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Oliver Brown
Highland Lairds

I am just now travelling through a county whose name became notorious throughout the civilised world because of the clearances. They started when the young Duchess married the head of Leveson Gowers, the Earl of Stafford, who introduced into his Scottish estate the English system of estate management — which was even more disastrous than Culloden. One minister, the Rev. Donald Sage, stood by evicted tenants and was persecuted by his non-Christian brethren of the Church. The Duchess herself spent a fortune in assisting the starving poor of London and was never aware of the crimes committed in her name. I published twenty years ago a pamphlet history called "Hitlerism in the Highlands". Maybe the title was unjust to Adolph of that ilk!

A statue to the Leveson Gower whose authority reduced this land largely to the state of a desert stands in the town where I am now preaching the gospel. When we have recovered our self-respect it will disappear like the statues of Stalin in Russia’s satellites.

I will he delighted to perform the detonating ceremony.

Superficially the tale of the Sutherland Clearances is one of unrelieved blackguardism — heartless landowners driving out helpless crofters from their homes out of greed.

Actually the Duke of Sutherland used the revenues of his English estates in order to build 450 miles of roads amid 134 bridges from which he derived no profit.

The real tragedy of the Sutherlands lay in their ignorance of the evils done in their name. The story reveals, not so much the evils of landlordism (which can he equalled in heartlessness by government departments) but the evils of alien and absentee landlordism.

I have just been passing through nature in all its majestic grandeur and all its scenic loveliness. 0n my right hand further than the eye can see, the estate of Colonel Whitbread (of the English Beerage) who does not allow hikers near his sacred dwelling (inhabited only six weeks of the year) amid on the other the immense acreage of the Wills estates, lands sacred to alcohol, nicotine and LSD, the three drugs of our social system.

It would be a good idea to examine the landlord system of Scotland in order to distinguish between landowners who perform a useful social function and those who are useless and even harmful.

Our present system is out of date and owes its continuance only to the apathy and ignorance of Westminster. In Switzerland no one can buy land unless he has been resident for five years. This is an essential precaution.

The Dutch have bought 30,000 acres of land in Argyll. The English will soon he protesting against this invasion of their preserves.

The first time I went over the sea to Lewis, I noticed an announcement:

"Room for passengers in the absence of sheep". How could Highland history he better summed up? Someone once wrote a paraphrase:

"The earth, it is the Lord’s, 
The sea and all that it contains; 
Except the boats and piers, 
And they are all MacBrayne's"

That is no longer true. MacBrayne has become MacBrayne Caledonian. You and I now are the proud owners. Or are we? I have just been reading through the regulations which relieve the Company of every obligation and impose it on the passenger. It could be summed tip in three words: "You filthy scum!"



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