Catalogue of Gaelic Manuscripts in the National Library of Scotland

© Ronald Black, 2017

Adv. MS 72.2.13

(Gaelic MS.LXIII). MAC MHAIGHSTIR ALASDAIR’S POEMS.

Mackinnon p. 211 f.; Mackechnie p. 239-41.


18th cent. Paper. 20 x 15 cms. Ff.25. “Pro patria” watermark. Written in Gaelic script by Alexander MacDonald (Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair). Ingliston MS. A.iv.2 (Donald Mackintosh’s draft of the catalogue of Gaelic MSS. which was published in Poems of Ossian (1808), vol.III, pp. 566-73) contains on the final page of the following entry, which was never printed: “Two M.S.S. omitted. They belonged to the late Mr Alexander Macdonald Schoolmaster at Ardnamurchan and were sent to the Society [i.e. the HSS] by Ronald Macdonald his son from the Island of Eg. They consist of Songs and poems of his own composition for the most part and written in the old Gaelic character — most of them have been published by himself in 1751 with a Glossary &c”. Of these two MSS only the present one remains. A little further evidence for the ascription to Alasdair lies in the small portions of text in Roman hand (pp.118, 176; compendium &, passim), which may be compared with the facsimile of the poet’s hand published as frontispiece to the 1924 edition of his work. The MS. was written during or after 1747 (cf. pp. 143, 146, 149), and some of the poems, notably “An Àirce” (p. 169), appear to be rough drafts of versions published by the author in 1751. (This was first noted by Mackinnon in Celtic Review IV, p.304). Marginalia are as follows: p. 118, first few letters of the alphabet (Gaelic hand, probably scribal); p. 133, “Mary Mc Donald Eachen” (Roman hand, probably non-scribal); p. 170, semi-legible line (?) “re bl g m bacilor a Dia gan agla…..” (mixed hand, probably scribal). The MS was among those lent to Ewen MacLachlan in 1814 and retrieved by the HSS at his death in 1822. Inventory nos. of this period are found at p. 118. “No. 33” refers to its listing in Ingliston MSS. A.iv.18, A.iv.19 (“Fragment, Poetical—25 leaves”) and A.iv.21. “15 JMcH” refers to its listing in Ingliston MS. A.iv.13 (Quarto Manuscript marked No 33 with Page 118 on the outside Leaf). The MS. is fragmentary, the scribe’s pagination running 118-21, 131-134, 143-184. It has been laminated in silk, unbound. There is some damp-staining and wear at edges with slight textual loss. Gatherings are preserved as follows: pp. 118-132 (1½ bifolia); 133-4; 143-154 (3 bifolia); 155-162 (2 bifolia); 163-182 (5 bifolia); 183-4.

Described by Mackinnon, with transcript of most of poems in normalised spelling, in Celtic Review IV (1907-8), pp. 289-305, and V (1908-9), pp. 20-30, 116-128, 294-303. Some of the poems are reprinted and translated in A. & A. Macdonald, Poems of Alexander Macdonald (1924). Noticed by J.L. Campbell in Highland Songs of the Forty-Five (1933), pp. xxxiii, 40, 319. This work also contains versions and translations of some of the poems. Described, indexed and transcribed verbatim by the same (with facsimile of p.161) in SGS IV (1935), pp. 70-84, 153-204.

TEXT

p.

118 Part of “Òran Luaidh no Fùcaidh”, beg. (aceph.) Do chul pechd ich sios na dhualimh, 52 ll.

120 m Ho ro mo bhobig an drachm, 8 stt. Incomplete. Pp.122-130 missing.

131 Nach goirid fo na ghabh shinn ar, 9 stt. Incitement composed shortly after Prestonpans (21st Sept. 1745). May be acephalous.

134 m Oganich uir a chuil téudich, 5 stt. + chorus. Jacobite waulking song. Pp.135-142 missing.

143 An t-aodich boich bostoil drechor, 13 stt., probably acephalous. Incitement to rise again following Disclothing Act of 1747.

145 m Shid i chulidh s cha bi Nuligh (i.e. Siud a’chulaidh ‘s cha b’ i ‘n ulaidh), 6 stt. Edited and translated in R. Black, An Lasair (Edinburgh 2001), pp. 190–3

146 m S édrim uallich mer, éri na n-uile fer, 7 stt. Another incitement to rise again following Disclothing Act of 1747.

149 Comma mar dig u idir, 6 stt. Incitement, addressed to Prince Charles, following Disclothing Act of 1747.

149 m O togamit óirnn far uisge s far tuinn, 7 stt. Another incitement to rise again.

151 Na habir Na habir &c. Na habir nas mó, 15 stt. To Mrs Anna Campbell of Barr, the Oban poetess (daughter of Duncan Campbell, notary), who had satirised Prince Charles.

156 O gan digadh ar caulich garbh daoinach, 28 stt. To the same.

160 i O Thearlaich mhic Shemis mhic Shemis mhic Thearlaich, 9 stt. In praise of Prince Charles and dispraise of his enemies.

164.7 S ball beg míriaghuiltich lag láidir, 20 stt. To Mrs Anna Campbell of Barr, in response to a satire on Prince Charles.

167 i Ga dé hug dhuit a bhrachdaid shalich aimid nam ban thu, 9 stt. To the same, apparently following her reply.

169.6 Adhra mhíalich nan cath, 64 stt. (“An Àirce”).

174 i Bha S: C: sin am a ro an triblaid ann, 18 stt. To James Campbell, writer in Inveraray and captain of Ardkinglas’s company of the Argyllshire Militia.

177 i Ha Caimbeulaich ainimoil an drásda ann an Albainn, 12 stt. Satire on the Campbells.

183 Och s och s och mi fein smaonachidh ar lucht ar cles, 12 stt. A lyric on the Highland dress. “Finid” after st. 8 deleted.

© Ronald Black, 2017