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The Northern Highlands in the Nineteenth Century
No. 8


The year 1832 saw the final passing of the Reform Bill, which gave the Parliamentary franchise to the ten-pound householders in towns, and to lease-holders paying fifty pounds rent in counties. The bill (which was the third introduced by Earl Grey’s Government) had been read a second time in the House of Commons on 18th December 1831. Parliament reassembled on the 17th of January, and the bill rapidly passed through the Lower House. The question again was what would happen in the Lords. Early in April the second reading was carried in the Upper House, but only by the small majority of 9; and when the House met on the 7th of May, after the Easter Recess, an amendment as to the order of procedure was carried against the Government. Nothing remained for Earl Grey and his colleagues except to resign, or to obtain the consent of the King to a creation of new peers. The King accepted the resignation of Ministers. The Duke of Wellington attempted to form an Administration, but failed; and Earl Grey then returned to office, with authority to create as many peers as might be necessary to secure the passing of the bill. The Opposition, however, now recognising the inevitable, allow the measure to go promptly through the Committee stage, and on the 4th of June 1832, the bill was read a third time in the House of Lords, 106 peers voting for it, and only 22 against it. This was the English bill. The Scottish and Irish bills had afterwards to be carried through, but the main measure having been passed, the others excited little controversy.

In the second half of 1832, there was a memorable visitation of cholera along the northern seaboard. Its ravages were specially fatal in the villages of Easter Ross, and only a degree less severe in the town of Inverness. Political excitement continued at the same time, and the first General Election under the Reform Act came of towards the close of the year.

From the "Inverness Courier."
1832.

January 4.—The dreaded cholera had now appeared at Haddington, in Scotland. Powers had been granted to Boards of Health by royal proclamation, and the Inverness Board resolved to apply for a commission. A fund of £100 had been collected. Returns of poor in the town reported 500 in destitute circumstances, and a much larger number requiring occasional aid.

Ibid.—"A splendid fete was given on Tuesday last at Tulloch Castle, Ross-shire, by Duncan Davidson, Esq., M.P., to a numerous party of friends. About sixty ladies and gentlemen were present. Dancing commenced at ten o’clock, an elegant supper was served up about one, and the festivities were continued for several hours afterwards."

Ibid.—The condition of the operative classes in Perth is reported as deplorable. "The number of the unemployed is daily increasing; and in Dunning, Auchterarder, and other manufacturing places in the county, there are, we are assured, not a few weavers in want of work."

January 11.—A public meeting was held under the auspices of the Inverness Board of Health to consider reports on the condition of the poor and the state of their dwellings. No less than 840 persons were represented as being in a state of great poverty, of whom 140 resided in the Green of Muirtown. The reports stated that the practice of keeping offensive manure in the close neighbourhood of dwellings was almost universal among the poor; that in some districts pigs were as numerous as dunghills, and a greater nuisance; that slaughter-houses existed in almost every quarter of the town; that numbers of the poor people lay on straw, which was too seldom removed; and that in many of the houses of the poor the windows did not admit of being opened, having neither sashes nor hinges. It was resolved to raise a public subscription to provide means for manure stances, for lime-washing and medicine, for food, clothing, straw for bedding, flannel belts, and a soup kitchen and also, if necessary, for securing a cholera hospital.

Ibid.—It is stated that as a precaution against cholera every cottage in the county of Sutherland had been visited by district committees; that the wants of the poor inmates, both in clothing and food, had been liberally supplied; that the dunghills had been removed at least thirty yards from each house, and every dwelling inside and out had been thoroughly cleaned and whitewashed.

Ibid.—There is half-a-column of notes on natural history from Cromarty, evidently written by Hugh Miller. They are marked by careful observation and power of description.

Ibid.—The Excise duty on candles of one penny per pound ceased on Saturday week.

January 18.—A cattle show was held at Dunvegan, Skye, on the 5th inst., in connection with a farming society in the Macleod country. The show of cattle numbered about 100.

Ibid.—"Died, at Forres House, on the 1st inst., Lady Gordon-Cumming, widow of the late Sir A. P. Gordon-Cumming, Bart.—On the 21st ult., at Inverness, Mrs Young, mother of Murdo Young, Esq., editor of the ‘Sun’ London newspaper." A tribute to the memory of Lady Gordon-Cumming appears on the 25th inst.

lbid.—The commission for the trial of the Bristol rioters had terminated. "Five have been condemned to death, and a great number sentenced to transportation. The riots originated, perhaps, in political animosity; but it is proved beyond all doubt that they were protracted solely from a desire for plunder.

January 25.—Parliament resumed its deliberations on Tuesday, the 17th inst. Mr Croker is described as the most active leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons. Great interest was taken in the question whether the King would create peers to pass the Reform Bill in the House of Lords.

February 8.—Cholera was spreading in the Southern Counties of Scotland, and creating much alarm. A special meeting of Commissioners of Supply appointed a Board of Health for the county of Inverness, placing at its disposal a sum of £300, or an assessment of 1d per pound Scots on the valued rent. The proposed bill for erecting a gaol and Court-house was discussed, and it was resolved to send up the draft of the bill to a London lawyer. The bill proposed to assess land in the county in two-thirds of the expense, and property in the burgh in one-third. This caused dissatisfaction in the burgh. The estimated cost of the buildings was £22,000.

February 15.—A public meeting was called in Inverness to consider the Gaol Bill, but a letter was read from Mr Fraser-Tytler stating that the financial proposals had been postponed for the purpose of adjusting them in conference with the Magistrates and community of Inverness. A committee of burgh heritors was accordingly appointed to meet a county committee.

Ibid.—At the meeting of the Northern Institution, there was presented from the Rev. George Gordon, Elgin, a specimen of a plant then new to British flora, discovered by him near Rosehaugh. It was the ‘Pinguicula Alpina" of Linnteus. The Secretary also presented specimens of bitumen found in the neighbourhood of Dingwall.

Ibid.—The Government, by Royal Proclamation, appointed Thursday, 22nd March, as a General Fast in Scotland on account of the threatened spread of cholera.

February 22.—The cholera plague had broken out in London. Throughout the Northern Counties Boards of Health were now established in the towns and many of the parishes. An unusual number of vagrants and beggars appeared to be in the Highlands, giving rise to uneasiness lest they should carry infection. The Magistrates and Sheriff of Inverness issued a proclamation "by tuck of drum" and advertisement, prohibiting any of the inhabitants from harbouring vagrants, and instructing constables to prevent them from entering the town.

March 7.—The foundation-stone of the Suspension Bridge over the Findhorn was laid on the previous Thursday with Masonic ceremonial. The brethren of three Mason Lodges took part, those of St Lawrence and St John’s from Forres, and those of St John’s from Dyke. The school children formed part of the procession. The foundation-stone was laid by Brodie of Brodie, Provincial Grand Master. From four to five thousand persons witnessed the ceremony.

March 28.—The Reform Bill had now passed the Commons. Mr Macaulay distinguished himself in all the debates on the bill, and spoke with his accustomed brilliancy on the third reading. "Mr Croker," we are told, "who follows Macaulay as his shade, attacked the bill in a clever and bitter speech." The bill was now before the Lords for the second time.

Ibid.—"Died, at Antigonish, Mrs Ann Chisholm, aged 98 years, a native of Strathglass, North Britain, leaving 112 grand and great-grandchildren, of whom 103 are of the name of Chisholm all living."

Ibid.—The following paragraph is quoted from the "Elgin Courier" :—"The mania for emigration rages just now in this country to an unheard of extent. We believe more people have quitted, or intend quitting, Elginshire for America this spring than during the last ten years. From the small village of Rothes alone, no fewer than sixteen intend sailing, very soon, in the same vessel for the western hemisphere."

April 11.—There were now three steamers in the Glasgow trade plying on the Caledonian Canal. The "Highland Chieftain" passed through the Canal to Cromarty and Invergordon. Some amusement was caused by the fact that the carrier between Inverness and Tain took advantage of the steamer on her first trip. "Man, horse, cart, and goods, were shipped at Muir-town Lock, and the Tain carrier was duly steamed to Invergordon."

April 18.—The second reading of the Reform Bill was carried in the House of Lords by a majority of nine. The result was waited throughout the country with great interest and anxiety. The news was first brought to Inverness by the guard of the Defiance Coach from Aberdeen, which arrived about an hour before the mail. When the latter came, confirming the intelligence, "cheers both loud and long were raised."

Ibid.—A school competition was held at Kingussie for prizes given by the Celtic Society for promoting education in Badenoch. There were 72 competitors drawn from six schools in the parishes of Kingussie, Inch, and Alvie. These schools were attended during the winter by 450 pupils. The competing contingents marched with piper at their head, two of the schoolmasters and a considerable number of the competitors appearing in the Highland dress. The attendance of the public was so large that the proceedings had to be adjourned to the church. Mr Macpherson of Belleville was in the chair. The examination was conducted by the clergy-men of the three parishes, but the prizes, 32 in number, were awarded by the votes of the gentlemen present. Previous to the examination, the meeting determined an honorary prize, to be given to the Highlander who had been in the habit most constantly of wearing the Highland dress of home-made tartan. The prize went to Robert Shaw, in the parish of Inch. aged 87 years.

April 25.—The editor makes some fun of the managers of the "Sun" and the "True Sun" newspapers, who had made superhuman efforts to carry, as far as Edinburgh. the news of the second reading of the Reform Bill in the House of Lords. "The henchmen of old, careering among our Highland vassals, with their gathering symbol, the Fiery Cross, were nothing to these ambassadors of the press, driving four-in-hand, with ribands flying and rosettes in their hats, to the tune of fifteen miles an hour. What a contrast to the slow spread of intelligence in the days of our fathers!... Now every large town has its newspaper and every village its newspaper club; and such is the rapidity of our mails, and the excellence and universality of our roads, that the London journals of Monday evening—exclusive of all expresses—are read on the following Friday among the wilds of the Hebrides and at the Ultima Thule of John o’ Groats."

Ibid.—An immense school of whales appeared off the coast of Lewis, near Stornoway. They were driven ashore by a troop of boats which put out from the harbour. Ninety-eight whales, some of them very large, were killed and sold by public roup.

May 2.—At a meeting of Inverness-shire Commissioners of Supply, Mr Patrick Grant was appointed County Clerk. The unsuccessful candidate was Mr Alexander Shepperd, and the vote stood 22 to 17.

May 9.—This number contains a sketch of the boundaries of the burghs in the Northern Counties as fixed by the Scots Reform Bill. It also states that two cases of cholera had occurred in the garrison at Fort-George.

Ibid.—The Rev. D. Mackintosh Mackay, late of Laggan, was inducted as minister of Dunoon on Thursday, 19tlh ult.

Ibid.—The Inverness Gaol Bill had now assumed a new complexion. A formal separation took place between the burgh and county. "It is now agreed that the county shall erect a Court House and public offices at their own expense—the Magistrates of the burgh having no connection with them, and the question of erecting a new gaol or retaining the present one remaining entirely with the burgh. The county buildings will be constructed on an approved principle, after the design of Mr Burn, architect, and will, it is calculated, cost about £8000." Several of the county heritors protested against the scheme, but the bill was approved by a majority, and transmitted to the London solicitors.

May 16.—The news that Earl Grey’s Ministry had resigned created consternation in the country. On an amendment to the Reform Bill in the House of Lords, they had been beaten by a majority of 35. A creation of peers or the resignation of Ministers then became inevitable. The King refused to create peers, and Ministers resigned. The Duke of Wellington was summoned to form a new administration.

May 23.—After various attempts to form an administration, the Duke of Wellington was forced to abandon the task, and Earl Grey and his colleagues were again in office vested with full powers to carry the Reform Bill. On the 22nd a great meeting was held in the Academy Park, Inverness, under the auspices of the Reform Committee. "This was the first open meeting ever held in Inverness for a political purpose, and will long he remembered by the inhabitants. A more imposing spectacle was certainly never before witnessed here. The Incorporated Trades and other public bodies, with their banners flying, and all arrayed in their best, were in attendance—most of the shops were shut, the streets and windows were thronged with spectators, and crowds of people arrived from the country. The Trades assembled on the Castle Hill, and exactly at 12 o’clock the music struck up, and the whole marched to the Caledonian Hotel, where the Reform Committee were assembled. The procession then proceeded to the Academy Park." The gathering was estimated as numbering from 8,000 to 10,000. On the hustings were Mackintosh, yr. of Mackintosh, Fraser of CuIbokie, Fraser of Abertarff, Fraser of Balnain, and prominent citizens. Mr John Mackenzie, banker, was called to the chair. The report of the speeches runs to over four columns.

May 30.—It is stated that most of the anti-Reform peers had absented themselves from the House of Lords, and that the Reform Bill was making rapid progress in Committee.

June 6.—"The English Reform Bill is now through the Committee, and was to be read a third time on Monday last. On Tuesday it was expected that the few verbal amendments proposed by the Lords would be adopted by the Commons, and that on Wednesday (this day) the bill would receive the royal assent." It was calculated that in ten days or a fortnight the Scots and Irish bills would also have passed through Parliament.

Ibid.—There is an interesting memoir, more than two columns in length, of Sir James Mackintosh, who died on the 30th May in the sixty-seventh year of his age. It is stated that in his speeches in the House of Commons Sir James was of the old school of rhetoricians. "He appealed to first principles, reasoned high of the eternal laws of truth and justice and enforced his arguments in elaborate diction, and by repeated and various quotation. It was our fortune to hear him only once—during the stormy period of the trial of Queen Caroline— and his speech struck us as being exactly like a well delivered essay of the Edinburgh Review. His manner was inelegant, but earnest and imposing, and his appearance commanded universal respect and attention."

June 13.—The English Reform Bill had at length passed the House of Lords and become law. The Scottish Bill was now passing through Parliament with but little opposition. "Major Cumming Bruce and a few others set up a claim for compensation to the proprietors of superiorities, for the loss they would sustain through the bill, but did not press the point to a division. We cannot see the slightest foundation in justice or equity for such a compensation. The proprietors of superiorities will not be denuded of their franchise, and undoubtedly the owners of boroughs in Schedule A of the English bill possessed a better right to be indemnified for their loss than our Scottish proprietors of paper votes. The inequality in the value of superiorities would also render compensation no easy task. In some counties the qualification sold for £100, and in others (as in Inverness) for £1000 or £1200. At what rate then was compensation to be given? The absurdity as well as cupidity of this unpatriotic objection prevented the House, as we have stated, from coming to a division on the subject."

Ibid.—Sir William Grant, late Master of the Rolls, died on Friday, 25th May, at Dawlish, in Devon.

Ibid.—The anniversary meeting of the Northern Missionary Society was held at Dingwall. Subscriptions and donations amounted to £47. A meeting of the same Society was held at Inverness: subscriptions and donations, £68 4s.

June 27.—There are many rumours as to candidates who are to come forward at the election to take place after the completion of the Reform Scheme for the three kingdoms. Major Cumming Bruce had already announced his intention to seek the suffrages of the new electors in the Inverness District of Burghs. He declared that though he had opposed the Government Bill he was not an anti-Reformer, and referred to his speeches in proof of the statement. Mr Charles Grant had an invitation to stand for Liverpool, but determined to stick to the county of Inverness, though he knew he would meet with active opposition. His brother, Mr Robert Grant, had been asked to stand for several constituencies, including the Inverness Burghs, but resolved to remain with Norwich.

July 4.—The cholera was on the increase in England, and had also a strong hold of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Perth. Several cases had now appeared on board a Revenue cruiser at Cromarty.

July 4 and 11.—Both issues are filled with election news. Charles Grant and Macleod of Macleod were again in the field for the representation of the county of Inverness. Three candidates were canvassing the burghs, namely, Major Cumming Bruce, Mr John Stewart of Belladrum, and Colonel Baillie of Leys. Mr Stewart was the Reform candidate, and Mr John Mackenzie, banker, was Chairman of the Election Committee.

July 18.—The Reform Bill for Scotland passed the Home of Lords on the 13th. At Nairn on the 12th there was a great Reform festival, consisting of a procession and dinner. The Nairn seamen turned out to the number of 150, a party of twenty in holiday garb drawing a yawl, which bore the Reform Bill, crowned by a large broom, spliced at the masthead. The "broom" was in honour of Lord Brougham. There were twenty-one flags in the procession, each bearing an appropriate motto.

Ibid.—The Sheep and Wool Fair was held the previous week. In the price of sheep there was an advance of from fifteen to twenty per cent., which was partly attributed to the advancing prosperity of the country, and partly to the great mortality among sheep in England, which had occurred about two years before. The number of sheep in England was calculated at 25 millions, and no fewer than six millions were carried off by rot in 1830. There was a fall in the price of wool, but the deficiency in value was partly supplied by the excellence and abundance of the clip. The toll dues on sheep and cattle were again a matter of complaint, and the committee on the subject was reappointed. There was a talk about promoting a drove road, and more resting places for sheep were said to be required.

August 1.—The following curious announcement appears —"We cannot forward a copy of the Reform Act to our correspondent in Skye for some weeks, till a carrier leaves Inverness."

Ibid.—It is announced that cholera had broken out in the village of Helmsdale, in Sutherland. The herring-fishing was going on, and the disease was brought by a boat from Prestonpans, in the Firth of Forth.

August 8.—"Death, which has lately been so busy in high places, has added another titled victim to its list—the young Duke de Reichstadt, son of Napoleon, died on the 22nd ult. The direct line of Napoleon is thus terminated."

Ibid.—Cholera was now spreading throughout the Northern Counties. It had appeared at Golspie, Portmahomack, Hilton of Cadboll, Dingwall, and Maryburgh. The outbreak at Helmsdale was severe. In subsequent issues there are reports of its ravages there and in the villages of Sutherland and Easter Ross.

August 22.—On the previous day there was a great procession of trades in Inverness to celebrate the passing of the Reform Bill. Flags and banners were numerous, and there were triumphal arches in High Street and Bridge Street. In the afternoon 350 gentlemen dined in the Northern Meeting Rooms—Mr Mackenzie, banker, in the chair.

August 29.—The cholera had at last entered Inverness, and within five days there were 17 deaths. One case was that of Skene Morrison, the guard of the north mail. "He was seized on his road from Tain, when within a few miles of Inverness, but kept his seat till the coach arrived here, a little before nine o’clock in the evening, when, after delivering the mail bags, he staggered home and expired in about four hours." The Board of Health was sitting, and the medical men of the town attended.

Ibid.—The passing of the Reform Act was celebrated by a procession at Forres. Sueno’s Stone was decorated with evergreens, and a handsome flag streamed from the top.

September 5.—"There are 108 candidates in the field for the 53 seats in Parliament belonging to Scotland. All the counties are contested except Banff, Bute, Dumfries, Forfar, Kirkcudbright, Orkney, and Peebles, and all the burghs except Ayr and Dysart."

September 12.—On the 6th inst. Buchanan Macmillan, a gentleman well known to the mercantile community of London and to natives of the Highlands, died at the Inverness-shire residence of Mr Stewart of Belladrum. "Mr Macmillan was in his 74th year. He was born of humble parents in the glen of Urquhart; and at an early age removed to the metropolis, where, by active commercial pursuits, he realised a considerable fortune, which be seemed only to hold in fee for the benefit of his countrymen, and for enabling him to assist in works of utility and benevolence. Mr Macmillan was for a considerable period connected with the ‘Sun’ newspaper as printer and proprietor; and he also, we believe, at one time held the lucrative office of King’s printer. The love and honour of his native country was, with Mr Macmillan, a strong, active principle. . . He was in thought, word, and deed a genuine Scotsman. His house, his purse, time and influence were always, even in his busiest days, at the command of his countrymen, and of all the Scottish charitable institutions in London he was the warm and steady supporter. During his latter years he occasionally visited the North, and delighted to renew his recollection of old scenes and old friends. Of the strength and vividness of these impressions we remember a striking instance. He took a gentleman who was in his company one day at Corrimony to point out to him the site of his father’s hut. A few stones distinguished the place; there was a well near, a little up the bras, and the old man dashing aside the fern and heath, filled a bottle which he had brought with him from his native spring. ‘I shall take this with me to London,’ he said, ‘and if I die there the last draught I shall drink will be from this bottle.’ It pleased Providence, however, to lengthen his span of life; he returned to London, visited the North again this season, and dosed his eyes in peace and honour within a few miles of his native glen." A notice of Macmillan and his relatives appears in Mr Mackay’s History of Urquhart, page 409.

Ibid.—The total number of cases of cholera in Inverness had now reached 273; deaths, 82. Among the victims was the Rev. Mr Findlater, minister of the Chapel of Ease (East Church), Inverness. "Mr Findlater was 45 years of age, 22 of which he had spent in the ministry, viz., eleven at Loch-Tay side, Perthshire, and eleven as pastor of the Chapel of Ease in Inverness. He was long subject to severe bilious and nervous attacks, but was in his usual health when seized with the calamity which hurried him to his grave. The rev. gentleman was warmly esteemed by his friends and parishioners. His style of preaching was clear, unaffected, and impressive." At the village of Inver, near Tain, it is reported that there had been 100 cases of cholera and 53 deaths. In the rural districts, near Inverness, the greatest alarm and apprehension prevailed. All intercourse, except of the most pressing kind was interrupted, and the town markets were scantily supplied.

September 26.—Cholera was becoming milder in Inverness, but the ravages of the disease had been very severe. Total cases from the cornmencement, 409; deaths, 136. "Dr George Forbes, the oldest medical practitioner in Inverness, was seized with cholera on Thursday evening, after attending his patients, and though every effort was made to arrest the progress of the disease, Dr Forbes died at eight o’clock on Friday morning." Dr Forbes was 66 years of age. The local Board of Health had been liberally supplied with funds by subscription to assist the poor. A Catholic clergyman from Keith, Rev. Mr Lovie, was successful in the treatment of cholera patients, first at Wick and afterwards at Inverness. The Inverness Board requested him to remain in the town for ten days. They also voted a donation of £10 for his services, but he handed the money over to the medical men to be distributed among the poor.

Ibid—The death of Sir Walter Scott is announced, and there is a memoir, over a column in length, by the editor.—The old burghal system was still in existence, and the election of Magistrates and Council took place in the usual way. Mr John Ross was chosen as Provost.

Ibid.—"Some professional gentlemen from this place [Inverness] having occasion to visit Cromarty last week, were seized at the entrance of the town, and told that they must go to be smoked for the cholera, as they came from Inverness. They were accordingly conveyed to the seaside till they arrived at a wooden shed, where they were obliged to take off part of their clothes, wash themselves with a preparation of chloride of lime, and then enter a place strongly impregnated with sulphur and other ingredients, where they were locked up and half-suffocated. Having undergone this salutary and rational process, the Invernessians were allowed to dress and depart." This incident is described at some length, and with quiet humour, in Hugh Miller’s "Schools and Schoolmasters."

October 10.—There is a striking account of the introduction of cholera into the North of Scotland, and its ravages in Easter Ross, written by Hugh Miller. "In the month of July 1832," he says, "the disease was introduced by some South countrymen, fishermen, into the town of Wick, and a village of Sutherlandshire; and from the latter place, on the following August, into the fishing villages of the peninsula of Easter Ross. It visited Inverness, Nairn, Dingwall, Urquhart, and Rosemarkie, a few weeks after. In the villages of Ross the disease assumed a more terrible aspect than it had yet presented in any other part of Britain. In the little village of Portmahomack one-fifth of the inhabitants were swept away; in the still smaller village of Inver nearly one-half. So abject was the poverty of the people that in some instances there was not a bit of candle in any house in a whole village; and when the disease seized the inmates in the night-time, they had to grapple in darkness with its fierce pains and mortal terrors, and their friends, in the vain attempt to assist them, had to grope round their beds. Before morning they were in most instances beyond the reach of medicine. The infection spread with frightful rapidity. In Inver, though the population did not much exceed a hundred persons, eleven bodies were committed to the earth without shroud or coffin in one day; in two days after they had buried nineteen more. Many survivors fled from the village, leaving behind them the dead and the dying, and took shelter, some in the woods and some among the hollows of an extensive track of sandhills. But the pest followed them to their hiding place, and they expired in the open air. Whole families were found lying dead on their cottage floors. In one instance an infant, the only survivor, lay grovelling on the body of its mother, wailing feebly among the dead, the sole mourner in the charnel-house of the pestilence. Two young persons, a lad and his sister, were seen digging a grave for their father in the church-yard of Nigg, and then carrying the corpse to it on a cart, no one venturing to assist them." Such is a contemporary account of the horrors of this painful time.

October 24.—The Rev. S. Macdonald, of Urquhart, preached in the Chapel of Ease for the benefit of the Society for improving Church patronage in Scotland. The collection amounted to £8 17s 4d. The annual meeting of the Society was held, and resolutions passed in favour of delivering the Church from the grievances flowing from patronage.

October 31.—An article in this number describes the state of parties in the North, and the preparation made for electioneering contests. A few years before the prospect of a general election was regarded in Scotland with scarcely any interest. The question of burgh reform was generally held to be much more important and in many places led to violent party collisions and expensive law-suits. When Parliamentary reform, however, came to the front the subject was eagerly seized upon by the commercial and middle classes, and on the passing of the Act they pressed forward to claim the franchise. In view of an early dissolution of Parliament, electioneering was now very active. "In no part of the Kingdom has this state of things mere abounded than in this Northern division of the Empire. The grand source of disunion is undoubtedly the struggle between the friends and the opponents of the present Ministry. Mr Charles Grant, a Cabinet Minister, is opposed; on the broad principle of political hostility, by Macleod of Macleod. Mr Stewart-Mackenzie is opposed in Ross-shire by Mr Munro of Novar, partly on political grounds and partly from local motives. Mr Stewart of Belladrum, a decided adherent of the Government, disputes the Inverness District of Burghs with the present member, Major Cumming Bruce, the active, uncompromising opponent of the Reform Bill and the Ministry, and Colonel Baillie of Leys, an East India Director, contests the palm with both, chiefly because of his personal influence and his being a native of Inverness. The political bias and connections of the latter lean to the Tory side." The article goes on to say that Major Cumming Bruce had strong personal influence, independent of politics, in his family and in his position as Major of the Inverness-shire Militia. Colonel Baillie derived similar support from his friends in the Magistracy of the town and his personal acquaintance with the inhabitants. Mr Stewart stood wholly unconnected with local influence, and claimed the seat as an independent country gentleman, friendly to the principle of reform, which he advocated in a former Parliament as member for Beverley, in Yorkshire.

Ibid.—No case of cholera had occurred in Inverness for three days, and it was hoped that the disease had left the town. The total number of cases from the beginning on 24th August was 553, and deaths 175. "This is severe enough, but much less than has been experienced in many towns of similar extent in the South. Trade is again reviving here; our markets are attended, and, generally speaking, public confidence is restored." A proportion of cases had occurred in the village of Culcabock, arising, it was supposed, from the dampness of houses caused by a recent flood. A few cases occurred after this date in Inverness but the plague, on the whole, had disappeared.

November 7.—Cromarty was clear of cholera. The number of cases had been over thirty; the number of deaths ten.

November 14.—A paragraph is given to a Grantown character, deceased, who was known as "Jamie Blin," or "the Solicitor-General of Grantown." He had been born almost blind, but he managed to find his way about, and wandered over the district between Grantown, Elgin, and Inverness. Jamie possessed a prodigious memory and an insatiable desire for political discussion, speechifying, and newspapers. His pockets were generally filled with news-sheets which he got other people to read for him. At the time of Courts of Justiciary and contested elections he was generally to be found in Inverness. "Throughout his whole life the memory of poor Jamie was most extraordinary. He could repeat speeches of an hour’s length almost verbatim, after once hearing them; and as he generally copied tone and gesture as well as words, he appeared occasionally, when in the vein, a most imposing orator. His outer man, it is true, was seldom in keeping with the character he assumed; for Jamie was never solicitous about the business of the toilet, and his tattered vestments, with newspapers bulging out in all directions, sometimes contrasted strongly with his eloquent exordiums and perorations. In all parties the rustic politician was generally welcome, and it may be truly said that the stock of harmless mirth has in many districts been abridged by the death of the Solicitor-General of Grantown."

November 28.—A hot controversy had arisen between Seaforth and Hugh Ross of Glastullich in connection with the Ross-shire election. There are five columns of letters in this issue. A duel was threatened, but averted.

December 5.—On the previous Friday the Suspension Bridge over the Findhorn, near Forres, was opened with a procession of trustees and subscribers. Afterwards 105 gentlemen dined in the St Lawrence Masonic Lodge. Mr Fraser-Tytler, who declared the bridge open, was in the chair.

Ibid.—The dissolution of Parliament had been fixed for the previous Monday, and the writs were expected on the 6th in Inverness.

December 12.—The Northern Missionary Society held its anniversary meeting at Tain on the 21st uIt. Collections, subscriptions, and donations amounted to £68 4s 8d.

December 19 and 26.—The nomination for the Inverness District of Burghs took place on the 17th. There were four candidates, namely, Major Cumming Bruce, Mr Stewart of Belladrum, Colonel Baillie of Lays, and Mr Robert Fraser of Torbreck (who appears to have come on the scene unsolicited). The hustings were erected on the Exchange, and there was a crowded gathering in spite of unfavourable weather. The polling occupied two days (Thursday and Friday), and the result was the return of Colonel Baillie, who stood seven votes ahead of Mr Stewart. The total figures were as follows —Colonel Baillie, 250; Mr Stewart, 243; Major Cumming Bruce, 192; Mr Fraser of Torbreck, 6. The scale was turned at the last moment in favour of Colonel Baillie by Major Cumming Bruce recommending his reserved voters to support that candidate. Major Cumming Bruce had his chief support in Forres, where he polled 88 votes.

December 26.—The nomination of the candidates for the county of Inverness took place on the 22nd. Mr Fraser of Lovat proposed Mr Charles Grant, and Mr Fraser of Culbokie seconded. Mr Mackintosh of Geddes proposed Macleod of Macleod, and Rev. Mr Smith, Urquhart, seconded. The result was not published until the next issue, when the figures were announced as follows:—For Mr Grant, 257; for Macleod, 213; majority for Mr Grant, 44.

Ibid.—The nomination for Ross-shire came off at Dingwall on the 24th. Mr Mackenzie of Kilcoy proposed Seaforth, and Mr Archibald Dudgeon, Arboll, seconded. Sir George Mackenzie of Coul proposed Mr Munro of Novar, and Mr Davidson of Tulloch seconded. The result as given in next issue was as follows:-Seaforth, 277; Novar, 152; majority for Seaforth, 125. The contests for the counties of Inverness and Ross had excited great interest, and in both cases the popular or Reform candidates were elected. "No constituencies in Scotland, says the editor, "will be better represented as regards public conduct or private character, general talent or Parliamentary experience. Seaforth has for nearly a quarter of a century supported those principles which have secured for him so triumphant an issue; and Mr Grant is known to the whole kingdom, not only as a Cabinet Minister, but for his enlightened views of national policy, his brilliant eloquence and extensive acquirements." Mr James Loch was re-elected member for the Northern Burghs without a contest.


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