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The Northern Highlands in the Nineteenth Century
No. 13


The year 1854 saw the first stage of the Crimean War, carried on by the armies of Britain and France against Russia in support of Turkey. Great efforts were made to avoid war, but there was strong indignation in France and England against the aggression and the autocratic attitude of the Czar, and their Governments were forced into action. To an autograph letter written by the French Emperor on 29th January, the Czar sent a haughty reply, with an allusion to the retreat from Moscow. A deputation from the Society of Friends, which visited St Petersburg, was courteously received, but was informed by the Czar that he could not permit the Turks to violate the stipulations of treaties made for the protection of his coreligionists. On 8th February the Russian Ambassador left London, and on the 27th the British Government sent an ultimatum, to which no reply was delivered, and war was formally declared. The allied fleet had been sent to the Black Sea, and in due course the allied forces were transported to the Crimea. The battle of Alma was fought on 20th September, and was followed by the opening of the siege of Sebastopol, and the battles of Balaclava and lnkermann.

The great event in the North of Scotland was the beginning of the railway line from Inverness to Nairn. The first turf was cut by the Countess of Seafield oh 21st September.

From the “Inverness Courier.”

1854.

January 5.—The “Courier” began the year enlarged to eight pages, in the form which has long been familiar. The change was acceptable, and the circulation, satisfactory as it was before, rapidly increased. The first number contained a long review of two volumes of the Memoirs of the poet Thomas Moore, edited by Lord John Russell. A snowstorm covered the country, and the frost was the most severe since January 1841. In three places in the neighbourhood of Inverness the mercury had fallen to 22 degrees below freezing point. The Caledonian Canal, for the first time for fifteen years, afforded excellent skating.

Ibid.—Mr Hugh Scobie, who is described as the warm and considerate friend of all who left the North of Scotland to settle in Canada, died in Toronto on 4th December. He was born at Fort-George, the third son of Captain James Scobie, of the 93rd Highlanders, and was intended for the legal profession, but on the death of his father the family went to Canada and' took up land. Mr Scobie was in his forty-second year.

Ibid.—A memorandum from the Macdonald trustees in Skye describes the circumstances that led to the eviction of crofters from Borreraig and Suishnkh. The document states that after some families had emigrated only eighteen crofters remained; that of these eight or ten availed themselves of offers for other suitable holdings, where they could obtain education for their children; and that only the four remaining were evicted, because they obstinately refused to come to any terms. The trustees averred that the crofters, though occupying good land, had been steadily retrograding, and that the landlord had been over-indulgent.

January 12.—All Europe was bound in frost. A great storm had blocked roads and railways in the United Kingdom, and had inflicted considerable loss of life and shipping. In Inverness, however, the storm was little felt, except that sometimes the cold wa9 intense. ‘ We have had simply alternations of thaw and frost, with very little wind, very little snow, and no rain.”

Ibid.—A paper on the astronomy of the year 1853 appears in this issue, written by Mr Robert Grant, secretary to the Royal Astronomical Society, London. His communications were continued to the paper after lie became Professor in Glasgow.

Ibid.—A quotation, apparently from a London source, appears with reference to Sir Robert Peel and Disraeli. “Notwithstanding the fierce struggle of ‘45-46, Peel lived to appreciate Mr Disraeli; and, strange to say, his last public act was to cheer in the House of Commons the author of his downfall. It was when Mr Disraeli closed the debate on the famous Palmerston discussion. This is not rumour or hearsay; for the writer of this article sat next to Sir Robert on that occasion. A few days after, when the horrible tragedy was over, amid a group of mourning spectators, we heard Mr Gladstone urge as a consolation —'Peel died at peace with all mankind; he even lived to cheer Disraeli.’ ”

January 19.—In some newspapers at his time there was a good deal of talk about the alleged interference of Prince Albert in pub-lio affairs. A somewhat comic incident was a letter written to the Prince by Mr Thomas Mulock, then in Dublin, expressing his indignation at the “charges audaciously preferred against you,” which letter the Prince kindly acknowledged. The editor, after quoting the correspondence, says that Mr Mulock was of an impulsive temperament, always ready for a shindy against what, in his alliterative style, he would call the peccant part of the press, the peerage, and the pulpit. Mr Mulock was the father of Miss Mulock, author of “John Halifax, Gentleman.”

Ibid.—After a month of the severest frost known in the neighbourhood for many years a rapid and effectual thaw had set in. Mention is made of the fact that the river Rhine was frozen over on the 4tb inst.

Ibid.—Wheat had risen to a very high price. The imperial average for the week ending January 7th was 76s 2d; the average at Haddington market on Friday, the 13th, was 78s 5d; and, taking the country over, it was stated that the price could not now be given at less than 80s.

January 26.—The Inverness Town Council met and drew up a memorial protesting against the delay in constructing the Suspension Bridge. “Five years,” said one of the magistrates, “have now gone by, and not one pillar of this bridge is finished yet; no, nor half a pillar.” The second contractor for the bridge had failed, and all the plant and materials were now in the hands of the Commissioners of Highland Roads and Bridges.

Ibid.—“Among the signs of the good angling prospects this year on the Ness is the number of otters seen about the river. A few weeks ago two were captured on the same day above the Islands, and a very large and powerful otter was killed opposite Wells Street on Monday last. Several others have been seen, principally about the Islands and the Canal bank, at the Holm Pool.”—The issue contains a series of extracts from a manuscript journal kept by an English servant who came to Fort-George in 1782 with an officer, Major Macleod, and afterwards accompanied the family to Glenelg and Skye. The journal contains interesting information about the condition of the Glenelg and Skye people.

February 2.—Alexander Smith, author of a “Life Drama,” etc., had recently made a reputation as a poet, and satisfaction was now expressed that he had been appointed to the office of secretary of Edinburgh University.

Ibid.—Among some old papers that came into the editor’s hands was a precognition taken by the Magistrates of Inverness respecting the abstraction of the body of one Alexander Mackintosh, who was executed and hung in chains at Muirfield in 1773. His body had been abstracted by clansmen and buried elsewhere. Some of the precognitions are given, but none of the persons who were examined—neighbouring farmers —could throw any light on the subject. The editor remarks that there was evidently no wish on the part either of magistrates or witnesses to discover the parties involved.

February 9.—A gamekeeper was tried at Inveraray on the charge of stealing a deer, because he had shot one on an island in Loch-Craignish, from a herd which was claimed as private property. The jury found—“That the panel had killed a deer on the island; but in respect that the island cannot be considered as an enclosure in terms of the Act, they unanimously acquit the prisoner of the charge of theft.”

February 16.—“The Russian Ambassadors have Left London and Paris, and the British and French Ambassadors are on their way home from St Petersburg. We have all the preliminaries and accessories of war, but we have not war itself. Neither has a proclamation been made nor a blow struck.”—Lord John Russell had introduced a Reform Bill, which came to nothing.

Ibid.—A fire took place the previous week at Invergordon, which destroyed two houses and three shops.

February 23.—The bill for the construction of the Inverness and Nairn Railway passed the standing orders on the 20th inst.

Ibid.—An active citizen named Alexander F. Mackenzie, tacksman of Kessock Ferry, was drowned on the 21st inst. He had jumped into a small boat to assist with a rope one of the ferry boats, which in the state of wind and tide had difficulty in reaching the pier. His boat, however, was carried past, and in attempting to catch the side of a neighbouring sloop his hands slipped, and he fell into the water and was drowned. Mr Mackenzie was a member of Town Council.

March 2.—“Last week some men who were excavating earth for the purpose of making a new road at Castle-leather discovered, at a depth of about two feet and a half in the ground, a large gold ring of curious and very rough workmanship. It consisted apparently of three gold wires of considerable thickness, ingeniously twisted, which were beaten together and flattened at one end. The gold is remarkably pure.”

Ibid.—A correspondent gives some particulars respecting Mr Robertson, Provost of Dingwall, maternal grandfather of Mr Gladstone. Before his time a member of each family in the burgh was obliged to work for three days annually in the town’s moss at the cutting of peats, and three days at shearing or reaping, for the Provost. Further, each family was bound to present his honour yearly with a dozen eggs. Provost Robertson “viewed the matter as a most iniquitous tax, and at once discontinued the custom, for which the blessings of his fellow-townsmen were showered upon him.”

March 9.—The Inverness County Meeting accepted the sum of £2000 as compensation for the probable loss of toll revenue on the road from Castle Stuart to: Nairnshire from the formation of the Inverness and Nairn Railway. The debt on the road was £4190. The county also discussed the Lord Advocate’s new Valuation Bill, a measure intended to make considerable changes in the valuation of property.

March 16.—A banquet was given to Sir Charles Napier on his appointment to the command of the Baltic Fleet, Lord Palmerston being in the chair.

Ibid.—The Suspension Bridge was now making progress, a new company having undertaken the contract. The contractors had leased the quarries of Redcastle and Tarradale.

Ibid.—The estate of Belugas, in Morayshire, had been purchased by Mr Smith, of the London banking firm of Smith, Payne, and Company, for £18,500. The former proprietor, Mr Mackillican, had acquired the estate from Sir Thomas Dick Lauder for about £15,000.

Ibid.—Mr John Menzies, who died at Delbuiack, near Carr-Bridge, at the age of 83, began life as farm manager for Sir Neil Menzies in Perthshire, and afterwards farmed for himself in Appin, in Rannoch, and finally at Delbuiack. He was a man of great energy, and a fine specimen of a Highlander. One of his sons was the Rev. John Menzies, minister of Fodderty, in Ross-shire.

March 23.—Dr Hugh Macpherson, Professor of Greek in the University of Aberdeen, and sub-Principal, died on the 12tli inst., aged 87. His father was minister of the parish of Golspie, and his mother one of the Gordons of Carroll. In his childhood, on the death of his father, he went to reside at Sleat with a relative, Dr Martin Macpherson, the representative of a family long settled there. It was Dr Martin Macpherson’s brother, Sir John Macpherson, sometime Governor-General of India, who evinced his warm regard for his northern Alma Mater by founding the valuable bursaries bearing his name. Dr Hugh Macpherson was a graduate both in arts and medicine, and practised medicine in his early days. He was proprietor of the island of Eigg, in the county of Inverness.

March 30.—There is a long review of Hugh Miller’s “Schools and Schoolmasters,” and a briefer notice of one of his lectures on Geology. “An earnest, large-hearted and sincere man is Hugh Miller,” says the writer, evidently Hugh’s friend, Dr Carruthers. “He has much knowledge, laboriously acquired through years of unpromising toil and study, and great powers of observation, reflection, and even humour, chastened by the gracious influences of early piety and by that homely wisdom which has its seat equally in the heart and understanding, and is best taught in the shades of obscurity and poverty. Few men have combined in the same proportions the habit of patient investigation and analysis, and the talent for popular and picturesque writing.”

Ibid.—A message from the Crown, on the 27th inst., announced to Parliament the end of negotiations with Russia, and the obligation to afford active assistance to the Sultan against unprovoked aggression. On the same day the French Emperor also announced the final rupture with Russia.

March 30.—Dr Alexander Macleod, Ostaig, Skye, was killed during a visit to Knoy-dart, by missing his way in a dark night, and falling over a precipice. “Dr Macleod enjoyed a high reputation as a surgeon, and his medical skill was no less extensively appreciated than gratuitously awarded to the poor.” He had long been a notable man in the Western Islands.

April 6.—Summonses had been sent for the removal of four tenants on the property of Greenyards, rear Bonar-Bridge. belonging to Major Robertson of Kindeace. The sheriff-officer who was first sent was met by a crowd of men and women, who stripped him and burned his papers On Friday, 31st March, several sheriff’s officers were despatched to the district, accompanied by a police force of about thirty men, and the Sheriff of the district. They also were met by a large crowd carrying sticks and stones, the women in front, the men in the rear. In the scrimmage that ensued, the police used their batons freely, and a number of the women—from ten to fifteen it was alleged—were severely injured. None of the policemen appear to have been hurt, and the inference was that they had used unnecessary violence. The summonses were served. Some of the women were arrested, but liberated on bail.

Ibid.—A correspondent who writes on the case recalls the evictions of Glen-Calvie on the same estate in 1845. At that time there was also resistance, but the factor yielded to counsel, and the Free Church minister gave advice to the people, which bore fruit. The summonses were regularly served, and the people were allowed to remain for a year, many of them being disposed to emigrate. By Whitsunday 1846, it is stated, all removed peaceably. “Would not the exercise of a little patience,” says the writer, "have wrought better in the present case? The people could not summarily remove in the course of forty days, and considering the difficulty of getting other homes for a year or two, one need not wonder so much, at their resistance. The expenses in this case, I should suppose, will amount to £80 or £90 at least. It would doubtless be cheaper for the county to give the proprietor a thirty years’ purchase of the crofts at once.”

Ibid.—The ship Countess of Cawdor, belonging to a Nairnshire owner, which left Inverness with emigrants for Australia on 1st August 1853, arrived safely at Geelong on 27th December. The passengers complained of the tediousness of the voyage. There was, however, no death during the passage, and there was one birth.

Ibid.—Mr John Macpherson. Heath Cottage, an uncle of the late Mr Mackintosh of Holme, was killed the previous week at Craggie Bridge on the River Nairn. He was accompanying a deputation to examine schools in the district, and was driving in a phaeton along with the Rev. Dr Macdonald, Inverness. The horse became restive, and rushed off at a gallop, near Craggie, with the result that the phaeton struck the corner of the bridge, and Mr Macpherson was shot over the parapet to the rocks below. Dr Macdonald managed to cling to the vehicle, and at the other end of the bridge was thrown out upon the road comparatively unhurt. Mr Macpherson is described as one of the most kindly and warm-hearted citizens of Inverness.

Ibid.—The Glen-Urquhart Association for the promotion of flax-growing found itself with an over-drawn bank account. Its members, however, still believed in their scheme, and resolved to ask for a. small grant from the Government.

Ibid.—The death of Professor Wilson (Christopher North) is recorded in this issue.

April 13.—The report on the Inverness Bridge by Mr James M. Rendal, the Government engineer, states that he had induced Mr Leather, who was executing the Portland Breakwater works for the Admiralty, to undertake the completion of the Bridge. The sum already expended amounted to £8959, leaving available £9440 of the original Parliamentary grant and Treasury loan; and there was in addition a sum of £1150 forfeited by the security for the second contractor, and stock and plant, valued at £1400 forfeited by the first contractor, both these contractors having failed. There was thus £11,990 available for all future charges, and the engineer thought this sum would be sufficient.

April 20.—The following is from “Punch”: — “Palmerston, in consequence of his strong advocacy of Turkey, goes by the name of ‘The Judicious Bottle-holder of the Porte.’”

April 27.—There is a further statement with reference to the Greenyard evictions. The tenants who were to be removed were only three in number. It is alleged that the crowd who opposed the police and sheriff-officers numbered three hundred persons, and that the obstruction was so violent that the police were obliged to use their batons or to suffer maltreatment.

May 4.—Lord Cockburn, a famous Scottish Judge, the friend and biographer of Lord Jeffrey, died on the 26th ult. in the 75th year of his age. Four posthumous works were afterwards published, of which the best known is the “Memorials of His Time.”

Ibid.—Mr Welsh of Millburn opposed the Inverness and Nairn line, on the ground that it passed too close to his house. The Nairnshire Turnpike Trustees had accepted £356 as compensation for loss of revenue from tolls on the west side of Nairn.

Ibid.—A long ecclesiastical case, arising from the presentation of the Rev. Mr Mackenzie, Kirkhill, to the parish of Kiltarlity, come teg an end through the withdrawal of the presentee.

May 11.—Miss Isabella Begg, a niece of Robert Burns, was selected to give the name to the house erected by Mr James Baird on the banks of the Doon, near Ayr. A bottle of whisky was broken over the main entrance, and the name of “Cambus-doon” was given to the mansion. Isabella’s mother, Mrs Begg, a widow above eighty years of age. who bore a strong resemblance to her brother the poet, was present on the occasion. Mr Baird was induced to purchase bis Ayrshire property from its connection with Robert Burns.

May 18.—A woollen manufactory was opened at Avoch by the proprietor, Mr Mackenzie.

May 25.—The allied fleets had command of the Black Sea, and were making demonstrations at various points, including Sebastopol. In the Baltic Admiral Napier’s fleet had destroyed the Castle of Gustafshom, at the entrance to the Gulf of Finland. This gave the fleet the command of the Sound, and safe anchorage.

June 1.—Mr Donald Stewart, formerly in Luskintyre, Harris, died on the 19th ult. at an advanced age at Glen-Nevis. He had been one of the most enterprising of Highland farmers and graziers, and frequently received prize medals from the Highland Society. For many years he had the management of the Harris estate. He is described as a most hospitable and worthy gentleman.

Ibid.—Extracts are' given from the journal of a Highland soldier at Gallipoli, dated from the 11th to the 29th of April. Camps were formed there by British and French soldiers. The writer says:—“There is a great want of comfort. We are crammed sixteen men into a tent; the company officers have to do with one tent without furniture, and they have to pay for its carriage from place to place. The officers are providing themselves with camels and mules, the French having brought numbers of the latter into the country.” It is alleged that a Russian spy, disguised as a Turk, was detected selling poisoned coffee to the soldiers. The journal is continued in subsequent issues, giving particulars which must have been of great interest at the time.

June 1 and 8.—A petition against the settlement of the Rev. James Burns as minister of the parish of Nairn was promoted by a minority on the ground of his ignorance of Gaelic. They afterwards, however, gave way, and many of them signed the call.

June 8.—A correspondent challenges the statement, frequently made, that the Master of Lovat was not present at the Battle of Culloden. The point has often been discussed. The writer in this case adduces some evidence (which is not, however, conclusive) in favour of the Master’s presence, and adds a remark, which may be quoted—“The very critical position in which the Master afterwards stood would render it incumbent on all his friends to keep his presence a secret.”

June 15.—The disembarkation of ten thousand British troops at Varna is announced.

June 22.—The masons working at the Inverness Bridge, about twenty in number, struck work for an increase of wages. They were in receipt of a guinea a week, and demanded an increase of throe shillings. The tailors in town had also struck for an advance of wages.

July 6.—The Inverness and Nairn Railway Bill had been going through its stages before the Parliamentary Committees. Mr Welsh of Millburn had been a pertinacious opponent, but this issue announces that the local committee had accepted terms proposed by Mr Welsh, and that his opposition was consequently withdrawn.

July 13.—The estate of Guisachan, Strathglass, had just been purchased by Mr Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks, M.P. (afterwards first Lord Tweedmouth.) The price is not mentioned, but we know from other sources that it was £52,000.

Ibid.—An account is given of the improvements in the Ness Islands. The two iron bridges had been erected, plain wooden bridges joined the islands, and a small porter’s lodge had been built. A sum of £400 had been collected in Inverness, but only a few contributions had come from townsmen at a distance, and the Committee could incur no outlay to complete further desirable improvements. “In fact they are already deeply in debt, and know not where to look for relief."

July 15.—This is the first issue of the Wool Market Circular, a four page, half the size of the ordinary paper, and charged four-pence. The market, owing to the war, was unsettled. Serious failures had recently occurred in Bradford. “The result has been some reduction in the price of sheep, and scarcely any business done in wool. On such lots of ewes and wedders as sold high last year, the fall has been about 2s a head; on others from Is to Is fid. Wool that sold readily last year at 21s fid per stone could not obtain a higher offer than 14s 6d, and most of the northern fleeces will be consigned to the commission agents.” The price of sheep, however, was still good.

July 20.—The Rev. Joseph Thorburn, minister of the Free High Church, died on the 15th inst. in his fifty-fifth year. Mr Thorburn was minister at Forglen when he received in 1844 the call to Inverness. He declined to accept, as he did not feel fitted for such an important charge—“his talents were not equal to it”—but the Assembly resolved to send him, and he complied. His ministrations proved very successful, and he was greatly respected in the town.

July 27 to August 10.—These issues, like many others, are full of material relating to the war with Russia, along with the London Letter and “Notes from our Club,” which latter formed a supplement to the usual metropolitan gossip. There is, however, little of local interest. Mr John Sutherland, whom many citizens will remember, was appointed police superintendent for the burgh of Inverness. The Rev. Dr Mackintosh, Free Church minister of Tain, accepted a call to Dunoon.

August 17.—The grouse season had begun well, and shootings, which had been a little slow to let, were now nearly all taken.

Ibid.—Professor Wilson, Rector of Tain Academy, died in his forty-ninth year. He was a native of the Borders, and after studying at St Andrews turned his attention to mathematical and scientific pursuits. He was for some time Professor of Natural Philosophy in the Andersonian College, Glasgow, from which he came to Inverness as Rector of the Royal Academy. Subsequently he returned to Glasgow, but afterwards accepted the appointment of Rector of Tain Academy, the duties of which he discharged with much success for four years.

August 24.—A paragraph headed “Old John Maclean’s Snuff-horn” says:—“This relic of the centenarian, John Maclean, whom her Majesty called the Highland historian when she presented him with a liberal donation some years ago, has been handsomely mounted in silver by Mr Mason, jeweller, and an inscription engraved upon it, stating the age of John Maclean, and his services in reviving the traditions of the Highlands, and chronicling circumstances of which, but for him, we should probably have lost all record.” If this relic still exists the Museum might look after it.

August 24 and 31.—On the former date a correspondent writes that when examining the early records of the Royal Society at Somerset House, he came across the following entry:—“May 26, 1663. Sir Robert Murray [at the meeting of the Society held this deal related that in Scotland, near Lough Broom, between the lough and a hill, there was an old fii wood all fallen down, the trees lying cross-over one another to a man’s height, and in part covered with moss, the earth being grown and raised to those firs, although not yet so high as to reach the top, which he conceived it will do in progress of time, and so bury .the trees, as it is found in Cheshire and elsewhere." In the issue of the 31st a correspondent at Ullapool writes that the place to which Sir Robert is supposed to refer is Strathconiart, about a mile north from Lochbroom. Fir wood continued to be found there in great profusion, and was used for fuel, house-building, and other purposes. “Parts of the trees are still above ground, but the rest is covered with peat moss; and when uncovered, the trees are seen lying in fantastic shapes and in chaotic confusion, in the direction of all points of the compass. A tree was dug out of this moss a few years ago, in length about sixty feet, and eighteen inches in diameter. It supplied two mills in the parish with axles for their waterwheels.”

September 7.—A large ship, the “David Maciver,” of Birkenhead, had sailed for Australia with 400 emigrants. A considerable number of these were natives of the Highlands.

September 14.—At the Inverness Circuit Court a man and woman from Kincardine, in Ross-shire, were charged with mobbing and rioting and breach of the peace in connection with the Greenyard removals on the Kindeace property. The prisoners pleaded guilty to the charge of breach of the peace, which was accepted by the Advocate Depute. Lord-Justice Clerk Hope, who was on the bench, sentenced the man to eighteen months’ imprisonment with hard labour, and the woman to twelve months’ imprisonment.

September 21.—This day (the paper was published in the afternoon) the first turf of the Inverness and Nairn Railway was cut by the Countess of Seafield. The spot selected for the ceremony was an open field between the Academy Park and the Mackintosh lands adjoining Seabank. The town held holiday, and there was a procession, headed by the Provost, Magi-swates, and Town Council of Inverness, and attended by the Provost, Magistrates, and Town Council of Nairn. The Countess was accompanied by her husband and young son, and was received by Cluny Macpherson, chairman of the company, and other directors. Special credit for the passing of the bill is given to Cluny, Mr Mackintosh of Raigmore, Captain Fraser-Tytler, and a few other gentlemen, who had succeeded in getting the shares subscribed for, and the requisite deposit made; also to Mr Joseph Mitchell, C.E., and the agents, Messrs Anderson. Messrs Brassey and Falshaw had contracted to complete the line for £65 000, of which nearly a third was to be paid in stock. The capita] to be raised was intended to exceed the cost of construction by one-third, and adding the cost of rolling stock and all expenses, it was computed that the outlay would not exceed £6000 a mile, which for the 15-}- miles between Inverness and Nairn gave a total cost of £93,000. The line at first was to be single, but land was taken for a double line, and the bridges were to be constructed for a double line. The enterpiise was regarded as the first step towards a continuous line to the south, and it is noted that part of the projected Aberdeenshire connection had just been opened. This was the chief section of the Great North between Aberdeen and Huntly.—The Northern Meeting was held on the 21st and 22nd, hut there was nothing of special interest.

September 28 and October 5.—The former issue records the safe and unopposed landing of the allied army in the Crimea, and the second gives an account of the victory on the banks of the Alma (20th September), and adds a report of the capture of Sebastopol. This report, which was very persistent, proved unfortunately to be unfounded. It appears, however, that the British commander, Lord Raglan, had been willing to make the attempt, and that in all probability it would have proved successful. His French colleague, however. Marshal St Amaud, who was suffering from fatal illness, refused his concurrence, and the Russians had time to fortify the weak pmt of their defences. They also caused seven of their largest ships to be sunk across the entrance to the harbour. These circumstances led to the long and terrible siege. St Arnaud before his death, acting on sealed orders, transferred the command of the French Army to General Canrobert. In the following issue of the paper there are indignant comments oil the hoax which had been perpetrated on the British public by the report of the fall of Sebastopol. It seems that too ready credence was given to a verbal statement made by a Tartar messenger, sent with despatches, to Omar Pasha at Bucharest.

October 12.—Among the officers to whom the battle of Alma proved fatal was Major John B. Hose of Kilravock, who was in the 10th Regiment. He is described as a brave officer and a generous friend. He died on the 21st, having received two wounds, one from a ball in the chest. Major Rose had just completed a report. He had previously seen Lieutenant Abercromby, of the 93rd, son of Sir Robert Abererombv of Porglen. was 180 killed. Letters from soldiers, and extracts from the letters of the “Times” eoiTespondcnt are given in the issue. Sir Colin Campbell is reported to have said when the Highlanders came to the charge —“Highlanders, I am going to ask a favour of you. It is that you will act so as to justify me in asking permission of the Queen for you to wear a bonnet. Don’t pull a trigger until you are within a yard of the Russians.” So they charged, and earned the Russian battery at a- bound, though Sir Colin had his horse shot under him. Sir George Brown (of Linkwood) rode in front of the Light Division, conspicuous on a grey horse, urging them with voice and gesture. His horse was also killed, Sir George going down in a. cloud of dust in front of the Russian battery. He was soon up, shouting “23rd, I’m all right; be sure I’ll remember this day,” and led his men on again. In the momentary shock caused by his fall, however, the regiment suffered severely before charging the battery.

Ibid.—When Mr Rendel, the engineer, was in Inverness, he assigned as one cause of the delay of the bridge works that he had been “misled by a report on the nature of the foundations.” Mr Joseph Mitchell, who made the report, writes that the imputation is incorrect. His original report stated that in making the borings the men were awkward and the rods broke, but he had arrived at certain conclusions as to the nature of the bed of the river. “We made four borings,” he stated in his report, “on the west side and two on the east side of the river, at the old site, and the result is 7 to 8 feet of shore gravel or shingle, in the first instance; 2 to 3 feet of gravel mixed with clay of rather a soft nature; and below that, at 10J or 11 feet from the surface, there is a hard mountain clay, such as I think will render piles un-neccessary. The clay is yellow and not blue, as I thought.” Mr Mitchell now adds that his observations were confirmed in a very remarkable degree by the excavations subsequently made. “The delays and great expense have arisen from acting in defiance of the information furnished; by burrow ing into the “hard mountain clay’ unnecessarily; and attempting to construct a cofferdam through an almost impenetrable material, which, of course, broke and destroyed the piles.”

October 19.—An excellent map of the Crimea accompanies this1 issue, and the account of the battle of the Alma, given by the correspondent of the “Times,” is quoted with the remark that “it is written with a graphic power which imparts to it a peculiar charm.” Complaints of the condition of the wounded at Scutari have already arisen.

Ibid.—Mr Thomas Mackenzie, architect, Elgin, died on the 15th inst. Mr Mackenzie had carried off the premium for the best design for a Free Church college in Edinburgh, and he had executed many important works in the North, of which the Caledonian Bank, Inverness, and the Free English Church (Free High) are mentioned as fine specimens.

Ibid.—There is an interesting column on a visit to the Island of Skye, with quotations from poetical effusions in hotel hooks. A paragraph from the “Toronto Globe” mentions that Brown University, Rhode Island, had conferred the degree of LL.D. on Hugh Miller. The congregation of the Free High Church, Inverness, had resolved to give a call to the Rev. John Macnaughton, of Belfast.

October 26.—The Highland soldier, who was writing from the seat of war to the “Courier” was now in difficulties from want of paper. Some soldiers had written home on rags of cloth. In a brief note the correspondent says :—“I did not get a scratch at the Alma—only a musket hall going through my feather bonnet. Some of our men had buttons shot off their coats, yet escaped unhurt. When the first shower of balls whistled over our heads, I scarcely knew what to think, hut the words of the Psalmist, ‘God is my help and my shield’ came very forcibly to my mind, and I marched on with my brave comrades. Our loss was very small, seven killed and fifty-four wounded. John Cameron, from Nigg, was the first that was killed, in consequence of the bursting of a shell, as we crossed a rivulet.” Some time afterwards the writer fell ill, and had to he sent to hospital at Scutari, from which he also wrote. The report appears that Dr James Thomson, of Cromarty, assistant surgeon of the 44th Regiment, had died of cholera. To Dr Thomson had been assigned the trying dirty of tending the wounded Russians on the field of Alma.

Ibid.—A provisional committee had been formed to promote an Inverness and Elgin junction railway, with the Earl of Seafield as chairman.

Ibid.—The Inverness Free High Church had been provided with a hell, which weighed 13 cwt., and was to he the most powerful hell in town. The hell bore the inscription—“Presented to the Free High Church, Inverness, by George France, in compliance with a dying wish of his eldest son, Peter, 1854.”

November 2.—Mr John Mackenzie, hanker, Inverness, died suddenly on the 28th inst. while attending to business. He was in his 67th year, and had been for nearly thirty years a prominent and active citizen. He was the first Provost of Inverness after the passing of the Reform Bill. Mr Mackenzie was the youngest son of Alexander Mackenzie of Portmore, W.S., and brother of Colin Mackenzie (the eldest son), who was the well-known friend of Sir Walter Scott. In his youth John resided for a short time in Riga on behalf of a firm with which he was associated in Leith ; but about 1807 he purchased a large tract of forest timber in Strathglass—the remainder of a speculation entered into by another enterprising gentleman, Mr Nicol, Teawig, father of another well-known Invernessian, Dr Nicol. In 1821 Mr Mackenzie was appointed Collector of Taxes for the county of Ross, and in 1825 agent for the Bank of Scotland in Inverness. Here he exercised great influence, and was connected for years with every local movement of importance.

Ibid.—Lord Frederick Leveson Gower, second son of the Duke of Sutherland, a gallant young officer in his 22nd year, died on board the Belleropbon on his way home. He had contracted illness at Varna, but persisted in going with his comrades to the Crimea. He was, however, unable to land, and his illness proved fatal.—Miss Florence Nightingale, then aged thirty-four, had gone out to organise the nursing staff in the military "hospitals. Miss Nightingale had studied in hospitals in London, and had acted for three months as nurse in a German hospital. “She is already at her post, accompanied by devoted adherents, and lightening the misery of the sick and the dying, amidst scenes that might appal the stoutest nerves.” The siege of Sebastopol was now in full progress.

November 9 to 30.—These issues contain accounts of the battle of Balaclava, fought on 25th October, and the battle of Inkermann, fought on 5th November. The charge of the Light Brigade at the former battle receives due prominence. The news came at first in a somewhat perplexing form, but later despatches gave full information. At Inkermann Sir George Cathcart was killed and Sir George Brown wounded. Meetings were held all over the country to promote a Patriotic Fund.

November 30.—Sir William Gordon Cumming, Bart, of Altyre, died on the 23rd inst, aged 67. “As a landlord and member of society Sir William was much esteemed. He had read extensively, was well versed in Scottish antiquities, and had a fund of quaint humour and grotesque illustration, which rendered his conversation always lively and attractive.”

Ibid.—On the 27th inst. a man named Donald Ross died at Naim, said to be 108 years of age. “This is the age which his friends directed to be inscribed on his coffin; but we believe he was several years older. It is said he was employed, when sixteen years of age, as one of a boat’s crew in carrying stones from the opposite side of the Firth to Fort-George, when that fortress was in course of erection.” The old man was a native of the parish of Nigg.

December 7.—A great disaster had occurred in the Black Sea. In a violent storm on the 14th ult. 35 transport vessels perished, and a war steamer was wrecked, with the loss of 144 men and the clothing for 40,000 troops. The condition of the army in the winter weather was beginning to excite severe criticism, and the meeting of Parliament was anticipated with mixed feelings.

Ibid.—Railway enterprise had led to differences with the Great North, but it is announced that these differences had been adjusted. The Great North was to retire from the ground west of the Spey, and the Inverness and Elgin junction became bound to push their line as far as that river.

Ibid.—A woman named Janet Fraser had been found dead on the Common between Fort-George and Campbelltown under circumstances that pointed to murder. A soldier named James Chandler was apprehended under suspicion, and committed for trial.

December 14 to 28.—These issues continue the news of the war, and give summaries of the debates in Parliament. It was in course of these debates that Mr Cobden and Mr Bright strongly denounced the war. On the 21st the editor has an article on the Knoydart evictions, the subject having been revived by local inquiries into the character of the removals and the conduct of the Parochial Board. The article is an indignant protest against the evictions and the policy pursued by the local authorities. In closing his criticisms, the writer says—“In the excitement of war the miseries of home must not be forgotten or neglected, and it rests with the publio now whether the sequel of the Knoydart evictions is to be as painful an instance of the abuse of human law, as the removals themselves were an infringement of divine justice.”


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