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A HIGHLAND LEGEND.
There was once upon a time a very cautious and prudent matron residing in a hamlet among the Highland hills. She had an only son whom she adored—which is a species of idolatry that mothers with only sons are given to. This son had fallen in love with a young girl in a neighbouring glen, and resolved to marry her. The mother was not very well pleased at this resolution on the part of her son, for she thought, as he was sufficient for her happiness, that she ought to have been sufficient for his. We have said, however, that she was a prudent woman, and so she resolved, rather than part with her son, to take his wife into her house also. The young people were married, the wife took up her abode in her mother iu-law's home, and the old lady resolved to test her new daughter-in-law's power to keep a secret before she would give her any of her confidences. The power of keeping a secret was always considered in the Highlands to be one of the cardinal virtues, and to this day the Southron is spoken of with contempt as one who wears his heart upon his sleeve for daws to peck at "Ceilidh an Gall an rud naeh eil fios aig air"; "The Lowlander will conceal what he does not know," being a frequent saying among the people. It is always more or less a painful arrangement to make a young wife live under the eyes and beneath the same roof as her mother-in-law. They may both be excellent women, but they are not in a position to appreciate each other, however sensible they are; the " women that own" a man are naturally rivals, and, therefore, there must be jealousy between them, more or less.
The Ruth and Naomi bond seldom exists out of the Bible, and there even it was formed in very exceptional circumstances. Testing the young wife in different ways seems to have been a frequent habit in these olden times. A skein of tangled yarn was given her to wind when she first came home, and if she lost her temper over it, so as to snap a single thread, she would not be trusted with any duty requiring delicate care or patience. In this instance it was the power of the young wife to keep a secret that was to be tested, and it was done as follows:—
The elder lady one day, with an air of great importance and secrecy, took the young one aside and said she was going to tell her some awful secret, and that she must swear she would never reveal it to a human being, not even to her husband. The poor creature, flattered with such marks of confidence, and having her curiosity aroused, promised faithfully. "Remember," said the old lady, "it is to the hearthstone I am telling it" "It is indeed," said the daughter-in-law, "for the hearthstone will repeat it before I will." Then, said the elder one, I will tell you what happened to me when I expected to have a child once. I was brought to bed of a cat, no one living knows it, and I would die rather than any one else would know it but yourself. The young woman was astonished at the terrible nature of the secret, but vowed that it would bo faithfully kept, and that no human ear would ever hear the story from her. The poor oreature was quite in earnest about keeping the secret, but alas for human weakness; it became a burden so heavy that ebo could not bear it. A thousand times it had been on the tip of her tongue when talking confidentially with a neighbour. It surged within her as the waves of the ocean that could not rest, and with the greatest difficulty she from day to day resisted the temptation of whispering it to some one. At length it quite overmastered her, and still afraid of her awe-inspiring mother-inlaw, she dared not tell it to any human being, but she slipped out, and, addressing herself to the bright stars that shone above her head, she said—
A rionnag 's a reultag bhreac,
Which, in a free translation, may be rendered thus—
Ye speckled star above the earth,
The old lady, who had evidently been watching the young one keonly, had followed her out, and, listening, she heard her address to the star, and, to show that she was caught in her hour of weakness and in the act of betrayal, she cried out sternly—
A bhrionnag 's a bhreugag bhochd,
Which may be translated—
Ye poor base lying one,
Not a cat did I bear, but a son.
And so the poor creature hung her head in shame, knowing that she would never more be intrusted with any secret of importance by her mother-in law.
Now I think this young wife caught a tartar in her mother-in-law, and that she was too hardly dealt with, seeing she so far kept her word as not to give the secret to any human being, and that she did not exaggerate by saying two cats or three cats. She neither proved base or lying as her mother-in-law scandalously called her. She only proved weak, and that was misfortune enough. In this story we see something very much akin to the experience of the barber of King Midas, who, bursting almost with the weight of the strange secret committed to his charge, dug a hole in the earth, and, to relieve his soul, whispered into it "King Midas be it known to you has very very long ass's ears under that cap of his." The secret that the barber committed to the earth was whispered by the reeds that grew out of the place into which he had so anxiously poured it to relieve his over-burdened spirit. The earth refused to keep his secret; and tliis poor young wife, who gave her's to the air, was equally unfortunate.
HOB DONN'S MONUMENT.—We have received ail excellent photograph of this monument, erected to the Keay Gaelic bard in 1827, from Mr Mumo, photographer, Dingwall.
TIIE LATE DE PATRICK BUCHAN.
Patrick Buchan, M.A, M.D., and Ph. D., eldest son of the late Mr Peter Buchan, Peterhead, died at his residence, Orchardhill, Stonehaven, on the evening of Wednesday, 25th of May, aged 66 years. Dr Buchan was born in Peterhead, where he received his elementary education, and afterwards studied at Aberdeen University, where he gained several bursaries, and took his M.A. and M.D. at an unusually early age. On the completion of his college career, he commenced, and continued for a short time, to practice as a country doctor. He afterwards became a West India merchant, making Glasgow his headquarters, and occasionally visiting India. At an early period, he became connected with the Lancashire Insurance Company, acting as superintendent of agents; and, coupled with that office, he was also for a time resident secretary in Inverness, until nearly two years ago, when he retired to reside at Orchardhill, Stonehaven, a property of his own, where he died. In 1836 he married Isabella, the fourth daughter of Captain Guthrie, Stonehaven, who survives him.
Dr Buchan possessed many agreeable qualities. Perhaps he will lie best known by the many sweet and genuine Scottish songs that he wrote for the "Book of Scottish Songs," "Whistle Binkie," and other similar publications. In his early days he was fond of literary pursuits, but he was always careful that the authorship of his contributions should not become known. From time to time he has contributed many articles, songs, and poems to the magazines and newspapers published in the localities where he chanced to be residing at the time. Among the better known of his literary efforts, we may mention "The Garland of Scotia" (Glasgow: Wm. Mitchison 1841), which was edited jointly by him and Mr John TurnbulL The introduction, " Remarks on ancient Music and Songs of Scotland," and the notes were the work of the Doctor, while Mr Turnbull was chiefly concerned with the arranging of the music, which was adapted for the voice, flute, and violin, &c. This work, once very popular, now scarce, was dedicated to Scotland's sweetest singer, John Wilson. Deceased aided considerably in editing the two volumes of Scottish songs and ballads, published by Maurice Ogle & Co., Glasgow, in 1871. In 1868 his work entitled "The Genesis of the Angels; or the Mosaic narrative of Creation and Geology reconciled," was published by W. P. Nimmo, Edinburgh, and again the same work was issued by Maurice Ogle & Co. in 1870. In 1872 there appeared from his pen a handsome foolscap 4to volume entitled "Legends of the North: The Guidman o' Inglismill and the Fairy Bride." He wrote various newspaper articles on commerce and sanitary reform. In consequence of a series of papers on the last named subject, he was created a Ph. D. of the University of Jena. When in Inverness, he wrote a number of popular legendary tales of the Highlands, which appeared in the Celtic Magazine, and which were highly appreciated by the reader. Nine of these were afterwards published in "The Historical Tales and Legends of the Highlands," compiled by the editor. Although this wa» generally known among friends, Dr Buchan was unwilling to have the authorship publicly recorded in the book itself; but as his other works have now been mentioned by his friend, the editor of the Peterhead Sentinel, to whom we are indebted for the above particulars, we feel at liberty to acknowledge Dr Buchan's share of the "Historical Tales and Legends of the Highlands." Those Tales which he wrote are " The Spell of Cadboll," "Prince Charlie and Mary Macleod," "James Macpherson, the famous Musician and Freebooter," "The Baid of Cillechriost," "John Mackay of Farr," "Castle Urquhart and the Fugitive Lovers," "Cawdor Castle," "The Bonnie Earl of Moray," and "The Bout of Moy." Among others which he contributed to the Celtic Magazine are "The Gunns," "Allan nan Creach," "Kilchurn Castle," "Fairies in the Highlands," and a legendary poem on " Castle Urquhart"
Several of his song compositions were set to music by eminent composers, and enjoyed considerable popularity. For many years he had from time to time been engaged on what promised to be an exhaustive and valuable work on the Proverbs of all nations; but it is to be regretted that the worry of business prevented him finishing a work for which his taste, his scholarly attainments, and his knowledge of the subject specially fitted him. His appreciation and knowledge of music was considerable, and his execution on the violin, particularly of Scottish music, commended itself to good judges. Few men were better acquainted with Scottish poets and poetry, and the language of his mother country always possessed a living charm for him. Two winters ago he read a paper on "The Scottish Language," before the Field Club and Scientific Society of Inverness, afterwards published for private circulation. Literature being a favourite pastime with Dr Buchan, he cultivated and enjoyed an acquaintance, and kept up correspondence with many of the best-known men of letters of the present and past generation. His manner was particularly frank and agreeable; his disposition kindly, and his conversation instructive, and at times highly entertaining. With these qualities, it is not surprising that, when a young man in Glasgow, his home was the favourite resort of such men as Motherwell, Sandy Rodger, Whitelaw, David Robertson, and other congenial spirits. Although he gave up the life of a medical practitioner as a means of livelihood, he nevor ceased to keep himself posted up in connection with the profession, and he was ever ready and willing to do good where opportunity occurred. During his connection with the Lancashire Insurance Company he did much good and honest work, and to his unwearied exertions in England, Scotland, and Ireland for sixteen years, on behalf of that company, no small amount of its success is due. For such work he had special aptitude, and never failed to apply himself with heart and hand. What he undertook to do he never failed to do it well.
We may add that when he left Inverness a strong feeling was widely and openly expressed that he did not receive the consideration, from the Directors of the Lancashire Assurance Company, which long and faithful service would lead his friends to expect, and he was held in such universal esteem that a good deal of local business was lost to the Inverness offico in consequence.
THE HISTORY OF THE WESTERN HIGHLANDS AND ISLES OF SCOT LAND, from A.d. 1493 to Ad. 1625. By Dosald Gkegoby; Stcond Edition Glasgow : Thomas D. MorrisoD.
There is no book better known to the readers of the Celtic Magazine, at least by repute, than Gregory's Highlands and Isles. It has often been our privilego to quote it in the History of the Macdonalds now passing through these pages, and in the History of the Mackenzies, published a few years ago. For the period with which it deals it is incomparably the best and most authentic work in existence on the history of the North-West Highlands and Islands of Scotland. The work originally appeared in 1836, while Mr Gregory was the valued Secretary of the Scottish Society of Antiquaries. He made a tour through the greater part of the Highlands and the Hebrides, and gathered a mass of information such as no worker in the same field ever had access to. Indeed he is said to have almost cleared the district of all existing family MSS. His researches in the public Records for the period to which his work refers must have been of a most exhaustive and complete character. No one can look into its pages without being fully satisfied on that point; and every student of Highland history will ever continue to regret that the author did not live long enough to give to the world the continuation of his work which he intended. The mass of family MSS. and other valuable information which he collected must contain material of great historical value, and we are glad to learn that they are in the hands of his friend, the learned Dr Skene, who recently made such a valuable contribution, in "Celtic Scotland," to the history of the Highlands.
The original work was for many years difficult to get, as it has long been out of print; and Mr Morrison has, by the publication of this handsome edition, conferred a boon upon all who take an interest in the history of the Highlands. Xo Celtic student with any pretence to an accurate knowledge of his subject can get on without it. All our modern historians have freely drawn upon it as tho best authority extant, and we are glad that it has now been placed within tho reach of all interested in the subject.
The work, as it now appears, is printed in the same bold type as the original, on rather better paper, and is, in all respects, worthy of the author, the enterprising publisher, and the subject.
TALES OF THE HIGHLANDS, by Sir Thomas Dick Lacdbb, Baronet; by the
This is a re-print of a fine Collection of Highland Tales, which had become very scarce and most difficult to get. It is uniform in style with the "Highland Legends," by the same author and publisher, recently noticed in these pages; and, like all Sir Thomas Dick Lauder's productions, written in a most attractive manner. It has been said by good authorities that the author has never beon excelled in telling a Highland story for agreeablencss and elegance of style. Those given in tho volume before us are among his very best, and we feel sure that all who possess his Legends will not rest satisfied until they have procured tho companion volume of Highland Tales. We must again express our gratitude to Mr Morrison for his enterprise and pluck in placing so many valuable works connected with the Higldands within tho reach of the ordinary reader at such reasonable rates.