[From Mannin #5 1915]
The Celtic Review. (T. & A. Constable, 2s. 6d. )
The number of the Celtic Review for December, 1914, contains various articles of more than ordinary interest to the Manx reader. In reviewing the effect of the rising of 1745 and its suppression in the Highlands, Rev. D. Maclean combats the idea that the preceeding conditions of these districts had been those of barbarism, and were changed into civilization by the completion of the English Conquest. 'Grazing and Agrestic Customs of the Outer Hebrides' is a paper originally written about 30 years ago for the Crofter Royal Commission by Dr. Carmichael, uncle to Mr. Archibald Knox, so well known in the Island. It describes the conditions of land tenure among a race, like: ourselves, of mixed Gaelic and Norse parentage-in many instances harmonizing with the customs of our own past, or even present. There the 'run rig' system still obtains, and the 'baile' or townland, is still the territorial unit. The ' maor,' or ground officer, recalls our familiar ' moar, ' an office whose historic but inconvenient duties will soon probably be obsolete in Man. The article relates principally to Barra and the two Uists, the southern part of the so-called Long Island, or Innis Cat, which really consists of many isles separated by narrow sounds, sometimes fordable at low water. The description of the wild and beautiful isles of Barra, with their primitive life and traditional observances, is deeply interesting.
The present position of Gaelic in Scotland is discussed by Dr. W. J. Watson, (Inaugural Lecture, as successor to Professor MacKinnon in the Celtic Chair of the University of Edinburgh). Dr. Watson agrees, on the whole, with the opinion that Scottish Gaelic was introduced from Ireland early in the Christian era. It superseded the Welsh of the inhabitants of Strathclyde, but after the time of Malcolm Canmore, whose Court was dominated by English influence, it gradually faded from Southern Scotland, lingering, in Galloway at least until the time of Queen Mary. The close proximity of Galloway to the Isle of Man, and the early connections between the two countries and their ruling families, would make the comparison of their respective Gaelic dialects-in the case of Galloway, I believe, available only through its place and personal names-of considerable interest to the student of Manx history.
At the present time, Dr. Watson tells us, Gaelic is not spoken (except in the large towns by Highland colonists) South of Forth and Clyde. North of these rivers, the language is found in Northern and Western Perthshire, in Argyle, Inverness, Ross and Sutherland and in some upland districts of other counties. ' In the Isles Gaelic is the rule.'
Though small in quantity the literature of Scottish Gaelic is of considerable value. No official encouragement is given to the reading of Gaelic in Scottish Schools. ' When done, it is done precariously and on sufferance'. Gaelic Texts are frequently expensive and not easily obtained, and the author concludes with an urgent appeal for the improvement of the position of this picturesque and venerable language.
Mr. Dodgson, the author of an erudite article on ' The Biscayan Verb,' which is, I fear, beyond our criticism, will be known to some of us as one of the oldest members of our Society, who in 1901 collected and published in the ' Manx Sun' a list of the epitaphs in Manx occurring in (a few only of) our churchyards. P. G. RALFE.
The London Manx Society must be congratulated upon its efforts to perpetuate the memory of Edward Forbes, the Douglas boy who in 1853, at the age of 38, attained to the position of Professor of Natural History in the University of Edinburgh, and who, sad to say, died the following year. Forbes was a patriotic and many-sided Manxman, and would have attained eminence in art, or literature, or philosophy. if he had not been wrapped up in the world of Natural History and its kindred sciences. The organization of the Forbes Centenary in London in February last, was a noble feat ; a full report of the proceedings, including the speeches of Sir Archibald Geikie and others, has just been published (Brown & Sons Ltd., Douglas, 1/-). Our own people know little of the history of their own great men of the past ; this book will enable them to see how great a genius Forbes was, and how proud we ought to be of his achievements. I would suggest that members of School Boards and their teachers should especially study this book in order that our boys and girls may have imparted to them some knowledge of this great and good countryman of ours.
A very interesting little booklet written by Mr. W. Cubbon and illustrated by sketches from the pencil of Professor Edward Forbes, was published by the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society, for February 12th. Mr. Cubbon has succeeded in giving an excellent idea of the life, work, and character of the man of genius within the compass of this little book.
Hearty thanks are also due to Mr. Cubbon for the trouble taken by him in getting together the most interesting Forbes' Exhibition which he placed on view in the Town Hall, Douglas, on February 12. It comprised a collection of Forbes' published works, pictures of the Forbes family, relics, and so forth.
A pretty little playlet by ' Cushag,' entitled 'The Christmas Pudding,' was recently performed with great success in Glen Aldyn by the Glen people.
The 'Artist's Who's Who,' to be published shortly by Messrs. Pitman, will be edited by Mr. Leonard Stowell, who is a grandson of William Hendry Stowell, D.D.,nephew of the Rev. Hugh Stowell.
In the April number of The Choir the editor has started his biographical sketches of Mr. W. H. Gill's career as a musician, an artist, and a man of letters, which will be especially interesting to Manx people, who are, perhaps not all entirely aware of the many- sidedness of Mr. Gill's powers. He was for many years honorary secretary of the London Ruskin Society, and in the Ruskin Museum at Sheffield, a drawing of his occupies a place of honour. Mr. Gill is at the present engaged in a collection of Folk Songs of the United Kingdom, which will be brought out by Messrs. Curwen and Sons, in shilling parts, each containing twenty songs.
With the recent Chaglym Kiaullee came another publication by the Manx Society of Manx music with Manx and English words attached. The Society's output in this respect is attaining quite respectable proportions by now, and the discerning have doubtless already inserted various additional airs inside the leaves of that copy of Mr. Gill's Manx National Songs which every self-respecting Manx household possesses. Two of this year's test pieces are taken from the last installment of Mr. Gill's Songs of my Fatherland which has just been issued from the Angmering Press, Sussex. This new series of Mr. Gill's includes 'Three Eeasteyryn Boghtey,' hitherto only to be obtained in Mr. Moore's Manx Ballads and Mr. Gill's less-known Manx National Music ; and a traditional setting of 'Ushag veg Ruy,' hitherto unpublished. The former air is associated with a story of shipwreck, and is a beautiful musical expression of profound tragedy ; and the latter is as charming a lullaby as its better-known namesake. The adjudicator at the Chaglym, announcing his decision on the 'Ushag veg Ruy ' class, declared his intention of making this beautiful little cradle song as widely known as he could. May one suggest that teachers in Manx schools might find the two settings of ' Ushag veg Ruy' and ' The Straw Cradle,' and 'Juan y Jaggad Keear, ' very suitable for use in their infant departments ?
The subject selected for the female solo (senior) class was ' Longing, ' an air taken down by Mrs. W. J. Corlett from the singing of the late Dr. Clague. Dr. Clague had, of course, included this air in the collection which he and Mr. Gill gathered together some years ago, and it appears in ' Manx National Music -not the ' Songs,' be it noticed-as the song of the ' Jennys, ' or travelling beggars. What the original words were, cannot now be said, but the music is decidedly plaintive, and the words which Miss Mona Douglas has now written to the air, describing the sob of the exile doomed to die away from home, are admirably appropriate, while Mr. Thomas Moore has furnished a no inadequate Manx translation. The remaining test-piece, that chosen for the senior chorus, is a series of choral variations by Mr. J. E. Quayle, Mus. B., upon ' Carval Abban Rushen, ' or the carol of Rushen Abbey, sung to the translation of ' Jesu, lover of my soul' which is to be found in the Manx Hymn-book. The air is magnificent, but one cannot help wishing that it had been presented in a form which would make it more likely to be used on future occasions. The harmonies, skillful though they undoubtedly are, are too intricate to be within the scope of an average choir, and for congregational purposes the setting is unthinkable.
Part IV of 'Songs of my Fatherland,' already alluded to, contains a setting to 'Cushag's' poem, 'The Hills of Ellan Vannin,' and one to Archdeacon Rutter's fine old song, 'A Quiet Little Nation'-composed, as readers will know, for the household of the great Stanley and his brave Countess while they resided at Castle Rushen. Mr. Gill has also published a setting to Edward Forbes' ' Dredging Song.' Neither of these settings has any Manxy' flavour about it, but the last two are very spirited, and one would like to see them taken up heartily and generally. The first of them, also, is very effective and quite simple, and deserves to have a wide vogue.
Finally, it is interesting to note that our good friend Mr. A. P. Graves has written a poem in honour of the Belgians, entitled 'The Freedom Tree,' and has set it to that fine Manx Melody, ' Illiam Dhone' (No. 2). The song is published as a mixed voice chorus by Stainer and Bell, of 58 Berners Street, W. P. W. CAINE.
The Handbook of Folk-Lore, New Edition revised and enlarged by Charlotte S. Burne, Sidgwick and Jackson, for the Folk-Lore Society.
This new edition of a most interesting and useful book will be welcomed by the Folk-lore student and collector. The first edition, edited by Sir Laurence Gomme, was published in 1890, and has proved an invaluable encyclopaedia and guide to the Folk-lore of the British Isles. The present edition with its Hints, Appendices and Questionary, bringing the work up to date, is worthy of its predecessor, and Miss Burne is to be congratulated upon it. Reference is made on p. 239, to the Manx Old New Year's Day, and in describing the Folk-lore Society's intended record of the Calendar Customs of the British Isles, Miss Burne remarks: 'The work is intended to cover not only Great Britain and Ireland, but the Isle of Man, the Shetlands, the Hebrides, the Scilly Isles, and the Channel Isles. The British Archipelago includes such a variety of racial elements that the work ought to prove a valuable ethnographical study of comparative folklore.' The Manx Calendar Customs for the book have been collated by ' Cushag' from printed folklore to which she has added, and expanded where- ever possible.