Without Any Exception

But, after all, this ruffianism was really not a whit worse in its effects on the national character than was the case with certain of the “universal peace” and “non-resistance” developments in the Northeastern States; in fact, it was more healthy. A class of professional non-combatants is as hurtful to the real, healthy growth of a nation as is a class of fire-eaters; for a weakness or folly is nationally as bad as a vice, or worse; and, in the long run, a Quaker may be quite as undesirable a citizen as is a duelist. No man who is not willing to bear arms and to fight for his rights can give a good reason why he should be entitled to the privilege of living in a free community. The decline of the militant spirit in the Northeast during the first half of this century was much to be regretted. To it is due, more than to any other cause, the undoubted average individual inferiority of the Northern compared to the Southern troops; at any rate, at the beginning of the great war of the Rebellion. The Southerners, by their whole mode of living, their habits, and their love of out-door sports, kept up their warlike spirit; while in the North the so-called upper classes developed along the lines of a wealthy and timid bourgeoisie type, measuring everything by a mercantile standard (a peculiarly debasing one if taken purely by itself), and submitting to be ruled in local affairs by low foreign mobs, and in national matters by their arrogant Southern kinsmen. The militant spirit of these last certainly stood them in good stead in the Civil War. The world has never seen better soldiers than those who followed Lee; and their leader will undoubtedly rank as without any exception the very greatest of all the great captains that the English-speaking peoples have brought forth and this, although the last and chief of his antagonists may himself claim to stand as the full equal of Marlborough and Wellington.

Theodore Roosevelt, Life of Thomas Hart Benton, Boston: Houghton and Mifflin and Co., 1887.

At the Glesga Necropolis

Wee Willie Winkie rins through the toun
Upstairs an doonstairs in his nichtgoun
Rappin at the windaes, tirlin at the lock
Are aa the bairnies in their beds, it’s past echt o clock?

There are bairnies sleepin here that niver waukened up
Niver saw a simmer’s day, or got the birthin cup
Niver watched the sun rise, or gowans dauncin bricht
There are bairnies sleepin in the Lang Guid Nicht

Yet their mithers murn them, their faither’s ne’er forget
The shadda-faimly littlins ahin Life’s steekit yett
May their sleep be blithesome, wi bonnie flooerie dreams
Aa the bairnies sleepin unner Daith’s cauld steens.

Sheena Blackhall, Cleaning the Apostle Spoons: Poems in Scots & English, Aberdeen: Malfranteaux, 2012.

Last of the MacDonalds of Islay

“FOR it shall be known, I shall seek no other refuge but only your Majesty’s clemency, nor no other living, but that which your Majesty’s princely liberality, it shall please your Highness bestow upon me as at more length, the bearer will inform your Majesty, and so I beseech God to bless your Highness with a long and prosperous reign, your Majesty’s most humble servant, (Signed), Angus M’Connal of Dunivaig. From Iylaye, the tent of September, 1606.”

Bond of the men of Islay to the Privy Council of Scotland.
Bond of the men of Islay to the Privy Council of Scotland.

About this period the following affecting supplication was sent to the Council, whereof a fac-simile is given. The spelling is modernized:—

My Lords of Secret Council, please your Lordships to understand that we the tenants and under subscribers testify and approve to your Lordships that Angus M’Connell of Dunivaig and his forbears have been native superiors above us under His Majesty’s hands and grace. Now therefore we crave of your Lordships’ grace in respect of his native kindness of superiority over us, and specially seeing has nothing to say against him, but using us well, in all manner of form, and is willing to keep all good order that his Majesty and your Lordships will lay to his charge, therefore we beseech your Lordships for the cause of God to let us have our own native said Master your subject during his lifetime, and thereafter his eldest son and heir Sir James. This we beseech your Lordships to do for God’s cause, as we are ever bound to pray for your Lordships’ standing. We rest at Yllaye the [..] day of [..].

Your Lordships’ subjects to be commanded with service, (signed), Neil M’Ky, Officer of the Rinns, with my hand; Neil M’Kay, younger; Hector Mactavish in Kinibos; Archibald Makduphee in Ballijonen; Donald Makduphee in Killicolmane; Neil Neonach Makduphee in Migirnes; Archibald Makduphee of Skerolsay; Malcolme Makphersone in Mullindrie; Lauchlane Makirini levin in Gronozort; Neill Makphetera of Kepposiche; Donald Maktavish of Ardacheriche; Hew M’Ky of Killikeran; Donald MakGoin of Esknis.

No satisfactory reply was made. Angus’ name appears occasionally thereafter at meetings of Western Highland Potentates, and heading the Lists. But restoration was not to be; and baffled and unsupported Angus Macdonald on 1st January, 1612, for the trifling sum of 6000 merks renounced in favour of Sir John Campbell of Calder all his rights to Islay, and dying shortly thereafter, is referred to in 1614, as “umquhile Angus Macdonald called of Dunyvaig.”

The Last MacDonalds of Isla: Chiefly Selected from Original Bonds and Documents, Sometime Belonging to Sir James MacDonald, the Last of His Race, Now in the Possession of Charles Fraser-Mackintosh, F.S.A. Scot., Glasgow, 1895.

Highland Wit and Humour

Cartoon c. 1940s.
Cartoon c. 1940s.

HIGHLAND WIT AND HUMOUR.
By “Fionn.”

A HIGHLAND boy went with his mother to Inverness to get his first pair of boots. Returning home with his boots slung round his neck, and feeling as proud as a chief, he paid little attention to his steps. Suddenly he struck his big toe against a stone with a terrible shock. Stooping down he began to hold his toe in his hand, while with a rueful countenance he allowed the pain he was suffering. Brightening up suddenly he turned to his mother and exclaimed — “Taing do ‘n Fhreasdal nach i a’ bhròg ùr a fhuair siud,” (Providence be thanked that it was not the new shoes that got yon.)

A deer-stalker after a series of inexcusable misses, remarked to his gillie— “Well, Donald, whose fault was it that time?” Quoth Donald — “Well, he wasn’t more than a hundred yards, and it’s not my fault you missed him; and it’s not the fault of the stag, for he stood still enough; and it’s not the fault of the rifle, for I ken well it’s a right good one; so I’ll just leave it to you to think it over, and find out whose fault it was.”

This reminds one of the Highland lady who sent her son — the young laird — for the first time to the shooting, under the charge of old Sandy the gamekeeper. On their return in the evening with rather a light bag the fond mother asked Sandy how the laird got on in the hill — and if he was a good shot. “He shot real pretty,” was Sandy’s reply, “but Providence was kind to the birds.”

Two Highlanders were benighted, and lay down to sleep on the side of a mountain. After they had lain a little one of them got up, but soon returned again. The other asked him—”What’s this, Donald? What have you been about?” Donald replied — “I was only bringing a stane to put under my head.” Duncan started up and cried — “Man, but you’re unco pernickety! Canna ye sleep without a stane aneath your head?”

Gaelic epitaphs are but seldom met with, but some of the English attempts to convey to the reader an idea of the virtues of departed Celts, are very funny. Take the following for example —

Here lies Andrew MacPherson
Who was a peculiar person,
He stood six foot two
Without his shoe,
And was slew at Waterloo.

It is not every epitaph that is so painfully true as the following:—

Here lies interred a man o’ micht,
His name was Malcom Downie;
He lost his life ae market nicht
By fa-in’ aff his pownie. Aged 37.

On a stone not far from Rob Roy’s grave at Balquhidder, the following ludicrous inscription may be seen —

Beneath this stane lies Seonaid Roy,
Shon Roy’s reputed mother,
In a’ her life, save this Shon Roy,
She never had another.
‘Tis here, or hereabout, they say—
The place no one can tell;
But when she’ll rise at the last day
She’ll ken the stane hersel.

The fact of a man being a good shot is not usually included among “tombstone virtues,” but in the churchyard of Fort-William we find the following —

“Sacred to the memory of Captain Patrick Campbell, late of the 42nd regiment. He died on the 13th of December 1816. A true Highlander, a sincere friend, and the best deerstalker of his day.”

In a churchyard not far from Glasgow there is a stone evidently erected by a Highlander — The confusion of ideas in the epitaph is rather extraordinary — Erected by Hugh MacMillan in memory of his father Donald MacMillan who died, etc., then we have this line from Gray’s “Elegy in a Country Churchyard” —

“He gave to misery (all he had) a tear,” followed by this extraordinary coda —

Also my son Hugh.

It reminds one of the inscription over some youth who was “shot by a blunderbuss, one of the old brass kind — “For of such is the Kingdom of Heaven”!

It is wonderful what havoc the misplacing of part of a sentence, or even a comma makes on the sense, as will be seen from the following — “Erected to the memory of John MacDonald who was shot by his brother as a mark of respect.” The members of this family must have had rather a peculiar way of showing their respect for one another.

A certain Captain MacPherson was about to proceed on a long voyage, and his wife sent a request to the church to which they belonged desiring an interest in their prayers. Poor body, she doubtless wrote — “Captain MacPherson going to sea, his wife requests the prayers of the congregation.” The announcement made to the congregation was — “Captain MacPherson going to see his wife, requests the prayers of the congregation.” If Mrs. MacPherson was present her feelings may be easier imagined than described.

The Celtic Monthly, June 1894.

A Fictitious Unity

The reason for this [the failure of an alliance between Eastern Schismatics and the Anglican Church — Ed.] is that national particularism chills and kills the buds of the Catholic ideal of the Church of Christ. Unity outside of Rome means for Catholics a unity without a vital bond of union, a fictitious unity which fosters in its heart a solvent of the supernatural compactness of the Body of Christ, to the spreading of the petty dissensions of a most narrow nationalism. And, at the close of this paper, it will perhaps be to the purpose to quote the beautiful saying of William Palmer to a Russian lady concerning the disastrous role of nationalism in Christianity: “Nationality in religion has been our ruin; it has made us all but apostatize from the true faith, and we in England are struggling now to crawl out of that pit into which I hope you may never fall deeper than you have fallen already.”

F. A. Palmieri, O. S. A., Anglican Ordinations in Modern Russian Theology, The American Quarterly Catholic Review, Volume 41 (January-October, 1916).

A Bulwark Never Failing

THE XLVI. PSALME OF DAVID.
Deus noster refugium.

Oure God is a defence and towre,
A good armoure and good weapē;
He hath been ever oure helpe and sucoure,
In all the troubles that we have ben in.
Therfore wyl we never drede,
For any wonderous dede
By water or by londe,
In hillis or the see sōde;
Oure God hath them al in his hōd.

Though we be alwaye greatly vexed
With many a great tentacyon;
Yet, thanked be God, we are refreshed,
His swete worde conforteth oure mansion.
It is God’s holy place;
He dwelleth here by grace;
Amonge us is he
Both nyght and daye truly;
He helpeth us all, and that swyftly.

The wicked heithen besege us straytly,
And many great kyngdomes take theyr parte,
They are gathered agaynst us truly,
And arc sore moved in theyr herte.
But God’s worde as cleare as daye
Maketh them shrenke alwaye.
The Lorde God of power
Stondeth by us every houre;
The God of Jacob is oure stronge towre.

Come hether now, beholde, and so
The noble actes and dedes of the Lorde;
What great thynges he doth for us daylye,
And conforteth us with his swete worde.
For whan oure enemyes wolde fyght,
Than brake he theyr myght,
Theyr bowe and theyr speare,
So that we nede not feare,
And brent theyr charettes in the fyre.

Therfore, sayeth God, take hede to me,
Let me alone, and I shall helpe you.
Knowe me for youre God, I saye onely,
Amonge all heithen that reigne now.
Wherfore than shulde we drede,
Seyenge we have no nede?
For the Lorde God of power
Stondeth by us every houre;
The God of Jacob is our stronge towre.

— Rev. George Pearson, B. D., ed. (for Parker Society), Remains of Myles Coverdale, Bishop of Exeter, Ghostly Psalms and Spiritual Songs, Cambridge: The University Press, 1846.

An Ideal Man

A few words of explanation seem necessary. I was a sophomore at Washington College during the session of 1860-61. On the breaking out of hostilities at Charleston in the spring, or, rather, when the secession of Virginia became inevitable, the college was converted into a military school and the students, with some of the professors, formed an infantry company, the “Liberty Hall Volunteers.” I joined the company, but when it was disbanded (temporarily) by order of Governor Letcher, I went to western Virginia and some months later enlisted in an artillery company (afterwards known as Bryan’s Battery) that was being formed, and served Until the end of the war, at which time I was in my twenty-first year. I was unable to return to college until the spring of 1866, five years from the suspension of academic studies on account of the war. I was a student from this time until I received my master of arts in June, 1869, but was also tutor and assistant professor from 1867 on, and in 1870 became a member of the faculty.

When I arrived at college, before taking any steps towards matriculating, I visited several lecture rooms during recitation. The last of these was the mathematics room. At the close of the lecture Professor A. L. Nelson went to General Lee’s office, which was adjacent, to arrange for an introduction; but General Lee returned with him and I was introduced in the lecture room. The conversation lasted a good while, but nothing worth recording was said by Lee, and the incident is here mentioned because of only one fact. When a man has become famous there is usually a feeling of disappointment when we first form his acquaintance and the near approach removes much of the enchantment. We think, “Why, he is only a man.” But in this case my experience was just the reverse. Before the introduction I felt no trepidation, but as the conversation proceeded I began to feel embarrassed, and the feeling grew steadily. When the interview was over General Lee seemed farther removed, less human, I might say more superhuman, than he did before, and every subsequent interview intensified this feeling. George Washington also is said to have possessed this characteristic, and I do not know whether any one has ever offered a satisfactory explanation in either case.

It is a well-known fact that General Lee was an advocate, both in precept and in practice, of personal freedom. He believed that after the age of responsibility is reached a young man ought to be allowed to develop his own character, obviously bad influences being withheld and obviously good influences brought to bear, but no compulsion nor repression applied except as a final resort. It was this tenet alone that prevented Lee from being an ideal soldier; but an ideal soldier cannot be an ideal man.

At that time many students were mature men, including not a few who had served in the Confederate army. Lee naturally attached importance, under his theory of government, to the prevailing views of these men in regard to the administration of college affairs. By way of illustration I may state that more than once, after I became an instructor, I heard him express dissatisfaction when a glowing account was given of the number of new students that had arrived at the opening of a session. He would say: “But how many old students have returned? That is the measure of the satisfaction we are giving and hence of the efficient discharge of our duty.” Here, by the way, there was an error which his own modesty prevented him from seeing. Very many students came for the sole purpose of seeing, knowing and being under Lee, and one session accomplished all this.

General Lee, I observed, often took a humorous view of an occurrence or situation. Many instances of this are recorded, but I add still another, however trivial it may be. When I was assistant in ancient languages I was present at the examination of the senior Latin class. The professor was conducting an oral examination. His son was a member of the class, and certainly was not shown any favors. The professor questioned him long and closely, and at last asked him a very difficult question. The young man leaned forward, contracted his brows, riveted his eyes upon mine and remained in that attitude for several seconds (all unconsciously, as he afterwards told me), when General Lee burst into a hearty laugh, and then, by way of apology or explanation, said: “He is trying to absorb it from Mr. Humphreys.”

“Mr. Humphreys! However long you live and whatever you accomplish, you will find that the time you spent in the Confederate army was the most profitably spent portion of your life. Never again speak of having lost time in the army.”

Just once it was my lot to receive a severe rebuke from General Lee. While I was an undergraduate my health seemed to become impaired and he had a conversation with me about it, in which he expressed the opinion that I was working too hard. I replied: “I am so impatient to make up the time I lost in the army– “I got no farther. Lee flushed and exclaimed in an almost angry tone: “Mr. Humphreys! However long you live and whatever you accomplish, you will find that the time you spent in the Confederate army was the most profitably spent portion of your life. Never again speak of having lost time in the army.” And I never again did.

— Excerpt of address by Milton W. Humpreys during the Lee Centennial observation at the University of Virginia, 29 January 1907; Alumni Bulletin, Vol. vii., No. 2.