OT: 8 June 1901 [Unsigned] “The Highland Bagpipe” [review]

The Oban Times, 8 June 1901

The Highland Bagpipe*

The tune with the river in it, the fast river and the courageous, that kens not stop nor tarry, that runs round rock and over fall with a good humour, yet no mood for anything but the way before it.
                                                                                                                                                 Neil Munro.

Mr. Manson has achieved a big success with his book on the Bagpipe, it is quite a monumental work, and treats of the Highland national musical instrument from every conceivable standpoint— the making of the pipes, the tuning of the pipes, the scale of the pipes, the language of the pipes, the literature of the pipes, and the humour of the pipes. But there is a great deal more in Mr. Manson’s panegyric then all this. There are the descriptions and the criticisms of pipe tunes, the MacCrimmons and other famous pipers and authors of coronach, pibroch, and lament; in short, the bibliography of Pipe Music is very ably and intelligently set forth to the admiring reader. For to admire the book we are compelled. There is not only research and excessive pains taken with it, but there is a veritable genius in the creation of a large volume which will “fetch” the reader whether he plays the pipes or not, and whether he loves the music or not. Mr. Manson acknowledges in the most handsome fashion his indebtedness for the help he has received from our old contributor “Fionn,” Mr. Henry Whyte, who as most friends know is occupying an important post in the famous and successful Glasgow Exhibition.

The value of the Pipes in battle is well known. Napier in the “History of the Peninsular War” gives his tribute in these words:—

The pipers contributed in no small degree to produce the enthusiasm. They headed the charge, striking up a favourite war tune composed centuries before. Their warlike music inspired their comrades with a fury nothing could resist. . . . How gloriously did that regiment come forth again to the charge, their colours flying and their pipes playing as if at review.

Long may we encourage the pipers! The Highland Gatherings, if they did no more than recognise piping, are doing fine work. Does the Mòd recognise the Piper at its annual convention. If not, why not?

Never in battlefield beat heart so brave
  As that which beats beneath the Scottish plaid;
And when the pibroch bids the battle rave,
   And level for the charge their arms are laid,
Where lives the desperate foe that for such onset staid?

The book is so crowded with good things that it is impossible to say what is really the best part of the work. Dr. K. N. McDonald’s opinion would be valuable here; for Dr. MacDonald is the best living authority on the subject matter. There are over a score of illustrations embellishing the volume. Mr. Gardner, of Paisley, is the publisher, and as usual with his publications, it is excellently finished and appointed as to type, binding, and paper. We bespeak for the book a hearty welcome from all patriotic Highlanders both at home and abroad.

*The Highland Bagpipe. It’s History, Literature, and Music. Price Seven Shillings and Sixpence. By W. L. Manson. Alexander Gardner, Paisley, and 26 Paternoster Sq., London.