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The History of the Highland Clearances
Ross-Shire - The 78th Highlanders


In connection with the evictions from the County of Ross, the following will appropriately come in at this stage. Referring to the glorious deeds of the 78th Highlanders in India, under General Havelock, the editor of the Northern Ensign writes:— All modern history, from the rebellion in 1715, to the Cawnpore massacre of 1857, teems with the record of Highland bravery and prowess. What say our Highland evicting lairds to these facts, and to the treatment of the Highlanders? What reward have these men received for saving their country, fighting its battles, conquering its enemies, turning the tide of revolt, rescuing women and children from the hands of Indian fiends, and establishing order, when disorder and bloody cruelty have held their murderous carnival? And we ask, in the name of men who have, ere now, we fondly hope, saved our gallant countrymen and heroic countrywomen at I,ucknow; in the name of those who fought in the trenches of Sebastopol, and proudly planted the British standard on the heights of the Alma, how are they, their fathers, brothers, and little ones treated? Is the mere shuttle-cocking of an irrepressible cry of admiration from mouth to mouth, and the setting to music of a song in their praise, all the return the race is to get for such noble acts? We can fancy the expression of admiration of Highland bravery at the Dunrobin dinner table, recently, when the dukes, earls, lairds, and other aristocratic notables enjoyed the princely hospitality of the Duke. We can imagine the mutual congratulations of the Highland lairds as they prided themselves on being proprietors of the soil which gave birth to the race of " Highland heroes." Alas, for the blush that would cover their faces if they would allow themselves to reflect that, in their names, and by their authority, and at their expense, the fathers, mothers, brothers, wives, of the invincible "78th" have been remorselessly driven from their native soil ; and that, at the very hour when Cawnpore was gallantly retaken, and the ruffian, Nana Sahib, was obliged to leave the bloody scene of his fiendish massacre, there were Highlanders, within a few miles of the princely Dunrobin, driven from their homes and left to starve and to die in the open field. Alas, for the blush that would reprint its scarlet dye on their proud faces as they thought in one county alone, since Waterloo was fought, more than 14,000 of this same "race of heroes" of whom Canning so proudly boasted, have been hunted out of their native homes; and that where the pibroch and the bugle once evoked the martial spirit of thousands of brave hearts, razed and burning cottages have formed the tragic scenes of eviction and desolation; and the abodes of a loyal and a liberty-loving people are made sacred to the rearing of sheep, and sanctified to the preservation of game! Yes; we echo back the cry, "Well done, brave Highlanders!" But to what purpose would it be carried on the wings of the wind to the once happy straths and glens of Sutherland? Who, what, would echo back our acclaims of praise? Perhaps a shepherd's or a gillie's child, playing amid the unbroken wilds, and innocent of seeing a human face but that of its own parents, would hear it; or the cry might startle a herd of timid deer, or frighten a covey of partridges, or call forth a bleat from a herd of sheep; but men would not, could not, hear it. We must go to the backwoods of Canada, to Detroit, to Hamilton, to Woodstock, to Toronto, to Montreal; we must stand by the waters of Lake Huron or Lake Ontario, where the cry—"`Well done, brave Highlanders!" would call up a thousand brawny fellows, and draw down a tear on a thousand manly cheeks. Or we must go to the bare rocks that skirt the sea-coast of Sutherland, where the residuary population were generously treated to barren steeps and inhospitable shores, on which to keep up the breed of heroes, and fight for the men who dared—daredto drive them from houses for which they fought, and from land which was purchased with the blood of their fathers. But the cry, "Well done, brave Highlanders," would evoke no effective response from the race. Need the reader wonder? Wherefore should they fight? To what purpose did their fathers climb the Peninsular heights and gloriously write in blood the superiority of Britain, when their sons were rewarded by extirpation, or toleration to starve, in sight of fertile straths and glens devoted to beasts? These are words of truth and soberness. They are but repetitions in other forms of arguments, employed by us for years; and we shall continue to ring changes on them so long as our brave Highland people are subjected to treatment to which no other race would have submitted. We are no alarmists. But we tell Highland proprietors that were Britain some twenty years hence to have the misfortune to be plunged into such a crisis as the present, there will be few such men as the Highlanders of the 78th to fight her battles, and that the country will find when too late, if another policy towards the Highlanders is not adopted, that sheep and deer, ptarmigan and grouse, can do but little to save it in such a calamity.


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