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The Long Glen
Chapter XV - Banning the Marquis


EWAN, appearing from the smithy with a grimy face which he forthwith begins to wash in the burn, says: —"And what may the men of age be at now?"

Calum, laughing—"For sure it seems to me we are just banning the Marquis."

Ewan, knowing well how to touch the sore—"The papers of news much praise the Ouke Catach and the Marquis. They are both Liberal Reformers. And the Marquis is also an elder and a Non-Intrusionist."

Duncan Ran—"Air m' anam it must be the black mockery that a man should, in the Parliament house and public places, call himself a Liberal Reformer and what not, and that, pretending to speak up for the rights of the people, he should be to the people committed to his own charge what the wolf is to the fold !"

Calum—"It seems to me that those who speak so often about the rights of the 'people' mean by 'people' the cantankerous Dissenters, and what is worse, the blackguards of towns."

Duncan Ban—"Was there a voice raised by the Whig letters of news or by his own ministers of the Kirk excepting the one Black Moderate, to expose this false Liberal and unworthy elder, who loves to grind the faces of the poor, and to banish hundreds upon hundreds of better people than himself from their native hills, and what had been the homes of their forefathers from the youth of the world?"

Diarmad—"The base falsehood of the letters of news, and the betraying spirit of ministers under the rule of these noisy Non-Intrusionists form indeed the black cloud which is rising and spreading fast over the whole land. I think the Marquis has the patronage of ten or twelve churches, and to these churches Non-Intrusionists are on every vacancy exclusively appointed by the Liberal patron, contrary to his father's better custom. Now, when at the beginning of his evictions he put out twenty-six reeks in one barony and ten in another all in one day, how many of the twelve stood up and rebuked the manifest oppressor in the name of the Great Head of the Church to whom he and they professed fealty and obedience? They were, except the Black Moderator and honest Donald Mackenzie, dumb dogs without a bark or bite. And the Liberal letters of news kept always flattering and praising the wealthy go-ahead Reformer! This was not the case outside Cataobh when the dead Duke and Duchess Catach were doing their clearing work. The Kirk then had a voice, and it was sounded in deep indignation over all the land. It stirred Highlands and Lowlands, and forced the oppressors t;o make some atonement by building fishing villages for those who did not follow Lord Selkirk to the wilds of America, but preferred at all cost to cling to the skirts of their native land. In outward seeming the Kirk is now much stronger than she ever was, and in the belief of the majority she is so holy as to be almost above humanity ; but she has in the Highlands no uniting living soul, and no protecting and rebuking voice. All that has been sacrified to bitter strife and arrogant priestly demands. Heavy is the fear upon me that these noisy Non-Intrusionists who have done great harm already, are now driving the Kirk upon a rock of the raging sea. And if the Kirk be driven on that rock and go to pieces, Alba will then no longer possess a proper national voice, and the last shadow of independence must quickly disappear. So, what is yet to come may be much worse than anything which has already come to pass."

Ewan—"But have my ears not heard thee say that there was some excuse for the Marquis?"

Diarmad—"No doubt. Thy ears being good long ones could not mislead thee. There was this excuse for the Marquis that on some parts of his large estates the people had become too thickly placed, just through the mistaken kindness of his noble father, who made ' rooms' out of the old well-planned farms for all men who had served in his three Fencible Regiments. The want of coals in the Highlands and the vapour mills of the south were also, before he succeeded his father, putting an end to the earnings of the women by spinning wool and flax. And it was an uncertain way of earning rent, year by year, to send the young men forth to make or mend roads, and to cut the ciops of the bodaich Ghallda."

Duncan Ban—"It is the wig of tow thou hast put at last on what should have been a sound discourse. Don't try to find excuses for the Marquis. How can it be said the crowded places were becoming unmanageable when he had a big desert about his castle, which, as we know, was once a populous and fertile parish. But if he thought the people too thick, and had no wish to restore to the use of men the desert about his castle and the deserts made for sheep, why did he not do like the noble Douglas, Lord Selkirk, to whom the Gael are the more everlastingly obliged because they had no claim upon him at all, although their fathers and his grand ancestor fought shoulder to shoulder for Scotland's independence long ago. Why, I ask, did not the Marquis like a noble chief lead forth the surplus people to new homes himself? Would that not be more to his credit here and hereafter, than to treat them just like vermin, all entirely forgetting that every bit of parchment title to his big estates which he now uses for oppression, had been made good by the swords of the oppressed people's ancestors, for him and his ! He could have bought cheaply or got for nothing any quantity of wood-lands in Canada, or grass-lands in that other new country—what is it called?"

Calum—"You mean Australia."

Duncan Ban—"Yes, that is it. And if he bought or got wild lands and settled a swarm from his estates on them, he might well hope for the blessing of God and the praise of man ; and gratefully too would the swarm so planted out by him pay him back the cost with full interest. But choosing to be a little great man among strangers who care nothing for him, and to spend his time and money in London giving himself the name of a Liberal, he oppresses his own people at home, kith and clan included; and so the tears of grey-bearded men, bidding farewell to the beloved hills of their race, and the low wails of broken hearts, will assuredly fall heavy upon him here and hereafter as the curse and doom of Almighty God."

Iain Og—"Nay, nay, hold, hold. Take a pinch out of my Sunday horn and compose yourself."

Ewan—"The Marquis did not look ashamed of himself or a doomed man the other day when he walked among the crowds on the green, or stood in front of his armed men. He looked as proud as an eagle with face to the sun. And although not very tall he is a fine man too in the Highland garb and arms. For sure he looks the great chief whatever you may say."

Duncan Ban—"He looks the great chief! That I know quite well. He is not a stranger to my eyes. I feel all the more angry with him because he has thrown away his opportunities. He is, I know full well, a man of whom the Gael would have been very proud had he chosen to be a great chief among them, instead of what he is. And where can the shadow of an excuse be found for him? His father —peace to his soul, and peace his soul must surely enjoy— was a great chief, and wished his only son to be the same. He did not send the lad—and a finer lad could not be seen —to the great school of Oxford to be turned into a Saxon foreigner, but to the great school of Glasgow, where he got the training of a Scotchman. The old Marquis at his death not only left him his large estates free from debt, but much saved money besides. His income is more than any man can justly spend on his own living and pleasure. He is childless too, and therefore has nobody to save money for. What then is there to prevent him from being the noble and generous chief, except perversity of nature and this cursed Liberalism which has taught him to speak for the people in public places, and to oppress his own people at home?"

Calum—"Perhaps he will repent and change even yet."Duncan Ban—" Repent and change, quoth he ! It would be the good news if he did. But the fear is on me that an elder of the Kirk, and a Non-Intrusionist to boot, is far beyond any chance of repentance, more especially since he is praised abroad, and lives in a desert when at home. No, no, Reformers of his kind are people who never reform themselves. And the children of the Gael have no papers of news, and no 'Comhairle cinne.' They make their lamentation in empty places that have no echoes. The very Kirk, which used to be a bield, is now beginning to betray them most basely."

Diarmad—"Yes, for sure; but although the Non-Intrusion uproar is far from good, and is indeed likely to lead to great evil, because it is rank rebellion against existing law and kingdom-rule, yet it is much to be wished that patronage should be done away with by Act of Parliament, in proper manner, and that congregations should be allowed to choose their ministers."

Iain Og—"They would at least have not the same reason to be dumb and to fawn upon patrons."

Duncan Ban—"You and I, Calum, remember old Moderate ministers who, without screaming always about the unction of Grace and ridiculous godliness or pretending to be too holy to see the ground on which they trod, never feared to raise their voices on behalf of the oppressed, and never failed to rebuke the patron like any other man, when he deserved the censure of the Kirk."

Calum—"For sure; and a good many of the nobles and lairds who were Kirkmen at first went over to the Eaglais Easbuigeach, because they would not stand the discipline."

Duncan Ban—"Be that as it may, the gospellers we have now torment small sinners and flatter big ones like the Liberal Non-Intrusion Marquis, who is deemed a prince in their Israel. Can we believe the troubling spirit in the Kirk to be from the Good God when we see the worst oppressor in the land placed high in seats of honour by those who order the doings of General Assembly and London Parliament?"

One of the Seanairean—"The Whigs and the Marquis are now, at anyrate, out of power in London ; and I am glad they are."

Duncan Ban—"So am I, and yet it is only a few years since we all voted, against the will of our own laird, to get the Marquis sent to Parliament instead of the fine old Tory warrior who was our member before. And why did we vote for the heir of Inchadin?"

Iain Og—"Why, to be sure, because he was a Gael and the son of his father."

Duncan Ban—"Aye; it was not reform here or reform there, but because we hoped he would be a great chief of the Gael like his father, whenever he succeeded to the noble inheritance of his House."

Iain Og—"It is the deceived men we were all entirely."

Calum—"And much good has reform done to the children of the Gael."

Duncan Ban—"Good, indeed! It has done us endless harm, of which as yet we only see the beginning. These praised-up Reformers are the very people who are the first to make deserts; to place sheep on ruined homes; to send barda to clansmen and kith and kin ; to muzzle their ministers; to cause their creatures to be appointed elders; and to fill Kirk and State as full of contentions and confusions as if Conan and the Devil were together let loose upon mankind."

One of the Seanairean—"Will the Ridire Peel, think you, set matters right?"

Duncan Han—"Pooh ! he will have neither the power nor the will. He is a Saxon, and what does he know or care for the Highlands or Scotland either!"

Iain Og—"But our members should make him know and care."

Diarmad—"Most of them are of the other party. Lord Brougham, who knows Scotland well, but is given to mischief, has misled the English Whigs, and the young man called Gladstone has misled the English Tories. The Ridire Peel's Edinburgh advisers are, if possible, worse advisers than even Lord Brougham or the renegade Scotchman, Mr Gladstone, who hopes the ruin of our Church will make the Episcopal Church supreme—which is the vainest of vain dreams."

Duncan Ban—"Our Reformers, who are reforming the Gael off the face of their fathers' land, have the law on their side, and Lowland carles and Saxon sportsmen see no harm in what provides big sheep runs for the one, and game deserts for the other. So the evil example set by the dead Duke and Duchess Catach and the living Marquis will be imitated by others. It will pass from land-master to land-master, as the bird from bush to bush, or the yawn from person to person."

Ian Og—"Oh! prophet of evil, may your words never be fulfilled!"


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