OT: 7 December 1912 – John MacLennan

The Oban Times, 7 December, 1912

26 Arden Street, Edinburgh, 2 December, 1912

Sir,–Mr. John Grant, writing in your issue of the 30th ult., would have us believe that the book published by Captain MacLeod in 1828 was not the MacCrimmon canntaireachd.

Now Gesto is allowed to be a truthful, honest, and honourable gentleman, who had nothing to gain but everything to lose by putting out a false and spurious work.

His book, which is now on the verge of a third edition, has been in the hands of the public for eighty-four years without anyone finding fault with it. All the old pipers–many of whom knew the MacCrimmons–believed in it as thoroughly genuine, and under such circumstance to get the intelligent readers of “The Oban Times” to believe at this time of day that it is not so Mr. Grant must either produce what he calls the real MacCrimmon canntaireachd or other uncontrovertible evidence. But until this is done, we must put his statement down as purely fanciful and without the slightest foundation.

Again, he maintains that Gesto could not play the bagpipe, and quotes “Fionn” and “Alasdair Ruadh” as having said so. They never did. What they said was that Gesto “did not play,” which my friend at once changed into “could not play”–two very different words surely.

We have a letter written in “The Oban Times” fourteen years ago: “My father, Norman MacCrimmon, was a pibroch player, and was taught by Captain MacLeod of Gesto.” (Manson on the Bagpipe, p. 261).

Then John McDonald, in Dundee, who knew Gesto, and Simon Fraser both say Gesto could play.

From recent inquiry, I find that after Gesto’s return from Egypt, he was unable to play through an infection of the throat and lungs, which happened previous to his acquaintance with the Rev. A. MacGregor.–I am, etc.,

John McLennan