But I have here before me Lord Palmerston’s scheme to raise men in the Highlands, and he makes himself sure it will succeed. I am now an old man, and I have read many wicked, stupid, and suicidal proposals, and by Statesmen, and schemes laid down before a discerning public, but as yet I aver that I never read a more stupid, suicidal, and unconstitutional, and surer of failing, than this one now before you, taken from Palmerston’s own sweet organ, the London Morning Post. I need not comment upon it. The Editor of the Northern Ensign, a gentleman who knows more of the Highlanders than any other Editor living, has done it ample justice. Palmerston, through his organ, the Morning Post, after prefacing the article, says:- “The East India Company wants men; but how are these men to be obtained? are they to be obtained by volunteering, by increasing the bounty, or by the employment of foreign mercenaries? He proceeds and says:-
“We would purpose that the peasantry, the artizans, and the working classes of the three kingdoms, should be told that if they enlisted – during the troubles in India for instance – for a limited period, at the expiration of their services they would receive the same kind of treatment which has been extended to the German Legionaries – namely, a free passage to a British Colony, a respectable outfit, a free grant of land, a house and no rent, and half pay for three years, the consideration being a few days’ drill in the year, and permanent service in the case of some great emergency… We believe that the Legislature of Canada would now cheerfully grant millions of acres of wild land of the provinces, to be distributed as rewards amongst the soldiers of the British army. New Brunswick and Nova Scotia would do the same. If Officers and Sergeants at the present time engaged in the recruiting service, were enabled to tell those classes of men out of which the British army is raised, that at the termination of their service they would have a free passage to Canada, a free grant of land, and money enough to build a log house and to clear a small patch of land, we believe that there would be no dearth of recruits. This plan, we are persuaded, would be more effectual than increased bounty of double pay. If a system of military colonization can be adopted for the special benefit of a few lucky German soldiers, let the same experiment, we say, be tried for the general benefit of the British army.”
This scheme, attractive enough at first-sight, is the most positively suicidal which it is possible to propose. Let any sensible, patriotic man ponder it well, in its bearings and results, and we feel assured his very blood will rise within him when he thinks of it. Why, its issue must ultimately be to draw the main strength of the country out of it. Just think of 20,000 militia men, drawn from ‘the peasantry, the artizans, and the working men of the three kingdoms,’ serving ‘for a limited period,’ and then sent off to enjoy the fruits of their servitude in a distant colony – just think of this sage proposal being regularly and periodically carried out, and where would the bone and sinew of our national strength be in a quarter of a century? Toiling away in the ‘free land’ of Australia, or hewing down the forests of Canada.
We humbly submit to Lord Palmerston and the Morning Post, a far more likely and satisfactory method of obtaining militia. There are hundreds of thousands of acres, capable of improvement, but lying in waste and inutility over the Highlands of Scotland. There are in the immediate neighbourhood tens of thousands of inhabitants, living in poverty and social discomfort, because deprived of the exercises of their industrial energies, and otherwise prevented from rising in the scale of social beings. Well. There are among these many thousands of young men capable of bearing arms, as the shores of Caithness recently testified, and whose fathers and grandfathers fought and died in their country’s service. To these the offer of a hundred, fifty, or even ten acres of land in the Highlands to each man, with Government security of Tenure, should they pay reasonable rent for it, would be a stimulant which Palmerston, or his aristocratic colleagues never took into consideration. Any other decoyment will most assuredly fail; for we can tell Lord Palmerston the brightest jewels in Britain’s crown would not awake the scintillation of an enthusiastic glance; but we most surely believe that could Lord Palmerston prevail on certain Whig Dukes and Lords to alter their treatment of their tenantry, and abrogate the policy that is rapidly making the north and north-west of Scotland a prodigious deer forest, there would soon be no fear of raising militia by the thousand.
If, for example, the Duke of Sutherland, the husband of ‘the most influential woman in Europe,’ were to preclaim from the Meikle Ferry to Cape Wrath, that the Loch policy is to cease for ever; that the long desolate Straths of Sutherland are to be peopled; that the humblest tenant in the county is to be treated to a lease on favourable terms; and that men are to be henceforth preferred to sheep and deer, we verily believe there would be kindled in that county an amount of enthusiasm which it never before witnessed, and which would issue in the raising of such a number of recruits as would astonish even the versatile and sanguine premier himself.
And were a like change to be heralded over the whole Highlands of Scotland, a corresponding result would most surely follow. We assure the Morning Post that it would be a far more effectual; and nationally beneficial method of defending Britain than casting out the bait of grants of land on foreign shores, and tempting men to fight for a country they are destined to leave. A thousand times rather let the government buy up the myriads of profitless acres at home, give presents of a corresponding quantity of colonial land to the absentee lands, along with a free passage, and give the land at home as a present to recruits, than allow then first to enrol, and then pack them off as felons to Botany Bay. The fact is, the home country stands in need of such men, instead of requiring them to emigrate; and we see no scheme half so likely to rear a race of invincibles, than restoring to the people the land from which they have been cruelly driven, and evicting those droves of deer that will very soon have their head-quarters within a stone-throw of the largest towns, if the present mania continue to influence many purblind and selfish landlords of the Highlands and Islands. The country can want most of its Highland lairds, but it can not safely want its Highland inhabitants. – Northern Ensign.
What do you think of my Lord Palmerston? He in the spirit of aristocratic liberality will allow the British soldiers equal benefits allowed German mercenaries; yes, my Lord, and if they do not enrol themselves upon these conditions, send the press gang, and the ballot box among them, handcuff the stubborn fellows, and force them to swear by God to fight for the East India Company, that they may retain the monopoly of the trade of that boundless territory, and charge what prices they please for the produce; a fac simile of how the unmeasurable territories of valuable land in the north-west of Canada were handed over to the Hudson Bay Company, to enrich a few villains who can keep up the price of skins and fur, that the working, or producing classes, to whom those territories belong, cannot purchase them, hence deprived of the comfort and pleasures of wearing them. But where is there a British soldier to be found who will not frown and spit with disgust upon such propositions, and audacious comparisons; yes, British soldiers, and German beggars and cowards, to be equally rewarded, and where is a British young man to be found, who is as yet a freeman, who will volunteer to risk his life to fight savages, among the pestilence, and venomous emanations of India, with no better prospect before him than, that should he escape the sword of the Mahomedan, and Juggernaut savage, and plagues of India, on his return home to be packed off to the wilds of Canada to cut wood during the remainder of his life, or perish unprovided and uncared for. Monstrous sophistry, my Lord Palmerston; you may get German mercenaries, as you call them, and town keelies and desperadoes to fill up your ranks, and manure the plains of India upon such conditions, but not Highland, high-minded Scotchmen, and God knows that the British nation has too many German paupers already saddled upon them to feed and clothe, without bringing LEGIONS of the beggarly lowest order upon them to feed and clothe. The fact is, if I am not misinformed, England will soon have the whole of that nursery or kennel of Princes to keep up altogether. Britain had to pay the king of Hanover £21,000 salary a year, it is said that was 3s. 9½d. more than his own nation could afford to allow him. Then our own beloved sovereign, whose hand any emperor or prince in Europe would be proud to obtain unconditionally; yet Britain had to negotiate with the house of Saxe Coburg and Gotha, and settle £30,000 per year upon one of that family to become her husband; not content with this, he was raised to the rank and full pay of field marshall, and colonel of two or three regiments so that his income can figure no less than sixty or seventy thousand pounds sterling per year, besides, as I am told £37,000 to build stables for his horses, £15,000 to build a kennel for his dogs, a square to break and train them, and dwelling houses for their keepers, without any responsibilities on his part, whether he was competent to discharge the duties of his various offices or not. We have now a young Princess, I believe the loveliest and most enticing creature living; another hungry German Prince smelled the delicious pie, and by some means or another managed to pay his passage to Dover, and it is said that a Government agent paid £2 16s. sterling for his railway fare from Dover to London to meet his spark. It is now said that he has agreed to marry our lovely Princess on condition that she gets £50,000 to fit her out, and that he gets £41,000 annually during her life, to take care of her, and if she should die, and leave a family, that suitable provisions should be made to maintain them.
Then we have other four lovely Princesses, should they arrive at the age of matrimony, as I hope they will, they must be divided economically among German Princes upon similar terms no doubt. The short and the long of it is, that should the producing classes of Britain have no more taxes to pay than what is required to keep up Germans and their brood of the high order, that other nations would consider it enormous, leaving the expenses of the Legions out of view. Some may say, that I lost sight of my text, “Highland Depopulation,” yet by looking narrowly into the affair, you will find them closely connected; robbery is robbery by what ever way it is perpetrated, or committed; those who rob the nation of their money, and squanders it away upon other nations, are to a certain extent as guilty as those who depopulated the nation, and disperses her bones and sinews to the four winds of heaven, but not so bad. The hence short-sighted and mischievous, yet a nation may redeem themselves from the disasters which their wicked, foolish, profligate, and prodigal Government bring upon them in this way. But the latter party drains away blood and sinews of infinitely more value, and are satanic in the extreme, they do all they can to destroy the very paladium of the nation, which, if once destroyed can never be redeemed –
“Bold peasantry their country’s pride,
Once destroyed can never be supplied.”
There are many damnatory features in their schemes and conduct that are not to be found in the schemes and conduct of any other class of men under heaven; it is not the millions of brave, patriotic, and industrious people they have banished or expelled from Britain, the only injury they have done and are doing to the nation, they have beggared the rest by forcing the peasantry to manufacturing towns, where vice and crime are in the ascendency; they have glutted the labour market, so that the working classes are entirely at the mercy of employers who can take advantage of every casualty of the season, of every stagnation in trade, and in the money market, so that they can keep the poor workers continually on starvation wages. They do still worse, if that could be, they destroy the confidence which should exist between the government and the governed, they are alienating the minds of the loyal lieges so far, that in a few years, if matters continue to go on as they do, it is to be feared that the peasantry and working classes need not care much who will govern them, Napoleon, the Czar, the fool tyrant of Austria or our lovely and exemplary Victoria. They have done still worse and worse, they have undermined the Gospel of Salvation, they have filled the age we are in with sceptics, infidels, and atheists who can stand now before even the sceptic himself, and defend christianity and maintain that God is just, holy, and impartial; he will tell you at once, how can you prove that when he is always on the side of the strong and the rich, and never interferes in behalf of the poor masses nor aideth them, however much they are trodden down and robbed by the rich; and when the masses will withstand their robbing rich, and demand even a portion of their just rights, he is always against them, and will allow the rich and their tools to hew them down with sabres, and blow them to atoms with cannons and bombshells. These, and such are the arguments the sceptic, infidel, and atheist, will advance; but to say the least, this class in view, abetted by the clergy, who reversed every provision God made for his people, and abused the power placed in their hands, I say has done more injury to the cause of Christ, and christianity in the world, than all his avowed enemies could have done. What think you, a friend of mine, on whose veracity I can place confidence, was travelling in the West Highlands, and spent some days in the Isle of Skye, one day came upon a party of women who were cutting down and collecting heather; he stood a short time speaking to them, when on a sudden a party of gentlemen appeared upon the top of a ridge of hills a very short distance from the heather gatherers, and were soon among them with their dogs and guns; the poor women had by this time had their creels, or baskets filled, he who seemed to be the chief the gang, asked haughtily, “what are you cutting and taking away the heather for?” the reply was, “please your Honour, Lord Macdonald, to bed our cows, to prepare manure for our potatoes.” In an instant the monster was engaged in tramping the creels to atoms, scattering the heather, breaking the hooks or scythes, and with a face more like an enraged demon than a lord, told the poor women to go to hell for beds to their cows, and manure for their potatoes, if they chose, ut if they would dare take away any of his grouse’s food that he would shoot every one of them; one of them said, trembling, “Oh, my Lord, we are paying rent for this hill,” he took up his gun to a level and swore that he would shoot her if she said another word; the poor creature let herself down among the heather; his Lordship and party left, went about a hundred yards, halted, consulted a minute, turned around, levelled their pieces at the women, and bawled out, “you will all be shot in a minute;” the poor creatures then ran for their lives, which seemed to afford his Lordship and his party of English gents much amusement. The fiendish lord’s grandsires at one period of our Scottish history disputed the crown of Scotland with no other aid but his own clan, now he would not get twenty followers, should that number gain the crown of England for him; you speak, McLeod, not without a cause, of the poverty, deterioration, and subjugation of the Sutherlanders, and the tyranny of their Lords, but here is the ultra beyond description, and the poor animal himself is drowned in debt, every inch of his estates are encumbered, and it would be but justice should he die a wretched mendicant.
I have made many quotations from many excellent men for various reasons – I take to myself the credit, and I believe none will dispute it with me, I say the credit of breaking the ice before them all, that in bringing the short-sighted policy of the clearing system, with its direful concomitant results before the world; but I knew, and do know myself to be a poor man, and however sincere and indefatigable I was and am in the cause, that there is not much credence given to what a poor man may write, say, or do – “a poor man saved a city but no notice was taken of him because he was a poor man,” – Ecles, chap. 9, v. xv; yet it is a lasting consolation for me to know that men of piety, talent, affluence and influence made a searching inquiry, and investigated my statement, and found them beyond contradiction – indeed more modified and short of what should be told. Many consultations were held by Sutherland factors and sheep farmers to consider whether I should be prosecuted or not; but knowing tha they had the truth to contend with in taking legal steps against me – the resolution that I was so insignificant and poor that few if any would believe what I was writing always carried the majority, and poor Donald was permitted to proceed with impunity. Silence was considered by my enemies the best policy; but they had to be silent since before the world when attacked and exposed by men of high standing in Society, whose affluence and influence put them beyond suspicion of telling ridiculous false stories, as laid to my charge by Mrs. Stowe. Annexed is an extract taken from a sermon preached by an English divine, I wish to God many more of his order would follow his example. What prompted this man of God, whom I know personally, to come out on such a theme as this? That his Divine Master demanded it of his hand, to denounce the oppressors of the poor. He preached the sermon first; afterwards he was told that the statements were controverted – he then corresponded with Professor Black, and finding that it was not the case, he preached the same sermon over again with emphasis not to be disregarded.
‘A sermon for the Times,’ lately preached by the Rev. Richard Hibbs, Church of England clergymen, Edinburgh, contains the following exposure of Highland depopulation:-
“Take then, at first, the awful proof how far in oppression men can go – men highly educated and largely gifted in every way – property, talents, all; for the most part, indeed, they are so-called noblemen. What, then, are they doing in the Highland districts, according to the testimony of a learned professor in this city? Why, depopulating those districts in order to make room for red deer. And how? by buying off the cottars, and giving them money to emigrate? Not at all, but by starving them out; by rendering them absolutely incapable of procuring subsistence for themselves and families; for they first take away from them their small apportionments of poor lands, although they may have paid their rents; and if that do not suffice to eradicate from their hearts that love of the soil on which they have been born and bred – a love which the great Proprietor of all has manifestly implanted in our nature – why, then, these inhuman landlords, who are far more merciful to their very beasts, take away from these poor cottars the very roofs above their defenceless heads, and expose them, worn down with age and destitute of everything to the inclemencies of a northern sky; and this, forsooth, because they must have plenty of room for their dogs and deer. For plentiful instances of the most wanton barbarities under this head we need only point to the Knoidart evictions. Here were perpetrated such enormities as might well have caused the very sun to hide his face at noonday.”
It has been intimated to me by an individual who heard this discourse on the first occasion that the statements referring to the Highland landlords have been controverted. I was well aware long before the receipt of this intimation, that some defence had appeared; and here I can truly say, that none would have rejoiced more than myself to find that a complete vindication had been made. But, unhappily; the case is for otherwise. In order to be fully acquainted with all that had passed on the subject, I have put myself during the week in communication with the learned professor to whose letter which appeared some months ago in the Times, I referred. From him I learn that none of his statements were invalidated – nay, not even impugned; and he adds, that to do this was simply impossible, as he had been at great pains to verify the facts. All that could be called in question was the theory that he had based upon these facts – namely, that evictions were made for the purpose of making room for more deer. This, of course, was open to contradiction on the part of those landlords who had not openly avowed their object in evicting the poor Highland families. As to the evictions themselves – and this was the main point – no attempt at contradiction was made.
But in addition to all that the benevolent professor has made known to the civilized world under this head, who has not heard of ‘The massacre of the Rosses, and the clearing of the glens? I hold in my hand a little work thus entitled, which has passed into the second edition. The author is Mr Donald Ross – a gentleman whom all who feel sympathy for the down-trodden and oppressed must highly esteem. What a humiliating picture of the barbarity and cruelty of fallen humanity does this little book present! The reader, utterly appalled by its horrifying statements, finds it difficult to retain the recollection that he is perusing the history of his own times and country too. He would fain yield himself to the tempting illusion, that the ruthless atrocities which are depicted were enacted in a fabulous period, in ages long past; or, at all events, if it be contemporaneous history, that the scene of such heart-rending cruelties, the perpetrators of which were regardless alike of the innocency of infancy and the helplessness of old age, in some far distant, and as yet not merely unchristianized, but wholly savage and uncivilized region of our globe. But, alas! it is Scotland in the latter half of the nineteenth century, of which he treats. One feature of the heart-harrowing case is the shocking and barbarous cruelty that was practised on this occasion upon the female portion of the evicted clan. Mr. D. Ross, in a letter addressed to the Right Hon. the Lord Advocate, Edinburgh, dated April 19, 1854, thus writes in reference to one of those clearances and evictions which had just then taken place under the authority of a certain Sheriff of the district, and by means of a body of policemen as executioners:- ‘The feeling on this subject, not only in the district, but in Sutherlandshire and Ross-shire is, among the great majority of people, one of universal condemnation of the Sheriff’s reckless conduct, and of indignation and disgust at the brutality of the policemen. Such, indeed, was the sad havoc made on these females on the banks of Carron, on the memorable 31st March last, that pools of blood were on the ground – that the grass and earth were dyed red with it – that the dogs of the district came and licked up the blood; and at last, such was the state of feeling of parties who went from a distance to see the field, that a party (it is understood by order or instructions from head-quarters) actually harrowed the ground during the night to hide the blood!’
These things were brought to light during the recent war with Russia; who can marvel at the sympathising author thus expressing himself, when concluding the astonishing account –
‘The affair at Greenyard, on the morning of the 31st March last, is not calculated to inspire much love of country, or rouse the martial spirit of the already ill-used Highlanders. The savage treatment of innocent females on that morning, by an enraged body of police, throws the Sinope butchery into the shade; for the Ross-shire Haynaus have shown themselves more cruel and more blood-thirsty than the Austrian women-floggers. What could these poor men and women, with their wounds, and scars, and broken bones, and disjointed arms, stretched on beds of sickness, or moving on crutches, the result of the brutal treatment of them by the police at Greenyard, have to dread from the invasion of Scotland by Russia?’
‘What, indeed,’? echo back these depopulated glens.
But enough of the subject of clearances and evictions, of which we had not originally intended to say so much. A regard, however, to the interests of truth and humanity, which we are sure is the cause of God, of God even the Father and Redeemer of all, as revealing Himself in our Lord Jesus Christ, has constrained us to notice these things thus far.
The publications of Mr Ross are recommended to all who may desire further information on this subject. But as concerning the signs of the times upon which we are discoursing, do not these atrocities, viewed too as complimentary of the Knoidart evictions, demonstrate that we are now in the last time, at the end of an age, when, from the beginning of it, it was prophetically declared that ‘men shall be lovers of their own selves,’ utterly regardless of what others may suffer thereby.
This murderous affair at Greenyard, of which the reverend gentleman spoke, was so horrifying and so brutal that I think no wonder at his delicacy in speaking of it,and directing his hearers to peruse Mr. Ross’s pamphlet for full information. Mr. Ross went from Glasgow to Greenyard, Ross-shire, to investigate the case on the spot, and found that Mr. Taylor, a native of Sutherland, (well educated in eviction schemes and murderous cruelty of that county) and Sheriff substitute of Ross-shire, marched from Tain upon the morning of the 31st March at the head of a strong party of armed constables, with heavy bludgeons and fire arms, conveyed in carts and other vehicles, allowing them as much ardent drink as they chose to take before leaving and upon their march, so as to qualify them for the bloody work they had to perform. Fit for any outrage, fully equipped, and told by the Sheriff to shew no mercy to any one who would oppose them, and not allow themselves to be called cowards, by allowing these mountaineers victory over them. In this excited half drunk state they came in contact with the unfortunate women of Greenyard, who were determined to prevent the officers from serving the summons of removal upon them, and keep their holding of small farms where they and their forefathers lived and died for generations. But no time was allowed to parley; the Sheriff gave the order to clear the way, and be it said to his everlasting disgrace (but to the credit of the county of Sutherland) that he struck the first blow at a woman, the mother of a large family, and large in the family way at the time, who tried to keep him back, then a general slaughter commenced, the women made noble resistance, until the bravest of them got their arms broken, then they gave way. This did not allay the rage of the murderous brutes, they continued clubbing at the protectless creatures until every one of them was stretched on the field wallowing in their blood, or with broken arms, ribs, and bruised limbs; in this woeful condition many of them were handcuffed together, others tied with coarse ropes, huddled into carts and carried prisoners to Tain jail. I have seen myself in the possession of Mr. Ross of Glasgow, patches or scalps of the skin with the long hair adhering to them, which was found upon the field a few days after this inhuman affray. I did not see the women, but I was told that gashes were found on the heads of two young females, prisoners in Tain jail, which exactly corresponded with these slices or scalps I have seen, so that Sutherland and Ross-shire may boast of having the Nena Sahibs and his Chiefs some few years before India, and that in the persons of some whose education, training, and parental example should prepare their minds to perform and act differently. Mr. DOnald Ross placed the whole affair before the Lord Advocate for Scotland, but no notice was taken of it by that functionary, any further than that the majesty of the law would need to be observed and attended to.
In this unfortunate country, you see the law of God and humanity may be violated and trampled under foot, but the law of wicked men which sanctions murder, rapine and robbery must be observed. From the same estate, (the estate of Robinson of Kindeas, if I am not mistaken in the date) in the year 1843 the whole inhabitants of Glencalve were evicted in a similar manner, and so unprovided and unprepared were they for removal at such an inclement season of the year, that they had to shelter themselves in a Church yard, or burying-ground. I have seen myself nineteen families within this gloomy and solitary resting abode of the dead; they were there for months. The London Times sent a commissioner direct from London to investigate into this case, and he did his duty; but like the Sutherland cases, it was hushed up in order to maintain the majesty of the law, and in order to keep the right, the majesty of the people and the laws of God in the dark.
In the year 1819 or 20, about the time when the depopulation of Sutherlandshire was completed, and the annual conflagration of burning the houses ceased, and when there was not a glen or strath in the country to let to a sheep farmer, one of these insatiable monsters of Sutherlandshire sheep farmers fixed his eyes upon a glen in Ross-shire, inhabited y a brave, hardy race from time immemorial. Summons of removal were served upon them at once. The people resisted – a military force was brought against them – the military and the women of the glen met at the entrance to the glen – a bloody conflict took place, without reading the riot act or taking any other precaution, the military fired (by the order of Sheriff McLeod) ball cartridge upon the women; one young girl of the name of Matheson was shot dead on the spot, many were wounded. When this murder was observed by the survivors, and some young men concealed in the back ground, they made a heroic sudden rush upon the military, when a hand to hand melee or fight took place. In a few minutes the military were put to disorderly flight; in their retreat they were unmercifully dealt with, only two of them escaped with heal heads. The Sheriff’s coach was smashed to atoms, and he made a narrow escape himself with a heal head. But no legal cognizance was taken of this affair,as the Sheriff and the military were the violators. However, for fear of prosecution, the Sheriff settled a pension of £6 sterling yearly upon the murdered girl’s father, and the case was hushed up likewise. The result was that the people kept possession of the glen, and that the proprietor, and the oldest and most insatiable of Sutherlandshire scourges went to law, which ended in the ruination of the latter, who died a pauper.
To detail individual murders, sufferings and oppression in the Highland of Scotland would be an endless work. A few months ago a letter from Donald Sutherland, farmer, West Zorra, Canada West, appeared in the Woodstock Sentinel, detailing what his father and family suffered at the hands of the Sutherlandshire landlords; all the offence his father was guilty of was, that he along with others went and remonstrated with the house burners, and made them desist until the people could remove their families and chattels out of their houses; for this offence he would not be allowed to remain upon the estate. He took shelter with his family under the roof of his father-in-law, from this abode he was expelled, and his father-in-law made a narrow escape from sharing the same fate for affording him shelter. He was thus persecuted from one parish to another, until ultimately another proprietor, Skibo, took pity on him, and permitted him in the beginning of an extraordinary stormy winter, to build a house in the middle of a bog or swamp, during the building of which, he having no assistance, his family being all young and far from his friends, and having all materials to carry on his back the stance of his new house being inaccessible by horses or carts, he, poor fellow, fell a victim to cold and fever, and a combination of other troubles, and died before the house was finished, leaving a widow and six fatherless children in this half-finished hut, in the middle of a swamp, to the mercy of the world. Well might Donald Sutherland, who was the oldest of the family, and who recollects what his father suffered, and of his death, (I say), charge the Sutherland family and their tools with the murder of his father.
But many were the hundreds who suffered alike and died similar deaths in Sutherlandshire. But I must now cease to unpack my heart upon these revolting scenes and gloomy memories. I know many will say that I have dealt too hard with the house of Sutherland, – that such disclosures as I have made cannot be of any public service – that the present Duke of Sutherland is a good man, and that in England he is called the Good Duke. I have in my own unvarnished way brought to light a great amount of inhumanity, foul unconstitutional and barbarous atrocities, committed and perpetrated in his name, and in the name of his parents, and by their authority. I stand by these as stern facts. Now I call upon his Grace’s and predecessor’s sympathisers and apologisers to say and point out to me one public or private act performed by any of the family which should entitle his present Grace to be called the Good Duke. I have myself looked earnestly and impartially for such acts; but could find none, no, not one. I know he never killed or even struck a man or woman in his lifetime, nor set fire to a house where a bed-ridden woman was lying disabled by age and infirmities to escape from the flames, he needed not while (as I said before) Loch, Young, Sellar, Suther, Gunn, Leslie, Horsburg, and MacIvor, were appointed by him to advise and superintend the work of brutal destruction and while the Stobbs and Sgrioses, &c. were at their beck to execute their orders at 2s. 6d. sterling per day and their whiskey. The Duke’s unassuming, modest, and sheepish like appearance will not entitle him to the appellation of the Good Duke; neither will his meek, easily approached manners, and readiness to hear poor people’s complaints entitle him to the title – for I demand of you to point one complaint of any importance which he redressed, and I will give you and him credit for it. The poor never realized any relief, nor benefit from his interpositions, or from the thousand appeals they made to him; but the reverse left them more exposed to the wrath and fury of their oppressors, his factors.
What then constitutes his right to the appellation of the Good Duke. I admit that he is not so inhuman, nor so brutal a savage as Lord Macdonald, Duke of Athol, Breadalbane, Colonel Gordon, of Clunny, and many more Highland landlords, but that does not constitute the appelation good Duke; to be more human than these would make him only a little better than incarnate demons or an host of Nena Sahibs. My views of rights of property in land are open to criticism; I wish they may be criticised, and that properly, for I find that under that cursed law which affords every opportunity to stupid kings and queens, their selfish ambitious government, and profligate avaricious favourites and capitalists in the days of old, to monopolize the land, created by God for the people without exception, are now in full operation in the Canadas; I find your government handing large slices of the Canada lands over to one another, and to favourite individuals and companies, as free as Malcolm Ceanmor, King of Scotland, handed estates to his favourites in the tenth century, in his own word, “as free as God gave it to me and mine, I give it to you and yours.” But my Canadian readers the days are coming and approaching when there will be a scramble for land in the Canadas, as sure as it was and is in all European nations, and I tell you that this is the age and years, when you should enquire and study the rights of property in land; particularly what right has your own servants, the Government, to gift or traffic with monopolisers in your land, and what right have you to abide by the trafficking covenants of stupid kings and queens, and insane Governments who deprive you and your offspring of such immense territories as the Hudson Bay Company now possess. Let it not be recorded that the Canadians of the 19th century will allow the egregious spoliation to continue or remain uncorrected, yea, undemolished, for while it remains undemolished minor spoliations will increase; indeed to all appearance there are very few who are entrusted with the law making and government of the Canadas, who enter either of the Houses with that patriotic spirit which should constitute members of parliament. It is to be feared, indeed it is too evident, that selfishness, and how to better themselves and relations at the people’s expense are their motives and principle study while acting for the people. I say, O! Canadians watch and look, as well as pray, generations yet unborn demand it of you.
Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe may be very ill-pleased at my animadversions, and may consider that I went too far with my strictures upon her Sunny Memories. “Those to whom much are given much will be required of them;” I have no private spleen or animosity against that amiable, talented lady, but I could nor cannot be but sorry for her merchandising the gift of God; will that lady, however great her talents are, come out now in the face of such a cloud of witnesses, and corroborating evidence as she will find within this little volume and say and maintain that I have been circulating unfounded false accusations against the Duchess and house of Sutherland; well let her peruse the following from the pen of Mr. Mackie, Editor of the Northern Ensign, a paper published next county to Sutherland, and say what praise she can lavish upon that family.
10 thoughts on “Lord Palmerston’s Scheme & the Massacre of the Rosses., pp.191-202.”
Interesting, impassionedand with resonance today as teen ant farmers are evicted for forestry. Who wrote it and when (sorry, have looked but not sure where the beginning is).
This is Donald McLeod’s ‘Gloomy Memories’. He, himself, was a victim of the Clearances and condemned them continuously in a series of open letters to the Edinburgh Courier as they were happening. Due to this, and his being open about who he was, his wife & family were thrown out during a storm, while he was away for work. The community was told if they helped them in any way they’d suffer the same. This book, a collection of all his letters (& some), make for a harrowing, yet enlightening, read.
Even more interesting! I’ve been to the Gloomy Memories memorials:
I get so emotional typing out this book that I think I’d be a complete mess if I were to attend something like this. I love that such events continue. It’s a book I recommend to everyone interested in Scottish History, though not many have heard of it.
Here’s the full Content list for Gloomy Memories, if you’re interested – https://randomscottishhistory.com/gloomy-memories-1892-2/
Thank you, I shall come back to some of that.
Oh yes, especially the Durness riots chapter. We read a lot about that when we were in Sutherland a few years ago.