“There appeared at Paris, about five years ago, a singularly ingenious work on political economy, from the pen of the late M. de Sismondi, a writer of European reputation. The greater part of the first volume is taken up with discussions on territorial wealth, and the condition of the cultivators of the soil; and in this portion of the work there is a prominent place assigned to a subject which perhaps few Scotch readers would expect to see introduced through the medium of a foreign tongue to the people of a great Continental Sate. We find this philosophic writer, whose works are known far beyond the limits of his language, devoting an entire essay to the case of the late Duchess of Sutherland and her tenants, and forming a judgement on it very unlike the decision of political economists in our own country, who have not hesitated to characterise her great and singularly harsh experiment, whose worst effects we are but beginning to see, as at once justifiable in itself and happy in its results. It is curious to observe how deeds done as if in darkness, or in a corner, are beginning, after the lapse of nearly thirty years, to be proclaimed on the house-tops. The experiment of the late Duchess was not intended to be made in the eye of Europe. Its details would ill bear the exposure. When Cobbett simply referred to it only ten years ago, the noble proprietrix was startled, as if a rather delicate family secret was on the eve of being divulged; and yet nothing seems more evident now than that civilized man all over the world is to be made aware of how the experiment was accomplished, and what it is ultimately to produce. It must be obvious, further, that the infatuation of the present proprietor, in virtually setting aside the Toleration Act on his property, must have the effect of spreading the knowledge of it all the more widely, and of rendering its results much more disastrous than they could have possibly been of themselves.
In a time of quiet and good order, when law, whether in the right or the wrong, is all-potent in enforcing its findings, the argument which the philosophic Frenchman employs in behalf of the ejected tenantry of Sutherland, is an argument at which proprietors may afford to smile. In a time of revolution, however, when lands change their owners, and old families give place to new ones, it might be found somewhat formidable, – sufficiently so, at least, to lead a wise proprietor in an unsettled age rather to conciliate than oppress and irritate the class who would be able in such circumstances to urge it with most effect. It is not easy doing justice in a few sentences to the facts and reasonings of an elaborate essay; but the line of the argument runs somewhat thus:-
Under the old Celtic tenures, – the only tenures, be it remembered, through which the Lords of Sutherland derive their rights to their lands, – the Clann, or children of the soil, were the proprietors of the soil; – “the whole of Sutherland,” says Sismondi, belonged to “the men of Sutherland.” Their chief was their monarch, and a very absolute monarch he was. “He gave the different tacks of land to his officers or took them away from them, according as they showed themselves more or less useful in war. But though he could thus, in a military sense, reward or punish the clan, he could not diminish in the least the property of the clan itself;” – he was a chief, not a proprietor, and had “no more right to expel from their homes the inhabitants of his county, than a king to expel from his country the inhabitants of his kingdom.” “Now, the Gaelic tenant,” continues the Frenchman, “has never been conquered; nor did he forfeit, on any after occasion, the rights which he originally possessed;” – in point of right, he is still a co-proprietor with his captain. To a Scotchman acquainted with the law of property as it has existed among us, in even the Highlands, for the last century, and everywhere else for at least two centuries more, the view may seem extreme; not so, however, to a native of the Continent, in many parts of which, prescription and custom are found ranged, not on the side of the chief, but on that of the vassal. “Switzerland,” says Sismondi, “which in so many respects resembles Scotland, – in its lakes, its mountains, – its climate, – and the character, manners, and habits of its children, – was likewise at the same period parcelled out among a small number of Lords. If the Counts of Kyburgh, of Lentzburg, of Hapsburg, and of Gruyeres, had been protected by the English laws they would find themselves at the present day precisely in the condition in which the Earls of Sutherland were twenty years ago. Some of them would perhaps have had the same taste for improvements, and several republics would have been expelled from the Alps, to make room for flocks of sheep.” “But while the law has given to the Swiss peasant a guarantee of perpetuity, it is to the Scottish laird that it has extended this guarantee in the British empire, leaving the peasant in a precarious situation.” “The clan, – recognised at first by the captain, whom they followed in war, and obeyed for their common advantage, as his friends and relations, then as his soldiers, then as his vassals, then as his farmers, – he has come finally to regard as hired labourers, whom he may perchance allow to remain on the soil of their common country for his own advantage, but whom he has the power to expel so soon as he no longer finds it for his interest to keep them.”
Arguments like those of Sismondi, however much their force may be felt on the Continent could be formidable at home, as we have said, in only a time of revolution, when the very foundations of society would be unfixed, and opinion set loose, to pull down or reconstruct at pleasure. But it is surely not uninteresting to mark how, in the course of events, that very law of England which, in the view of the Frenchman, has done the Highland peasant so much less, and the Highland chief so much more than justice, is bidding fair, in the case of Sutherland at least, to carry its rude equalizing remedy along with it. Between the years 1811 and 1820, fifteen thousand inhabitants of this northern district were ejected from their snug inland farms, by means for which we would in vain seek a precedent except perchance in the history of the Irish massacre.
Mr Miller goes on. He visited Sutherland at the time of the disruption, in the Church of Scotland, and found the people in a deplorable state; their complaints and sorrow were heard by him thus – “We were ruined and reduced to beggary before,” they say, “and now the gospel is taken from us.”
Nine-tenths of the poor people of Sutherland are adherents to the Free Church, – all of them in whose families the worship of God has been set up, – all who entertain a serious belief in the reality of religion, – all who are not the creatures of the proprietor, and have not stifled their convictions for a piece of bread, – are devotedly attached to the dis-established ministers, and will endure none other. The Residuary clergy they do not recognise as clergy at all. The Established Churches have become as useless in the district, as if, like its Druidical circles, they represented some idolatrous belief, long exploded, – the people will not enter them; and they respectfully petition his Grace to be permitted to build other churches for themselves. And fain would his Grace indulge them, he says. In accordance with the suggestion of an innate desire, willingly would he permit them to build their own churches and support their own ministers But then, has he not loyally engaged to support the Establishment? To permit a religious and inoffensive people to build their own places of worship, and support their own clergy, would be sanctioning a sort of persecution against the Establishment; and as his Grace dislikes religious persecution, and has determined always to oppose whatever tends to it, he has resolved to make use of his influence, as the most extensive of Scottish proprietors, in forcing them back to their parish churches. If they persist in worshipping God agreeably to the dictates of their conscience, it must be on the unsheltered hill-side, – in winter, amid the frosts and snows of a severe northern climate, – in the milder seasons, exposed to the scorching sun and the drenching shower. They must not be permitted the shelter of a roof.
We have exhibited to our readers, in the clearing of Sutherland a process of ruin so thoroughly disastrous, that it might be deemed scarcely possible to render it more complete. And yet with all it apparent completeness, it admitted of a supplementary process. To employ one of the striking figures of Scripture, it was possible to grind into powder what had been previously broken into fragments, – to degrade the poor inhabitants to a still lower level than that on which they had been so cruelly precipitated, – though persons of a not very original cast of mind might have found it difficult to say how, the Duke of Sutherland has been ingenious enough to fall on exactly the one proper expedient for supplementing their ruin. All in mere circumstance and situation that could lower and deteriorate, had been present as ingredients in the first process; but there still remained for the people, however reduced to poverty or broken in spirit, all in religion that consoles and ennobles. Sabbath-days came round with their humanizing influences; and, under the teachings of the gospel, the poor and the oppressed looked longingly forward to a future scene of being, in which there is no poverty or oppression. They still possessed, amid their misery, something positively good, of which it was impossible to deprive them; and hence the ability derived to the present lord of Sutherland of deepening and rendering more signal the ruin accomplished by his predecessor.
These harmonize but too well with the mode in which the interior of Sutherland was cleared, and the improved cottages of its sea-coasts erected. The plan has its two items. No sites are to be granted in the district for Free Churches, and no dwelling-house for Free Church ministers. The climate is severe, – the winters prolonged and stormy, – the roads which connect the chief seats of population with the neighbouring counties, dreary and long. May not ministers and people be eventually worn out in this way? Such is the portion of the plan which his Grace and his Grace’s creatures can afford to present to the light. But here are supplementary items of a somewhat darker kind. The poor cotters are, in the great majority of cases, tenants-at-will; and there has been much pains taken to inform them, that to the crime of entertaining and sheltering a Protesting minister, the penalty of ejection from their holdings must inevitably attach. The laws of Charles have again returned in this unhappy district, and free and tolerating Scotland has got, in the nineteenth century, as in the seventeenth, its intercommuned ministers. We shall not say that he intimation has emanated from the Duke. It is the misfortune of such men, that there creep around them creatures whose business it is to anticipate their wishes; but who, at times, doubtless, instead of anticipating, misinterpret them; and who, even when not very much mistaken, impart to whatever they do the impress of their own low and menial natures, and thus exaggerate in the act, the intention of their masters. We do not say, therefore, that the intimation has emanated from the Duke; but this we say, that an exemplary Sutherlandshire minister of the Protesting Church, who resigned his worldly all for the sake of his principles, had lately to travel, that he might preach to his attached people, a long journey of forty-four miles outwards, and as much in return, and all this without taking shelter under cover of a roof, or without partaking of any other refreshment than that furnished by the slender store of provisions which he had carried with him from his new home. Willingly would the poor Highlanders have received him at any risk; but knowing from experience what a Sutherlandshire removal means he preferred enduring any amount of hardship rather than that the hospitality of his people should be made the occasion of their ruin. We have already adverted to the case of a lady of Sutherland threatened with ejection from her home because she had extended the shelter of her roof to one of the Protesting clergy, – an aged and venerable man, who had quitted the neighbouring manse, his home for many years, because he could no longer enjoy it in consistency with his principles; and we have shown that that aged and venerable man was the lady’s own father. What amount of oppression of a smaller and more petty character may not be expected in the circumstances, when cases such as these are found to stand but a very little over the ordinary level?
The meanness to which ducal hostility can stoop in this hapless district, impress with a feeling of surprise. In the parish of Dornoch, for instance, where his Grace is fortunately not the sole landowner, there has been a site procured on the most generous terms from Sir George Gunn Monro of Poyntzfield; and this gentleman, believing himself possessed of a hereditary right to a quarry, which, though on the Duke’s ground, had been long resorted to by the proprietors of the district generally, instructed the builder to take from it the stones which he needed. Here, however, his Grace interfered. Never had the quarry been prohibited before, but on this occasion, a stringent interdict arrested its use. If his Grace could not prevent a hated Free Church from arising in the district, he could at least add to the expense of its erection. We have even heard that the portion of the building previously erected had to be pulled down and the stones returned.
How are we to account for a hostility so determined, and that can stoop so low? In two different ways, we are of opinion, and in both have the people of Scotland a direct interest. Did his Grace entertain a very intense regard for Established Presbytery, it is probable that he himself would be a Presbyterian of the Establishment. But such is not the case. The church into which he would so fain force the people has been long since deserted by himself. The secret of the course which he pursues can have no connection therefore with religious motive of belief, It can be no prosleytising spirit that misleads his Grace. Let us remark, in the first place, rather however, in the way of embodying a fact, than imputing a motive, that with his present views, and in his present circumstances, it may not seem particularly his Grace’s interest to make the county of Sutherland a happy or desirable home to the people of Scotland. It may not to be his Grace’s interest that the population of the district should increase. The clearing of the sea-coast may seem as little prejudicial to his Grace’s welfare now, as the clearing of the interior seemed adverse to the interests of his predecessor thirty years ago; nay, it is quite possible that his Grace may be led to regard the clearing of the coast as the better and more important clearing of the two. Let it not be forgotten that a poor-law hangs over Scotland – that the shores of Sutherland are covered with what seems one vast straggling village, inhabited by an impoverished and ruined people – and that the coming assessment may yet fall so weighty that the extra profits accruing to his Grace from his large sheep farms, may go but a small way in supporting his extra paupers. It is not in the least improbable, that he may live to find the revolution effected by his predecessor taking to itself the form not of crime, for that would be nothing, – but of a disastrous and very terrible blunder.
There is another remark which may prove not unworthy the consideration of the reader. Ever since the completion of the fatal experiment which ruined Sutherland, the noble family through which it was originated and carried on have betrayed the utmost jealousy of having its real results made public. Volumes of special pleading have been written on the subject, – pamphlets have been published, laboured articles have been inserted in widely spread reviews, – statistical accounts have been watched over with the most careful surveillance. If the misrepresentations of the press could have altered the matter of fact, famine would not be gnawing the vitals of Sutherland in a year a little less abundant than its predecessors nor would the dejected and oppressed people be feeding their discontent, amid present misery, with the recollections of a happier past. If a singularly well-conditioned and wholesome district of country has been converted into one wide ulcer of wretchedness and woe, it must be confessed that the sore has been carefully bandaged up from the public eye, – that if there has been little done for its cure, there has at least been much done for its concealment. Now, be it remembered, that a Free Church threatens to insert a tent into this wound, and so keep it open. It has been said that the Gaelic language removes a district more effectually from the influence of English opinion than an ocean of three thousand miles, and that the British public know better what is doing in New York than what is doing in Lewis or Skye. And hence one cause, at least, of the thick obscurity that has so long enveloped the miseries which the poor Highlander has had to endure, and the oppressions to which he has been subjected. The Free Church threatens to translate her wrongs into English, and to give them currency in the general mart of opinion. She might possibly enough be no silent spectator of conflagrations such as those which characterized the first general improvement of Sutherland, – nor yet of such Egyptian schemes of house-building as that which formed part of the improvements of a later plan. She might be somewhat apt to betray the real estate of the district, and thus render laborious misrepresentation of little avail. She might effect a diversion in the cause of the people, and shake the foundations of the hitherto despotic power which has so long weighed them down. She might do for Sutherland what Cobbett promised to do for it, but what Cobbett had not character enough to accomplish, and what he did not live even to attempt. A combination of circumstances have conspired to vest in a Scottish proprietor, in this northern district, a more despotic power than even the most absolute monarchs of the Continent possess; and it is, perhaps, no great wonder that that proprietor should be jealous of the introduction of an element which threatens, it may seem, materially to lessen it. And so he struggles hard to exclude the Free Church, and, though no member of the Establishment himself, declares warmly in its behalf. Certain it is, that from the Establishment, as now constituted, he can have nothing to fear, and the people nothing to hope.
After what manner may his Grace, the Duke of Sutherland, be most effectually met in this matter, so that the cause of toleration and freedom of conscience may be maintained in the extensive district which God, in his providence, has consigned to his stewardship? We shall in our next chapter attempt giving the question an answer. Meanwhile, we trust the people of Sutherland will continue, as hitherto, to stand firm. The strong repugnance which they feel against being driven into churches which all their ministers have left, is not ill founded. No church of God ever employs such means of conversion as those employed by his Grace; they are means which have been often resorted to for the purpose of making men worse, – never yet for the purpose of making them better. we know that with their long formed church-going habits, the people must feel their now silent Sabbaths pass heavily; but they would perhaps do well to remember amid the tedium and gloom, that there were good men who not only anticipated such a time of trial for this country, but who also made provision for it. Thomas Scott, when engaged in writing his Commentary, used to solace himself with the belief that it might be of use at a period when the public worship of God would be no longer tolerated in the land. To the great bulk of the people of Sutherland that time seems to have already come. They know, however, the value of the old divines, and have not a few of their more practical treatise translated into their expressive tongue, – Alleine’s Alarm, – Boston’s Fourfold State, – Dodridge’s Rise and Progress, – Baxter’s Call, – Guthrie’s Saving Interest. Let these and such as these be their preachers, when they can procure no other. The more they learn to relish them, the less will they relish the bald and miserable services of the Residuary Church. Let them hold their fellowship and prayer meetings, – let them keep up the worship of God in their families: the cause of religious freedom in the district is involved in the stand which they make. Above all, let them possess their souls in patience. We are not unacquainted with the Celtic character, as developed in the Highlands of Scotland. Highlanders, up to a certain point, are the most docile, patient, enduring of men; but that point once passed, endurance ceases, and the all too gentle lamb starts up an angry lion. The spirit is stirred that maddens at the sight of the naked weapon, and that in its headlong rush upon the enemy, discipline can neither check nor control. Let our oppressed Highlanders of Sutherland beware. They have suffered much; but, so far as man is the agent, their battles can be fought on only the arena of public opinion, and on that ground which the political field may be soon found to furnish. Any explosion of violence on their part would be ruin to both the Free Church and themselves.
But we have not yet said how this ruinous revolution was effected in Sutherland, – how the aggravation of the mode, if we may so speak, still fester in the recollections of the people, – or how thoroughly tha policy of the lord of the soil, through which he now seems determined to complete the work of ruin which his predecessors began, harmonizes with its worst details. We must first relate, however, a disastrous change which took place, in the providence of God, in the noble family of Sutherland, and which, though it dates fully eighty years back, may be regarded as pregnant with the disasters which afterwards befell the country.
Such of our readers as are acquainted with the memoir of Lady Glenorchy, must remember a deeply melancholy incident which occurred in the history of this excellent woman, in connection with the noble family of Sutherland. Her only sister had been married to William, seventeenth Earl of Sutherland, – “the first of the good Earls;” “a nobleman,” says the Rev. Dr. Jones in his Memoir, “who to the finest person united all the dignity and amenity of manners and character which give lustre to greatness.” But his sun was destined soon to go down. Five years after his marriage, which proved one of the happiest, and was blessed with two children, the elder of the two, the young Lady V=Catherine, a singularly engaging child, was taken from him by death, in his old hereditary castle of Dunrobin. The event deeply affected both parents, and preyed on their health and spirits. It had taken place amid the gloom of a severe northern winter, and in the solitude of the Highlands; and acquiescing in the advice of friends, the Earl and his lady quitted the family seat, where there was so much to remind them of their bereavement, and sought relief in the more cheerful atmosphere of Bath. But they were not to find it there. Shortly after their arrival, the Earl was seized by a malignant fever, with which, upheld by a powerful constitution, he struggled for fifty-four days, and then expired. For the first twenty-one days and nights of these,” says Dr. Jones, “Lady Sutherland never left his bedside; and then at last, overcome with fatigue, anxiety, and grief, she sank an unavailing victim to an amiable, but excessive attachment, seventeen days before the death of her lord.” The period, though not very remote, was one in which the intelligence of events travelled slowly; and in this instance the distraction of the family must have served to retard it beyond the ordinary time. Her Ladyship’s mother, when hastening from Edinburgh to her assistance, alighted one day from her carriage at an inn, and on seeing two hearses standing by the way side, inquired of an attendant whose remains they contained? The reply was, the remains of Lord and Lady Sutherland, on their way for interment to the Royal Chapel of Holyrood House. And such was the first intimation of which the lady received of the death of her daughter and son-in-law.
The event was pregnant with disaster to Sutherland, though many years elapsed ere the ruin which it involved fell on that hapless country The sole survivor and heir of the family was a female infant of but a year old. Her maternal grandmother, and ambitious, intriguing woman of the world, had the chief share in her general training and education; and she was brought up in the south of Scotland, of which her grandmother was a native, far removed from the influence of those genial sympathies with the people of her clan, for which the old lords of Sutherland had been so remarkable, and, what was a sorer evil still, from the influence of the vitalities of that religion which, for five generations together, her fathers had illustrated and adorned. The special mode in which the disaster told first, was through the patronage of the county, the larger part of which was vested in the family of Sutherland. Some of the old Earls had been content, as we have seen, to place themselves on the level of the Christian men of their parishes, and thus to unite with them in calling to their churches the Christian minister of their choice. They know, – what regenerated nature can alone know, with the proper emphasis, that in Christ Jesus the vassal ranks with his Lord, and they conscientiously acted on the conviction. But matters were now regulated differently. The presentation supplanted the call, and the ministers came to be placed in the parishes of Sutherland without the consent, and contrary to the will, of the people. Churches, well filled hitherto, were deserted by their congregations, just because a respectable woman of the world, making free use of what she deemed her own, had planted them with men of the world, who were only tolerably respectable; and in houses and barns, the devout men of the district learned to hold numerously attended Sabbath meetings for reading the Scriptures, and mutual exhortation, and prayer, as a sort of substitute for the public services, in which they found they could no longer join with profit. The spirit awakened by the old Earls had survived themselves, and ran directly counter to the policy of their descendant. Strongly attached to the Establishment the people, though they thus forsook their old places of worship, still remained members of the national Church, and travelled far in the summer season to attend the better ministers of their own and the neighbouring counties. We have been assured, too, from men whose judgment we respect, that, under all their disadvantages, religion continued peculiarly to flourish among them; – a deep-toned evangelism prevailed; so that perhaps the visible church throughout the world at the time could furnish no more striking contrast than that which obtained between the cold, bald, common-place service of the pulpit in some of these parishes,, and the fervid prayers and exhortations which give life and interest to these humble meeting of the people. What a pity it is that differences such as these the Duke of Sutherland cannot see!
The marriage of the young countess into a noble English family was fraught with further disaster to the country. There are many Englishmen quite intelligent enough to perceive the difference between a smoky cottage of turf and a white-washed cottage of stone, whose judgment on their respective inhabitants would be of but little value. “Sutherland, as a country of men, stood higher at this period than perhaps any other district in the British empire; but, as our description in the preceding chapter must have shown, – and we indulged in them mainly with a view to this part of our subject, – it by no means stood high as a country of farms and cottages. The marriage of the Countess brought a new set of eyes upon it – eyes accustomed to quite a different face of things. It seemed a wild, rude country, where all was wrong, and all had to be set right, – a sort of Russia on a small scale, that had just got another Peter the Great to civilize it, – or a sort of barbarous Egypt, with and energetic Ali Pasha at its head. Even the vast wealth and great liberality of the Stafford family militated against this hapless country: it enabled them to treat it as the mere subject of an interesting experiment, in which gain to themselves was really no object, – nearly as little so as if they had resolved on dissecting a dog alive for the benefit of science.“
Mr. Miller might have gone farther to shew the cause of the desolation which overtook the Sutherlanders, for he was aware of it, but for want of positive proof he was deterred. There was mighty cause to believe in Sutherlandshire that there was not a drop of the Sutherland families blood in the veins of the first Duchess of Sutherland. As tradition in the country went, when she an infant came under the guardianship of her Grandmother, a cousin or second cousin of hers of the name of Betsy Wyms of the same age, and complexion with Betsy Sutherland, was brought home to the Grandmother to be her companion, the children lived happy, and grew together, but Betsy Sutherland grew taller than her companion. The gentlemen of Sutherland were very mindful of their heiress, and were sending her presents of the produce of the county, such as fowls, venison, butter, cheese, &c. yearly, and the family officer of the name of John Harral, was always entrusted with the mission; in this way John became well acquainted with the young heiress and her companion, on his arrival she always (after she was four or five years of age) met him at the gate entrance, and made great work with him, she could scarcely be prevailed upon to go to bed that night he arrived, but getting little news from him. When she was about eight years of age, the news came home to Sutherland that a sudden death deprived her of her companion, Betsy Wyms: and a great lamentation was made as Betsy Sutherland was so very melancholy, and refused to accept of any other companion. Next Martinmas John Harral was despatched with presents more than ordinary, and letters of condolence to the young heiress, and wishing the day might soon arrive when they would see her in Sutherland, and sitting on her mother’s chair in Dunrobin Castle. John Harral arrived in Edinburgh, and at the gate of Leven Mansion, rang the bell, observed the young lady coming as usual, skipping down among the shrubbery, and her maid following, the gate was opened and the young lady grasped him by the hand; John was dumbfounded and in his confusion of mind asked where was Betsy Sutherland, (as he used to call her); I am Betsy Sutherland was the reply; no my dear says he, you are Betsy Wyms; the maid whirled the young lady about, and John did not see her face again for years; John delivered his commission as usual, and was discharged that same night, instead of remaining a week or a fortnight as usual. John came home disappointed and disheartened, and told his plain story but full of mystery. The heiress was removed to a boarding school in England, and could not be seen by another Sutherlander to recognise her until she came to raise a regiment in Sutherland: what confirmed the fraud upon the minds of the people was a singular anecdote. The first night she landed in Sutherlandshire a mildew or hoar-frost fell that night, in June, which destroyed the crops of that year, and almost every green growth in the county, and did yet not reach upon either the neighbouring counties of Caithness of Ross, and it is said that that mildew never rose yet. One thing is clear that at the time Betsy Wyms was reported to be dead, that a commission was bought in the East India Company for the proper heir of the estate, who was then only a young boy; though ever so young he was despatched to that cemetery of enterprise, where he soon died, none being then to claim the estate but his two orphan sisters, the investigation to the fraud ceased, but the Duchess had the generosity of settling a potion of £15 upon each of these presumptive female heirs, but when they became old and infirm, occupying a small garret room in the Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh, the portion was reduced by Loch to £2 each, yearly. I knew them, I often visited them in this forlorn condition, I petitioned her Grace twice in their behalf, but to no purpose; at last I got them on the west Kirk parish poor roll. They were taken into the poor house and died there.
The former part of this short but singular narrative, be it correct or incorrect, I give it as I heard it from my father, and many more of the old men who lived in that age, and who had too much cause to believe it to be correct, for they were almost ever since governed and treated with an alien’s iron and fiery rod.
I am sorry that for the present I must lay aside many important communications bearing upon the clearing system of the Highlanders which corroborates and substantiates my description of it, such as letters published by Mr. Summer and Mr. Donald Ross, Glasgow, Mr. Donald Sutherland, which appeared in the Woodstock Sentinel a few weeks ago, but above all I regret how little I can take from the pen of Mr. Mackie, Editor of the Northern Ensign, Wick, Caithness, N.B., a gentleman who since the appearance of his valuable paper proved himself the faithful friend of the oppressed, the indefatigable exposer of their wrongs, terror of oppressors, and a chastiser of their tools, apologizers and abettors, though his pecuniary benefits would be to sail in the same boat with his unprincipled contemporaries in the north of Scotland, but he chose the better part, and there is a higher promise of reward for him than worm Dukes, Lords, Esquires, and their vile underlings could bestow. The following is among the last of his productions on the subject.