Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/124

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io8 Reviews.

The Literature of the Celts, its History and Romance. By Magnus Maclean, M.A., D.Sc. 8vo. Blackie and Son. London. 1902.

Dr. Maclean does not pretend to do more than give a popular sketch of what is known as to the materials and muniments of Celtic literature. About half his book or more covers much the same ground as Dr. Hyde's Literary History of Irela7id^ but there are several chapters on Welsh and Gaelic literature and its texts that did not come within the Irish scholar's scope. There is nothing new in the book, nor is the author writing from the stand- point of the student. He is a " populariser " trying to convey to the ordinary reading public his view of things that have impressed and delighted him, things they will do well to know something of.

A few slips in the Gaelic, occasional misunderstandings and omissions, are scarce worth noting here. It seems useless to cite Moore's well-worn " Tara " and " After the Battle" as character- istically Celtic, and the " heroic Walter Scott " was, after all, a border Northumbrian, mainly of Teutonic descent, rather than a " Gael " or " Pict " ; there is a little too much idle talk of " glamour " and " Celtic spirit " and the rest of those enigmatic and question-begging terms that have really done duty long enough.

One of the best bits of the book is the analysis of the Scottish Gaelic press. It is really pitiful to see the number of prints and reprints of theologic rubbish and cant and the absence of ver- nacular or translated classics. What a heavy and leaden pressure must have been put upon men and women who naturally delight in beautiful verse and prose when they were constrained to buy and, I suppose, read such worthless stupid stuff as makes up by far the great part of the early bibliography of Scottish Gaelic printed books. Mackenzie and Campbell of Islay, Sinclair and Car- michael, have done their best to turn the scale ; but it is sad to think of the lovely poems and tales lost and the fine talents misused owing to the bigotry and false policy of those who ought to have led their people to higher things than fruitless theo- logical brabbles and dreary sermonisings and weary absurdities. Happily in Ireland to-day the clergy are taking a wiser line, and not only working themselves at Celtic literature and linguistic,