is not the knowledge of Gaelic, but the ignorance of English that hinders the Highlander when he is hindered in the walks of commerce. If any proof be wanted as to the fallacy of our opponents on this point, it is forthcoming in the fact that north of the Grampians those very men who knew Gaelic best were the same men who also spoke and wrote English best. This seems to me so important a point that I will give a few names to substantiate the assertion. In order not to appear invidious, I will quote from an article on teaching Gaelic in Highland Schools which appeared in an early number of the Celtic Magazine. The writer is our energetic, enthusiastic, Highland friend, the editor of the Celtic Magazine. He says :—“ In reply to the objection that those who are taught Gaelic can never write English with the same fluency as those who obtain an exclusively English education, we assert that those of our Highland countrymen who knew, spoke, and wrote Gaelic best, are pre-eminent amongst us as the best writers of English—such, for instance as ‘Old’ Norman Macleod; the late Dr. Norman Macleod; Dr. Macleod of Morven, and his three sons; Sir James Mackintosh; Dr. Mackintosh Mackay; John Mackenzie, of the ‘ Beauties of Gaelic Poetry ; ’ Dr. Maclachlan; Dr. Clerk, Kilraallie; Sheriff Nioolson; Mr. Cameron, of Renton; James Macpherson, of Ossianic fame; Dr. Kennedy, Dingwall; Mr. Blair, Glasgow; ‘Nether Lochaber;’ D. Mackinnon, Edinburgh; The Macdonalds of Fort-William and the Times; and many others we could mention. "We shall be delighted to see produced a list of writers from the Highlands, even if possessed of the so-called qualification of a total ignorance of the Gaelic language, to equal these men in English composition. The contention of our opponents is really so irrational and absurd as to be unworthy of notice, were it not that we see men of position seriously giving expression to such absurdities. We have even seen a gentleman who has been elevated since, much to the surprise of the profession, to the position of an Inspector of Schools, stoutly maintaining it in large type in the columns of one of our northern newspapers. Such arguments amount to this—that a real and thorough knowledge of his native language, whether it be Gaelic, English, or French, is a drawback and a disqualification for acquiring and writing a foreign one, and that the greater his ignorance of his native tongue, the greater the proficiency of a scholar in a foreign one; while common sense (which is unfortunately, in educational circles sometimes, and especially on this question, very uncommon), and all the experience of the past, go to prove the very opposite.” Example is better than precept. It would be delightful, therefore, to see this Highland Capital going prominently forward in showing a good example, as they have to-day done in inculcating a good precept, A Gaelic teacher in one or all of our burgh schools would be of vast and universal benefit, and such could easily be procured. Pupils would spring up in abundant numbers, and thereby acquire a correct knowledge of a language so needful and necessary for the clergymen of all our Highland parishes. Such a provision would form little Celtic Chairs, and pave the way for a higher and more critical education from the forthcoming Professorial Chair in the Capital of Scotland, and would further secure the benefits and beauties of an ancient language so characteristic in its philological properties. Our worthy Provost, during what is past of the period of his magistracy, has achieved great things in this Capital, with the co-operation of his brethren in office—as Lochashie, the Town Hall, the riverside railing, and numberless minor improvements can testify—and why not add to the rest a little Celtic Chair in at least one of our town seminaries—while in doing so he would find powerful coadjutors in the School Board here ? Now, one word as to our worthy representative in Parliament. He is, I believe, the only member in that House who is able to understand and to speak our genuine Highland Gaelic. It is a language which he greatly appreciates—a language which he has done so much to foster—and a language with which he has been familiar from his childhood. vV ere it requisite he could deliver a powerful address in it in Parliament, and cause the Halls of St. Stephen’s to resound with the melodious accents of the mountain tongue. Yes—his eloquence in an unknown tongue would cause a smile to glow over the sallow countenance of the aged Beaconsfield himself, and all would admire the earnestness of his appeals! He would stand then alone—unassailable in his reasoning—impregnable in his arguments—and the very beau ideal or personification of the quaint but characteristic motto of his distinguished clan—“ Touch not the cat bot a glove ! ” I beg now to move the resolution just read. (Loud cheers.)

Captain Chisholm of Glassbum, in seconding, said—Mr. Macgregor has left nothing unsaid, and I would merely remark that I trust every ratepayer with a spark of Highland spirit in his bosom will see the force of this resolution, and act up to it at the proper time. (Loud cheers.)

Dr. MacFaild, Greenock, in supporting the resolution, said he agreed with the resolution in every respect, and should endeavour to do all he could to promote it. As the representative of the Highlanders of Greenock, delegated by the Greenock Highland Society and the Greenock Ossian Club, he had the honour to convey to Mr. Charles Fraser-Mackintosh their deep sentiments of gratitude on their behalf for his zeal for the honour of the Highlanders, and for his lofty enthusiasm for preserving and cherishing an ancient language which recorded the exploits of their heroic ancestors, which would ever form the social tie of the Highland race. He had further to congratulate him, in the face of difficulties and impediments, where success would appear a function of unlikelihood, but by force of genius and dint of tact, stimulated by genuine patriotism, he conducted his undertaking step by step to a triumphant issue, every way worthy a scion of the very ancient and noble stock of the Clan Chattan. He would further venture to supplement his greetings as a delegate by saying that he (Mr. Mackintosh) should never regret the good work he had done, but that he would always have occasion to look back to his Parliamentary career with much pride and satisfaction, and look forward with the full assurance that his name would survive all the temporary eulogies committed to marble or brass. (Loud cheers.)

The resolution was then carried with acclamation.

Rev. A. D. Mackenzie, Kilmorack, moved the second resolution. He said it seemed to him the natural sequence of the one which the meeting had just adopted, and not its natural sequence alone, but to be the only means by which the benefit conceded by the Education Department could be fully carried out. The motion was as follows :—

“This meeting resolves that earnest and continued effort be made until Gaelic shall at least occupy that place in our educational system in the Gaelic-speaking districts of the Highlands which is already accorded to foreign languages, by its being made a special subject”

Mr. Mackenzie, in advocating the adoption of the motion, said he was in circumstances to avail himself of every consideration that had been urged in favour of the first resolution. For if it were important for them to take advantage of the benefit already conceded to them, he thought he should be able to show that they could do so only by obtaining the further concession that Gaelic should be made a special subject He might be allowed to say at the outset that ever since the passing of the Education Act he felt a deep interest in the subject, and, so far as he knew, was the first to take public action in the matter, by bringing an overture before the Free Synod of Ross in 1873, advocating the teaching of Gaelic in the national schools in Gaelic-speaking districts, and also that the teachers appointed to such schools should be as far as it was practicable teachers acquainted with the Gaelic language. This overture had been unanimously received and transmitted to the Free General Assembly. He would first consider what the present concession amounted to. When he heard of the recognition of Gaelic in the Code of 1878, he at once procured a copy and proceeded to investigate it. In a note at the foot of the eighth page, he found that School Boards were permitted to pay out of the school income “ part of the salary of an organising teacher, or of a teacher of Gaelic, drill, cooking, or any other special subject!” Again, on page nine, under letter C—3, it was further recorded “In districts where Gaelic is spoken the intelligence of the children examined under any paragraph of this article (19) may be tested” (not should or ought to be, but “may be”) “by requiring them to explain in Gaelic the meaning of the passage read.” Here were children at a great disadvantage as compared with some of their class-fellows, and surely in justice to those children it should be prescribed as the duty of the Inspector to give them the opportunity of exhibiting their general intelligence by reference to their native speech. But then in a footnote in connection with this was found the crowning boon— “Gaelic may be taught during the ordinary school hours either by the certificated teacher or by any person specially employed for the purpose.” Receiving this with all thankfulness, he would now endeavour to show the reasonableness of asking for more. Though he was no great adept in statistics, he should venture to make a rough guess at the number of Gaelic-speaking people in the Highlands. From the experience of those, on the one hand, who had no other language, to those on the other, who prefer Gaelic as a means of religious instruction, he thought they might be set down in round numbers as 200,000. If they allowed one-fourth of these who by force of character, natural endowments, or other favourable circumstances, might be expected to raise themselves from the humble position usually occupied by the Highland peasantry, an allowance was made of more than was ample. Then the remaining 150,000 must live and die as their fathers did before them. He need not remind them how conservative of all the habits and traditions of his race was the Highlander. Hardy, brave, and pure in morals, he clung to the customs and language of his race with a tenacity that formed a great hindrance to his progress. Here then was the problem— What were they to do with them in the meantime1? It might be answered—What was done with them in the past? If he were asked who were their benefactors in the past, he would grieve to have to say not the Government of the country. Tens of thousands had been lavishly expended upon their more turbulent congeners of Ireland, but what had been done for them ] Often had they stood on the deadly breach and turned the tide of war. How closely was the military glory of Britain associated with the gallant Highlandman, and yet most shamefully had he been neglected ! Who had been their benefactors, he again asked 1 First and foremost, the Gaelic School Society. All honour to its directors, past and present, and to the devoted godly men whom they had employed. In one of those schools, he had himself seen three generations at the same lesson. The General Assembly’s schools had also done good service, and also the Edinburgh and Glasgow Ladies’ Schools. Much did the Highlands owe for the past thirty years to them. He would, in conclusion, offer his humble counsel as to the point under consideration. He would urge sustained application to Government in terms of the resolution, because he feared that without this what had been done would remain a dead letter. Even in the Highlands they encountered prejudice against Gaelic. Was there not a danger they were asked, of unfitting the organs of speech for English 1 Why, the very reverse was the case. Organs well disciplined in Gaelic were fitted for anything in human articulation from the gutturals of the Semitic dialects to the “click” of the Hottentot. It was only a few days ago that he heard of a young woman who had gone from this town to Russia, and who wrote home that her knowledge of Gaelic was extremely helpful to her in acquiring the Russian language. But ought it not to be considered as a matter of justice 1 How were they to make up to these Highland children for the disadvantage under which they lay from their little knowledge of English, but by giving them an opportunity of passing in Gaelic as a special subject. Then, instead of being regarded as a dead weight and turned back to an inferior standard for fear of not passing in a higher, they would be a source of benefit to teachers and to school managers. If not made to pay in this way, he feared the present concession would remain inoperative. He would shape the education according to the circumstances of the child. Every one that knew anything of teaching knew well how much labour had been lost because of the want of this. None felt this more than ministers. A man applied for baptism ; it was at once seen that he was anxious; he began to apologise. “I fear you’ll find me very far behind.” “Howl” “I cannot read, and that is a great drawback.”

“Have you not been to school?” “Oh, yes; two, three, or four years. I was ‘ hammering’ away at English and never understood it, and when I left I forgot all about it.” What a grave mistake! Had these years been devoted to the acquiring of Gaelic reading, how different would the result have been? Thus my advice would be, begin the Gaelic-speaking children with their own language. In a year or two they are adepts in reading their Bibles. I am glad to observe that Messrs. Nelson of Edinburgh have prepared a series of Gaelic school books, with Gaelic on one page and English on the other. Other difficulties will be removed. So soon as there is a demand for them, qualified teachers will be forthcoming, and a few years hence we may look for a more favourable state of things in the Highlands. (Loud cheers.)

Mr. Sutherland, Crosshill Academy, Glasgow, in seconding the resolution, said the Scotch teachers as a body had asked that Gaelic should be recognised as a special subject, and in the future he was certain the sympathy and assistance of the teachers would not be wanting in order to secure the object of the resolution. As a teacher, he urged them not to rest satisfied until Gaelic was placed upon an equal footing with other ancient and modern languages. (Applause.)

The resolution was adopted.

Mr. G. M. Campbell (of Ceylon), Abbotshill, Forres, proposed a vote of thanks to the Provost for presiding. (Cheers.)

Provost Simpson returned thanks and announced that a meeting was to be held of those interested in the Federation of Highland Societies.

THE FEDERATION MEETING.

A meeting for the purpose of considering the question of forming a federation of Highland Societies was held in the Town Hall, at three o’clock. Several letters were received approving of the objects of the meeting, from societies which were unable to send delegates. The following gentlemen were present—Mr. C. Fraser-Mackintosh, M.P.. in the chair; Bailie Macdonald, Aberdeen, and Mr. A. Mac-phail, for the Aberdeen Highland Association; Mr. Murdoch of The Highlander, and Mr. Wm. Mackay, solicitor, for the Gaelic Society of Inverness; Mr. Colin Chisholm, Namur Cottage, Inverness, and Mr. Alexander Mackenzie, of the Celtic Magazine, for the Gaelic Society of London; Mr. Sutherland, Glasgow Sutherland Association; Mr. Macpherson, Edinburgh University Celtic Society; Mr. Alex. Mackenzie, Hebburn Celtic Society; Mr. Henry Whyte, Glasgow Highland Association; Mr. Dugald Maclachlan, Ardna-murchan, Morven, and Sunart Association, Glasgow; Dr. MacRaild, Greenock Highland Society and Ossian Club; Mr. George J. Campbell, Edinburgh Sutherland Association; also Mr. Thomas Mackenzie, Broadstone; Mr. Charles Mackay, Drummond; and Mr. Mackay of Ben-Reay.

The Chairman said that he thought as a first and preliminary step they should resolve that it was expedient that there should be a Federation of Highland Associations. That was a very wide term, and he thought the first resolution should be to that effect.

Bailie Macdonald, Aberdeen, spoke at some length in favour of the proposed federation, and concluded by moving—“Thatit is desirable that various Highland Societies should enter into a Federate Union in order the better to further the various objects for which they exist.”

Dr. MacRaild, Greenock, seconded.

The motion was supported by Mr. Sutherland, Glasgow, and afterwards carried unanimously. .

Mr. Alex. Mackenzie, Celtic Magcmne, moved—

“That the representatives present be appointed a Provisional Council of Federation—three a quorum—who shall put themselves in communication with the other Highland Associations, inviting them to join the Federation.”

Mr. Henry Whyte seconded the motion, which was carried unanimously.

On the motion of Mr. Mackay of Ben-Reay, seconded by Mr. D. Maclachlan, Glasgow, it was unanimously agreed to hold the next meeting in Glasgow, on November 20th, 1878.

On the motion of the Chairman, Mr. Alex. Mackenzie of the Celtic Magazine was appointed interim Provisional Secretary to invite co-operation with individual societies and get their answers.

A vote of thanks having been awarded to the Chairman, the meeting separated.

THE DINNER.

Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh, M.P., was entertained to a public dinner in the evening within the Caledonian Hotel. The chair was occupied by Provost Simpson, who was supported on the right by the guest of the evening; Sheriff Simpson, Fort-William; Mr. James Anderson, solicitor ; and Mr. Alex. Macdonald, wine merchant ; and on the left by the Rev. Mr. Macgregor; Captain Chisholm, Glassburn; Bailie Macdonaid, Aberdeen; and Mr. Colin Chisholm, Broadstone Park. The croupiers were Bailie Black, Bailie Macdonald, and Bailie Noble. Among a large company, numbering about eighty gentlemen, were the following :—

Bailie Tulloch, Inverness ; Captain Grant, Royal Tartan Warehouse ; Mr. Andrew Macdonald, solicitor; Mr. Janies Ross, do.; Mr. William Mackay, do. ; Mr. G. J. Campbell, do. ; Mr. Allan Macdonald, do. ; Mr. Alex. Fraser, do.; Mr. Donald Reid, do. ; Mr. Kenneth Macdonald, do. ; Mr. Jolly, H.M. Inspector of Schools ; Rev. Mr. Simpson, Moy ; Mr. Andrew Fraser, cabinetmaker; Mr. A. Davidson, sculptor; Mr. Cumming, Allanfearn; Mr. W. Carruthers, Inverness Courier; Mr. Huntly Fraser, Kinmylies; Mr. Macdonnell, Kinchyle; Mr. J. Macdonald, live stock agent, Inverness; Mr. W. B. Forsyth, Inverness Advertiser; Mr. Murray, chiefconstable; Dr. M‘Raild, Greenock; Mr. A. Mackenzie, Celtic Magazine; Mr. G. G. Allan, Caledonian Bank; Dr.F. M. Mackenzie, Church Street; Mr. D. A. Macrae, Englishton; Mr. Alexander Fraser, accountant; Mr. E. Forsyth, View Place; Mr. Charles Mackay, Drummond ; Mr. John Murdoch, Highlander; Mr. Alexander Mackenzie, wine merchant; Mr. Mitchell, Caledonian Bank; Mr. Macrae, Achlorochan; Mr. Wm. Mackenzie, Free Press (Secretary of the Inverness Gaelic Society); Mr. Lachlan Davidson, banker, Kingussie; Mr. William Ogston, 35 Constitution Street, Aberdeen; Mr. Donald Campbell, draper; Mr. Charles Macdonald, of Messrs. Macdonald Brothers, fleshers; Mr. George Robertson, Bank of Scotland; Mr. Shaw, Caledonian Bank; Mr. John Davidson, Inglis Street; Mr. P. G. Wilson, jeweller; Mr. Henry Whyte, Glasgow; Mr. A. D. Mactavish, Caledonian Bank ; Mr. H. F. Mackenzie, Caledonian Bank; Mr. A. Macphail, Aberdeen ; Mr. Whyte, photographer, Inverness ; Mr. D. Maclachlan, Glasgow; Mr. William Sutherland, Glasgow; Mr. Alex. Burgess, Caledonian Bank, Gairloch; Mr. John Macpherson, Free Church Manse, Dores; Mr. Geo. Murray Campbell, Ceylon; Mr. Peter Baillie, coal merchant; Mr. William Smith, sen., Ness Iron Works; Mr. D. Macrae, Ardintoul; Mr. A. Bethune, Balnaliaun, &c.

Mr. Menzies supplied a first-class dinner. Pipe-Major Alex. Maclennan, piper to the Gaelic Society of Inverness, assisted by Pipe-Major Watt, played pipe music during dinner, and airs appropriate to the toasts. The Rev. Mr. Macgregor said grace; and the Rev. Mr. Simpson, Moy, returned thanks. Dinner over,

The Chairman said that apologies for unavoidable absence had been received from Sir Kenneth S. Mackenzie, Bart.; Cluny; Mackintosh of Mackintosh; Mr. Mackintosh of Holme; Dr. Charles Mackay, Fern Dell, Dorking; Dr. Mackenzie of Eileanach ; Mr. John Mackay, C.E., Swansea, Chief of the Gaelic Society of Inverness; Mr. Alexander Fraser, Commercial Bank, Inverness ; Deputy-Surgeon-General Mackinnon, C.B., Aldersliott; Dr. Stratton, R.jSr., Devonport; Mr. Cameron of Clunes; the Rev. Mr. Macpherson, Lairg; Rev. Mr. Bisset, Stratherrick; Mr. A. H. F. Cameron of Lakefield ; the Rev. L. Maclachlan, Tain; Rev. A. Macrae, Clachan, Kin tyre; Rev. Alexander Sutherland, Strathbraan; Captain D. P. Macdonald, Fort-William; Mr. John Mackay of Ben-Reay ; Mr. John Grant, Cardiff; Mr. P. Burgess, Glenmoriston; Mr. D. Maclachlan, publisher, Edinburgh ; Mr. Simon Chisholm, Flowerdale, Gairloch; Mr. H. C. Macandrew, Inverness 3 Mr. Hugh Rose, solicitor ; Mr. James Rose, wine merchant; Messrs. W. K. Banatyne, Stilling ; A. R. Fraser, B. L. Co.’s Bank, Stirling; Jonathan Ross, draper, Inverness; T. D. Campbell, do.; Donald Mackay (of Kandy, Ceylon), Swansea; George G. Tait, solicitor. Tain ; Simon Mackenzie, Gardiner’s Cresccnt, Edinburgh; William Mackenzie, solicitor, Dingwall; John Macfarquhar, Sheriff-Clerk Depute, Inverness ; Alex. Mackay, contractor, Academy Street; John Macgregor, Tnvermoriston Hotel; William Fraser, Tomnahurich Street; D. Fraser, Glenelg; Alexander Ross, Alness; John F. Macrac, Braintra; Ewen Macrae, do.; Thomas Mackenzie, Broadstone Park ; D. Sinclair, Loclialsh; J. G. Mackay, Glasgow; James Fraser, manufacturer, do.; and Archibald Cameron, Glenbar, Kin tyre. The latter gentleman wrote as follows to the Secretary:—

The Chairman also read the following telegram which he had received from the Chief of the Gaelic Society:—“Furan, slainte agus falaineas do na Gaidheil a tha maille ribh ! Buaidh a’s piseach oirbh uile agus air ’ur n-obair! ” To which the Secretary had sent a suitable reply in Gaelic.

Telegrams of congratulation were also received from the Birmingham Gaelic Society; the “Gael” Lodge, Glasgow; the Lewis Association, Glasgow ; the Islay Association, Glasgow; and Mr. J. Macdonald Cameron, South Kensington Museum.

The Chairman then gave the toasts of “The Queen,” “The Prince and Princess of Wales,” and “ The Navy, and Army, and Reserve Forces.”

Captain Macra Chisholm responded for the army, and Captain Grant for the Reserve Forces.

Bailie Black then gave “The Lord-Lieutenant of the County.” The Chairman next gave the toast of the evening, the health of tlieir honoured guest, Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh. While the demonstration had no political significance, he was sure they would all agree that Mr. Fraser-Maekintosh had fulfilled his important duties as representative of the burghs with such untiring zeal and care for the interests of his constituents of whatever class or shade of opinion, as to have won for himself golden opinions. Alluding to Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh’s antiquarian lore—his “Invernessiana,” “Antiquarian Notes,” and “Dunachton, Past and Present”—the Provost expressed the hope that he would continue his researches into local history, and give a continuation of “Invernessiana” from 1600 to recent times; and also that he would not lose sight of the proposal to establish a club in the north similar to the Aberdeen Spalding Club, for issuing family histories and the like. To such a club their guest had already offered as a first contribution the History of the Mackintoshes. And now, added the Provost, a word or two of a personal nature. I have known Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh since his earliest years, and throughout his successful business career in Inverness. I have had constant intercourse with him ; we spent some years together at the Town Council, and in many ways we were thrown together, and at no time, even when difference of opinion naturally arose, did a shadow pass between us. He was ever, and still is, the same warm, true friend, and will be, I trust, till the end. I would now conclude by proposing the toast of long life, health, and increasing happiness to our friend Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh, and let us drink it with Highland honours. (The toast was drank with loud cheers and Highland honours.)

Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh, who, on rising to return thanks, was received with rounds of cheering, said—Provost Simpson, and Gentlemen, really this day may be said to be marked for me with a white stone, or, as it is sometimes said, a white letter. I had no idea when some time ago I said I intended to spend the Easter holidays in Inverness, that such a demonstration as is now, I hope, successfully coming to an end, would have been got up. When I was informed of the honour intended to be done to me, I rather deprecated any such movement taking place; but when I was informed that it was proposed to utilise the gathering for the purpose of promoting a Federation of the different Highland Societies, I thought it would be improper to offer any objections. The cordiality and kindness with which I have been received to-day is such as I can never forget. On more than one occasion I have in an honourable and substantial form received from my fellow-townsmen and others tokens of esteem. But really all I have done was only that which it was my duty to do, and it was such a satisfaction that it was unnecessary indeed to think of any other recompense. Regarding this evening’s proceedings, no one could stand up in my position, but would be deeply moved by the way in which an old friend like Provost Simpson has been kind enough to speak of me. I have also to thank the company for the kind manner in which they have responded to the toast. Although the subject myself, I must say I never heard “A Jolly Good Fellow” sung in such good musical taste. With regard to the compliment paid to me, while to some extent I take it to myself, it is, I think, very much owing to my being able to do something for the cause of the Highlands, and of Gaelic, which we have all so much at heart. While in the adjoining room before dinner I was astonished by the number and variety of character of those present, in which I recognised a vitality, strength, and vigour which few subjects could have brought out in such a distinct manner. The success which has attended our meetings to-day should stir up all those who take an interest in such matters to persevere until we are able to put those different matters affecting Highlanders and Gaelic we have all in view, on a permanent footing. Our objects are not by any means of an aggressive character. In connection with our being Highlanders, we have several things handed down to us, which it is our duty to preserve and conserve, and not allow ourselves and our past history to be wiped out. Some of these subjects were adverted to at the first meeting, and at the business meeting we realised the great pleasure of listening to our friends from a distance discoursing on these and kindred questions. Referring to the speeches, I might be allowed to say that the speech of my friend, the Rev. Mr. Macgregor, was a pleasure to listen to it was a wonderful performance for a clergyman of the Church of Scotland. It must have been a proud day to Mr. Macgregor to witness the satisfactory proceedings of to-day. He told you that more than 40 years ago he advocated the views now coming to the front. With regard to the question of Gaelic, I recently delivered an address before the Gaelic Society of London, which many of you have read, on the duty of Highlanders. I referred at that meeting in London to the change that has taken place within the last thirty years with regard to Gaelic. Whereas thirty years ago Gaelic was looked down upon, not only by people in the South, but also by some who could claim to be Highlanders, of late years there has been a marked rise in favour of Gaelic and Highland sentiment. It almost appears that a tide has arisen which we ought to take advantage of, and bring these things to full fruition. The Gaelic is in that state, that if we don’t take advantage of the tide now in our favour, the opportunity will be lost, and -lost for ever. The Provost has been kind enough to refer to other matters, and in the course of his speech said this was not a political demonstration. I understood from the very beginning that it was not to partake of a political character. This is witnessed by my seeing some friends now round the tables whom I was led to suppose were not my supporters. The Provost has kindly referred to my contributions to antiquarian research, and I would like to pay a tribute to one who was recently taken from us, I mean Mr. George Anderson, one of three accomplished brothers who, at a period when books were scarce and facilities for travelling rare, did much to bring the Highlands mto notice. Having taken the greatest possible interest in the past history of Inverness, I am glad to see that there has arisen a local Society for the collection and elucidation of local historical matters —the Inverness Field Club. It is most important that in a limited locality like ours, where things are altering and changing, that matters connected with the locality should be preserved. I have read with great interest the different papers read before the Field Club. Before parting from this subject, I hope you will not think I am doing wrong in referring to my valued assistant, Mr. Fraser, who recently contributed a valuable paper on the Wells of Inverness. From the time of Jacob, wells have always been an interesting subject, and I thought I knew a great deal about the wells of Inverness, but I found I did not know the half that was known about them. Referring to the conference of delegates, I may say that we were enabled to make a satisfactory beginning in the way of federating our different Societies; a provisional council has been formed, and the next meeting arranged for. We appointed as our provisional secretary a gentleman who is now making his mark in this part of the country, who is well known, and who is destined to be better known—Mr. Mackenzie of the Celtic Magazine. We have, of course, settled nothing. The only idea that prevails in my mind is this—that by means of this federation we will be enabled to put the whole of the Societies in motion at one time on any matter connected with the well-being of the Highlands, and thus be enabled to exercise pressure in the proper quarters for accomplishing the different matters in which we are interested. We should also be able to print and publish all known Gaelic works at a price which would bring them within the reach of all. The same remark will apply to our Highland music. There are several other things to which I should have liked to refer, but I will not trespass upon your time further than to thank you sincerely for the honour you have done me. (Cheers.)

Mr. John Murdoch proposed “Highland Education,” coupled with Mr. Jolly, H.M. Inspector of Schools. (Applause.)

Mr. Jolly, in replying to the toast, referred to the different views prevalent regarding the use of Gaelic in the education of Gaelic children. The mass of the Highland people held a kind of neutral position in regard to it. They tended to the too utilitarian view of it, which neglected the native language, and cultivated English only for its practical value, forgetful of the high cultural value of the native tongue when right employed in the education of their children. There was no doubt that the right view was the one that, while laying great stress on the English, used also the native tongue for the cultivation of intelligence and the higher feelings. Even those that wished Gaelic “ stamped out,” if they were as wise as they were vehement, could sooner effect their destructive purpose by using Gaelic in schools; for the better English was understood by means of Gaelic, by which the intelligence of Gaelic speaking children could be. reached, the greater their power over English, and the earlier the death of the Gaelic. The friends of the native tongue differed as to the best ways of using the language in the school. There were three modes proposed :—(1) Beginning with Gaelic and postponing English—a view so unpractical that only a few ultra-enthusiasts recommended it; (2) Teaching them both languages simultaneously from the first—a method recently made workable by the publication of bi-lingual “Royal Readers,” by the Messrs. Nelson; (3) Beginning -with English; reaching the intelligence through Gaelic from the first; gradually using more English, and, before leaving school, introducing them to Gaelic literature. Under the new concession it behoved the friends of Hie Highland people to use great discretion as to the method followed by them, which should be based on the principles of true education, and be guided by the circumstances of the children and their available school time. The second method should be carefully considered in all its bearings before it was adopted. Mr. Jolly feared it was not the wisest way, and recommended the third method of using both tongues. He warned them that they should pot be too sanguine in their expectations from teachers in view of the recent concession. It carried no money value with it, and the old standard tests had still to be passed in other subjects as before, and they required all the time and attendance teachers could give, to secure good results. If they expected too much they would certainly be disappointed, to the joy of their enemies and the sorrow of their friends. While thankful for what had been already obtained—though that was not as much as might be thought—it was for the friends of the Gaelic language and literature to obtain more substantial concessions from Government, which had shown a praiseworthy desire to concede to reasonable demands made on behalf of the large and honourable section of the community to "whom Gaelic was the mother tongue, and the language of their homes, hearts, and devotions. It was time for those interested to talk less and do more. If they were in earnest, School Boards and others could forward the subject by offering money grants to schools for efficiency in Gaelic. That would prove their faith by their works, and help to initiate the desired more practical recognition of the claims of Gaelic. (Applause.)

Mr. W. Mackay, solicitor, said—The toast which I have been asked to propose is the Commercial and Agricultural Interests of the Highlands. Into the present state of commerce and agriculture in the north, and the progress made in modem times, I do not intend to enter. The subject is expatiated on at almost all our public dinner's, and no doubt every one here has heard as much about it as is good for him. To us, members of Highland societies, whose objects are to a great extent antiquarian, it may be more interesting to know something regarding trade in the Highlands in the olden times, and although it is impossible on an occasion like this to do justice to that interesting enquiry, I shall, if you permit me, read to you a few extracts from certain unpublished ancient papers which throw some light on the subject From the remotest period Inverness -was, as it still is, the business centre of the greater portion of the Highlands, and in it were in former times to be found merchants of great wealth, importing wines, spices, &c., direct from foreign ports ; and not only supplying the neighbouring chiefs and people with such articles as they required, but also acting as the bankers and money-lenders of the north. I have recently come across some accounts rendered by one of those extensive merchants —Archibald Geddes—to the lady of a powerful Highland chief, between the years 1712 and 1721. Geddes’s establishment must have been a wonderful emporium of everything good for man and woman, from rich silks and choice wines, down to nails, tobacco, and black soaps ; and to give you some idea of the general nature of his dealings and the prices current at that remote period, I shall quote a few of the items in his accounts. The prices are given in Scots money, which, as you are aware, was one-twelfth the value of money sterling. Among the numerous items are—Ane ell Scarlett searge £2 10s.; Quarter unce (ounce) 'threed and three ells read teape 4s. 10d.; Ane stick off wax and halfe unce off waffers 6s ; Ane quair peaper 8s.; half quair post peaper 6s.; Ane pund off ginger 6s.; Ane gill oyle 6s. ; Three unces and a halfe moyiehaire XI 4s. 6d. ; Three doz. bigg buttons at 14s. per doz. ; seven doz. small buttons at 5s. per doz. ; Four sheeps skinnes att 6s.; Two ell teaps for the Bretches (breeches) 2s. 8d. ; ane quarter searge a drop silk and an ell ribban for the cape 8s. 8d.; Ane pair ffyne stockens £2 8s.; A pair spurres 16s.; A unce puther a quarter pund small shott and ffour fflints 3s. 4d.; Ane hundred double and two hundred single naills £1 5s. 4d.; a gross corcks 20s. ; Ane pund soape 6s. 8d.; Ane pund Inglish glew 12s.; Ane pund read lead 8s; Two gadds iron, weighing 4 stones 13 pounds .£8 ; Ane pund Hope 18s. ; ane brydle and bitt £2 2s. ; Two drops ffyne black silk 4s.; Ane unce Indigoe 10s.; Half pund stearch 3s. 6d.; Ane pair Wool Kards £1 8s.; A pair sheires 12s.; Ane ffyne sugar loaff at 15s. per pound; A pund gun puther 14s.; 3 pds. Ryce 18s.; A pund currans 9s. ; A bonn comb 8s; Two pints and a mutchken clarett at 40s. per pint; Two pints and a mutckeu Brandie at 34s. per pint; Three punds soape and a pund stearch £1 0s. 8d.; A bleather [bladder] to hold the soape 3s.; A tobacco box 10s. ; 4 unces oynion seed 16s.; 2 pecks salt £1; Brimstone 6s. ; 2 punds resings 16s.; unce nutmuges 5s. ; £ unce smamon 5s. ; 2 unce carvie Is.; 1 diz. needles 2s; 1 paper prins (pins) 6s. ; Ane fute rule 14s.; 5 bolls meall £26 13s. 9d ; A pair shamboe gloves £1 4s. ; 3 unce brun (brown) candie 4s. ; 3 punds black soape £1 Is.; And J- pund small twest tobacca 7s. But I must stop. I have given enough to show you that although the wants of the Highland lady of that remote period were almost as numerous and varied as those of the well-to-do lady of the present time, they could all be met w ith in the shop of Archibald Geddos. The following are items of an account rendered by John Wilson, a shoemaker in Fortrose, to a Highland laird, in the year 1709 :—“To your ho. a pair of showes (shoes) £2; To maj led (my lady) 2 pairs £2 13s. 4d.; To your son Alex. 2 paires one of ym pumps £2 7s.; To your daughter 2 pairs sins shee cam to this toun £2 13s. 4d. ; To ane recept I gave your Chamberland Macknabe for ane cow your ho. ordered me and did not gett to this daj £11 6s. 8d. With this account the shoemaker sent the following letter :—“ Of this I re-cevit two cows and noe pryse maid toe them, and for the recept David petterson vill Inform your honnor how it ves, it ves the ballons of ane accopt that Macknabe shold haid delivirt me ane cow and after I vaitted two dajes and sent maj owne servant for the cow the mane that haid hir void not pairt vith hir as Macknabe vill testiffie. This with maj Duittie to your ho. and good ledie moyer (mother) and children and I am to serve your ho. quhill I am your ho. most humble servant to serve you John Wilson.” In the olden times very little corn was imported into the Highlands, and when the crops failed, famine inevitably followed. Here is a letter written by an Inverness merchant to a country laird, during one of those times of scarcity:—

Inverness 31 March 1697.

Much Honored. According to your desyre I have searched the town for meal to you, but could gett non neither for gold or monie in hand besides too Mertimass, for the town is so scarce of meal that it is with much adoc that we can gett as much as maintaines our families. The flowr is 22s. the peck, and ther is neither good sake nor clare tt in Inverness—Such as it is, if you plea so, you may have it. This is all at present from, Much Honored, Your most humble Servant Alexander Steuart.

In the present day, perhaps there is no more important question affecting the welfare of the people, or one more difficult to solve than the proper regulation of the trade in exciseable liquors, and the diminution of drunkenness. The question is older than is generally supposed, and the following extract from the minutes of a Baron Court, held about twenty miles from here, on 26th May, 1692, will show you how the baron bailie (John Maclean of Doch-garroch) attempted to grapple with it:—“The said day, anent the grievance given agt Hugh M'Hutcheone vick ouill for and anent his exhorbitant drinking olf aquavytie and yrby dilapidating hismeans by his intemperance qrby he is rendered unable to pay his dewty to his mr [i.e., rent to his master or proprietor], the bailyie haveing considered the said greivance, heirby statutes and ordaines that whatever aqua vytie merchands shall sell or give above one half mutch-ken aqua vytie to the said Hugh the said aqua vytie shall be con-fiscat, and if the said Hugh force any more yn qt is allowed from ym he shall be ffyned in ten pund scottes toties quoties as he transgresses.” You will observe that the Baron Bailie does not explain how the Avliisky is to be confiscated, in the event of its being drunk by the drouthy Hugh ; nor does he say how often within the twenty-four hours that individual may be served Avith the legitimate half mutchkin. I shall quote one other instance of the same Baron Bailie’s attempts at trade legislation. In a minute of a court held by him on 25th February, 1693, the following occurs:—“The said day anent the greivance and complaint given in be the haill inhabitants off the said Barronie for and anent the great extortione and exorbitant pryces exacted and taken be shoemakers and weavers from the saidis tennentes and inhabitants ffor shoes and Aveaving off cloth the said Bailie did enact statut and ordaine yt after the day and dait hieroff, when the shoemaker buyes the rough hyde for ffour merkes yt then and in yt caise he sell the mens shoes ffor eight shilling and the womens shoes for sex shilling per pair, and when the rough hyde is bought at ffour pundes, each pair off mens shoes to be sold at ten shilling and each pair womens shoes at eight shilling, and when the rough hyde is sold at ffyve merks that the mens shoes be sold at nyne shilling and the womens shoes at seven shilling, and ordains thir presents to be intimat to the whole shoemakers in the barronie Avitli certificatione eff they transgress they shall be ffyned and amerciat therefor at the Discretionne off the Bailie.” From these old documents which I have quoted, I think you will agree with me that, no matter how much we delight in casting ourselves back, as it Avere, into the “good old time,” Ave ought not to forget that our own time is after all far better. With our modern means of communication and conveyance a real famine in the Highlands is, let us hope, an impossibility. In the present day of free trade and healthy competition we no longer consider it necessary to cripple trade and hamper industry by vexatious rules regarding prices; and even the modem representatives of the whisky-loving Hugh MacHutcheone vie ouill, are perhaps as Avell in the hands of our OAvn Bailie Macbean, Avith his laudable zeal for temperance, as they would have been in those of the long-departed baron bailie. (Applause).

Mr. Cumming, Allanfeam, and Mr. Davidson, Inglis Street, responded in suitable terms.

Mr, Fraser-Mackintosh, M.P., proposed “The Celtic Societies,” coupled with the names of two respected delegates, Bailie Macdonald, of Aberdeen, and Dr. MacRaild, of Greenock. It was a matter of gratification, he said, that so many representatives had come forward, and he was happy to say that the Federation meeting had been one of a most pleasant character. He had great pleasure in meeting the gentlemen from other associations. What had been done to-day ought to stimulate Highlanders in other placcs. Wherever two or three of them are situated they should band themselves together in order to cherish whatever was valuable in the memories and traditions of the past, and watch over the present. They found all sorts of associations of Highlanders in the Colonies ; and the Association formed that day would in a sense amalgamate all in the British Isles. In many important respects such associations were keeping alive and directing increased attention to the claims of Highland feeling and Highland sentiment. He explained that the Federation, although initiated by one of the most active and useful of Highland associations, the Gaelic Society of Inverness, one of mark in the Celtic world, was not intended to interfere with the independent action of local societies. The object was only to direct them into one common centre, and in that he believed they would be entirely successful. (Loud applause.)

Bailie Macdonald said—Now that they had got the concession by which Gaelic teaching was optional lie would urge upon them to make sure of it being taken advantage of. They need not say it was in the hands of the School Boards. What were School Boards?—their own creatures. What was a Lord Provost, what was a member of Parliament, or what was even a Baillie—(laughter) —but creatures of their own creation ? If these parties did not do their duty, then turn them out and put in those who would. (Cheers.)

Dr. MacRaild, in responding, gave a brief account of the Greenock Highland Society, which was largely devoted to looking after the well-being of young Highlanders who arrived as strangers in that town ; and of the Ossian Club, which had taken up the literary and educational interests of Highlanders, and conducted its business in the mother tongue.

Mr. G. J. Campbell, solicitor, proposed the toast of “Celtic .Literature.” He said—'This word literature I take to be another form or modification of the term language, and that these are convertible terms. Well then, when I premise on the authority of eminent Celtic scholars, and in particular Dr. Charles Mackay’s introductory remarks to his recently published able and ingenious work on “The Celtic Etymology of the Languages of Western Europe,” that the Celtic underlies all the languages of western and some parts of north-western Europe—that what is called Anglo-Saxon should he designated Kelto Saxon; that the word Angle is a corruption of An Gael; and that the Gaelic is akin to the Sanscrit and other ancient and modern Oriental languages, and is probably coeval with, if not anterior to Sanscrit itself—you will see that I have a wide field for enquiry. I do not, however, propose to enter upon such an extensive region at present, nor do I intend even to go into any particular investigation of the literature of the historic period spread over our neighbouring Celts of Ireland, Wales, Man, Cornwall, and France. I shall confine myself as closely as I can to a few points in connection with our own Gaelic, which of itself is sufficiently interesting for the few minutes at my command. It is quite unnecessary, in such a company as the present, to waste time in answering the objections of either ignorant or prejudiced cavillers who say there is no Celtic literature. Such a statement can only be made by those who have not (to their own loss) investigated this attractive mine of philological wealth, and whose education has consequently been sadly neglected; or by those who, having honestly wished and endeavoured to find Celtic literature a myth, are not sufficiently honest to admit their disappointment. We have a literature, which not only comes down to us with venerable mien from the hoary mists of antiquity, but is now, after many undeserved slights and vicissitudes, renewing its youth like the eagle, and again extending .the wings of its popularity over the literary world, not only in the British Islands, but also the continent of Europe. I apprehend that the literature of a country is not necessarily either written or printed, though these are the most valuable forms in which it can be preserved. I would classify it as Traditional, Topographical, Written and Printed. While combating the objection that ancient Celtic genealogies, history, and poetry must be relegated to the arena of mythology, Mr. Campbell gave several reasons for relying on the accuracy of oral transmission in past times, when memory alone was trained, and writing was forbidden among the learned. Down even to mediaeval times the Highland seanachaidh took part in the coronation of the Scottish monarchs, and was an attache in the Royal and Chief households in the Kingdom. Dr. M‘Lauchkn, a name honourable and honoured in Celtic Literature, tells us in his “ Celtic Gleanings” that as late as 1856, one thousand lines of Ossianic poetry were taken down from the lips of an old woman in Caithness. Then as to the interesting point in the topography of our country, we have the most ample proofs of the universality, superiority, and may I say the immortality of our Gaelic language, all over Scotland, Ireland, Wales, England, and the Continent, in the Abers, Avons, Dons, Tons, &c. The proofs are innumerable. Even London itself cannot escape the ubiquitous investigations of Celtic genius, for according to Dr. Charles Mackay the name of the Modern Babylon is made up of two Celtic words—Lon a meadow, and Dun a hill. Will you permit me to suggest another derivation? The Gaelic name for London, as I have always heard it, is Lunainn. Is not this a corruption of Lon abhuinn, the meadow on the stream or river ? In course of an interesting record of written Celtic literature, Mr. Campbell said—The “ Book of Deer,” founding the monastery of Buchan, and apparently written in the twelfth century, is a most interesting evidence of the advanced state of Celtic learning at that early period. A Gaelic charter by Donald, Lord of the Isles, conveying the lands of Islay to Bryan Vicar Mackay, dated 1408, shows the adaptation of the language to legal documents. The Dean of Lismore wrote his book in 1512, and Dr. MacLauchlan tells us in his review of Gaelic literature that there are numerous medical and astrological treaties still existing, written in the Gaelic language, and taken chiefly from the works of Moorish and Arabian writers of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Modern Celtic literature is increasing with rapid strides. Caxton introduced printing in 1474, but it is curious to have to tell our Saxon friends that the first book printed in English was a translation. Carsewell’s Prayer Book, in Gaelic, was first printed in 1567. Printing in those days had not the same freedom as now. In 1660 Charles II. passed an order in Council that the Stationers’ Company “do seize and deliver to the Secretary of State, all copies of Buchanan’s History of Scotland, which are very pernicious to monarchy, and injurious to His Majesty’s blessed progenitors.” No books were allowed to be printed out of London, except in York and the Universities. Scottish Gaelic had many difficulties to contend with. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it was ignored by the higher authorities in Church and State. I find in the Acts of the Assembly of the Church of Scotland, in 1646, with reference to the Highlands (1) that an order be pronounced that all gentlemen who are able do send at least their eldest son to be bred in the inland; (2) that a ministry be planted among them who can speak the Irish language; (3) that all ministers and ruling elders who have the Irish language be appointed to these parts. In 1649 it was ordained that an extraordinary collection be made at kirk doors one Sabbath in the year for entertainment of Irish boys at schools and colleges.

In 1690 an order was passed for the printing of the Irish paraphrase of the Psalms. Down to 1699 various Acts were passed anent ministers and missionaries to the Highlands, e. g., that ministers and probationers who have somewhat of the Irish language, but not a facility to preach it, be sent to those parts, that by converse they may learn more of the language, and be able to instruct the people. Down to 1726 Irish is the only language spoken of. Not till 1816 do I find an Act authorising the use of the Gaelic version of the Bible, &c. These circumstances must greatly account for the larger amount of Celtic literature with which Ireland is credited. Well, we, as genuine Celts, should not grudge our verdant sister the glory of her letters, and ingenious and romantic histories and genealogies. But O, tempora mutantur! “The whirligig of time brings in his revenges.” A few days ago a meeting of the patriotic and learned Celts was held in London, to urge on Government the necessity for teaching Irish in the national schools, and altering the orthography to that of the Scottish Gaelic. But, gentlemen, what shall we say of Englishmen—yea of Scotchmen—of so called but misnamed Highlanders who decry the Gaelic language and literature? It seems that when it was proposed to translate the Bible into Gaelic in the middle of the 18th century some men opposed the scheme from political considerations, of the disadvantage of keeping up the distinctions between Highlanders and other inhabitants of North Britain. Such a display of unpatriotic zeal roused the indignation even of that prince of Celtophobists, Samuel Johnson, for on this subject he wrote to Drummond, an Edinburgh bookseller, in 1766 :—“He that voluntarily continues ignorant is guilty of all the crimes which ignorance can produce; as to him that extinguishes the taper of a lighthouse might justly be imputed the calamities of shipwrecks.....I am not very willing that any language should be totally extinguished. The similitude and derivation of languages afford the most indubitable proof of the traduction of nations, and the genealogy of mankind. They add often physical certainty to historical evidence, and often supply the only evidence of the ancient migration and of the revolutions of ages which left no written monuments behind them.” Again, in 1767, he wrote to the same gentleman:—“I am glad the old language is taught, and honour the translator as a man whom God has distinguished by the high office of propagating his word.” It was left to an ultra Johnsonian Celtophobist of our own day in an article in Chambers's Journal of November last, which is initialed W. C., to call the Gaelic language a “ nuisance,” and those who speak it the same barbarians as of twelve hundred years ago.

Need I remind you of the voluminous productions of the Highland bards, from Ossian downwards, who were reared among the soul-inspiring retreats of our everlasting hills, and whose life —

Exempt from public haunt,
Found tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything.

(Applause).

Mr. A. Mackenzie made a humorous reply, in the course of which he exposed several weak points in the arguments of many of our would-be topographical elucidators. In conclusion, he said if these gentlemen studied the Gaelic names of places and things as pronounced by the old women and old bodachs in our Highland straths and glens, they would find their work far easier and certainly better founded and more trustworthy than far-fetched absurdities.

At this stage the Chairman called upon Pipe-Major Maclennan, and after a few complimentary remarks, presented him in the name of the Gaelic Society of Inverness with a very neat chimney-piece clock, as a slight recognition of his very kind and disinterested services to the Society.

Mr. Maclennan replied in Gaelic, thanking the Provost and the Society, and promising that so long as breath remained, he would gladly come to play to them.

The Chairman then called Pipe-Major Watt to the front, and presented him with a sporran, also as a mark of the Society’s appreciation of his services on various occasions. Mr. Watt suitably replied.

Both articles were supplied by Mr. P. G. Wilson, jeweller, High Street, and bore suitable inscriptions.

Mr. Colin Chisholm proposed the Provost, Magistrates, and Town Council of Inverness, in an eloquent Gaelic speech, making special reference to the courtesy of the Provost in granting the use of the Town Hall to the Gaelic Society for its ordinary meetings.

The Provost, on behalf of himself and the Magistracy, acknowledged, remarking that it was the first time, so far as he was aware, that the toast had been proposed in the mother tongue. He hoped that his successors in the office of chief magistrate would extend to the Gaelic Society the privilege of meeting in the new Town Hall, as he had been enabled to grant them in the old. It was to his mind an interesting circumstance, that the last public meeting held in the old, Town Hall, which was to be pulled down in a fortnight,


Return to our Historic Articles Page

 


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus

Quantcast