Fionn Maccumhal Research Paper
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Fionn \u0026 The Salmon of Knowledge A Legend from Ancient Ireland
Holy Wah! Laughed so hard I scared the cats. Including the neighbors' cats. Pretty sure it's the only movie ever made about deer camp. Positive it's the only movie ever made about Yoopers in deer camp. Humor gets a little rough, but recommended. Post title ref. Labels: Michigan , Movies. Still haven't gotten the nerve Mmmm, cheese. Bacon optional. Or, not. Labels: Comix , Cooking , Food. Monday, July 30, Today's tunage. From Allegro Non Tropo. That poor kitteh Labels: Cats , Fur Persons , Music. Sunday, July 29, Convert your gas genset to propane. They'll be b-a-c-k!!! Arms Trade Treaty conference ends without agreement.
But in their pursuit, they are not going to have the new weapon of an ATT. This is good news for human rights worldwide, especially for the fundamental human right of self-defense against violent criminals, and against violent criminal tyrannical governments. Friday, July 27, Tunage. Obama comes out for gun control. Wednesday, July 25, Browncoat Kittehs! Dave Workman has details, and links to the text: Examiner exclusive: U. Silent Key. Labels: Amateur Radio , Friends , Hams. Sunday, July 22, Iowahawk strikes again!
Labels: Obama-rama , Snark. Thursday, July 19, Happy Birthday. Sam Colt. God made men, Sam Colt made them equal. Be not afraid of any man No matter what his size When danger threatens, call on me And I shall equalize. Sam Colt Really, without Sam Colt, where would we be today? Oh, well. Labels: America , Guns , history. Today's redundancy of the day. There are economically literate Socialists? Phrase of the day. The USA will lead the overall medal count, as usual, and Obama will take the stand, because "You didn't win that medal, someone else did. Tab Clearing.
I was going to call it "Inbox Clearing" again, but since I have to open them in tabs anyway, I might as well go along with what everyone else does. Big Brother Now: How much data are we comfortable sharing with Google? This has been a constant issue for a while now: How much do they collect? How much do they save? How much can you trust a corporation with the motto "Do no evil" but still works with the communist Chinese government?
This is justice? Considering what is left out of the title, yes. Wednesday, July 18, I blame Carl. You still out there, buddy? Blog dead, Facespace account dead Drop us a line, OK? Liberty News Network No, the title of this post is not a joke question. Ya know… the one that took tons of tax payer dollars, paid off campaign donors in salaries, hired a bunch of people to inflate new jobs numbers and then laid them off, then went bankrupt. Yeah, that Solyndra. For Brigid. Seen on Facespace:. Tuesday, July 17, Well, that was quick! Probably an automated response Drang [mailto:d.
Have you considered making allergy warning tags like the blood type lacers? Sometimes a medic alert bracelet is impractical, and I think these would be more versatile than the velcro patches your competitor sells, and based on the highly scientific survey of HH6 look better too. We'll check with our product management department and let you know whether we can fulfill your request. Firefly 10th Anniversary Panel - YouTube. Labels: Boob Toob , Browncoats , Geekery. I did not swear an oath to my country because I was naive, but because I was, and am, ready to fight for her.
I do not carry a weapon because I am afraid. I carry because I am ready, as well, to constitute and assert the irrevocable finality of my refusal to be a victim. Note to any government busybodies: KMA, Nazi, I'm doing this for my readers, not for any imagined kickbacks. Labels: Guns , Personal Responsibility , Security. Sunday, July 15, Earworm. For this guy:. Labels: Cats , Family , Home , Music.
Thursday, July 12, Now, who might want one of these? Labels: Geekery. A confession. While I am no Special Operations warrior, and can barely stay in a saddle, let alone rope and ride like a cowboy, and am far to uncoordinated to be a steel worker, I feel confident that no one can seriously accuse me of being a girly man. So it is with some embarrassment I say this: Yes, dear, you were right, I should have let you talk me into buying the much more powerful pressure washer, even if it did cost more than I wanted to spend.
Seen on facebook. Sounds like good advice:. With middle finger raised In red gold you dress these slaves, What throne can forget Nine Waves? In deep caves our flame I shield, Never to yield to such knaves. Collars serve to reign dogs in, Quell their nerve with shades and sin. My brothers hunted, slain, skinned. Yet still my cries ride the wind, Numbers thinned, but still we wait, For your hate, we have not sinned. Now the lone hunters take heed, Upon the Great Stag we feed, Blood for mead. His death our life, Ends this strife, stirs this dried seed. The old packs come together, Ties that fear cannot sever, Endeavour in pride to stand In the Wolf Land, forever. Not sure whether any but the title was in Gaelic; in fact, even the spelling of the title as above is probably sort of pigeon Gaelic.
This tends to make me think that it was written as a song, not a poem, and that it may have been written by a Gaelic speaker, if not in Gaelic. I'm such a geek. I've found that people who complain about the English language never consider it's flexibility to be a good thing ISTR that the mid-line rhyme scheme is also featured in Norse songs and poetry. Source of the word "Fenians". Labels: Celts , culture , Curmudging , Geekery , Music. Wednesday, July 11, Shiny! Blastr The Science Channel. Well, it's not like the Sci-Fi channel runs science fiction Tuesday, July 10, Reading, Read. The Kindle books were read on my Vizio tablet, which, alas, bit the big one a couple of weeks ago when it fell out of my pack and onto the concrete. The Sony books were either read on the tablet or on my Sony ebook reader.
The Hunger Games Trilogy. This is now the rarest of any, and is commonest, so far as I know, in Barra and South Uist. There are first fragments of poems which may have been taken from the printed book, which goes by the name of the History of the Finne in the Highlands, and the Poems of Ossian elsewhere. I never asked for these, but I was told that the words were "sharper and deeper" than those in the printed book.
There are, secondly, poetical fragments about the same persons, which, to the best of my knowledge, are not in any printed book. I heard some of these repeated by three different men. Patrick Smith, in South Uist, intoned a long fragment; I should guess, about lines. He recited it rapidly to a kind of chant. There were "ships fastened with silver chains, and kings holding them;" swords, spears, helmets, shields, and battles, were mentioned; in short, the fragment was the same. The repetition began with a short prose account of what was to follow. Smith is sixty, and says that he cannot read. He does not understand English. He says that such poems used to be so chanted commonly when he was young.
The same account of the manner of reciting similar poems was given me by a clergyman in Argyllshire, who said that, within his recollection, the "death of Cuchullin" used to be so recited by an old man at the head of Loch Awe. Donald Macintyre, in Benbecula, recited a similar fragment, which has since been written and sent to me. The subject is a dialogue between a lady and a messenger returning from battle, with a number of heads on a withy; the lady asks their story, and the messenger tells whose heads they were, and how the heroes fell. It sounded better than it reads, but the transcriber had never written Gaelic before.
John Campbell, generally known as "Yellow John," living in Strath Gearrloch, about twelve miles west of Flowerdale, repeated a similar fragment, which lasted for a quarter of an hour. He said he had known it for half a century. He is a very old man, and it is difficult to follow him, and the poetry was mingled with prose, and with "said he," "said she.
Fionn, Diarmaid and other such names appeared. Diarmaid had "his golden helm on his head;" his "two spears on his shoulder;" his "narrow-pointed shield on his left arm;" his "small shield on his right;" his sword was. And the old man believed that Diarmaid, the Irish hero, was his ancestor, and his own real name O'Duine. He spoke of "his chief MacCalain," and treated me with extra kindness, as a kinsman. Are we not both Campbells? I heard of other men who could repeat such poems, and I have heard of such men all my life; but as I did not set out to gather poems, I took no trouble to get them.
Two chiefs, I think one was MacLeod, sent their two fools to gather bait on the shore; and to settle a bet which fool was the best, they strewed gold on the path. One fool stopped to gather it, but the other said, "When we are at 'golding,' let us be 'golding,' and when we are at bait-making, let us be bait-making," and he stuck to his business. My business was prose, but it may not be out of place to state my own opinion about the Ossian controversy, for I have been asked more than once if I had found any trace of such poems. I believe that there were poems of very old date, of which a few fragments still exist in Scotland as pure traditions.
That these related to Celtic worthies who were popular heroes before the Celts came from Ireland, and answer to Arthur and his knights elsewhere. That the same personages have figured in poems composed, or altered, or improved, or spoilt by bards who lived in Scotland, and by Irish bards of all periods; and that these personages have been mythical heroes amongst Celts from the earliest of times. That "the poems" were orally collected by Macpherson, and by men before him, by Dr. Smith, by the committee. Manuscript evidence of the antiquity of similar Gaelic poems exists. Some were printed in , under the authority of the Highland Society of London, with a Latin translation, notes, etc. MacPherson's "translation" appeared between and , and the controversy raged from the beginning, and is growling still; but the dispute now is, whether the poems were originally Scotch or Irish , and how much MacPherson altered them.
It is like the quarrel about the chameleon, for the languages spoken in Islay and Rathlin are identical, and the language of the poems is difficult for me, though I have spoken Gaelic from my childhood. There is no doubt at all that Gaelic poems on such subjects existed long before MacPherson was born; and it is equally certain that there is no composition in the Gaelic language which bears the smallest resemblance in style to the peculiar kind of prose in which it pleased MacPherson to translate. The poems have a peculiar rhythm, and a style of their own which is altogether lost in his English translation.
But what concerns me is the popular belief, and it seems to be this--"MacPherson must have been a very dishonest person when he allowed himself to pass as the author of Ossian's poems. The illiterate seem to have no opinion on the subject. So far as I could ascertain, few had heard of the. Patrick, or St. Paul, or some other saint, would not believe his wonderful stories. Those who would study "the controversy," will find plenty of discussion; but the report of the Highland Society appears to settle the question on evidence. I cannot do better than quote from Johnson's Poets the opinion of a great author, who was a great translator, who, in speaking of his own work, says After such a judgment passed by so great a critick, the world who decides so often, and who examines so seldom; the world who, even in matters of literature, is almost always the slave of authority?
Who will suspect that so much learning should mistake, that so much accuracy should be misled, or that so much candour should be biassed? I think that no translation ought to be the ground of criticism, because no man ought to be condemned upon another man's explanation of his meaning. And to that quotation let me add this manuscript note, which I found in a copy of the Report of the Highland Society on the poems of Ossian; which I purchased in December ; and which came from the library of Colonel Hamilton Smith, at Plymouth.
Campbell, of Halfway Tree, Lisuana, in Jamaica, often repeated to me in the year , , and , parts of Ossian in Gaelic; and assured me that he had possessed a manuscript, long the property of his family, in which Gaelic poems, and in particular, whole pieces of Ossian's compositions were contained. This he took out with him on his first voyage. MacPherson had been at one time his tutor; and, therefore, I asked his opinion respecting the authenticity of the Poems.
His lordship replied that he never had any doubts on the subject, he having seen in Mr. MacPherson's possession several manuscripts in the Gaelic language, and heard him speak of them repeatedly; he told me some stronger particulars, which I cannot now note down, for the conversation took place during the action of our winter campaign. The Colonel had the reputation of being a great antiquary, and had a valuable library.
James MacPherson, a "modest young man, who was master of Greek and Latin," was "procured" to be a preceptor to "the boy Tommy," who was afterwards Lord Lyndoch according to a letter in a book printed for private circulation. As it appears to me, those who are ignorant of Gaelic, and now-a-days maintain that "MacPherson composed Ossian's Poems," are like critics who, being ignorant of Greek, should maintain that Pope wrote the Odyssey, and was the father of Homer; or, being ignorant of English, should declare that Tennyson was the father of King Arthur and all his knights, because he has published one of many poems which treat of them.
It was different when Highlanders were "rebels;" and it was petty treason to deny that they were savages. A glance at "Johnson's Tour in the Hebrides," will show the feeling of the day. He heard Gaelic songs in plenty, but would not believe in Gaelic poems. He appreciated the kindness and hospitality with which. He could see no beauty in the mountains which men now flock to see.
He saw no fish in fording northern rivers, and explains how the winter torrents sweep them away; the stags were "perhaps not bigger than our fallow-deer;" the waves were not larger than those on the coast of Sussex; and yet, though the Doctor would not believe in Gaelic poems, he did believe that peat grew as it was cut, and that the vegetable part of it probably caused a glowing redness in the earth of which it is mainly composed; and he came away willing to believe in the second sight, though not quite convinced. That sturdy old Briton, the great lexicographer, who is an honour to his country, was not wholly free from national prejudice; he erred in some things; he may have erred in a matter of which he could not well judge; he did not understand Gaelic; he did not believe in traditions; he would not believe in the translations; and MacPherson seems to have ended by encouraging the public belief that he was the author of poems which had gained so wide a celebrity.
Matters have changed for the better since those days; Celt and Saxon are no longer deadly foes. There still exists, as I am informed, an anti-Celtic society, whose president, on state occasions, wears three pairs of trousers; but it is no longer penal to dispense with these garments; and there are Southerns who discard them altogether, when they go north to. There are Celtic names in high places, in India, and at home; and an English Duke is turning the Gaelic of Ossian's poems into English verse.
This, however, is foreign to my subject, though it bears somewhat on the rest of the traditions of the Finne. I have stated my own opinion because I hold it, not because I wish to influence those who differ from me. I have no wish to stir up the embers of an expiring controversy, which was besprinkled with peculiarly acrid ink, and obscured by acid fumes. I neither believe that MacPherson composed Ossian, nor that Ossian composed all the poems which bear his name. I am quite content to believe Ossian to have been an Irishman, or a Scotsman, or a myth, on sufficient evidence.
Besides these few remnants of poetry which still survive, I find a great many prose tales relating to the heroes of the poems; and as these personages certainly were popular heroes in Ireland and in Scotland centuries ago, I give what I have gathered concerning them, with the conviction that it is purely Celtic tradition. The Seannachas of the Fine consists, then, of poetry already printed; fragments which are not in print, so far as I know, and which are now very rare; and prose tales which are tolerably common, but rapidly disappearing.
In all these, according to tradition, Fionn, Diarmaid, and the rest, are generally represented as Irish worthies. The scene is often laid in Ireland; but there are hundreds of places in Scotland in which some of the exploits are said to have been performed. I know not how many cairns are supposed to contain the bones of the wild boar, whose bristles wounded the feet of Diarmaid when he paced his length against the hair; Kyle Reay, in Skye, is named after a giant warrior who leaped the strait.
There are endless mountains bearing Ossianic names in all parts of Scotland, and even in the Isle of Man the same names are to be found mixed up with legends. In April , I met a peasant near Ramsey who knew the name of Fin MacCoul, though he would not say a word about him to me. In Train's history of the Island, published by Mary Quiggin, , at page , is this note No person has yet had the hardihood to make the attempt, lest, in case of failure, the enchanter, in revenge, might cast his club over Mona also. The three coldest winds that came to Fion M'Cooil, Wind from a thaw, wind from a hole, And wind from under the sails. There are tales, not necessarily about the Fin, consisting partly of plain narrative and dialogue, which vary with every narrator, and probably more or less every time the story is told; and partly of a kind of measured prose, which is unlike anything I know in any other language.
I suspect that these have been compositions at some time, but at what time I cannot even guess. These almost always relate to Ireland and Scandinavia; to boats, knights, swords, and shields. There are adventures under ground, much battle, generally an island with fire about it perhaps Iceland , and a lady to be carried off. There is often an old woman who has some mysterious vessel of balsam which brings the dead to life, and a despised character who turns out to be the real hero, sometimes a boaster who is held up to ridicule.
I believe these to be bardic recitations fast disappearing and changing into prose; for the older the narrator is, the less educated, and the farther removed from the rest of the world, the more his stories are garnished with these passages. In all these, the scene is laid in Eirinn and Lochlan, now Ireland and Scandinavia; and these would seem to have been border countries. Perhaps the stories relate to the time. There is popular history of events which really happened within the last few centuries: of this, I have gathered none, but I heard a great deal in a very short time, and I have heard it all my life.
It is a history devoid of dates, but with clear starting points. The battle was between MacNeill and MacLeod. MacLeod came from that castle. They met on that strand. The dead are buried there. Their descendants now live in such a place. He was the last man hanged in Harris. That is called the slab of lamentation, from which the MacLeans embarked for Ireland when the MacDonalds had conquered them, and taken the land. MacLean exposed his wife on the Lady Rock because she had made his servant blow up one of the ships of the Spanish Armada, for jealousy of the Spanish lady who was on board.
The history is minute and circumstantial, and might be very interesting if faithfully collected, but it is rather local than national, and is not within the scope of my work. It is by far the most abundant popular lore, and has still a great hold on the people. The decision of a magistrate in a late case of "Sapaid" broken heads was very effective, because he appealed to this feeling.
It was thus described to me: "Ah! He leant back in his chair, and spoke grandly for half an hour. He said you are as wild men fighting together in the days of King Shamas. There are tales which relate to men and women only, and to events that might have happened anywhere at any time. They might possibly be true, and equally. Such tales as Nos. These are plentiful, and their characteristic is sagacity and hidden meaning. There are children's tales, of which some are given. They are in poetry and prose as elsewhere, and bear a general resemblance to such tales all over the world. The cat and the mouse play parts in the nursery drama of the Western Isles, as well as; in "Contes et Apologues Indiens inconnus jusqu' a ce jour," etc.
Stanislaus Julien, in , of Chinese books, which were translated into that language from Sanscrit in , by a Chinese doctor, and President of the Ministry of Justice, who composed "The Forest of Comparisons," in twenty-four volumes, divided into 20 classes, and subdivided into sections, after twenty years of hard labour, during which he abstracted about works. This is the name of one; Fo-choue-kiun-nieou-pi-king. Let those who contemn nursery rhymes, think of the French savant, and the Chinese cabinet minister, and the learning which they have bestowed on the conversations of cats and mice.
Riddles and puzzles, of which there are a very great number. They are generally descriptive, such as, "No bigger than a barley corn, it covers the king's board"-- the eye. I have given a few. If any despise riddles, let them bear in mind that the Queen of Sheba is believed to have propounded riddles to Solomon, and that Samson certainly proposed a riddle. Proverbs, in prose and in verse, of which were printed in , and many more are still to be got. Many are evidently very old from their construction, and some are explained by the stories, for example, "Blackberries in February" has no very evident meaning, but a long story explains that difficulties may by vanquished. A king's son was sent by a stepmother to get "that which grew, and is neither crooked nor straight"-- sawdust ; "Blackberries in February," which be found growing in a charnel-house; and a third thing, equally easy to find when the way was known.
There are songs, of which there are a vast number, published and unpublished, of all sorts and kinds, sung to wild and peculiar tunes. They are condemned and forbidden in some districts, and are vanishing rapidly from all. These used to be sung continually within my recollection, and many of them are wild, and, to my ear, beautiful. There are songs composed in a particular rhythm for rowing, for washing clothes by dancing on them; songs whose rhythm resembles a piobroch; love songs; war songs; songs which are nearly all chorus, and which are composed as they are sung.
The composer gives out a single line applicable to anything then present, and the chorus fills up the time by singing and clapping hands, till the second line is prepared. I have known such lines fired at a sportsman by a bevy of girls who were waulking blankets in a byre, and who made the gun and the dog the theme of several stanzas. Reid's Bibliotheca Scoto-Celtica, , gives a list of eighty-one Gaelic books of poetry printed since Of the former, Mackenzie, in his Beauties of Gaelic poetry, gives a list of thirty-two, with specimens of their works and a short biography. Of the latter class, the unknown poets, there are many at the present day; and who is to guess their number in times when men did nothing but fight and sing about their battles?
A very few of these bards have become known to the world by name, and, in all probability their merits never will be known. Let any one translate Sir Patrick Spens or Annie Laurie into French or Greek, or read a French translation of Waverley, and the effect of translation on such compositions will be evident. I presume that I have said enough as to their collection, and that I may now point out what seems to me to be their bearing on the scientific part of the subject; that I may take them as tradition, and argue from them as from established facts.
I have endeavoured to show how, when, and where I got the stories; each has its own separate pedigree, and I have given the original Gaelic, with the closest translation which I was able to make. Now, let me mention the works in which I have found similar tales, and which are within the reach of all who can read English. First--Tales from the Norse, translated by G. Dasent, published Many of the Gaelic tales collected in resemble these very closely. The likeness is pointed out in the notes. It is impossible that the book could have become known to the people who told the stories within the time, but if it were, a manuscript which has been lent. It is a verbatim copy made by a clergyman from a collection of fourteen tales, gathered by "Peter Buchan, editor of the Ancient Ballads and Songs of the North of Scotland.
The tales are written in English, and versions of all except three, had previously come to me in Gaelic. For example, No. Peter Buchan's "Greensleeves," found in Scotland thirteen years before the Norse tales were translated. The manuscript was sent by Mr. Grosart, after he had read the Norse tales, and it seems to be clearly proved that these stories are common to Norway and Scotland. I have found very few stories of the kind amongst the peasantry of the low country, though I have sought them. I find such names as Fingal in Mr. Buchan's stories, and I know them to be common in the islands where the scene is often laid. The language is not that of any peasantry, and I have come to the conclusion that this collection is mostly derived from Gaelic, directly or indirectly, perhaps from the shoals of West Highlanders and Irishmen who used to come down as shearers every harvest, and who are now scattered all over Scotland as farm-servants and drovers, and settled in Edinburgh and Glasgow as porters.
I know from one of these, a drover, who goes every year to the south with cattle, that he has often entertained lowland farm-servants by telling in English the stories which he learned as child in South Uist. I know. But while I hold that this particular collection was not told in this form by lowland Scotch peasants, I know that they still do tell such stories occasionally, and I also know that Englishmen of the lower ranks do the same. I met two tinkers in St. James's Street in February with black faces and a pan of burning coals each. They were followed by a wife, and preceded by a mangy terrier with a stiff tail.
I joined the party, and one told me a version of "the man who travelled to learn what shivering meant," while we walked together through the park to Westminster. It was clearly the popular tale which exist in Norse, and German, and Gaelic, and it bore the stamp of the mind of the class, and of the man, who told it in his own peculiar dialect, and who dressed the actors in his own ideas.
A cutler and a tinker travel together, and sleep in an empty haunted house for a reward. They are beset by ghosts and spirits of murdered ladies and gentlemen, and the inferior, the tinker, shows most courage, and is the hero. In a less degree many are like the German stories of the brothers Grimm. That collection has been translated, and a book so well known may possibly have found its way into the Highlands.
It is impossible to speak with certainty; but when all the narrators agree in saying that they have known their stories all their lives, and when the variation is so marked, the resemblance. I only once heard of such a book in the Highlands. It was given to a gamekeeper in Sutherland for his children, and was condemned, and put out of the way as trash. The Gaelic stories resemble in some few cases the well-known tales of Hans Andersen, founded on popular tales told in Denmark.
And they resemble sundry other books which are avowedly founded on popular tales collected in various countries. Some are like the French tales of the Countess D'Aulnoy which have been translated. One is like part of Shakespeare, but it is still more like the Italian story in Boccaccio, from which part of Cymbeline is supposed to be taken. Perhaps Shakespeare may have founded Cymbeline on a popular tale then current in England and as well as in Italy. A few resemble the Arabian Nights, and in some cases I believe that the stories have been derived from early English translations of that well-known book. I used myself to read an edition of to my piper guardian, in return for his uregeuls, but he seemed more inclined to blame the tyranny of the kings than to admire the Eastern stories.
MacLean has himself told the story of Aladdin in Gaelic as his share of a winter night's entertainment, and I have beard of several people of the poorer class who know the Arabian Nights well. But such stories are easily known after a little experience has been gained. The whole of a volume is run together, the incidents follow in their order, or in something like it. The difference in style is as marked as the contrast between a drift tree and a wrecked vessel, but as it.
These contain the incidents embodied in stories in the Arabian Nights, but the whole machinery and decoration, manners and customs, are now as completely West Highland as if the tales had grown there. But for a camel which appears, I would almost give up my opinion, and adopt that of MacLean, who holds that even these are pure traditions. In support of his view it may be said that there are hundreds of other books as well known in England as those mentioned above, of which neither I nor my collectors have ever found a trace. None of the adventures of Mr. No part of the story of Wallace, as told in the "Scottish Chiefs," or of "Waverley," is to be found in popular history.
There is nothing like "The Mysteries of London. Heroes are as wild, and unkempt, and savage as they probably were. Eastern tale tellers knew what Haroun al Raschid must have suffered when he put on the fisherman's clothes, and Mr. Lane has not scrupled to follow the original Arabic. If the people of the West Highlands have added book stories to their traditions, they have selected those only which were taken from peasants like themselves in other countries, and they have stripped off all that was foreign to their own manners. The people have but taken back their own.
Besides books accessible to all English readers, I find similar stories in books beyond the reach of the people. I have pointed out in the notes all that were within my reach, and came under my notice, but this part of the subject is a study, and requires time to acquire knowledge which I do not possess. Such, then, is the evidence which bears on the immediate origin of the stories. I believe them to be pure traditions, very little affected by modern books, and, if at all, only by those which are avowedly taken from popular tales. A trip of five days in the Isle of Man in April has but confirmed this opinion. That island, in spite of its numerous rulers, is still peculiarly Celtic. It has belonged to Norwegians.
English, Scotch, Welsh, and Irish have fought for it. It has a Law Court with a Norwegian name held on a mound; half the names in the island are Norse, such as Laxey Salmon isthmus , Langness, Snafell; but these names are not understood by the people who live at the places. Peel has a descriptive Gaelic name, which means island port; a Salmon is Braddan, not Lax; and of the poorer classes living in the mountain farms, and. Their hair is dark; the sound of their voices, even their houses, are Celtic. I know one turf dwelling which might be a house in North Uist. There was the fire on the floor, the children seated around it, the black haired Celtic mother on a low stool in front,--the hens quarrelling about a nest under the table, in which several wanted to lay eggs at once.
Drive her out, John! There was the same kindly hospitable manner in the poorest cottage; and I soon found that a Scotch Highlander could speak Manks as soon as he could acquire the art of mispronouncing his own language to the right amount, and learn where to introduce the proper English word. Now this island is visited every summer by shoals of visitors from the mainland; steam-boats bring them from Liverpool, a thousand at a time, and they sweep over the whole country.
If visitors import stories, here there are plenty of strangers, and I was a stranger myself. If stories are imported in books, here are the books also. The first picture I saw on landing was a magnificent Bluebeard in a shop window. He was dressed as an Eastern potentate, and about to slice off his wife's head with a crooked scimitar, while the two. But there was not a trace of any of that kind of story to be found amongst the peasants with whom I spoke in the Isle of Man.
I found them willing to talk, eager to question, kindly, homely folk, with whom it was easy to begin an acquaintance. I heard everywhere that it used to be common to hear old men telling stories about the fire in Manks; but any attempt to extract a story, or search out a queer old custom, or a half-forgotten belief, seemed to act as a pinch of snuff does on a snail. The Manksman would not trust the foreigner with his secrets; his eye twinkled suspiciously, and his hand seemed unconsciously to grasp his mouth, as if to keep all fast.
After getting quite at ease with one old fellow over a pipe, and having learned that a neighbour's cow had born a calf to the "Taroo ustey," water bull, I thought I might fish for a story, and told one as a bait. Here was the very word mispronounced, "sgeul," so my hopes rose. But though this was the usual thing, it was not always so; and it soon became evident that the stories given in Train's history of the Isle of Man, are nearly all known to the people now; and these are of the same nature as some known in the Highlands of Scotland; some are almost identical; and nearly all the Manks customs are common to the Western Isles.
Thus I heard of Fairies, "Ferish," who live in green mounds, and are heard at times dressing mill-stones in haunted mills; of Taroo Ustey, the water bull; of Dinny Mara, the sea man, and of the Mermaid; of Caval Ustey, the water horse; of Fion MacCooil; of a city under the waves; of a magic island seen in the far west. I heard of giants. No one would tell about them; but in a book I found how Goddard Crovan threw a vast boulder at his scolding wife, and how a Norman baron, named "Kitter" and his cook; "Eaoch," and his magic sword, "Macabuin," made by "Loan Maclibhuin, the dark smith of Drontheim;" and "Hiallus-nan-urd, the one-legged hammerman,"--are all woven into a story, and mixed up with such Norwegian names as Olave and Emergaid, exactly as a story is jumbled together in the Western Isles of Scotland.
I got some stories which I have not found in the Manks books, so I give them here, in the hope that some Manksman may be induced to gather the popular lore of his own country. This from a woman who lives near the Calf of Man. You see they were very strong, and when they wanted a stack threshed, though it was a whole stack, the glashan would have it threshed for them in one night. There was one of them once caught a girl, and had a hould of her by the dress, and he sat down and he fell asleep; and then she cut away all the dress, you see, round about this way, and left it in his fist and ran away; and when he awoke, he threw what he had over his shoulder, this way; and he said something in Manks which I could not catch.
When I was a little girl, I used to hear them telling them in Manks over the fire at night; but people is so changed with pride now that they care for nothing. Now here is a story which is all over the Highlands in various shapes. Sometimes it is a Brollichan son of the Fuath, or a young water horse transformed into the likeness of a man, which attacks a lonely woman, and gets burned or scalded, and goes away to his friends outside. In the islands, the woman generally says her name is Myself; and the goblin answers, when asked who burned him, "Myself.
I have. The Glashan, as I found out afterwards, frequented neighbouring farms till within a very late period. He wore no clothes, and was hairy; and, according, to Train's history, Phynodderee, which means something hairy, was frightened away by a gift of clothes--exactly as the Skipness long-haired Gruagach was frightened away by the offer of a coat and a cap. The Manks brownie and the Argyllshire one each repeated a rhyme over the clothes; but the rhymes are not the same, though they amount to the same thing. Here, then, is a Gaelic popular tale and belief in Man; and close to it I found a story which has a counterpart in Grimm.
I heard it from my landlady at Port Erin, and I met two Manksmen afterwards who know it So the fluke curled his mouth on one side, and said, 'A simple fish like the herring, king of the sea! In short, the Isle of Man has its own legends, which have their own peculiarities; they resemble others, and do not seem to be taken from books.
The same class of people tell them there as elsewhere; the difficulty of getting at them is the same; and the key to the secret is the native language. From what I gleaned. And now to return to my own subject. I find that men of all ranks resemble each other; that each branch of popular lore has its own special votaries, as branches of literature have amongst the learned; that one man is the peasant historian and tells of the battles of the clans; another, a walking peerage, who knows the descent of most of the families in Scotland, and all about his neighbours and their origin; others are romancers, and tell about the giants; others are moralists, and prefer the sagacious prose tales, which have a meaning, and might have a moral; a few know the history of the Feni, and are antiquarians.
Many despise the whole as frivolities; they are practical moderns, and answer to practical men in other ranks of society. But though each prefers his own subject, the best Highland story-tellers know specimens of all kinds. Start them, and it seems as if they would never stop. I timed one, and he spoke for an hour without pause or hesitation, or verbal repetition. His story was Connall Gulban, and he said he could repeat fourscore. He recited a poem, but despised "Bardism"; and he followed me six miles in the dark to my inn, to tell me numbers 19 and 20, which I have condensed; for the very same thing can be shortly told when it is not a composition. For example. In telling a story, narrative and dialogue are mixed what the characters have told each other to do is repeated as narrative.
The people in the story tell it to each other, and branch off into discussions about their horses and houses and crops, or anything that happens to turn up. One story grows out of another,. Here and there comes a passage repeated by rote, and common to many stories, and to every good narrator. It seems to act as a rest for the memory. Now and then, an observation from the audience starts an argument.
In short, one good story in the mouth of a good narrator, with a good audience, might easily go rambling on for a whole winter's night, as it is said to do. The "Slim Swarthy Champion used to last for four hours. Those that wanted to hear the end had to come back. I have heard of a man who fell asleep by the fire, and found a story going on when he awoke next morning. I have one fragment on which as I am told an old man in Ross-shire used to found twenty-four stories, all of which died with him. There are varieties in public speakers amongst the people as amongst their representatives, for some are eloquent, some terse, some prosy. But though a tale may be spun out to any extent, the very same incidents can be, and often are, told in a few words, and those tales which have been written for me are fair representations of them as they are usually told.
They are like a good condensed report of a rambling speech, with extraneous matter left out. One narrator said of the longest story which I had then got--" It is but the contents;" but I have more than once asked a narrator to tell me the story which he had previously told to one of my collectors, and a collector to write down a story which I had previously heard,. In no instance have I found anything added by those whom I employed, when their work was subjected to this severe test. This is the account which one of my collectors gives of the old customs of his class--he is a workman employed by the Duke of Argyll; he tells me that he is self-educated; and as he repeats some of the stories which he has written, from memory, his account of the way in which he acquired them is valuable.
I remember, upwards of fifty years ago, when I was a boy, my father lived in the farest north house, in the valley called Glen-na Callanach. I also used to be with my granfather; he lived near Terbert, Lochlomond side. I remember, in the winter nights, when a few old people would be togather, they would pass the time with telling each other stories, which they had by tradition. I used to listen attentively, and hear them telling about the ceatharnaich, or freebooters, which used to come to plunder the country, and take away cattle; and how their ancestors would gather themselves togather to fight for their property, the battles they fought, and the kind of weapons they used to fight with; the manners of their ancestors, the dress they used to wear, and different hardships they had to endure.
I was also sometimes amused, listening to some people telling Gaelic romances, which we called sgeulachds. It was customary for a few youngsters to gather into one house, and whither idle or at some work, such as knitting stockings or spinning, they would amuse each other with some innocent diversion, or telling sgeulachds. Us that was children was very fond of listening to them, and the servant maid that was in my father's house would often tell us a sgeulachd to keep us queit. In those days, when people killed their Marte cow they keept the hide, and tanned it for leather to themselves.
In those days every house was furnished with a wheel and a reel; the women spun, and got their webs woven by a neighbouring weaver; also, the women was dyers for themselves, so that the working class had their leather, their linen, and their cloth of their own manufacturing; and when they required the help of a shoemaker, or. The tailors and shoemakers went from house to house, to work wherever they were required, and by travelling the country so much, got acquaint with a great maney of the traditionary tales, and divulged them through the country; and as the country people made the telling of these tales, and listening to hear them, their winter night's amusement, scarcely aney part of them would be lost.
Some of these romances is supposed to be of great antiquity, on account of some of the Gaelic words being out of use now. I remember, about forty years ago, of being in company with a man that was watching at night; he wished me to stop with him, and he told me a sgeulachd romance; and last year I heard a man telling the same story, about therty miles distante from where I had heard it told forty years before that; and the man which told me the tale could not tell me the meaning of some of the old Gaelic words that was in it.
At first I thought they were foreign words, but at last I recollected to have heard some of them repeated in Ossian's poems, and it was by the words that was before, and after them, that I understood the meaning of them. The same man told me another story, which he said he learned from his granfather, and Denmark, Swedden, and Noraway was named in it in Gaelic, but he forgot the name of the two last-named places. It appears likely to me, that some of these tales was invented by the Druids, and told to the people as sermons; and by these tales the people was caused to believe that there was fairies which lived in little conical hills, and that the fairies had the power of being either visible or invisible, as they thought proper, and that they had the power of enchanting people, and of taking them away and make fairies of them; and that the Druids had charms which would prevent that; and they would give these charms to the people for payment; and maney stories would be told about people being taken away by the fairies, and the charms which had to be used to break the spell, and get them back again; and others, on account of some neglidgeance, never got back aney more.
Also that there was witches; people which had communication with an evil spirit, from which they got the power of changing themselves into aney shape they pleased; that these witches often put themselves in the shape of beasts, and when they were in the shape of beasts, that they had some evil design in view, and that it was dangerous to meet them. Also that they could,. The Druidical priests pretended that they had charms that would prevent the witches from doing aney harm, and they would give a charm for payment.
When the first day of summer came, the people was taught to put the fire out of their houses, and to place it on some emince near the house for to keep away the witches, and that it was not safe for them to kindle a fire in their house aney more, until they bought it from beil's druide. That fire was called beil-teine beils-fire , and the first day of summer was called beil-fires day; and also when the first night of winter came, the people would gather fuel and make blazing fire for to keep away the witches, or at least to deprive them of the power of taking away the produce of the farm, and then they would go to the Druid and buy a kindling of what was called the holy fire.
The Druids also caused the people to believe that some families had been enchanted and changed into beasts, and as the proper means had not been used, the spell was never broken; and that swans, seals, and marmaids had been different beings, familys that had been enchanted. Beil or Beul was the name which the Druids gave their god, and the Druids of Beil pretended to be the friends of the people; they pretended to have charms to cure different kinds of diseases, and also charms to prevent fairies, ghosts, and witches, from annoying or harming people. It is a well-known fact, that the superstitions of the Druids has been handed down from generation to generation for a great maney ages, and is not wholy extinct yet; and we have reason to believe that some of the tales, which was invented in those days for to fright the people, has been told and kept in remembrance in the self and same manner.
The priests of Beil was the men that was called Druids, the miracles which they pretended to perform was called meur-bheileachd beil-fingering , and their magic which they pretended to perform was called druichd druidisem , and we have plenty of reason to believe superstitious tales as well as superstition, originated among the Druids. I have corrected only two or three errors in spelling, and the writing is remarkably clear, but I have left some words which express the Gaelic pronunciation of English.
Smith see Armstrong's Die. Now let me return to the cottage of old Macphie, where I heard a version of the Sea-Maiden, and let me suppose that one of the rafters is the drift log which I saw about to be added to a roof in the same island. The whole roof is covered with peat soot, but that may be scraped away, and the rough wood appears. There are the holes of boring sea shells, filled with sand and marine products.
It is evident that the log came by sea, that it did not come in a ship, and that it was long enough in warm salt water for the barnacles to live and die, and for their dwellings to be filled with sea rubbish; that it floated through latitudes where barnacles live. The fairy eggs, which are picked up on the same shore, point to the West Indies as a stage on the way. It is therefore possible that the rafter was once an American fir tree, growing in the Rocky Mountains; that it was swept into the Mississippi, and carried to the Gulf of Mexico; drifted by the gulf-stream past the West India Islands to the Hebrides, and stranded by a western gale on its voyage; to Spitzbergen.
But all this must have happened long ago, for it is now a rafter covered with the soot of generations. That rafter is a strange fact, it is one of a series, and has to be accounted for. There it is, and a probable account of its journey is, that it came from East to West without the help of man, in obedience to laws which govern the world. It grew to be a pine tree; it must have been white with snow in winter, and green in summer, and glittering with rain drops and hoar-frost in bright sunshine at various times and seasons. The number of years it stood in the forest can be counted by the rings in the wood.
It is certain that it was torn up by the roots, for the roots are there still. It may have formed a part of one of these wonderful natural rafts of the Mississippi, of which one in was "no less than ten miles in length, two hundred and twenty yards wide, and eight feet deep. Birds must have sat on it in the forest,--crabs and shells have lived on it at sea, and fish must have swam about it; and yet it is now a rafter, hung with black pendants of peat smoke. A tree that grew beside it may now be in Spitzbergen amongst walrusses. Another may be a snag in the Mississippi amongst alligators, destined to become a fossil tree in a coal field. Part of another may be a Yankee rocking chair, or it may be part of a ship in any part of the World, or the tram of a cart, or bit of a carriage, or a wheel-barrow, or a gate post, or anything that can be made of fir wood anywhere; and the fate of stories may be as various as that of fir trees, but their course may be guessed at by running a back scent overland, as I have endeavoured to follow the voyage of a drift log over sea.
Macphie's story began thus"There was a poor old fisher in Skye, and his name was Duncan;" and every version of the story which I have found in the Highlands, and I have found many, is as highland as the peat-reek on the rafters. The same story is known in. It is a curious fact. It is worth the trouble of looking under what is purely highland, to see if its origin can be discovered. First, then, the incidents are generally strung, together in a particular order in the Highlands, but, either separately or together, every incident in the story is to be found in some shape in other languages.
Norse has it as "Shortshanks. German has it. It is in the Italian of Straparola as "Fortunio. It is in every language in Europe as "St. George and the Dragon. Peter Buchan's English of as part of "Greensleeves. There is something in Sanscrit about Indra, a god who recovered the stolen cattle of the gods, but here the scent is very cold, and the hound at fault, though it seems that the Sanscrit hero was the sun personified, and that he had horses of many colours, including red and white, which were always feminine, as the horses in Gaelic stories are, and which had wings and flew through the air.
These were "Svankas," with beautiful steps. There is a mermaid in the story, and mermaids are mentioned in Irish, and in Arabic, and in Manks, and Italian: men even assert that they have seen mermaids in the sea within the last few years, amongst the Hebrides and off Plymouth. There is an Otter, and a Sea Monster, and in other tales, there are Bears and Doves, and other animals; but every one of them, except the monster, is to be found on the road to the land where Sanscrit was spoken, and all these, and many more, played their part in popular tales elsewhere, while no real animal is ever mentioned which is peculiar to lands out of the road which leads overland to India.
Nearly all these have Gaelic names, and most of them are still living within a few days' journey of the Hebrides under other names. I saw a live wolf from a diligence one fine morning in Brittany, and I have seen bears in Scandinavia and in Germany. The only far-fetched animal is the Lion, and in another story a similar creature appears as "Cu Seang. Shune is a dog in Sanscrit, Siunnach a fox in Gaelic, and there are many other Gaelic words which point to the "eastern origin of Celtic nations. It is therefore probable that it came from the East, for it is not of home growth, and the question is, how did it get to Barra?
It seems to have been known along a certain track for many ages. It is possible that it came from the far East with the. It is hard to account for it otherwise. Those who have most studied the subject so account for popular tales elsewhere, and therefore, Donald Macphie's. Much has been written, and said, and discovered about the popular migrations which have poured from East to West, and which are moving on still. Philology has mapped out the course of the human stream, and here, in the mind of an old fisherman, unable to read, or to speak any language but his own, is the end of a clue which seems to join Iran and Eirinn; as a rafter in his hut may link him with the Rocky Mountains.
Admit that this so-called fiction, and others like it, may be traditions, which have existed from the earliest of times, and every word and incident acquires an interest, for it may lead to something else. The story certainly grew in the mind of man, as a tree grows from a seed, but when or where? It has certainly been told in many languages.
It is worth inquiring how many races have told it. The incidents, like drift trees, have been associated with people and events, as various as birds, fish, alligators, walrusses, and men; mountain ranges, and ocean currents. They have passed through the minds of Ovid and Donald Macphie. They have been adorned by poets, painted by artists, consecrated by priests,--for St. George is the patron saint of England; and now we find that which may have sprung from some quarrel about a cow, and which has passed through so many changes, dropping into forgetfulness in the mind of an old fisherman, and surrounded with the ideas which belong to his every-day life.
Ideas differing from those of the people who first invented the story, as the snow of the Rocky Mountains differs from peat-reek. Now, to look forwards, and follow in imagination the shoals of emigrants from Germany, Scandinavia, France, Ireland, and Scotland, who are settled in clumps, or scattered over America and Australia; to think of the stories which have been gathered in Europe from these people alone, and which they have most certainly carried with them, and will tell their children; and then the route of popular tales hereafter, and their spread in former ages, can be traced and may be guessed. I have inquired, and find that several Islanders, who used to tell the stories in Gaelic, are now settled in Australia and Canada. One of my relatives was nearly overwhelmed with hospitality in an Australian village, by a colony of Argyllshire Celts, who had found out that he was a countryman.
I was lately told of a party of men who landed in South America, and addressed a woman whom they found in a hut, in seven different languages; but in vain. At last, one of them spoke Gaelic, which he had not done for many years, and she answered, "Well, it is to thyself I would give the speech," for she was a native of Strathglas. Livingstone is in South Africa; and what is true of Highlanders is equally true of Germans and Scandinavians, they are spread over the world.
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