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The History of the Highland Clearances
Sutherland - Reply to Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe by Donald Macleod


[From enlarged edition of "Gloomy Memories," published in Canada in 1857.]

From the year 1812 to 1820, the whole interior of the county of Sutherland—whose inhabitants were advancing rapidly in the science of agriculture and education, who by nature and exemplary training were the bravest, the most moral and patriotic people that ever existed—even admitting a few of them did violate the excise laws, the only sin which Mr. Loch and all the rest of their avowed enemies could bring against them—where a body of men could be raised on the shortest possible notice that kings and emperors might and would be proud of; and where the whole fertile valleys and straths which gave them birth were in due season waving with corn; their mountains and hill-sides studded with sheep and cattle; where rejoicing, felicity, happiness, and true piety prevailed ; where the martial notes of the bagpipes sounded and reverberated from mountain to glen, from glen to mountain. I say, marvellous! in eight years converted to a solitary wilderness, where the voice of man praising God is not to be heard, nor the image of God upon man to be seen ; where you can set a compass with twenty miles of a radius upon it, and go round with it full stretched, and not find one acre of land within the circumference which has come under the plough for the last thirty years, except a few in the parishes of Lairg and Tongue,—all under mute brute animals. This is the advancement of civilization, is it not, madam?

Return now with me to the beginning of your elaborate eulogy on the Duchess of Sutherland, and if you are open to conviction, I think you should be convinced that I never published nor circulated in the American, English, or Scotch public prints any ridiculous, absurd stories about her Grace of Sutherland. An abridgment of my lucubrations is now in the hands of the public, and you may peruse them. I stand by them as facts (stubborn chiels). I can prove them to be so even in this country (Canada), by a cloud of living witnesses, and my readers will find that, instead of bringing absurd accusations against her Grace, that I have endeavoured in some instances to screen her and her predecessors from the public odium their own policy and the doings of their servants merited. Moreover, there is thirty years since I began to expostulate with the House of Sutherland for their shortsighted policy in dealing with their people as they were doing, and it is twenty years since I began to expose them publicly, with my real name, Donald MacLeod, attached to each letter, sending a copy of the public paper where it appeared, directed by post, to the Duke of Sutherland. These exposing and remonstrating letters were published in the Edinburgh papers, where the Duke and his predecessors had their principal Scotch law agent, and you may easily believe that I was closely watched, with the view to find one false accusation in my letters, but they were baffled. I am well aware that each letter I have written on the subject would, if untrue, constitute a libel, and I knew the editors, printers, and publishers of these papers were as liable or responsible for libel as I was. But the House of Sutherland could never venture to raise an action of damages against either of us. In 1841, when I published my first pamphlet, I paid $4 50c., for binding one of them, in a splendid style, which I sent by mail to his Grace the present Duke of Sutherland, with a complimentary note requesting him to peruse it, and let me know if it contained anything offensive or untrue. I never received a reply, nor did I expect it; yet I am satisfied that his Grace did peruse it. I posted a copy of it to Mr. Loch, his chief commissioner; to Mr. W. Mackenzie, his chief lawyer in Edinburgh; to every one of their underlings, to sheep farmers, and ministers in the county of Sutherland, who abetted the depopulators, and I challenged the whole of them, and other literary scourges who aid and justified their unhallowed doings, to gainsay one statement I have made. Can you or any other believe that a poor sinner like Donald MacLeod would be allowed for so many years to escape with impunity, had he been circulating and publishing calumnious, absurd falsehoods against such personages as the House of Sutherland? No, I tell you, if money could secure my punishment, without establishing their own shame and guilt, that it would be considered well-spent long ere now,—they would eat me in penny pies if they could get me cooked for them.

I agree with you that the Duchess of Sutherland is a beautiful, accomplished lady, who would shudder at the idea of taking a faggot or a burning torch in her hand to set fire to the cottages of her tenants, and so would her predecessor, the first Duchess of Sutherland, her good mother ; likewise would the late and present Dukes of Sutherland, at least I am willing to believe that they would. Yet it was done in their name, under their authority, to their knowledge, and with their sanction. The dukes and duchesses of Sutherland, and those of their depopulating order, had not, nor have they any call to defile their pure hands in milder work than to burn people's houses; no, no, they had, and have plenty of willing tools at their beck to perform their dirty work. Whatever amount of humanity and purity of heart the late or the present Duke and Duchess may possess or be ascribed to them, we know the class of men from whom they selected their commissioners, factors, and underlings. I knew every one of the unrighteous servants who ruled the Sutherland- estate for the last fifty years, and I am justified in saying that the most skilful phrenologist and physiognomist that ever existed could not discern one spark of humanity in the whole of them, from Mr. Loch down to Donald Sgrios, or Damnable Donald, the name by which the latter was known. The most of those cruel executors of the atrocities I have been describing are now dead, and to be feared but not lamented. But it seems their chief was left to give you all the information you required about British slavery and oppression. I have read from speeches delivered by Mr. Loch at public dinners among his own party, " that he would never be satisfied until the Gaelic language and the Gaelic people would be extirpated root and branch from the Sutherland estate; yes, from the Highlands of Scotland." He published a book, where he stated as a positive fact, "that when he got the management of the Sutherland estate he found 408 families on the estate who never heard the name of Jesus,"--whereas I could make oath that there were not at that time, and for ages prior to it, above two families within the limits of the county who did not worship that Name and holy Being every morning and evening. I know there are hundreds in the Canadas who will bear me out in this assertion. I was at the pulling down and burning of the house of William Chisholm. I got my hands burnt taking out the poor old woman from amidst the flames of her once-comfortable though humble dwelling, and a more horrifying and lamentable scene could scarcely be witnessed. I may say the skeleton of a once tall, robust, high-cheek-boned, respectable woman, who had seen better days ; who could neither hear, see, nor speak ; without a tooth in her mouth, her cheek skin meeting in the centre, her eyes sunk out of sight in their sockets, her mouth wide open, her nose standing upright among smoke and flames, uttering piercing moans of distress and agony, in articulations from which could be only understood, "Oh, Dhia, Dhia, teine, Leine---Oh God, God, fire, fire." When she came to the pure air, her bosom heaved to a most extraordinary degree, accompanied by a deep hollow sound from her lungs, comparable to the sound of thunder at a distance. When laid down upon the bare, soft, moss floor of the roofless shed, I will never forget the foam of perspiration which emitted and covered the pallid death-looking countenance. This was a scene, madam, worthy of an artist's pencil, and of a conspicuous place on the stages of tragedy. Yet you call this a specimen of the ridiculous stories which found their way into respectable prints, because Mr. Loch, the chief actor, told you that Sellar, the head executive, brought an action against the sheriff and obtained a verdict for heavy damages. What a subterfuge; but it will not answer the purpose, "the bed is too short to stretch yourself, and the covering too narrow and short to cover you." If you took the information and evidence upon which you founded your Uncle Tom's Cabin from such unreliable sources (as I said before), who can believe the one-tenth of your novel? I cannot. I have at my hand here the grandchild of the slaughtered old woman, who recollects well of the circumstance. I have not far from me a respectable man, an elder in the Free Church, who was examined as a witness at Sellar's trial, at the Spring Assizes of Inverness, in 18x6, which you will find narrated in letters four and five of my work. Had you the opportunity, madam, of seeing the scenes which I, and hundreds more, have seen—the wild ferocious appearance of the infamous gang who constituted the burning party, covered over face and hands with soot and ashes of the burning houses, cemented by torch-grease and their own sweat, kept continually drunk or half-drunk while at work; and to observe the hellish amusements some of them would get up for themselves and for an additional pleasure to their leaders! The people's houses were generally built upon declivities, and in many cases not far from pretty steep precipices. They preserved their meal in tight-made boxes, or chests, as they were called, and when this fiendish party found any quantity of meal, they would carry it between them to the brink, and dispatch it down the precipice amidst shrieks and yells. It was considered grand sport to see the box breaking to atoms and the meal mixed with the air. When they would set fire to a house, they would watch any of the domestic animals making their escape from the flames, such as dogs, cats, hens, or any poultry; these were caught and thrown back to the flames—grand sport for demons in human form!

As to the vaunted letter which his "Grace received from one of the most determined opposers of the measures, who travelled in the north of Scotland as editor of a newspaper, regretting all that he had written on the subject, being convinced that he was misinformed," I may tell you, madam, that this man did not travel to the north or in the north of Scotland, as editor; his name was Thomas Mulock; he came to Scotland a fanatic speculator in literature in search of money, or a lucrative situation, vainly thinking that he would be a dictator to every editor in Scotland. He first attacked the immortal Hugh Miller of the Witness, Edinburgh, but in him he met more than his match. He then went to the north, got hold of my first pamphlet, and by setting it up in a literary style, and in better English than I, he made a splendid and promising appearance in the northern papers for some time ; but he found out that the money expected was not coming in, and that the hotels, head inns, and taverns would not keep him up any longer without the prospect of being paid for the past or for the future. I found out that he was hard up, and a few of the Highlanders in Edinburgh and myself sent him from twenty to thirty pounds sterling. When he saw that that was all he was to get, he at once turned tail upon us, and instead of expressing his gratitude, he abused us unsparingly, and regretted that ever he wrote in behalf of such a hungry, moneyless class. He smelled (like others we suspect) where the gold was hoarded up for hypocrites and flatterers, and that one apologising letter to his Grace would be worth ten times as much as he could expect from the Highlanders all his lifetime ; and I doubt not it was, for his apology for the sin of misinformation got wide circulation.

He then went to France and started an English paper in Paris, and for the service he rendered Napoleon in crushing republicanism during the besieging of Rome, etc., the Emperor presented him with a gold Pin, and in a few days afterwards sent a gendarme to him with a brief notice that his service was not any longer required, and a warning to quit France in a few days, which he had to do. What became of him after I know not, but very likely he is dictating to young Loch, or some other Metternich.

No feelings of hostile vindictiveness, no desire to inflict chastisement, no desire to make riches, influenced my mind, pourtraying the scenes of havoc and misery which n those past days darkened the annals of Sutherland. I write in my own humble style, with higher aims, wishing to prepare the way for demonstrating to the Dukes of Sutherland, and all other Highland proprietors, great and small, that the path of selfish aggrandisement and oppression leads by sure and inevitable results, yea to the ruin and destruction of the blind and misguided oppressors themselves. I consider the Duke himself victimised on a large scale by an incurably wrong system, and by being enthralled by wicked counsellors and servants. I have no hesitation in saying, had his Grace and his predecessors bestowed one-half of the encouragement they had bestowed upon strangers on the aborigines--a hardy, healthy, abstemious people, who lived peaceably in their primitive habitations, unaffected with the vices of a subtle civilization, possessing little, but enjoying much ; a race devoted to their hereditary chief, ready to abide by his counsels; a race profitable in peace, and loyal, available in war ; I say, his Grace, the present Duke of Sutherland, and his beautiful Duchess, would be without compeers in the British dominions, their rents, at least doubled; would be as secure from invasion and annoyance in Dunrobin Castle as Queen Victoria could, or can be, in her Highland residence, at Balmoral, and far safer than she is in her English home, Buckingham Palace; every man and son of Sutherland would be ready, as in the days of yore, to shed the last drop of their blood in defence of their chief, if required. Congratulations, rejoicings, dancing to the martial notes of the pipes, would meet them at the entrance to every glen and strath in Sutherlandshire, accompanied, surrounded, and greeted, as they proceeded, by the most grateful, devotedly attached, happy, and bravest peasantry that ever existed; yes, but alas! where there is nothing now, but desolation and the cries of famine and want, to meet the noble pair—the ruins of once comfortable dwellings—will be seen the landmarks of the furrows and ridges which yielded food to thousands, the footprints of the arch-enemy of human happiness, and ravager—before, after, and on each side, solitude, stillness, and the quiet of the grave, disturbed only at intervals by the yells of a shepherd, or fox-hunter, and the bark of a collie dog. Surely we must admit that the Marquises and Dukes of Sutherland have been duped and victimised to a most extraordinary and incredible extent; and we have Mr. Loch's own words for it in his speech in the House of Commons, June 21st, 1845: "I can state, as from facts, that from 1811 to 1833, not one sixpence of rent has been received from that county; but, on the contrary, there has been sent there for the benefit and improvement of the people a sum exceeding sixty thousand pounds sterling." Now think you of this immense wealth which has been expended. I am not certain, but I think the rental of the county would exceed £60,000 a year; you have then from 1811 to 1833, twenty-two years, leaving them at the above figures, and the sum total will amount to £1,320,000 expended upon the self-styled Sutherland improvements; add to this £60,000 sent down to preserve the lives of the victims of those improvements from death by famine, and the sum total will turn out in the shape of £1,380,000. It surely cost the heads of the house of Sutherland an immense sum of money to convert the county into the state I have described it in a former part of this work (and I challenge contradiction).

You should be surprised to hear and learn, madam, for what purposes most of the money drained from the Duke's coffers yearly are expended since he became the Duke and proprietor of Sutherland, upholding the Loch policy. There are no fewer than seventeen who are known by the name of water bailiffs in the county, who receive yearly salaries, what doing, think you? Protecting the operations of the Loch policy, watching day and night the freshwater lakes, rivers, and creeks, teeming with the finest salmon and trout fish in the world, guarding from the famishing people, even during the years of famine and dire distress, when many had to subsist upon weeds, sea-ware, and shell-fish, yet guarded and preserved for the amusement of English anglers ; and what is still more heartrending, to prevent the dying by hunger to pick up any of the dead fish left by the sporting anglers rotting on the lake, creek, and river sides, when the smallest of them, or a morsel, would be considered by hundreds, I may say thousands, of the needy natives, a treat; but they durst not touch them, or if they did and were found out to jail they were conducted, or removed summarily from his Grace's domains; (let me be understood, these gentlemen had no use for the fish, killing them for amusement, only what they required for their own use, and complimented to the factors; they were not permitted to cure them).

You will find, madam, that about three miles from Dunrobin Castle there is a branch of the sea which extends up the county about six miles, where shell-fish, called mussels, abound. Here you will find two sturdy men, called mussel bailiffs, supplied with rifles and ammunition, and as many Newfoundland dogs as assistants, watching the mussel scalps, or beds, to preserve them from the people in the surrounding parishes of Dornoch, Rogart, and Golspie, and keep them, to supply the fishermen, on the opposite side of the Moray Firth, with bait, who come there every year and take away thousands of tons of this nutritive shell-fish, when many hundreds of the people would be thankful for a diet per day of them, to pacify the cravings of nature. You will find that the unfortunate native fishermen, who pay a yearly rent to his Grace for bait, are only permitted theirs from the refuse left by the strangers of the other side of the Moray Firth; and if they violate the iron rule laid down to them, they are entirely at the mercy of the underlings. There has been an instance of two of the fishermen's wives going on a cold, snowy, frosty day to gather bait, but on account of the boisterous sea, could not reach the place appointed by the factors; one took what they required from the forbidden ground, and was observed by some of the bailiffs, in ambush, who pursued them like tigers. One came up to her unobserved, took out his knife, and cut the straps by which the basket or creel on her back was suspended ; the weight on her back fell to the ground, and she, poor woman, big in the family way, fell her whole length forward in the snow and frost. Her companion turned round to see what had happened, when she was pushed back with such force that she fell; he then trampled their baskets and mussels to atoms, took them both prisoners, ordered one of them to call his superior bailiff to assist him, and kept the other for two hours standing, wet as she was, among frost and snow, until the superior came a distance of three miles. After a short consultation upon the enormity of the crime, the two poor women were led, like convicted criminals, to Golspie, to appear before Lycurgus Gunn, and in that deplorable condition were left standing before their own doors in the snow, until Marshall Gunn found it convenient to appear and pronounce j udgment,----verdict: You are allowed to go into your houses this night; this day week you must leave this village for ever, and the whole of the fishermen of the village are strictly prohibited from taking bait from the Little Ferry until you leave; my bailiffs are requested to see this my decree strictly attended to. Being the middle of winter and heavy snow, they delayed a week longer: ultimately the villagers had to expel the two families from among them, so that they would get bait, having nothing to depend upon for subsistence but the fishing, and fish they could not without bait. This is a specimen of the injustice to and subjugation of the Golspie fishermen, and of the people at large ; likewise of the purposes for which the Duke's money is expended in that quarter. If you go, then, to the other side of the domain, you will find another Kyle, or a branch of the sea, which abounds in cockles and other shell-fish, fortunately for the poor people, not forbidden by a Loch ukase. But in the years of distress, when the people were principally living upon vegetables, sea-weeds, and shell-fish, various diseases made their appearance amongst them hitherto unknown. The absence of meal of any kind being considered the primary cause, some of the people thought they would be permitted to exchange shell-fish for meal with their more fortunate neighbours in Caithness, to whom such shellfish were a rarity, and so far the understanding went between them, that the Caithness boats came up loaded with meal, but the Loch embargo, through his underling in Tongue, who was watching their movements, was at once placed upon it; the Caithness boats had to return home with the meal, and the Duke's people might live or die, as they best could. Now, madam, you have steeped your brains, and ransacked the English language to find refined terms for your panegyric on the Duke, Duchess, and family of Sutherland. (I find no fault with you, knowing you have been well paid for it.) But I would briefly ask you (and others who devoted much of their time and talents in the same strain), would it not be more like a noble pair—if they did merit such noble praise as you have bestowed upon them—if they had, especially during years of famine and distress, freely opened up all these bountiful resources which God in His eternal wisdom and goodness prepared for His people, and which should never be intercepted nor restricted by man or men. You and others have composed hymns of praise, which it is questionable if there is a tune in heaven to sing them to.

So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter: and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.—Ecclesiastes iv. i.

The wretch that works and weeps without relief
Has one that notices his silent grief.
He, from whose hands all pow'r proceeds
Ranks its abuse among the foulest deeds,
Considers all injustice with a frown,
But marks the man that treads his fellow down.
Remember Heav'n has an avenging rod
To smite the poor is treason against God.—Cowper.

But you shall find the Duke's money is expended for most astonishing purposes ; not a little of it goes to hire hypocrites, and renowned literary flatterers, to vindicate the mal-administration of those to whom he entrusted the management of his affairs, and make his Grace (who is by nature a simple-minded man) believe his servants are innocent of all the charges brought against them, and doing justice to himself and to his people, when they are doing the greatest injustice to both; so that instead of calling his servants to account at any time, and enquiring into the broad charges brought against them—as every wise landlord should do—it seems the greater the enormities of foul deeds they commit, and the louder their accusations may sound through the land, the farther they are received into his favour. The fact is, that James Loch was Duke of Sutherland, and not the "tall, slender man with rather a thin face, light brown hair, and mild blue eyes," who armed you up the extraordinary elegant staircase in Stafford House.

The Duchess of Sutherland pays a visit every year to Dunrobin Castle, and has seen and heard so many supplicating appeals presented to her husband by the poor fishermen of Golspie, soliciting liberty to take mussels from the Little Perry Sands to bait their nets---a liberty of which they were deprived by his factors, though paying yearly rent for it; yet returned by his Grace with the brief deliverance, that he could do nothing for them. Can I believe that this is the same personage who can set out from Dunrobin Castle, her own Highland seat, and after travelling from it, then can ride in one direction over thirty miles, in another direction forty-four miles, in another, by taking the necessary circuitous route, sixty miles, and that over fertile glens, valleys, and straths, bursting with fatness, which gave birth to, and where were reared for ages, thousands of the bravest, the most moral, virtuous, and religious men that Europe could boast of; ready to a man, at a moment's warning from their chiefs, to rise in defence of their king, queen, and country; animated with patriotism and love to their chief, and irresistible in the battle contest for victory? But these valiant men had then a country, a home, and a chief worth the fighting for. But I can tell her that she can now ride over these extensive tracts in the interior of the county without seeing the image of God upon a man travelling these roads, with the exception of a wandering Highland shepherd, wrapped up in a grey plaid to the eyes, with a collie dog behind him as a drill sergeant to train his ewes and to marshal his tups. There may happen to travel over the dreary tract a geologist, a tourist, or a lonely carrier, but these are as rare as a pelican in the wilderness, or a camel's convoy caravan in the deserts of Arabia. Add to this a few English sportsmen, with their stag hounds, pointer dogs, and servants, and put themselves and their bravery together, and one company of French soldiers would put ten thousand of them to a disorderly flight, to save their own carcases, leaving their ewes and tups to feed the invaders!

The question may arise, where those people, who inhabited this country at one period, have gone? In America and Australia the most of them will be found. The Sutherland family had no need of their services; hence they did not regard their patriotism or loyalty, and disregarded their past services. Sheep, bullocks, deer, and game, became more valuable than men. Yet a remnant, or in other words a skeleton, of them is to be found along the sea shore, huddled together in motley groups upon barren moors, among cliffs and precipices, in the most impoverished, degraded, subjugated, slavish, spiritless, condition that human beings could exist in. If this is really the lady who has "Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, and good will to men," in view, and who is so religiously denouncing the American statute which "denies the slave the sanctity of marriage, with all its joys, rights, and obligations—which separates, at the will of the master, the wife from the husband, the children from the parents," I would advise her in God's name to take a tour round the sea-skirts of Sutherland, her own estate, beginning at Brora, then to Helmsdale, Portskerra, Strathy, Barr, Tongue, Durness, Eddrachillis, and Assynt, and learn the subjugated, degraded, impoverished, uneducated condition of the spiritless people of that sea-beaten coast, about two hundred miles in length, and let her with similar zeal remonstrate with her husband, that their condition is bettered; for the cure for all their misery and want is lying unmolested in the fertile valleys above, and all under his control ; and to advise his Grace, her husband, to be no longer guided by his Ahitophel, Mr. Loch, but to discontinue his depopulating schemes, which have separated many a wife from her husband, never to meet—which caused many a premature death, and that separated many sons and daughters, never to see each other; and by all means to withdraw that mandate of Mr. Loch, which forbids marriage on the Sutherland estate, under pains and penalties of being banished from the county; for it has already augmented illegitimate connections and issues fifty per cent above what such were a few years ago—before this unnatural, ungodly law was put in force.

Let us see what the character of these ill-used people was! General Stewart of Garth, in his "Sketches of the Highlands" says: In the words of a general officer by whom the 93rd Sutherlanders were once reviewed, "They exhibit a perfect pattern of military discipline and moral rectitude. In the case of such men disgraceful punishment would be as unnecessary as it would be pernicious." "Indeed," says the General, "so remote was the idea of such a measure in regard to them, that when punishments were to be inflicted on others, and the troops in garrison assembled to witness their execution, the presence of the Sutherland Highlanders was dispensed with, the effects of terror as a check to crime being in their case uncalled for, as examples of that nature were not necessary for such honourable soldiers. When the Sutherland Highlanders were stationed at the Cape of Good Hope anxious to enjoy the advantages of religious instruction agreeably to the tenets of their national church, and there being no religious service in the garrison except the customary one of reading prayers to the soldiers on parade, the Sutherland men formed themselves into a congregation, appointed elders of their own number, engaged and paid a stipend (collected among themselves) to a clergyman of the Church of Scotland, and had divine service performed agreeably to the ritual of the Established Church every Sabbath, and prayer meetings through the week." This reverend gentleman, Mr. Thom, in a letter which appeared in the Cayistian Herald of October, 1814, writes thus: "When the 93rd Highlanders left Cape Town last month, there were among them 156 members of the church, including three elders and three deacons, all of whom, so far as men can know the heart from the life, were pious men. The regiment was certainly a pattern of morality, and good behaviour to all other corps. They read their Bibles and observed the Sabbath. They saved their money to do good. 7000 rix dollars, a sum equal to £1200, the non-commissioned officers and privates saved for books, societies, and for the spread of the Gospel, a sum unparalleled in any other corps in the world, given in the short space of eighteen months. Their example had a general good effect on both the colonists and the heathen. If ever apostolic days were revived in modern times on earth, I certainly believe some of those to have been granted to us in Africa." Another letter of a similar kind, addressed to the Committee of the Edinburgh Gaelic School Society (fourth annual report), says: "The 93rd Highlanders arrived in England, when they immediately received orders to proceed to North America; but before they re-embarked the sum collected for your society was made up and remitted to your treasurer, amounting to seventy-eight pounds, sterling." "In addition to this," says the noble-minded, immortal General, "such of them as had parents and friends in Sutherland did not forget their destitute condition, occasioned by the operation of the fire and faggot, mis-improved state of the county." During the short period the regiment was quartered at Plymouth, upwards of £500 was lodged in one banking-house, to be remitted to Sutherland, exclusive of many sums sent through the Post Office and by officers; some of the sums exceeding £20 from an individual soldier. Men like these do credit to the peasantry of a country. "It must appear strange, and somewhat inconsistent," continues the General, "when the same men who are so loud in their profession of an eager desire to promote and preserve the religious and moral virtues of the people, should so frequently take the lead in removing them from where they imbibed principles which have attracted the notice of Europe and of measures which lead to a deterioration, placing families on patches of potato ground as in Ireland, a system pregnant with degradation, poverty, and disaffection." It is only when parents and heads of families in the Highlands are moral, happy, and contented, that they can instil sound principles into their children, who in their intercourse with the world may become what the men of Sutherland have already been, "an honourable example, worthy the imitation of all."

I cannot help being grieved at my unavoidable abbreviation of these heart-stirring and heart-warming extracts, which should ornament every mantel-piece and library in the Highlands of Scotland; but I could refer to other authors of similar weight; among the last (though not the least), Mr. Hugh Millar of the Witness, in his "Sutherland as it was and is: or, How a country can be ruined;" a work which should silence and put to shame every vile, malignant calumniator of Highland religion and moral virtue in bygone years, who in their sophistical profession of a desire to promote the temporal and spiritual welfare of the people, had their own sordid cupidity and aggrandisement in view in all their unworthy lucubrations.

At the commencement of the Russian war a correspondent wrote as follows: "Your predictions are making their appearance at last, great demands are here for men to go to Russia, but they are not to be found. It seems that the Secretary of War has corresponded with all our Highland proprietors, to raise as many men as they could for the Crimean war, and ordered so many officers of rank to the Highlands to assist the proprietors in doing so—but it has been a complete failure as yet. The nobles advertised, by placards, meetings of the people; these proclamations were attended to, but when they came to understand what they were about, in most cases the recruiting proprietors and staff were saluted with the ominous cry of `Maa! maa! boo! boo!' imitating sheep and bullocks, and, 'Send your deer, your roes, your rams, dogs, shepherds, and gamekeepers to fight the Russians, they have never done us any harm.' The success of his Grace the Duke of Sutherland was deplorable; I believe you would have pitied the poor old man had you seen him.

"In my last letter I told you that his head commissioner, Mr. Loch, and military officer, was in Sutherland for the last six weeks, and failed in getting one man to enlist; on getting these doleful tidings, the Duke himself left London for Sutherland, arriving at Dunrobin about ten days ago, and after presenting himself upon the streets of Golspie and Brora, he called a meeting of the male inhabitants of the parishes of Clyne, Rogart, and Golspie; the meeting was well attended; upwards of 400 were punctual at the hour; his Grace in his carriage, with his military staff and factors appeared shortly after ; the people gave them a hearty cheer; his Grace took the chair. Three or four clerks took their seats at the table, and loosened down bulky packages of bank notes, and spread out platefuls of glittering gold. The Duke addressed the people very seriously, and entered upon the necessity of going to war with Russia, and the danger of allowing the Czar to have more power than what he holds already; of his cruel, despotic reign in Russia, etc.; likewise praising the Queen and her government, rulers and nobles of Great Britain, who stood so much in need of men to put and keep down the tyrant of Russia, and foil him in his wicked schemes to take possession of Turkey. In concluding his address, which was often cheered, the Duke told the young able-bodied men that his clerks were ready to take down the names of all those willing to enlist, and everyone who would enlist in the 93rd Highlanders, that the clerk would give him, there and then, £6 sterling; those who would rather enter any other corps, would get £3, all from his own private purse, independently of the government bounty. After advancing many silly flattering decoyments, he sat down to see the result, but there was no movement among the people ; after sitting for a long time looking at the clerks, and they at him, at last his anxious looks at the people assumed a somewhat indignant appearance, when he suddenly rose up and asked what was the cause of their non-attention to the proposals he made, but no reply; it was the silence of the grave. Still standing, his Grace suddenly asked the cause; but no reply; at last an old man, leaning upon his staff, was observed moving towards the Duke, and when he approached near enough, he addressed his Grace something as follows: "I am sorry for the response your Grace's proposals are meeting here to-day, so near the spot where your maternal grandmother, by giving forty-eight hours' notice, marshalled fifteen hundred men to pick out of them the nine hundred she required, but there is a cause for it, and a grievous cause, and as your Grace demands to know it, I must tell you, as I see no one else are inclined in this assembly to do it. Your Grace's mother and predecessors applied to our fathers' for men upon former occasions, and our fathers responded to their call; they have made liberal promises, which neither them nor you performed ; we are, we think, a little wiser than our fathers, and we estimate your promises of to-day at the value of theirs, besides you should bear in mind that your predecessors and yourself expelled us in a most cruel and unjust manner from the land which our fathers held in lien from your family, for their sons, brothers, cousins, and relations, which were handed over to your parents to keep up their dignity, and to kill the Americans, Turks, French, and the Irish ; and these lands are devoted now to rear dumb brute animals, which you and your parents consider of far more value than men. I do assure your Grace that it is the prevailing opinion n this county, that should the Czar of Russia take possession of Dunrobin Castle and of Stafford House next term, that we could not expect worse treatment at his hands, than we have experienced at the hands of your family for the last fifty years. Your parents, yourself, and your commissioners, have desolated the glens and straths of Sutherland, where you should find hundreds, yea, thousands of men to meet you, and respond cheerfully to your call, had your parents and yourself kept faith with them. How could your Grace expect to find men where they are not, and the few of them which are to be found among the rubbish or ruins of the county, has more sense than to be decoyed by chaff to the field of slaughter; but one comfort you have, though you cannot find men to fight, you can supply those who will fight with plenty of mutton, beef, and venison.' The Duke rose up, put on his hat, and left the field."

Whether my correspondent added to the old man's reply to his Grace or not, I cannot say, but one thing is evident, it was the very reply his Grace deserved.

I know for a certainty this to be the prevailing feeling throughout the whole Highlands of Scotland, and who should wonder at it? How many thousands of them who served out their 21, 22, 25, and 26 years, fighting for the British aristocracy, and on their return—wounded, maimed, or worn out—to their own country, promising themselves to spend the remainder of their days in peace, and enjoying the blessings and comfort their fathers enjoyed among their Highland, healthy, delightful hills, but found to their grief, that their parents were expelled from the country to make room for sheep, deer, and game, the glens where they were born, desolate, and the abodes which sheltered them at birth, and where they were reared to manhood, burnt to the ground; and instead of meeting the cheers, shaking-hands, hospitality, and affections of fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and relations, met with desolated glens, bleating of sheep, barking of dogs; and if they should happen to rest their worn-out frame upon the green sod which has grown upon their father's hearth, and a gamekeeper, factor, or water bailiff, to come round, he would very unceremoniously tell them to absent themselves as smart as they could, and not to annoy the deer. No race on record has suffered so much at the hands of those who should be their patrons, and proved to be so tenacious of patriotism as the Celtic race, but I assure you it has found its level now, and will disappear soon altogether; and as soon as patriotism shall disappear in any nation, so sure that nation's glory is tarnished, victories uncertain, her greatness diminished, and decaying consumptive death will be the result. If ever the old adage, which says, "Those whom the gods determine to destroy, they first deprive them of reason," was verified, it was, and is, in the case of the British aristocracy, and Highland proprietors in particular. I am not so void of feeling as to blame the Duke of Sutherland, his parents, or any other Highland absentee proprietor for all the evil done in the land, but the evil was done in their name, and under the authority they have invested in wicked, cruel servants. For instance, the only silly man who enlisted from among the great assembly which his Grace addressed, was a married man, with three of a family and his wife; it was generally believed that his bread was baked for life, but no sooner was he away to Fort George to join his regiment, than his place of abode was pulled down, his wife and family turned out, and only permitted to live in a hut, from which an old female pauper was carried a few days before to the churchyard; there the young family were sheltered, and their names registered upon the poor roll for support ; his Grace could not be guilty of such low rascality as this, yet he was told of it, but took no cognisance of those who did it in his name. It is likewise said that this man got a furlough of two weeks to see his wife and family before going abroad, and that when the factor heard he was coming, he ordered the ground officer of the parish of Rogart, named MacLeod, to watch the soldier, and not allow him to see nor speak to his wife, but in his (the officer's) presence. We had at the same time, in the parish, an old bachelor of the name of John Macdonald, who had three idiot sisters, whom he upheld, independent of any source of relief; but a favourite of George, the notorious factor, envied this poor bachelor's farm, and he was summoned to remove at next term. The poor fellow petitioned his Grace and Loch, but to no purpose; he was doomed to walk away on the term day, as the factor told him, "to America, Glasgow, or to the devil if he choosed." Seeing he had no other alternative, two days before the day of his removal he yoked his cart, and got neighbours to help him to haul the three idiots into it, and drove away with them to Dunrobin Castle. When he came up to factor Gunn's door, he capsized them out upon the green, and wheeled about and went away home. The three idiots finding themselves upon the top of one another so sudden, they raised an inhuman-like yell, fixed into one another to fight, and scratched, yelled, and screeched so terrific that Mr. Gunn, his lady, his daughters, and all the clerks and servants were soon about them ; but they hearkened to no reason, for they had none themselves, but continued their fighting and inharmonious music. Messenger after messenger was sent after John, but of no use; at last the great Gunn himself followed and overtook him, asked him how did he come to leave his sisters in such a state? He replied, "I kept them while I had a piece of land to support them; you have taken that land from me, then take them along with the land, and make of them what you can; I must look out for myself, but I cannot carry them to the labour market." Gunn was in a fix, and had to give John assurance that he would not be removed if he would take his sisters, so John took them home, and has not been molested as yet.

I have here beside me (in Canada) a respectable girl of the name of Ann Murray, whose father was removed during the time of the wholesale faggot removals, but got a lot of a barren moor to cultivate. However barren-like it was, he was raising a family of industrious young sons, and by dint of hard labour and perseverance, they made it a comfortable home; but the young sons one by one left the country (and four of them are within two miles of where I sit); the result was, that Ann was the only one who remained with the parents. The mother, who had an attack of palsy, was left entirely under Ann's care after the family left; and she took it so much to heart that her daughter's attention was required day and night, until death put an end to her afflictions, after twelve years' suffering. Shortly after the mother's death, the father took ill, and was confined to bed for nine months ; and Ann's labour re-commenced until his decease. Though Ann Murray could be numbered among the most dutiful of daughters, yet her incessant labour, for a period of more than thirteen years, made visible inroads upon her tender constitution ; yet by the liberal assistance of her brothers, who did not loose sight of her and their parent (though upon a foreign strand), Ann Murray kept the farm in the best of order, no doubt expecting that she would be allowed to keep it after her parent's decease, but this was not in store for her; the very day after her father's funeral, the officer came to her and told her that she was to be removed in a few weeks, that the farm was let to another, and that Factor Gunn wished to see her. She was at that time afflicted with jaundice, and told the officer she could not undertake the journey, which was only ten miles. Next day the officer was at her again, more urgent than before, and made use of extraordinary threats; so she had to go. When she appeared before this Bashaw, he swore like a trooper, and damned her soul, why she disobeyed his first summons; she excused herself, trembling, that she was unwell; another volley of oaths and threats met her response, and told her to remove herself from the estate next week, for her conduct ; and with a threat, which well becomes a Highland tyrant, not to take away, nor sell a single article of furniture, implements of husbandry, cattle, or crop; nothing was allowed but her own body clothes; everything was to be handed over to her brother, who was to have the farm. Seeing there was neither mercy nor justice for her, she told him the crop, house, and every other thing belonging to the farm, belonged to her and her brothers in America, and that the brother to whom he (the factor) intended to hand over the farm and effects never helped her father or mother while in trouble; and that she was determined that he should not enjoy what she laboured for, and what her other brothers paid for. She went and got the advice of a man of business, advertised a sale, and sold off, in the face of threats of interdict, and came to Canada, where she was warmly received by brothers, sisters, and friends, now in Woodstock, and can tell her tale better than I can. No one could think nor believe that his Grace would ever countenance such doings as these; but it was done in his name.

I have here within ten miles of me, Mr. William Ross, once taxman of Achtomleeny, Sutherlandshire, who occupied the most convenient farm to the principal deer-stalking hills in the county. Often have the English and Irish lords, connected in marriage with the Sutherlands, dined and took their lunch at William Ross's table, and at his expense; and more than once passed the night under his roof. Mr. Ross being so well acquainted among the mountains and haunts of the deer, was often engaged as a guide and instructor to these noblemen on their deer-stalking and fishing excursions, and became a real favourite with the Sutherland family, which enabled him to erect superior buildings to the common rule, and improve his farm in a superior style; so that his mountain-side farm was nothing short of a Highland paradise. But unfortunately for William, his nearest neighbour, one Major Gilchrist, a sheep farmer, coveted Mr. Ross's vineyard, and tried many underhand schemes to secure the place for himself, but in vain. Ross would hearken to none of his proposals. But Ahab was a chief friend of Factor Gunn ; and William Ross got notice of removal. Ross prepared a memorial to the first and late Duchess of Sutherland, and placed it in her own hand. Her Grace read it, instantly went into the factor's office, and told him that William Ross was not to be removed from Achtomleeny while he lived; and wrote the same on the petition, and handed it back to Ross, with a graceful smile, saying,"You are now out of the reach of factors; now, William, go home in peace." William bowed, and departed cheerfully; but the factor and ground-officer followed close behind him, and while Ross was reading her Grace's deliverance, the officer, David Ross, came and snapped the paper out of his hand, and ran to Factor Gunn with it. Ross followed, but Gunn put it in his pocket, saying, "William, you would need to give it to me afterwards, at any rate, and I will keep it till I read it, and then return it to you," and with a tiger-like smile on his face, said, "I believe you came good speed to-day, and I am glad of it;" but William never got it in his hand again. However, he was not molested during her Grace's life. Next year she paid a visit to Dunrobin Castle, when Factor William Gunn advised Ross to apply to her for a reduction of rent, under the mask of favouring him. He did so, and it was granted cheerfully. Her Grace left Dunrobin that year never to return ; in the beginning of the next spring she was carried back to Dunrobin a corpse, and a few days after was interred in Dornoch. William Ross was served with a summons of removal from Achtomleeny, and he had nothing to show. He petitioned the present Duke, and his commissioner, Mr. Loch, and related the whole circumstances to them, but to no avail, only he was told that Factor Gunn was ordered to give him some other lot of land, which he did: and having no other resource, William accepted of it to his loss ; for between loss of cattle, building and repairing houses, he was minus one hundred and fifty pounds sterling, of his means, and substance, from the time he was removed from Achtomleeny till he removed himself to Canada. Besides, he had a written agreement or promise for melioration or valuation for all the farm improvements and house building at Achtomleeny, which was valued by the family surveyor at £250. William was always promised to get it, until they came to learn that he was leaving for America, then they would not give him a cent. William Ross left them with it to join his family in Canada; but he can in his old age sit at as comfortable a table, and sleep on as comfortable a bed, with greater ease of mind and a clearer conscience, among his own dutiful and affectionate children, than the tyrant factor ever did, or ever will among his. I know as well as any one can tell me, that this is but one or two cases out of the thousand I could enumerate, where the liberality and benevolence of his Grace, and of his parents, were abused, and that to their patron's loss. You see in the above case that William was advised to plead for a reduction of rent, so that the factor's favourite, Ahab Gilchrist, would have the benefit of Naboth Ross's improvement, and the reduction he got on his rent, which would not be obtained otherwise.

The unhallowed crew of factors and officials, from the highest to the lowest grade, employed by the family of Sutherland, got the corrupt portion of the public press on their side, to applaud their wicked doings and schemes, as the only mode of improvement and civilisation in the Highlands of Scotland. They have got what is still more to be lamented, all the Established ministers, with few exceptions, on their side; and in them they found faithful auxiliaries in crushing the people. Any of them could hold a whole congregation by the hair of their heads over hell-fire, if they offered to resist the powers that be, until they submitted. If a single individual resisted, he was denounced from the pulpit, and considered afterwards a dangerous man in the community; and he might depart as quick as he could. Any man, or men, may violate the laws of God, and violate the laws of heaven, as often as he chooses; he is never heeded, and has nothing to fear; but if he offends the Duke's factor, the lowest of his minions, or violates the least of their laws and regulations, it is an unpardonable sin. The present Duke's mother was no doubt a liberal lady of many good parts, and seemed to be much attached to the natives, but unfortunately for them, she employed for her factors a vile, unprincipled crew, who were their avowed enemies; she would hearken to the complaints of the people, and would write to the ministers of the Gospel to ascertain the correctness of complaints, and the factor was justified, however gross the outrage was that he committed—the minister dined with the factor, and could not refuse to favour him. The present Duke is a simple, narrow-minded gentleman, who concerns himself very little even about his own pecuniary affairs; he entrusts his whole affairs to his factors, and the people are enslaved so much, that it is now considered the most foolish thing a man can do to petition his Grace, whatever is done to him, for it will go hard with the factor, or he will punish and make an example of him to deter others.

To detail what I knew myself personally, and what I have learned from others of their conduct, would, as I said before, fill a volume. I or instance:- When a marriage in the family of Sutherland takes place, or the birth of an heir, a feast is ordered for the Sutherland people, consisting of whisky, porter, ale, and plenty of eatables. The day of feasting and rejoicing is appointed, and heralded throughout the country, and the people are enjoined in marshal terms to assemble—barrels of raw and adulterated whisky are forwarded to each parish, some raw adulterated sugar, and that is all. Bonfires are to be prepared on the tops of the highest mountains. The poorest of the poor are warned by family officers to carry the materials, consisting of peats and tar barrels, upon their backs; the scene is lamentable to see groups of these wretched, half-clad and ill-shod, climbing up these mountains with their loads; however, the work must be done, there is no denial, the evening of rejoicing is arrived, and the people are assembled at their different clachans. The barrels of whisky are taken out to the open field, poured into large tubs, a good amount of abominable-looking sugar is mixed with it, and a sturdy favourite is employed to stir it about with a flail handle, or some long cudgel—all sorts of drinking implements are produced, tumblers, bowls, ladles, and tin jugs. Bagpipers are set up with great glee. In the absence of the factor, the animal called the ground officer, and in some instances the parish minister, will open the jollification, and show an example to the people how to deal with this coarse beverage. After the first round, the respectable portion of the people will depart, or retire to an inn, where they can enjoy themselves; but the drouthies, and ignorant youthful, will keep the field of revelling until tearing of clothes and faces comes to be the rule; fists and cudgels supplant jugs and ladles, and this will continue until king Bacchus enters the field and hushes the most heroic brawlers and the most ferocious combatants to sound snoring on the field of rejoicing, where many of them enter into contracts with death, from which they could never extricate themselves. With the co-operation and assistance of factors, ministers, and editors, a most flourishing account is sent to the world, and to the absentee family in London, who knows nothing about how the affair was conducted. The world will say how happy must the people be who live under such good and noble, liberal-minded patrons; and the patrons themselves are so highly-pleased with the report that, however extraordinary the bill that comes to them on the rent day, in place of money, for roast beef and mutton, bread and cheese, London porter and Edinburgh ale, which was never bought, nor tasted by the people, they will consider their commissioners used great economy; no cognizance is taken, the bill is accepted, and discharged, the people are deceived, and the proprietors injured.


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