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Metadata for text 130
No. words in text127105
Title Leabhar nan Cnoc: Comh-chruinneachadh do Nithibh Sean agus Nuadh; airson Oilean agus Leas nan Gaidheal
Author N/A (Edited work)
Editor MacLeoid, Tormod
Date Of Edition 1834
Date Of Language 1800-1849
Publisher Neill & Fraser
Place Published Greenock
Volume N/A
Location National, academic, and local (Inverness, Reference) libraries.
Link Digital version created by National Library of Scotland
Download File PDF / plain text 
Geographical Origins Various
Register Literature, Prose and Verse
Alternative Author Name Rev. Dr. Norman MacLeod
Manuscript Or Edition Ed.
Size And Condition 18.3cm x 11cm
Short Title Leabhar nan Cnoc
Reference Details NLS: H.M.133
Number Of Pages vii, 316
Gaelic Text By N/A
Illustrator N/A
Social Context Norman MacLeod was born on 2nd December 1783 in the Manse at Morven, in Argyllshire. His father ministered to around 2000 people in his parish, which was spread out over around 130 square miles. Although his father’s income was low, the glebe and farm were good and were given at a low rate of rent by the Duke of Argyll. MacLeod’s family was close, and his son records that ‘The family in Morven manse thus breathed an atmosphere of constant affection, and of genial, cheerful piety. While prayer and praise were never forgotten, the dance and the song were not uncommon; for the minister was a fair performer on the violin, and delighted in the innocent amusement of his children’ (p. xii). MacLeod, in turn, created a good home atmosphere for his own family. As a youth, MacLeod was ‘an ardent sportsman and also an enthusiastic boatman’ (p. xiii), and his son reports that when he was old enough to volunteer, ‘he entered the ranks, and rose, I believe, to be a corporal!’ (p. xii). His father was also ‘an admirable classical scholar, and, along with such tutors as he could command, prepared his sons for college’ (p. xiii).

MacLeod studied at the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, and in 1806, at the age of 23, ‘he was licensed by the Presbytery of Mull to preach the gospel, and delivered his first sermon in the church of Kilmore, in Mull. In the same year he was appointed assistant in the parish of Kilbrandon’ (p. ix). While serving in Kilbrandon he lodged with his cousin, Dr. Campbell of Kilninver. In 1808, MacLeod was offered the position of minister of Campbeltown in Kintyre. MacLeod refused, not believing himself capable of following in the footsteps of Dr. Smith. His refusal was not accepted, however, and he eventually took up the position. All was well, however, as he himself reported: ‘I knew that I had all the people upon my side, and from none of them did I meet with greater sympathy than from the dissenters, the members of the Relief congregation. With the ministers, elders, and members of this most numerous and respectable body, I lived on terms of the greatest intimacy and friendship until the time of my removal from the parish’ (pp. xvi-xvii). MacLeod remained in Campbeltown for 17 years. In 1811, MacLeod married Agnes Maxwell, the eldest daughter of the chamberlain of the Duke of Argyll. Together they had four daughters and five sons, two of whom became ministers.

In 1824, MacLeod was awarded the degree of D.D. from Edinburgh University, and in 1825 he was offered the position of minister in Campsie, Stirlingshire, where he was very well received. Although sad to leave Campbeltown, his son indicates that ‘a rising family with increasing expenses and a miserable living’ (p. xxvii) encouraged the move. Although Campsie was a Lowland parish, there were a number of Highlanders living there, and MacLeod held Gaelic services for them as often as he could. While in Campsie, however, one of MacLeod’s sons died at the age of seventeen, and MacLeod’s mother also died suddenly at the house. The first cholera outbreak in the area also occurred during this time, which greatly unsettled the people.

Regarding his writing, the memoir continues: ‘It was also during this period of his ministry that he engaged in those literary labours on behalf of his countrymen, some of which are published in this volume. The first which he undertook was the Gaelic “Collection,” for the use of Highland schools. … Then followed the “Mountain Sketch-book,” and those Gaelic monthly periodicals, which mark a new and important era in modern Celtic literature. There was “The Gaelic Messenger” (Teachdaire Gaelach), begun in 1830, which was continued for two years; followed in 1840 by “The Traveller of the Glens” (Cuairtear nan Gleann), which lasted three years. A third, “The Mountain Visitor,” was undertaken in 1848 by his son-in-law, the Rev. Archd. Clerk, now minister of Kilmallie, to which my father contributed several articles’ (p. xxix). These publications included not only original Gaelic writings, but also works translated from English, such as ‘John Gilpin’ and ‘Ode to the Cuckoo’.

MacLeod was assisted by many friends during these ventures, including his own brother, who was the minister of Morven at the time. As to the content of MacLeod’s writings, his son quotes from a letter which reads: ‘The matter given in the ‘Messenger’ may be arranged under three heads viz., the Serious, the Instructive, and the Amusing. Under the head of Amusing, I include those inimitable dialogues on popular subjects, which convulsed with laughter so many fireside circles, and which are so truly characteristic of Highland customs and manners, and through which so much useful information has been conveyed. … Dr. Macleod may also be looked upon as the connecting link between the oral and the written literature of the Celt. … But while Dr. Macleod has used his pen to preserve what was really worth preserving, yet no one has done more by his teaching—witness, for example, his tale of Coire-na-sithe—to explode the belief in witchcraft and ghost stories’ (p. xxxii-xxxiii). In 1831, in collaboration with Rev. Dr Daniel Stewart, MacLeod published a Gaelic dictionary, ‘his object being to afford facilities to the Highland youths when leaving school to acquire a better knowledge of the English language’ (p. xxxiii). MacLeod had a keen interest in education, and while in Campbeltown had secured a sum of £3300 towards the education of Highlanders. He also published a metrical version of the Psalms of David, after a trip to Ireland, for the use of the Irish Established Church.

In 1836, MacLeod was ‘elected to the Gaelic congregation in Glasgow, formerly called the Ingram Street Church, from its place of meeting, and latterly St. Columba’s Church’ (p. x). He had previously assisted the minister there, Mr. Maclaren, at Communions, and on Maclaren’s death, was called upon to take his place. In that same year, he became Moderator of the General Assembly. His time in Glasgow was eventful, as it saw the beginning and end of the Disruption. According to his son, ‘While holding decided and consistent views in State and Church politics, being from his very nature a conservative in both, yet he was essentially “moderate,” in the best sense of the word. He never was bitter in his opposition—never personal in his animosities—never advocated extreme measures, but such as might reconcile rather than divide parties. He was too sympathetic to be a violent partizan’ (p. xxxvi). During this time, MacLeod was also involved in filling the positions in a large number of vacant parishes in the Highlands. Also around this time, he published ‘a most effective dialogue in Gaelic on the Church question, which, to say the least of it, must have convinced even opponents, who were able and willing to read it, that there was another side of the question’ (p. xxxviii). The dialogue (entitled Comhradh mu Chor na h-Eaglaise) is not published in this volume.

When the potato crops failed in the Highlands, in 1836-37 and 1846-47, MacLeod was involved in raising money to aid those in need. In 1847, he and two others were sent to the Islands ‘with regard to the spiritual state of these districts, consequent on the secession of 1843’ (p. xl). A report was prepared, but no action was taken by the Assembly. As minister of St. Columba’s, MacLeod oversaw the erection of a new church, and he obtained ‘a special clause in an Act of Parliament, giving churches in cities, erected for the benefit of Highlanders, legal jurisdiction, not over any district, but over the hearers in every district who demanded the services of the Gaelic minister’ (p. xli). His own congregation stayed with him through the Disruption. Not only did he serve his own congregation, however, but ‘the whole of the Highlands seemed to claim him as their own’ (p. xlii), and he was frequently inundated with requests for help of many different sorts (examples are listed on pp. xlii-xlviii) from Gaels all over the Highlands. In addition, MacLeod was a dean of the Chapel Royal, and he preached before the Queen and her Consort at Blair Athol, acting as one of her chaplains in Scotland.

MacLeod’s fiftieth year in the ministry was marked in Glasgow by a celebratory meeting in the City Hall. After his retirement, MacLeod preached occasionally at St. Columba’s, while his assistant and successor took on the greater part of the work. MacLeod died in Glasgow on 25th November 1862 at the age of 79, having been a minister for 57 years. He was buried in Glasgow and a marble bust of him was erected in the lobby of St. Columba’s Church.

This volume is dedicated Do Chomunn Oiseineach Ghlaschu (pp. iii-iv). In the Roimh-radh (pp. v-vii), MacLeod records that he prepared a Comh-chruinneachadh for the General Assembly, for use in schools, six years previously; as it had been so well received, he had now decided to prepare another collection. Regarding the present collection he writes as follows: ‘Chaidh cuid do na nithe tha ann a chur a mach roimhe, air aon dòigh no air dòigh eile, agus tha cuid eile dheth air ’ullachadh as ùr’ (p. v). The presence of material shared by Co’Chruinneachadh (i.e. Text 135) and the present volume will require editors sometimes to reject material in this volume in favour of versions of the same items contained in the earlier volume; hence the D/B rating of this volume. See further below.

See also Text 108 (Caraid nan Gaidheal) and Text 133 (An Teachdaire Gaelach), also by MacLeod.
Contents This volume begins with a dedication Do Chomunn Oiseineach Ghlaschu (pp. iii-iv), followed by a Roimh-radh (pp. v-vii).

The main body of the text consists of Leabhar nan Cnoc (pp. 1-316). There is no table of contents in the 1834 edition. The 1898 edition, however, contains a detailed table of contents in Gaelic and in English. There are 93 items on a variety of subjects, containing both prose and verse. New items do not always begin on a new page.
Language As in MacLeod’s Co’Chruinneachadh (1828, Text 135), the majority of the items in this text are religious in nature. There are a large number of religious articles, hymns, and poems, and a number of the stories are on religious themes. There are also some non-religious, and some semi-religious poems. A few of the stories and articles in this text discuss the ‘otherworld’ and Pagan religions. There are also a number of articles which cover local and international history and geography, some of which also touch on religion and belief. Three articles deal particularly with astronomy.
Orthography The Prefatory Note to the 1898 and 1905 editions explains that in the first edition ‘Dr MacLeod retained the localisms of the different contributors, both in idioms and spellings. They are reproduced in this new edition just as he passed them. For example, “ceill” is used by some of the writers for “geill,” and in many instances “tearnadh” serves both for “preserving” and “descending.” Local pronunciation determined those variations, and as for peculiarities of idiomatic construction, and particular use of words and phrases, they are, in most instances, full of interest to philologists.’

In only a few instances are the authors’ names given in this edition; but see, e.g., Conaltradh nan Eun, which a footnote tells us was written by Ewen MacLachlan (pp. 234-35), and Mu Thimchioll a’ Bhiobuill, which a footnote tells us is ‘From Dr A. Thomson’s Collection, by J. M’Donald’ (pp. 174-76). There is no mention in the text of when or where any item may have been published previously.

The orthography of this volume may justly be classed as early to mid-nineteenth century. It differs in numerous, but often inconsequential ways, from the orthography employed in MacLeod’s Co’Chruinneachadh, published six years earlier in 1828. This may be demonstrated by a comparison of two passages which appear in both MacLeod’s Co’Chruinneachadh, and in the first edition of Leabhar nan Cnoc. Both volumes were intended for a similar audience.

Co’Chruinneachadh (1828): ‘Bha na Drùidhean fòghluimte ann an Feallsanachd nàduir, mu ghluasad na gréin is na gealaich, agus mu imeachd nan réultan. Bha’n t-eòlas so ro-fheumail ’s na lìnnibh sin, an uair nach robh riaghailt-sdiùraidh eil’ aca: ’sa b’éiginn doibh an gabhail a dheanamh air reul, mar tha’m focal reül (no ruith-iuil) a cialluchadh’ (pp. 73-74).

Leabhar nan Cnoc (1834): ‘Bha na Druidhean fòghluimte ann an Feallsanachd nàduir, mu ghluasad na gréine ’s na gealaiche, agus mu imeachd nan réull. Bha ’n t-eòlas so ro-fheumail ’s na lìnntibh sin, an uair nach robh riaghailt-stiùraidh eil’ aca: ’s a b’ éigin doibh an gabhail a dheanamh air réull, mar tha ’m focal re-iùl, no ruith-iùil a ciallachadh’ (p. 235).

Co’Chruinneachadh (1828): ‘Tha’n Dùthaich sa bheil iad so a chòmhnuidh fo shneachda agus reodha an earrann is mò de’n bhliadhna, agus cha’n fhaodar a ràdh gu bheil iad as eug’ais fad an t-samhruidh’ (p. 265)

Leabhar nan Cnoc (1834): ‘Tha ’n dùthaich sa ’m bheil iad so a chòmhnuidh, fo shneachd agus reothadh an earrann a’s mò do’n bhliadhna, agus cha ’n fheudar a ràdh gu bheil iad as an eugmhais fad an t-samhraidh’ (p. 296)

Co’Chruinneachadh (1828): ‘Fhad sa fhuaradh a mach e, tha aigean na fairge cosmhuil ri tìr-mòr, le bheanntaibh, le ghlinn, le chreagan corrach agus uadhan dorcha. Tha tobraichean fior-uisg, agus uillt is aibhnichean, ag éiridh sa chuan an iomad àite’ (p. 215).

Leabhar nan Cnoc (1834): ‘Fhad ’s a fhuaradh a mach e, tha aigean na fairge cosmhuil ri tìr-mòr, le ’bheanntaibh, le ’ghleanntaibh, le ’chreagaibh corrach agus ’uamhaibh dorcha. Tha tobraichean fìor-uisge, agus uillt agus aibhnichean ag éiridh sa’ chuan ann an iomad àite’ (p. 130).

In addition, we find that Diùc òg Bhurgundy in Co’Chruinneachadh (p. 250), becomes Diùc òg Bhurgundi (p. 306) in Leabhar nan Cnoc; and the Julius Chesair (p. 74) becomes Iulius Chesair in the first edition of Leabhar nan Cnoc (p. 282), and Iulius Shesair in the second edition (1898, p. 235). The excerpts above all come from works which MacLeod himself wrote or translated. Such orthographical changes can also be seen in works written or translated by other authors. For example, mo chairde and do ghna (1828, p. 61) become mo chairdean and do ghnàth in the first edition of Leabhar nan Cnoc (p. 1834, 111). The general tendency of these changes is to render the text less austere and ‘biblical’, and more accessible to contemporary readers. But some changes introduce more conservative and ‘correct’ forms; and others appear more a matter of choice than of rule.
Edition First edition. A second edition was published in 1898. This was reprinted in 1905, and again in 1919. The Preface to the 1898 edition states that it was ‘reproduced without alteration, with the exception of the very few printer’s errors which crept into the 1834 edition’. This is not true. A comparison of the two editions shows that a large section in the middle of the book contains different articles in each edition (pp. 172-240 in the 1834 edition; pp. 143-200 in the 1898 edition). Further research is needed to ascertain the publishing history of individual essays and articles which appear in Dr MacLeod’s various publications. In general, editors should prefer the earliest form of a given article, though Dr MacLeod’s involvement in the publication of all the texts printed in the 1820s, 1830s and 1840s may in some specific cases necessitate reference to variant readings or rejection of an earlier reading in favour of a later one.
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