Eviction by Fire in Sutherland., pp.204-212.

     Once more has the fire been kindled in Sutherland, to carry out the exterminating theories of the Loch policy. Confessing most heartily that notwithstanding all the antecedents of that system in Sutherland, we are not prepared for this recent case, we proceed to lay before our readers its leading facts:-

     “It will be remembered that on the 7th of June last an industrious cottar named Don Murray, with his aged sister, and two little motherless girls were ejected from the hut which they had occupied for many years. After lying for sometimes in the open air, the Rev. Mr. MacKellar, parish minister of Clyne, gave them the use of a cart shed, which they continued to occupy from the date of eviction till Saturday the 17th of this month, their little bits of furniture meanwhile lying in the open air. In the meantime it was found that the Duke of Sutherland had no right to the cot from which Murray and his family were ejected; and that it stood on glebe land, and a case was entered in the Court of Session. Acting under advice, Murray and his family again took possession of the hut, along with part of their furniture, on the date referred to, and immediately on this being done the machinery was set in order for a second eviction. Accordingly, on the forenoon of Tuesday last, public attention was attracted to a dense volume of smoke rising from the neighbourhood of the manse of Clyne, and it was soon found that Murray’s cabin was on fire and that workmen were actively employed in the demolition of its rude walls, the Magnus Appolo of the patriotic and humane labour of love being Mr. Patrick McGibbon, Golsie, who, with crowbar in hand, and with a heart of will, wrought in the good cause with astonishing energy, assisted (?) by a John Thomson, cartwright in Golspie, and a youth of some fifteen summers, glorying in the name of Mackay. The worthy three persevered in the ducal mission till the miserable hut was razed to the ground. Part of the poor creature’s furniture was scattered here and there. A correspondent who witnessed the most part of the proceedings says:- “I stood for a brief period, surveying the progress of the flames and the torch-bearers, and then turned away in disgust from the scene, with the reverbration of H.M.S. Pembroke’s guns ringing in my ears, and thoughts occupying my mind that my pen fails to describe; but thanking my Maker that I was not born a Duke and left to tarnish a ducal coronet by such a deed of inhumanity. I again passed the spot when the work was finished. The walls were completely levelled, and the timbers were still burning; while the master of the ceremonies was retiring to a streamlet hard by, to wash his dirty hands. The outcasts had again to betake themselves to the cart shed, kindly given to them by the minister of Clyne, every other person in the district being afraid to do anything for them, or show them any kindness, dreading that for the simplest act of humanity towards one of the family they would be similarly treated. I may add that the blankets that Murray’s sister had lying on her straw pallet were burned.”


May it please your Grace, –

     Such is the last act of eviction perpetrated in the name and by the authority of your Grace. We do not now enter upon the question of right of property involved in this case, and pending before the legal tribunals of the country; but admitting that your Grace were found to be the owner of the few square feet of valueless soil on which that hut stood, we ask your Grace, firmly, plainly,  and boldly, if it is like a “good Duke” to commit such an act of high-handed cruelty and indefencible spoliation? Would it have weakened the case before the court had your Grace allowed that poor man with his sister and little girls, quietly to occupy their HOME – a home of peace, contentment, and affection, as deep, as sincere, as lasting, as devoted as Dunrobin’s palatial halls can boast of – until at least it is decided that your Grace had a legal right to burn them out? Would it have diminished your Grace’s happiness; would it have dimmed the lustre of your Grace’s coronet; would it have infinitessimally neutralised your Grace’s influence; would it have redounded to your Grace’s discredit, that you had allowed these poor creatures to return and occupy the little cot which you have now burned and raised? A thousand times, No!! My Lord Duke, your Grace seems to be forgetful, totally oblivious, sadly neglectful, of the times and their signs. We are not now living in the seventeenth century. This is eighteen hundred and fifty-seven, whether your Grace pleases or no, with its enlightenment, its independence, its free press (thank God!) and its noble tendencies to respect the principles before persons. Remember, my Lord Duke, what you have done, and where. You have burned out a native of Sutherland, with his little girls; cast them into the open field till a good Samaritan allowed them the use of a cart shed, at a time when public sentiment is being thoroughly aroused to the indescribable and momentous importance of doing everything to encourage the peasantry of this country, and to secure their services in the nation’s cause at this deeply perilous crisis. At the very time when the national ear is kept in a state of painful tension, almost hearing the voice of our brothers’ and sisters’ blood, spilled in oceans on the plains of Hindostan and calling on Britain to send relief; and when we almost see the smoke of desolation rising from revolted Indian provinces, all of a sudden, the smoke of a burning cottage is seen in Sutherland, and a wail of houseless, homeless, burned out females is heard from a Scotch county which boasts its possessor to be the husband of the mistress of Queen Victoria’s robes. What a state of matters! Look at it, my Lord Duke of Sutherland. It cannot, it must not last. We refrain from implicating in its vileness and guilt even the humblest serf that dared to soil his fingers with the dark deed. The blame, the responsibility is YOURS. THERE IT RESTS, in all its effects and in all its forbidden features. Your Grace may calmly sit in your gilded saloon, surrounded by a loving family, with your fair children prattling on your knee; your Grace’s sycophantic followers and servile hangers-on may adroitly conceal from your Grace these and similar proceedings under your name, at your instance, and at your expense; but the smoke of Donald Murray’s cabin shall not soon die away; the cries of Donald Murray’s children shall find an echo; and on the wings of the wind shall be carried the report of this last high-handed act of oppression and spoliation.


     Now my dear countrymen my labour is near an end, for if my health continues to decline as rapid as it has been doing for some time back, my pen is laid down never again to be taken up. So far as the Almighty favoured me with abilities, I did not swerve from performing my duty to society even in the face of persecution, oppression, privation, and the forsaking of dear friends and patrons; the most part of my labours are now before you under its deserved title, Gloomy Memories. Gloomy as they are, and thoroughly open to criticism, I challenge contradiction to any one charge I have made against the House of Sutherland or any other depopulating house in the Highlands of Scotland. Come then Mrs. B. Stowe, come you literary scourges and apologisers of highland evictors, vindicate their ungodly and unconstitutional schemes and actions before the world now if you dare. Who have you attempted to crush? The sincere advocates of the Caledonian Celtic race and the exposers of their enemies. Who have you been calumniating in their moral and religious character, in their brave and chivalrous spirit, so characteristic of the race, who would, if you could, make the world believe that they were not half so valuable to the nation as sheep and red deer, and unworthy of a home in Caledonia, the nursery of bravery and gallant unconquerable warriors. You vile sycophants, did you ever consult General Abercrombe in Egypt, General Moore at Corunna, Wellington in the Peninsula, and at Waterloo, did you consult Lord Raglan in the Crimea, when proclaiming the taking of the Alma, by the Highland Brigade, and their intrepid bold stand before the Russian cavalry at Balaclava, when the fate of the British army depended that day upon their bravery. What would all the legions of German poltroons, all the deer-stalking snobs of England and Scotland, shepherds and dogs to boot, avail Lord Raglan and the British army that day. What deprived the British army and Generals of the praise of taking Sebastopol? That the Highland Brigade under Colin Campbell were not brought forward to the first day’s assault, they were brought up next day, but the Russians came to learn who they would have to deal with the second day and fled. You hired calumniators, oppressors, and dispersers of the Celtic race, did you consult General Havelock, who it seems never witnessed the undaunted bravery and prowess of Scottish Highlanders before, and ask him what made him exclaim “Well don, brave Highlanders!” How many German cowards and town keelies or loafers would he take in exchange for this handful of brave Celts under his command. He would not accept of twenty to one. Did you consult the Generals, and Commanders-in-chief of the British Army at the present time, and they would tell you, however numerous and strong an army sent out upon an emergency minus of a Highland Brigade, that that army is deficient, and uncertain of success. To enumerate the many victories and laurels the Celtic race gained for ungrateful Britain would be an easy task, had history done them justice; but when put to the test their enemies will find it a difficult task to point out where they have failed to gain victory where bravery could obtain it. If the few of these men now embodied in two or three regiments are gaining and deserving the admiration of the world, what if Britain could boast of from 50,000 to 70,000 of such men, who would make her afraid? But alas, the Caledonian nursery, by proper treatment, I aver, from which she could raise that number in time of need, is now a desolation, consigned to feed and rear brute animals. Our beloved Queen taking up her residence in the Highlands during the deer-stalking months of the year, has turned up a curse for the remainder of the people, since then the country is fast becoming one vast Deer Forest. Oh! my lady Queen, you should show the cruel monsters a better example, than to chase away the few Highlanders you have found upon the Balmoral Estate.

     Come, then, you calumniators of my people, apologisers of their destroyers, and extirpators from their own rightful soil – I conclude by calling upon every British subject, every lover of justice, every sympathiser with suffering humanity, to disapprove of such unconstitutional and ungodly doings, and to remonstrate with the Queen and Government, so as to  put an end to such systems. Call you upon the world to vindicate and exonerate them.

     I am now an old man bordering on seventy years of age; symptoms of decay in he tabernacle convinces me that my race through time towards eternity is near at an end, when I will have to give an account for what I write and leave on record. I have devoted the most of this time and the limited talents God has bestowed upon me, advocating the cause of the wrong and oppressed, as I said before, persuaded in my own mind that I could not serve God in a more acceptable way, nor yet discharge my duty to my country, my fellow creatures, and co-sufferers, more consistent with the dictates of humanity, justice, and christian religion, in which I have been nurtured and educated. (Yes and would spend ten more lives in the same cause if bestowed upon me and needed). I cannot charge myself with recording one single false accusation against any one of these Highland depopulators, yet some of them, or their hired apologists; who dared not confront me while alive, may attack my character and dispute the veracity of my statements, and charges against them after I am dead and gone. Some has the audacity already to question my ability to write such a narrative as you have now before you, and bestowing the credit of it upon some one they know not. I have not much cause to boast of my abilities displayed in my Gloomy Narrative, only that I have performed what I considered my incumbent duty in society, and made the best use I could of all the abilities bestowed upon me, but I challenge them to find out any one who have put one word or one idea into my head. I wish it to be known among my countrymen how willingly Mr. McWhinnie, editor and proprietor of the Woodstock Sentinel, volunteered to assist me in revising and reading the proof sheets, I hope he will not loose his reward. I know my enemies will accuse me of plagiarism; I deny it, I gave credit to every gentleman from whose writings I have made quotations.

During the time I have been exposing the clearing system in the Highlands through the public press, I have received many private and public letters from almost every quarter of the empire and her colonies, encouraging me in my labour and approving of my actions in very flattering terms, and passing eulogies upon me, many of which should have a place in this work only for this, that my enemies and hired critics might construe them to self-praise, hence I have to suppress them; but to let my friendly readers know that my name is still alive in Scotland, and honourably mentioned there by the real friends and advocates of the Highlanders, and the unflinching exposers of their wrongs. I here subjoin a speech delivered in November last, by ne of the most patriotic gentlemen with whom the clan Campbell or the Highlanders can claim connection, viz. Captain Campbell of Borlum:-


     Last week on the presentation of a handsome testimonial to Captain Campbell, Glasgow, by a number of friends and admirers, that gentleman, whose enthusiasm in behalf of the cause of the Highlanders is so well known, made the following truly spirited and patriotic reply.

     “GENTLEMEN, – I feel that my friend the chairman has, in his earnest and eloquent address, described my conduct and character in terms far above my merits; but I trust the time is yet distant when it will be considered in accordance either with good taste or proper feelings to apply the rules of strict criticism to the innocent exaggerations so natural to gentlemen of kind hearts and generous sympathies, on occasions like the present/ My military services have been too brief to deserve the notice taken of them by the chairman. I joined the army at the beginning of the campaign of 1813, in the seat of war – I might almost say the field of battle, and was put on half-pay so soon as our arms achieved peace. I have the satisfaction of knowing, however, that my conduct in presence of the enemy was considered by my brother officers as not unworthy of my country or my clan; but the fact is, that every Highlander is inspired by his birth and traditions with the feelings best calculated to enable him to bear himself manfully on the field of battle. The Highlander who does not do so is untrue, not only to the name of his race, but also to the bosom on which he was nursed. That few such have ever appeared among Highland soldiers, is proved by their conduct in battle, from the day of the wild and romantic battle of the Grampians, until that on which the illustrious Havelock gained his ninth victory against such fearful odds, on the arid plains of India. Hence it is that the Lowlander or Celt, whom the novelists and penny-a-liners of modern times seem determined to metamorphose into an Anglo-Saxon, is entitled to credit for having, by his energetic enterprise and skilful industry, covered our plains with palaces and warehouses, and our seas with navies and argosies; the Highlander or Gael is entitled to credit for the patriotism and bravery, the abilities, vigour, and trenchants which still secure to our mountains the proud distinction of having proved in every national extremity the unconquered citadel of our country’s independence. Alas, that we have seen the day when the citadel may be ascribed as dismantled and dispoiled of its warlike defenders, not by a brave and noble enemy but by an insidious and unpatriotic friend, aided and abetted by the public apathy. Had the public feeling remained alive to the importance of preserving the clans to their country, the Highlands would have been at this day the best military nursery in Europe – a nursery capable of rearing legions upon legions of strong, brave, willing, and hardy soldiers, eager to enter into the service of their beloved country. There never was a greater fallacy than the studiously inculcated and generally prevailing impression that the Highlands are incapable of maintaining a large population in comfort and prosperity. The straths, the vales, the glens, and even the far extending wilds of the Highlands, up to an altitude of a thousand feet above the level of the sea, are fertile and salubrious, and under a system of husbandry fitted to grow all the ordinary crops of this country; while the value of the abundance of all kinds of fish contained in the inland and surrounding seas can scarcely be overstrained by the most expansive imagination. Had the old clan system of managing estates been adhered to by the modern proprietors, or in other words, had the country, as of old, been covered with hamlets or clachans, occupied by a rural population, each family possessing a sufficient allotment of the arable land for its own sustenance, and every clachan possessing the whole neighbouring grazings for the payment of its rents, the rentals would have been larger than they now are in the Highlands, and the country teeming with the most virtuous and warlike population in the world. That the population are being expatriated, while such latent resources remained undeveloped, and while the Government are requiring a greatly increased army, is a national disgrace, and may prove a national calamity; but are that disgrace and calamity not to be ascribed more to the infatuated adulation of wealth and rank by the public than to the blindness or apathy of the Government? That such is the case has been painfully confirmed by a paragraph which appeared in the newspapers the other day, showing that the great Celtic Society of Glasgow, from whose patriotism and independence of spirit, as well as its professed object of conserving the poetry, the garb, and the athletic games of the Highlanders, something very different was to be expected, applied for and obtained the patronage of the Duke of Sutherland for the ensuing year. Now, gentlemen, no Highlander possessing a heart worthy of the name, who has perused the history of the Sutherland clearances, written by that brave and noble-hearted man, Donald McLeod, and which remains until this day uncontradicted, can assign to the Duke of Sutherland a brighter page in the history of the Highlands than has been occupied by another Duke since the battle of Culloden. I have been told that neither the Directors nor the Society have been consulted, nor are consenting parties to the application, and I trust that it is so; but it is humiliating to think that a single Highlander could be found in Glasgow capable of applying for or accepting the patronage of a clearance-maker. Mr Chairman and gentlemen, allow me to assure you that I am at a loss for words in which adequately to express my high sense and heart-felt appreciation of the tokens of approval by which I have this day been honoured by so large a number of gentlemen, for every one of whom I have every reason to feel the warmest respect and esteem; and I beg leave to offer, not only to you who have attended this meeting, the greater number of you from so great a distance, but also, through the committee, to all the other generous donors of this splendid testimonial, my proud and grateful thanks.”

     Captain Campbell is a gentleman of high birth, moving among those whose birth and position in the world blinds and deafens to the dictates and demand of Christian humanity, and to disown his country and countrymen even in distress, trampled down and forsaken. Well might he be surprised that a single Highlander could be found in Glasgow, who would be capable of committing such an outrage upon the feelings of his true-hearted countrymen, as to apply and solicit the Duke of Sutherland to become the patron of a Celtic Society of any form; but the one which would please him best, a society to extirpate the Celts, and their name and remembrance from under heaven. I hope for the sake of the Society, and those connected with it, that the anti-highland villain, or villains who gave the call will be discovered and exposed, and he or they will be expelled from the society along with their patron, for a more undeserving or inconsistent nobleman elected to be patron of a Highland society could not be found in all Europe than the Duke of Sutherland; it is enough to make every Highlander blush and be ashamed of the Glasgow Celtic Society; surely their secretary could not be cognizant of a party to bring this disgrace upon the society, and put himself upon a level with Thomas Mullock who spent so much time and published a book exposing his Grace of Sutherland and other Highland depopulators, until he found it more profitable to praise them, beg their pardon, and like a faithful collie dog lick their wounds. I would fain hope that Mr. Ross can exonerate himself. Woe be to him who seeks alliance, and courts the favour of the oppressors of the poor. I am now done, it is for the public and my people to say whether I have performed my part, and redeemed my pledge. While I hold myself ready to substantiate every charge I have made against Highland depopulating proprietors, be it known that I will pay no attention to anonymous animadvertors; I must know my man. You must excuse me for not having an index to this work, you will have to read it through and judge of its merits and demerits the best you can; it is a Highland production, hence I hope you will sympathise with the author’s limited literary attainments and look over his grammatical blunders, and breaches of the Queen’s language. Farewell, my dear countrymen and friends.

I remain yours respectfully,


     P.S. While I hold out such a bold and unreserved challenge to all animadvertors and refutors of my charges against Highland depopulators, be it understood that all the corroborating quotations I have made from other authors must stand by themselves, and their veracity established by this one fact, viz: that the whole of them were published and widely circulated through the Scottish and English public press, and their veracity never challenged. Some one may now arise and dispute their veracity in this country, but I think, (and I believe my readers will agree with me,) that it would be more creditable for the accused and their defenders had they exonerated themselves and vindicated their character in Scotland, where these charges were brought against them. For one instance, Mr. Donald Ross, a public writer in Glasgow, addressed the Lord Advocate of Scotland, (the highest functionary in Scotland,) in behalf of the victims of the Green Yard murderous affray; yes, in terms that should not only impell his Lordship to investigate the case properly, but was sufficient to soften, if not to melt down a heart of steel. I had it and read it, but I lost it, or I would have given it word for word. Why was Donald Ross not punished if he stated falsehoods? The Lord Advocate and Sheriff Taylor had ample means to punish him, and he would be punished, (and no mistake) had he published or stated falsehoods; but to punish truth was too high for even the Lord Advocate, or Sheriff Taylor. Wanting proper information, I am prevented to enter upon the unparalleled sufferings of the whole, and massacre of many of Lord Selkirk’s Colony, from Sutherlandshire to the Red River, North America, whose progeny and some of themselves, are still allowed by their fellow-country men in Canada to be under the iron rule, and subject to the grasping insatiable avarice of the Hudson Bay Company; but if I am restored to health, advanced as I am in years, I promise it will be forth-coming.

     My readers will excuse me should some of my figures throughout this work be incorrect. for it is not easy to obtain correct figures from officials whose interest is to conceal them. It is not necessary to mention names, but I am duty bound to tender my gratitude and thanks to my securities, who enabled me to place this little book of sad remembrance in your hands. I thank likewise those who assisted me a little in a pecuniary point of view, during my protracted illness while the work was preparing.

     You have now before you the substance of my labour in behalf of my people and race for many years. Highland oppressors dealt out unsparingly to me the remuneration they thought I deserved, IN MANY A BITTER CUP. You will deal with me now as you deem proper in my advanced years; but my request is, whether this will find you among the mountains of Scotland, or upon a foreign strand, Cuimhnichibh air na daoine thàinig roimhibh – remember those who were before you, that many Havelocks yet unborn may have cause to exclaim before the world, to the disgrace of your oppressors, “Well done, brave Highlanders.”

D. McL.,   

Book Agent, Woodstock.


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