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Gamanraid, as the inhabitants of that remote part of the country are called in the MS. The champion gets imprisoned, and now Queen Meave fits out an expedition partly to rescue her fickle lover, partly to induce the king of the Gamanraid to join her in the great campaign against Ulster about to open. The Tain Bo Flidais printed by Professor Windisch three years ago from the Book of the Dun Cow, the Book of Leinster, and the Egerton MS. is but a mere episode or remscel of the great epic the Tàin Bò Chuailgne. In our MS. the subject is expanded into an independent saga, containing a full complement of feasting and fighting, “moving accidents by flood and field," valuable descriptions of men and manners, and thus forming an important addition to our stock of Gaelic literature.
The contents of this valuable collection of Gaelic Literature are as yet but imperfectly known even to scholars. Too few of the MSS. have been read, and still fewer printed. A good catalogue is much needed. The first to attempt a description of any of the manuscripts was Dr Donald Smith, a very competent man. The collection at the time consisted of the MSS. now catalogued xxxii. to lxv., those, viz., that belonged to the Highland Society. MSS. i.-iv., the property of the Faculty of Advocates, and MSS. V.-xxxi. from the Kilbride collection were not at the time available. Dr Smith gave an account of nine MSS., viz.xxxii., xxxiii., xxxiv., XXXV., xxxvi., xxxvii., xl., xlvi., and liii., with extracts (Report on Ossian, Appendix pp. 285-312). The Rev. Donald Mackintosh, collector of the Proverbs, prepared the carefully written catalogues appended to the great 1807 edition of Ossian (iii. pp. 566-573), and made copious transcripts from MSS. xxxiv. and xxxvi. which are preserved. Mr Mackintosh died in 1808, and about 1812 the Highland Society commissioned Mr Ewen Maclachlan of Aberdeen to examine the more important of the Gaelic MSS. in their possession. Mr Maclachlan in a volune which has been preserved made a careful and full analysis of 14 MSS., 6 of those formerly described by Dr Smith and 8 others, viz., those now catalogued xxxii., xxxiii., xxxvii., xxxviii., xl., xli., xlvi., liii., liv., lv., lvi., lviii., lxii., and lxv. Mr Maclachlan made besides very voluminous transcripts which he intended, when the time and opportunity which never came permitted, to publish with translations. Of MS. xxxvii. (the Dean of Lismore's) he has left two transcripts. In a volume which he designated the Leabhar Caol there is a transcript of the whole of MSS. xlvi. and liii.; of all the tales int xxxviii.; of the tale of the Son of Uisneach from lvi. ; with copious extracts from xl., liv., lv., lxii., and lxv. There were no Grammars or Dictionaries of the old language at the time, and so Mr Maclachlan was unable at all times correctly to extend the contractions of the older MSS. (xl., xlvi., and liii., e.g.), but the work which the indefatigable scholar did, though now apt to be forgotten, was most valuable and important.
Mr Skene in addition to preparing a general catalogue of the whole collection and making some transcripts, has printed the greater part of the Genealogies on the first folio of MS. i. (Collectanea de rebus Albanicis, Celtic Scotland iii. p. 467), and a considerable portion of MS. 1. (Celtic Scotland iii. p. 398). Dr Maclauchlan and Mr Skene printed the greater part of the contents of MS. xxxvii. (Book of the Dean of Lismore: Edinburgh, 1862), and the former scholar gave in Celtic Gleanings (Edinburgh, 1857) brief notices of two or three other MSS. e.g. iv., viii., xxv., and the Edinburgh University Medical MS. Mr Campbell in Leabhar na Féinne gave nearly all the versions of Ossianic Ballads that he could lay his hands upon from the Dean of Lismore downwards. Within the last twenty years we have diligently cultivated “Ossianic” literature. The late Mr Macpherson revised the “Ossianic” portion of the Dean's Book. Dr Cameron made a fresh transcript of a large part of the published portion of the Dean's MS., and of the Ballads printed in Leabhar na Féinne, with others that escaped Mr Campbell's collaborateurs. The collection of ballads by the late Mr Macdonald of Ferintosh was printed by Dr Cameron in vol. xiii. of the Transactions of the Society, while the collection by Jerome Stone, made about the middle of last century, was sent by me to the Society two years ago, and printed in vol. xiv. of the Transactions. . The first scholar furth of Scotland who took notice of the Scottish collection of Gaelic MSS. was the Very Rev. Dr Graves, Bishop of Limerick, who published a note regarding MS. xlvi. and one or two others in the fourth volume of the proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Of recent years Mons. Henri Gaidoz wrote a brief but very accurate note regarding the collection in the Revue Celtique (Tom. vi., 109-114); Dr Kuno Meyer of Liverpool has read several MSS., and in particular has described MS. xl. in the Celtic Magazine (vol. xii.); while Mr Whitley Stokes has printed the Tale of the Sons of Uisneach from MS. liii. and lvi. (Leipzig 1887), and transcribed with a view to publication MS. xv. (the Destruction of Troy), and the Mesca Ulad or Intoxication of the Ultarians from MS. xl.
Still, not merely several important MSS., but large sections of the literature embraced in this collection have hitherto been totally neglected. Beyond what I have been able to do myself, I am not aware that a single one of the medical MSS. has been read through. The same may be said regarding the religious section, and several historical MS. of value, such as MSS. i., V., xxv., xxvi. and others. And still more is the statement true regarding the antiquarian, grammatical, and philological treatises found in such MSS. i., vii., xxxviii., lviii.
MEMBERS OF THE SOCIETY.
HONORARY CHIEFTAINS. Sir Kenneth S. Mackenzie of Gairloch, Bart. Professor John Stuart Blackie, Edinburgh University Charles Fraser-Mackintosh of Drummond, M.P. Colin Chisholm Namur Cottage, Inverness Alex. Nicolson, M.A., LL.D., advocate, sheriff-substitute, Greenock