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The History of the Highland Clearances
Ross-Shire - The Rev. Dr. John Kennedy on the Ross-shire Clearances


Dr. John Kennedy, the highly, deservedly respected, and eminent minister of Dingwall so long resident among the scenes which he describes, and so intimately acquainted with all classes of the people in his native county of Ross, informs us that it was at a time when the Highlanders became most distinguished as the most peaceable and virtuous peasantry in the worldó"`at the climax of their spiritual prosperity," in Ross-shire" that the cruel work of eviction began to lay waste the hill-sides and the plains of the North. Swayed by the example of the godly among them, and away from the influences by which less sequestered localities were corrupted, the body of the people in the Highlands became distinguished as the most peaceable and virtuous peasantry in Britain. It was just then that they began to be driven off by ungodly oppressors, to clear their native soil for strangers, red deer, and sheep. With few exceptions, the owners of the soil began to act as if they were also owners of the people, and, disposed to regard them as the vilest part of their estate, they treated them without respect to the requirements of righteousness or to the dictates of mercy. Without the inducement of gain, in the recklessness of cruelty, families by hundreds were driven across the sea, or gathered, as the sweepings of the hill-sides, into wretched hamlets on the shore. By wholesale evictions, wastes were formed for the red deer, that the gentry of the nineteenth century might indulge in the sports of the savages of three centuries before. Of many happy households sheep walks were cleared for strangers, who, fattening amidst the ruined homes of the banished, corrupted by their example the few natives who remained. Meanwhile their rulers, while deaf to the Highlanders' cry of oppression, were wasting their sinews and their blood on battle-fields, that, but for their prowess and their bravery, would have been the scene of their country's defeat."


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