Page 33 - Gloomy Memories by Donald MacLeod Eyewitness to Highland Clearances
ISSUE : Issue 46
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1987/8/1
I could multiply instances to a great extent, but must leave to the reader to conceive the state of the inhabitants during this scene of general devas? tation, to which few parallels occur in the his? tory of this or any other civilized country. Many a life was lost or shortened, and many a strong constitution ruined; the comfort and social happi? ness of all destroyed: and their prospects in life, then of the most dismal kind, have, generally speaking, been unhappily realized. Mr. Sellar was, in the year 1816, tried on an in? dictment for a part of these proceedings, before the circuit court of Justiciary at Inverness.... The indictment, charging him with culpable homi? cide, fire-raising, etc., was prosecuted by his Majesty's advocate. In the report of the trial, published by Mr. Sellar's counsel, it is said, "To this measure his lordship seems to have been in? duced, chiefly for the purpose of satisfying the public mind and putting an end to the clamours of the country." If this, and not the ends of justice, was the intention, it was completely successful, for the gentleman was.acquitted, to the astonish? ment of the natives and of all who understood any? thing of the true state of the case, and the op? pressors were thereby emboldened to proceed in their subsequent operations with a higher hand, and with perfect impunity I must not pass over the expulsion and sufferings of forty families who were removed by Mr. Sellar, almost immediately after his trial. This person, not finding it convenient to occupy the whole of the 6,000 or 7,000 acres, which he had obtained possession of, and partially cleared in 1814, had agreed to let these forty families remain as ten- ants-at-will; but he now proceeded to remove them in the same unfeeling manner as he had ejected the others, only he contented himself with utterly de? molishing their houses, barns, etc., but did not, as before, set fire to them till the inmates re? moved; they leaving their crops in the ground as before described. This year (1816) will be remem? bered for its severity by many in Scotland. The winter commenced by the snow falling in large quan? tities in the month of October, and continued with increased rigour, so that the difficulty--almost impossibility--of the people, without barns or shelter of any kind, securing their crops, may be easily conceived. I have seen scores of the poor outcasts employed for weeks together, with the snow from two to four feet deep, watching the corn from being devoured by the now hungry sheep of the incoming tenants; carrying on their backs--horses being unavailable in such a case--across the coun? try, without roads, on an average of twenty miles, to their new allotments on the sea coast, any por? tion of their grain and potatoes they could secure under such dreadful circumstances. During labour and sufferings, which none but Highlanders could sustain, they had to subsist entirely on potatoes dug out of the snow; cooking them as they could, in the open air, among the ruins of their once com? fortable dwellings!... The filling up of this feeble outline must be left to the imagination of the reader, but I may men? tion that attendant on all previous and subsequent removals, and especially this one, many severe dis? eases made their appearance; such as had been hith? erto almost unknown among the Highland population; viz: typhus fever, consumption, and pulmonary com? plaints in all their varieties, bloody flux, bowel complaints, eruptions, rheumatisms, piles, and mal? adies peculiar to females. So that the new and un? comfortable dwellings of this lately robust and healthy peasantry, "their country's pride," were now become family hospitals and lazar-houses of the sick and dying! Famine and utter destitution inevitably followed, till the misery of my once happy countrymen reached an alarming height, and began to attract attention as an almost national calamity. Even Mr. Loch (James Loch, a factor who wrote a- bout the Clearances in Sutherlandshire as being based on "humane and considerate views which have regulated the management of this great and rapidly improving property ) has been constrained to admit the extreme distress of the people. He says, "Their wretchedness was so great, that after pawn? ing everything they possessed, to the fishermen on Marine Atlantic Marine Atlantique Serving Atlantic Canada & Maine For Rates, Schedules Or Ferry Reservations Phone Toll Free 1-800-565-9470 (N.B., N.S., P.E.I.) "'s-'vSf'v'' Ashby Nurseries ?"- • ;''' 564-8162 ''" ""'J ?? '''" Vi'v'i iv'v' 862-3374 Your Prestige Florist for Quality and Service "QglL 0"."S for free consultation to make your wedding perfect!" Mary Browrfs Rricd Qiicketi. King Street Welton Street Kings Road North Sydney EAT IN & DRIVE THRU & HOME DELIVERY: 794-4410 Sydney EAT IN & DRIVE THRU Sydney River Mairy Bixnvn has the best l's in tofwn. -(33)
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