This is a book I recommend to everyone with any interest in Scottish history as it succinctly describes, from a contemporary witness point-of-view, one of the most harrowing periods in Scottish Highland history.
It makes for an exceptionally difficult read, not due to any kind of language barrier, purely due to the awful scenes described. What makes it an amazing read is the fact it was written by one of what must have been a very few English-speaking and literate “common” inhabitants of Sutherland, one of the worst hit regions for the reasons he very neatly lays out over the course of a series of letters he sent and managed to have printed in the Edinburgh Weekly Chronicle in 1840. Which considering their nature was pretty brave of the newspaper.
He makes the very good point that if any of it were lies, and therefore slander against some real personages of note at the time, one of them would have come forward to pursue legal action against him, as he didn’t once hide his identity. That never happened. Instead a Harriet Beecher Stowe was treated by those same high-ranking folk to a trip around very carefully set-up areas of Sutherland, keeping the unsightly details and sights away from her in order to have her write a book denouncing Mr McLeod’s claims. Fortunately the edition I have is a later one in which Donald takes the opportunity to address her claims.
I cannot recommend this read enough and I hope you get as much from it as I did.
‘Gloomy Memories’, Donald McLeod (1892), Front Cover.
‘Gloomy Memories’, Donald McLeod (1892), Publisher’s Page.
‘Gloomy Memories’, Donald McLeod (1892), Publisher’s Preface.
‘Gloomy Memories’, Donald McLeod (1892), Preface to the Present Edition.