IT has been said that there
can be no uncertainty about the average listener's reaction to bagpipes.
Either he finds them harsh, tuneless in the extreme, or inspiring and
wildly beautiful as the voice of Adventure calling across the waste places
of the world.
For myself, there has never been a doubt. They are a surge of enchantment
and a lost longing -- the immortal music of the Little People themselves,
echoed by the rough lips of men -- and I can only stand amazed at those to
whom the sound of bagpipes means less than a jangled jazz-tune on a
Whether or not the bagpipes are a "great" music, I neither know nor care.
To me, and those who share my faith, it suffices that they are the true
music of the hill-man, and that their moods -- savage or sombre, grave or
gay -- are the moods of the hills themselves, in all their pride and
And, even as the hills, the bagpipes reward their lover past all his
imagining. Having once sought and won his homage, they weave a spell into
the very fibres of his being, so that, though he wander to the ends of the
earth, he can never again be utterly and irrevocably lonely.
For often, in the far corners of the world, by some strange chance or
magic, he will find a piper playing -- and, suddenly, he will be looking
through tears at the white mountains of his youth, unchanged by the
passing of the years. And the noises of the busy world about him will
fade, and even the music itself will die and be lost as he listens once
more to the sad song of the wind across the heather, the elusive whisper
of a thousand underground burns, the forlorn wail of the whaup, calling
"Come back!” Come back over a desolate glen. And the sad heart of him will
be strangely comforted.