He went pale, deadly white, and presently swooned off his chair... and the Gordons thought it the finest tribute to their pipes! The officers danced reels in stocking feet with challenging cries, Gaelic exhortations, with fine grace and passion, though they were tangled sometimes in the maze... many of them fell in the fields outside or in the bogs of Flanders.
The basaltic rocks had cooled down into the same regular concentric prisms; there was the same dark canopied roof with its interstices filled up with its yellow lutings; the same precision of outline in the prismatic angles, sharp as though chiselled by a sculptor's hand; the same sonorous vibration of the air across the basaltic rocks, of which the Gaelic poets have feigned that the harps of the Fingal minstrelsy were made.
It is, however, on more general grounds that I have, albeit as an outside observer, watched with some anxiety and much gratification the progress of the Gaelic Revival. In the historical evolution of the Irish mind we find certain qualities atrophied, so to speak, by disuse; and to this cause I attribute the past failures of the race in practical life at home.
A mermaid had once met a piper on Sandag beach, and there sang to him a long, bright midsummer's night, so that in the morning he was found stricken crazy, and from thenceforward, till the day he died, said only one form of words; what they were in the original Gaelic I cannot tell, but they were thus translated: "Ah, the sweet singing out of the sea."
Of these two forces, one can show by far the more tangible effects, for the Gaelic League has issued in action. Setting out to revive and save the Irish language as a living speech, the instrument of a nation's intercourse, it has failed of its purpose; but it has revived and rendered potent the principle of separation.
I followed, accordingly, and took off my new hat to her, the best that I was able. "Madam," said I, "I think it only fair to myself to let you understand I have no Gaelic. It is true I was listening, for I have friends of my own across the Highland line, and the sound of that tongue comes friendly; but, for your private affairs, if you had spoken Greek, I might have had more guess at them."
He travels to every land and there finds his own language and his own customs. Now it goes without saying that from this very universalization his language is corrupted and becomes vulgarized. The idiom of Shakespeare and Milton gives place gradually to the idiom of the seaports. Furthermore, far from isolating us, Gaelic will tend to put us in touch with the civilization of the West.
The shepherds know her, and answer her in the Gaelic when she speaks to them in passing; the sailors know her, and would adventure their lives to gratify her slightest wish; and the bearded fellows who live their solitary life far out at Dubh Artach lighthouse, when she goes out to them with a new parcel of books and magazines, do not know how to show their gladness at the very sight of her bonnie face.
Tradition indicates that these hillsmen sought the interior because the grass and pea vine which overgrew the innercountry stretching towards the mountains provided excellent fodder for the cattle which some of the chiefs are said to have brought with them. These Gaelic herders, perhaps in negligible numbers, were in the Yadkin Valley before 1730, possibly even ten years earlier.
Francis Fahy was one of the first Presidents of the Gaelic League of London, and there is no doubt but the Irish language movement in the metropolis owes much to his influence and indefatigable exertions.