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The Isle of Skye in 1882-1883
The Social Revolution in Glendale


It appears that the Glendale crofters have permitted their stock to remain on the farm of Waterstein, notwithstanding an interdict procured against them, in absence, in the Court of Session, and they are now further charged with an assault on one of. the shepherds. Unlike the Braes tenants, they were apparently not only quite willing to receive any number of writs, but they were at the same time most courteous to the officers of the law, who have had occasion to visit them repeatedly in the performance of their official duties. On the last occasion they, with the greatest consideration, ferried Mr. MacTavish, the sheriff officer, across the loch from one district to another with the unserved portion of the writs, for those on the opposite side, in his possession.

The following report of what took place in the Court of Session will explain how the matter stood with them in January—

Petition and Complaint.—Macleod’s Trustees v. MacKinnon and Others,—Glendale Crofters.

This petition and complaint was presented by the Trustees of the late Sir John Macpherson MacLeod, of Duirinish, K.C.S.I., and the petitioners complained of various breaches of interdict against five of the crofters on the estate of Duirinish and Glendale, in the island of Skye, which estate is in the hands of the petitioners as trustees. The case was before the Court on the nth of January, when

Mr. Murray, for the petitioners, appeared and said—In this case no answers have been lodged, and I have to ask your lordships to pronounce an order ordaining the respondents to appear at the bar. In the special circumstances of this case I shall ask your lordships to allow us to send the order by registered letter.

The Lord-President—What is the order you ask for?

Mr. Murray—The order I ask for is to ordain the respondents to appear at the bar.

Lord Mure—How many respondents are there?

Mr. Murray—There are five of them.

The Lord-President—Have you any precedent for that mode of sending an order, Mr. Murray?

Mr. Murray—No, my lord : there is no authority. I think the matter is entirely in your lordships’ hands. The matter is not regulated by any express enactment. The Act of Sederunt that deals with it is 28, which simply says that the procedure shall be, so far as possible, the same as the procedure in a petition and complaint against the freeholders. Your lordships see that this is really simply intimating an order of Court, and one great reason for this, without directing your attention to any other special circumstances, is the very large expense that is incurred by service in such a remote part. The service in this case practically costs £40. Now, there have already been three services. There was first the original service of interdict; and then there was the service of interim interdict; and then, lastly, there was the service of the petition and complaint.

The Lord-President—Is there any messenger-at-arms?

Mr. Murray—There is nobody nearer than Glasgow or Inverness.

Lord Mure—What do you say the expense was?

Mr. Murray—on each occasion. of fee, and £10 of expenses.

The Lord-President—Is there a Sheriff Court officer in Skye?

Lord Mure—There is a Sheriff-Substitute at Skye if there is not a sheriff officer.

After a consultation the Lord-President stated that their lordships would dispose of the matter in the course of the day.

When the case again came up in the afternoon, the Lord-President said their lordships did not see their way to grant the request to serve the order by registered letter, and they would just have to serve it in the ordinary way. They would make an order for the respondents to appear personally at the bar, but he thought probably they had better make it so many days after service. He supposed it was a matter of no consequence whether they authorised it to be done by a sheriff officer rather than a messenger-at-arms.

Mr. Murray said it would be better if they had the option of employing either the one or the other. He would not like to be tied down to a sheriff officer.

The Court, therefore, in respect of no answer and no appearance for the respondents, made an order for them to appear personally at the bar on the 1st day of February next, provided this order was served on them ten days before that date, and authorised either a sheriff officer or messenger-at-arms to serve the order.

The Sheriff-Officer, in due course, proceeded to Skye, to serve the Order of the Court, but on arriving in Glendale he was met by a large crowd of men, women, and children, who refused to receive the writs.

The officer is alleged to have been roughly handled by the crowd on his way back, and next day a body of about 2000 people followed him all the way to Dunvegan, a distance of 10 miles, to compel him to leave the district. Learning that he had already left for Portree, the people soon dispersed and returned peaceably to their homes.

Gunboat in Glendale with Government Official.

The county authorities knew that it was utterly useless to attempt the apprehension of any of those charged with Breach of Interdict by the Police force at their disposal, and they applied to Government for a gunboat or a military force. Several meetings were held and resolutions passed, by associations throughout the country, deprecating the use of the military until all other means were exhausted, as there was still hope that Sir John MacLeod’s trustees would reconsider the position they had taken up. The result was that at 9 p.m. on Monday, 5th of February, a gun-boat, the Jackal, left her moorings at Rothesay, and arrived, after a rough passage and consequent delay, in the North of Skye. She had neither military nor police force on board. On Friday the 9th, she anchored in Poltiel bay, opposite Glendale, and sent an officer ashore, who was met by some of the crofters, and courteously received. It was arranged that the people should meet Mr. Malcolm Mac-Neill of the Board of Supervision, and Captain Macdonald of Waternish, in the Free Church, at two o’clock the same afternoon. The horns were sounded, and between 600 and 700 persons attended the meeting, when the two gentlemen named were introduced by the Rev. John MacRae. Captain Macdonald addressed the people in Gaelic, and explained to them the object of Mr. MacNeill’s visit, which was of a peaceable nature, after which the latter read the following statement to the people, translated into Gaelic, by the Rev. Mr. MacRae:—

Inhabitants of Glendale,—I have come here to speak to you one last word on behalf of the Government. It may be that you are not aware how serious is the offence which you have committed in deforcing and maltreating an officer carrying out the orders of the Supreme Court. If so, it is my duty to tell you that it is an offence which will neither be forgotten nor forgiven till four offenders—viz., John Macpherson, Malcolm Matheson, Donald Macleod, and John Morrison have surrendered themselves to receive the punishment they deserve. But whatever may have been your mistake on this point, every one of you is aware that to seize grazings belonging to another, to drive off his stock and servants without any legal authority whatever, is a gross breach of the law, even if you have a moral right to these grazings, a fact which must be clearly proved before it is admitted. Then, again, nothing can excuse^or-ganised assemblages for the express purpose of intimidation, if not of violence.

Having now shortly described to you what are your offences, I have further to inform you that the Government are resolved to enforce law and order in Skye at whatever cost. No one need fear that injustice will be done him ; but you seem to forget that justice, while she carries a balance in one hand, carries a sword in the other, and that however important may be her duties in removing grievances, those in punishing offenders are still more important.

Some who call themselves your friends may tell you that you have only to resist to gain what you desire. It is my duty to warn you against such evil counsel. Your resistance to the law, and your] riotous proceedings, are turning against you those who most earnestly desire to see your just claims satisfied. They begin to fear that your claims may turn out to be as bad as your behaviour has been.

You will, perhaps, allow me to give you a word of advice. Let the men named, viz., John Macpherson, Malcolm Matheson, Donald Macleod, and John Morrison surrender themselves on board the Jackal. Let the stock be instantly removed in my presence from Waterstein. Let an intimation, signed for you by your elders, be sent to the tenant, promising security for his stock and servants. I shall now leave you to discuss this matter among yourselves, and I shall be here again to receive your answer on the I oth, at ten o’clock. Meanwhile I should like to visit you in your houses, and to hear from your own mouth what are the grievances of which you complain. I trust you may arrive at a reasonable decision. If you persevere in your present attitude, though I shall regret what may befall you, I shall be obliged to admit that you have none to blame but yourselves.

The discussion which took place at the meeting was conducted by the crofters with remarkable ability, and the facts brought out fully corroborated the' grievances already enumerated in these pages, and many others besides. The people were told that if they surrendered and went to Edinburgh all their grievances would be listened to and fully enquired into, promises which, as the sequel proved, and as those who made them should have known, turned out completely false; for the only matter of which any discussion was allowed in Court, was the narrow and technical question as to whether the accused were guilty or not of a Breach of the Court of Session Interdict. The following conversation which passed at the meeting will be found interesting in many respects :—

John Macpherson, said, in reply to statements made, that none of the people ever put cattle or sheep on Waterstein. The place was not fenced in, and it was perfectly impossible for the crofters to prevent their, cattle from straying there. He then related how that eighteen years ago Tormore gave grazings for 150 sheep belonging to other tenants than those of Glendale ; how, when the Milovaig people were away at the fishing, the shepherds put these sheep on their (the Milovaig tenants’) land ; how they were never taken off; and how, since they were deprived of grazing for 150 sheep for eighteen years, they were entitled to get something in return. They complained to Tormore of the giving of their grazing to other townships, but got no redress. They told the shepherds to take away these sheep to their own lands, but the shepherds, acting under Tormore’s orders; would not.

Captain Macdonald, of Waternish, said, if he (Macpherson) would go to Edinburgh, all this would be heard ; they would be allowed to produce witnesses.

John Macpherson said the Milovaig tenants had been there for 37 years. When Tormore took Waterstein a year or so ago, he came there as a new tenant. Now, before Tormore, then factor, took Waterstein to himself, the crofters offered to take it at the old rent. They would not get it although they had been 37 years in the place. When Waterstein was out, was it not as fair for the crofters, so long there, to get it at the full rent, as it was for Tormore, the factor, to take it? Would the Government support them, and send witnesses after them to Edinburgh to prove this?

Captain Macdonald said that any witnesses that would be cited by the Government would be paid. He had heard that Tormore offered to put up a march between his farm and the crofters’ townships, but that the crofters would not allow him.

John Macpherson said that was not correct. He had been 37 years in Milovaig, and he and the other crofters thought that no fence ought to have been put up without their having been consulted ; the factor’s fence was to have taken a straight line, and this would have taken some of the crofters’ land away.

Peter Mackinnon, a crofter, and keeper of the Post-office at Glendale, repudiated the charge of lawlessness made against them, and pointed to his own services in the Crimea, particularly at the siege of Sebastopol, in proof of his desire to respect order. He had medals of good conduct at home. He had been in Glendale for the last twenty years. He used at one time to buy the fish from the fishermen, but Tormore, when he came, would not allow him to do so ; and by that act of tyranny, he had lost £100. He charged the factor’s servants with having with their dogs driven his cow against a fence. The cow died, and he lost £12. He got no compensation for that. The Glendale people were never allowed to go to law, by the tyranny of the factor. Tormore was the Sheriff in this place. When he (Mackinnon) went to Tormore, and bitterly complained of his conduct in preventing the fishermen from selling their fish to him, and in. taking the fish himself, Tormore’s answer was, “You are reading too many newspapers, and you don’t deserve to get justice”. During the time of his factorship Tormore never allowed any case in dispute to go before the Sheriff at Portree, but he decided them in his own way. The people would be evicted if they went against his decision. What the people now wanted to do was to break this tyranny of factors and proprietors, and not to break the law. For 20 years there had been no law in Glendale, but the law of the factor. Mackinnon denied that the people deforced Mactavish, till Mactavish lifted a stick; and then a half-witted lad threw a pail of water about his ears. The present factor was as bad as the other. Solomon, that was Tormore, beat them with swords ; but. Rehoboam, that was Greshomish, tormented them with scorpions.

Captain Macdonald said the proprietors might be wrong, and the crofters might be right; but when, in going against the proprietors, the people maltreated policemen and officers of the law, they were grossly breaking the foundations of all good society.

Peter Mackinnon replied that they had heard it said that “Britons never shall be slaves"

Captain Macdonald said the Glendale people would not be slaves; they would get justice.

Peter Mackinnon said they had been slaves, and it was a fine thing to see the Union Jack of Great Britain coming in there to take them away. The Union Jack should do away with slavery. The Glendale people had been slaves since ever he was born.

Captain Macdonald said it was to put this right that he came to give them advice. '

Peter Mackinnon defied any one to say he ever broke the law. At last election Tormore said to him—If you go against me with Lochiel— “if you go against me”—you will cause all the proprietors in Skye to go against you.

Mackinnon, continuing, said the sun and the moon would change their courses before the conditions asked would be given. He was, of course, only speaking for himself. He referred to requirements two and three only. It was impossible, he added, to keep stock off ground that was not fenced, especially at this time of the year. It would cost £20 a-year to keep a herd for the purpose, and how could he, with a single cow, pay that money? Such conditions were entirely out of all question. He declared that no one could fulfil them. Why would not the proprietor or tenant fence Waterstein? Surely every one who had a property was bound to defend it. Were the crofters to guarantee that their stock was not to wander on the proprietor’s land; would the proprietors guarantee that the factor’s stock should not wander on the crofters’ land? That was only fair, because the proprietor put up no fences. The four townships of Bracadale had been crowded down upon those living in Glendale—evicted from Bracadale. It was utterly impossible for them to exist under present circumstances. The proprietors had dealt with them in a bloodthirsty way. Tormore promised them Waterstein, but would not give it them although they offered the same rent as was paid by the former tenant.

John Macpherson said Tormore was giving grazings for 150 sheep for 18 years. There were 150 sheep on the Milovaig pasture all that time. They now wanted the factor to pay the crofters for the grazing of their sheep for the last 18 years.

A crofter (excitedly) said although they took all the men away from Milovaig to Edinburgh, it would not stop this agitation. (Applause). They might be imprisoned, but the agitation would not be put down. They must get more land before the agitation would stop.

Captain Macdonald—You are young men, and I am an old man. If you take my advice you will give yourselves up.

A crofter asked who was to support their families while they were away?

Captain Macdonald replied that Campbell, the inspector of poor, was there to look after them!

A crofter asked who is to pay for the witnesses?

Captain Macdonald said the country would guarantee that they would be paid.

A Crofter—Guarantee will not do, but the money. (Laughter.)

Captain Macdonald—I have little doubt you will get the money.

We are not aware that any of the promises above made as to the maintenance of the families of the men, or providing money to pay for their witnesses, have been implemented.

Three of the Crofters agree to Surrender and go to Edinburgh.

At a meeting held immediately after the deputation from the Jackal had left, the people decided that the three men, John Macpherson, John Morrison, and Donald MacLeod, should proceeed to Edinburgh by the Dutiara Castle, but not by the government gunboat, for they would not have it said of them by future generations of their countrymen, “ that Glendale men had to be taken away from their homes in a man-of-war Peter MacLean, Merchant, Dunvegan, strongly urged them to this course, telling them that—“ There was no doubt an arrangement would be made for the support of their families while they were away. A committee would be formed to gather subscriptions everywhere for their support, and they had Captain Macdonald’s guarantee that witnesses for their defence would be sent to Edinburgh.” We are curious to know, for certain, how far these promises have been kept, as our information at present is by no means of a satisfactory character, and scarcely creditable to those who made them. .

On the following Monday, the three crofters went aboard the Dunara Castle, after bidding farewell to their families and friends, many of whom were steeped in tears. The special correspondent of the Inverness Courier, who was present, informs us that—“John Macpherson, who is a man of striking appearance, bold and manly bearing, great intelligence, and considerable mental power, had a word of comfort and re-assurance for all. ‘ If I was going,’ he said to them in Gaelic, ‘ to jail for a sheep or for a lamb, you might be very sorry. But, as it is, you ought to be very glad. For we go to uphold a good cause; we go to defend the widow and the fatherless, and the comfort and needs of our hearths and homes.’ This he told to his wife and family, and, with these characteristic words, delivered with the eloquence for which he is distinguished among his fellows, he reassured the people who gathered here and there on the roadside between Milovaig and Colbost.”

On the following Wednesday, the men arrived in Glasgow, and called on some of their friends, who provided for them in a comfortable hotel. Immediately afterwards, a letter was sent the Prosecuting Agents in Edinburgh, that the three men would appear before the Court of Session as soon as a diet could be fixed. The reply to this letter was the unexpected appearance of a messenger-at-arms and his officers at their hotel, before six o’clock in the morning on the following Friday, who at once gained admittance * to their bedrooms, arrested them, and hurried them off by train to Edinburgh, without even allowing them to partake of breakfast, which had been ordered the night before. They were, on their arrival, taken to the Calton Prison, but the governor refused to admit them on the warrant produced, when they were removed to the Ship Hotel, and there provided for under the charge of Mr. MacTavish, the Messenger-at-arms who arrested them.

Their case was taken up by Mr. Robert Emslie, S.S.C.,

Edinburgh, and Mr. Dugald Maclachlan, Writer, Glasgow, who secured the services of Mr. Dugald Mackechnie and Mr. Burnet, Advocates, for the defence.

Before the Court of Session.

On Tuesday, 20th of February, the three men appeared before the Court of Session, when Mr. J. P. P. Robertson, for the Trustees, moved for sentence for Contempt of Court and Breach of Interdict. Mr. Mackechnie asked that they should be allowed to lodge answers at that stage, offering to find caution for their appearance for any amount the Court might fix. The application was granted, bail being fixed at ;£ioo each. The cautioners were at once forthcoming. Major Neil MacLeod, Eskbank, late of the Royal Artillery, the Rev. J. Mackinnon, Edinburgh, and Mr. Samuel Mac-laren, Merchant, Leith, entered into the necessary bonds. The Answers were ordered to be lodged within forty-eight hours. This was done on the 23rd, giving a general denial to all the charges made against the men. The following extract—although no evidence was permitted to be led in court regarding it—will show how these poor people have been driven to extremes :—

For many years previous to the year 1845 these lands were occupied by eight tenants on each of the Milovaigs, and one tenant on Borodale. They paid a rental of about £7 each per annum for their crofts, and with the aid of fishing they were able to live. Each family then possessed five cows, twenty sheep, and a horse. In or about that year, however, the then proprietor of the said lands subdivided the Milovaigs, into sixteen crofts or lots each, in order to provide for a number of tenants whom he had removed from the neighbouring farms of Bracadale and Minginish. The position of the crofters was very much deteriorated by this subdivision, and still more so when, some three or four years ago, the number of crofters on each of the Milovaig farms was increased to twenty on each, and to four in Borodale, in order to find room for tenants removed from other holdings on petitioners’ lands. No additional land twas allotted to the crofters, who now, with their families, number nearly 400, instead of less than 100 ; and the crofts or lots left to them are far from sufficient for their subsistence.

After hearing counsel, their Lordships ordered the case to be set down for trial at ten o’clock on the 9th of March, the evidence to be taken before Lord Shand.

Meanwhile Mr. Emslie, and Mr. MacLachlan, with John Macpherson, proceeded to Glendale, to precognose witnesses on behalf of the accused. This completed,

The Trial

Took place as arranged, before Lord Shand on the 9th of March, Mr. J. P. P. Robertson, and Mr. Graham Murray conducting the case on behalf of the Trustees, and Mr. John H. Macdonald, Q.C., Dean of Faculty, Mr. Dugald Mackechnie, and Mr. D. Burnet, appearing for the crofters, Mr. Donald Mackinnon, M.A., Professor of Celtic Languages in the University of Edinburgh, acted as interpreter. The evidence was strictly confined to the question of Breach of Interdict. The general question of the crofters’ grievances, and of how they had been driven to extremes, was sternly excluded from consideration. Mr. Donald Macdonald, Tormore, late factor, distinctly admitted, however, in crossexamination, that the people “did not propose to get Water-stein for nothing,” but were willing to pay for it a rent, “ to be matter of adjustment like any other rent”. He also admitted that there were other grounds for the crofters’ complaints about the Borodale sheep grazing on Milovaig; that 100 was the proper summing, although the tenants were allowed by him to have on it at least double that number, and that these sheep were driven by the Waterstein shepherds on to the Milovaig grazings. “That complaint,” he admitted, “may be quite true.” The Waterstein shepherd also admitted having driven the Borodale sheep from Waterstein on to the crofters’ grazings at Milovaig, but still he was on friendly terms with the people. The crofters naturally resented these proceedings of driving strange sheep to eat up the grazing which was already so circumscribed that their own sheep and cattle were half-starving upon it, and they drove back the sheep upon Waterstein, thinking such a proceeding perfectly fair; and what they considered fair, they thought, in their innocence, must be also perfectly legal. They soon discovered their error, when they came in contact with the Court of Session, acting as judge and jury in their own case. The evidence taken before Lord Shand having been printed, the Judges of the First Division—the Lord Justice-General, Lords Deas, Mure, and Shand, met on the 15 th of March, and heard counsel in the case. Mr. Robertson for the MacLeod Trustees, ably summed up the evidence for his clients, and moved for sentence.

The Dean of Faculty, in a masterly speech, went over the whole case for the respondents. He said that:—

The first witness called for the petitioners was a man who knew the ground intimately—John MacDiarmid—and he told them that the marches between Milovaig and Waterstein farm were regularly repaired except last year—he (the Dean) presumed by the proprietor—so that, as far as the petitioners were concerned, they came forward for the purpose of endeavouring to make out that the respondents had suffered sheep to stray and pasture upon their lands ; while the first thing that was learned about what was done by the petitioners was that, for the first time for many years, nothing was done by the petitioners to put their own fences in proper order. That being so, the next fact to which he wished to call attention was that upon the other side of Milovaig from Waterstein, the factor of these trustees had, upon his own showing, allowed the four crofters of Borodale to have a stock of sheep which he himself admitted the township could not possibly carry—that about IOO sheep could be carried by the township, and that last summer, with his consent, the four crofters had 200 sheep upon Borodale. These sheep being too many for Borodale, the Borodale crofters went to Tormore, and asked him what was to be done. By a direct arrangement, or by a tacit arrangement, or by a misunderstanding, the whole of these 200 sheep, with the exception of one, which he supposed was sick—(a laugh)— were driven down through Waterstein to Ramasaig, past the end of Milovaig township. These sheep, as sheep did working their way towards their own pastures, naturally went through Waterstein and through the Milovaig land. His case was that not only did they do so naturally, in consequence of what Tormore allowed, but that in point of fact the people upon Waterstein knew that they did so, and that, knowingly, they drove the sheep on to Milovaig. The respondents maintained that a great deal of the excitement and anger of the Milovaig crofters was caused by this indiscriminate thrusting over their march of sheep which belonged to Borodale, and could not admittedly be pastured on Borodale. There had been no attempt made by the servants at Waterstein to discriminate between Milovaig and Borodale stock. They only knew that strayed sheep were upon the ground ; and in particular, nothing was done to find out whether any of the sheep of the three respondents were upon Waterstein. That surely, when these three men had been specially picked out, should have been done. It appeared from the evidence of Macdonald that the shepherds had a general instruction to drive all sheep straying upon Waterstein on to Milovaig. But not the slightest attempt was made here to identify any sheep. Even Robertson, the factor, merely said, “I knew they were strange stock, but I did not know to whom they'belonged”. Surely this was a case, when it was proposed to punish people for an alleged offence, where the sheep should have been impounded and the marks examined. It was clear from Robertson’s testimony that he knew that the Borodale tenants had an overstock of sheep, which could not subsist upon their own ground, and that there had been complaints on the subject; but as to the conversations which took place at the meetings there was naturally some haziness, as Robertson knew not a word of Gaelic, and the speakers little English. The evidence of the petitioners proved that, for the first time in the history of those townships, the people who were anxious to get an interdict for the purpose of protecting their property did none of the ordinary repairs on the fences as in former years, and that they knew, both by their factor and shepherds, that there was stock trespassing on their land with which the respondents had nothing to do, but which, nevertheless, they pushed back on Milovaig. He ventured to say that one could not very well imagine more unfavourable circumstances for the petitioners coming forward to ask that people should be punished for allowing their sheep to be on their land.

The evidence given for the respondents was to the same effect. The order of the Court was to prevent the people of Milovaig doing on Waterstein what the Waterstein people were doing on Milovaig; and, considering all the circumstances, that would necessarily create irritation. There was only general evidence that sheep came upon Waterstein, and were driven back on the Milovaig townships. In this evidence Macpherson said that the sheep might have been backwards and forwards over the marches, and as there were no fences, and as the work had to be done by shepherds, that was a thing which could not have been prevented. In reply to a question by the Court, the Dean of Faculty said that the Milovaig people kept a shepherd, but that they stopped herding the sheep when they found the Borodale stock was continually thrust back upon their land. The second point against them was that they trespassed on the lands of Waterstein without any valid excuse. Now, if anyone went on Waterstein for an illegal purpose, that would be trespass; but if they went to speak to the shepherds on business in a friendly way, the element of trespass would not enter. But he took it that this charge of trespassing would be taken in connection with the last charge, that of molesting the petitioners’ servants and threatening them. As to that, he thought he had succeeded in showing their Lordships that the Milovaig people had good ground of complaint against the shepherds for their persistence in doing what was wrong—viz., in sending Borodale sheep upon their land. There was no doubt from the evidence that this matter of the Borodale sheep was a substantial grievance. This was a most important element in considering the question whether this action of the Milovaig people in regard to the shepherds was a breach of interdict, because this was interference to prevent a thing which the Court had never contemplated or authorised these petitioners to do. It was clearly an illegal act for the Waterstein shepherds to drive Borodale sheep on to Milovaig. It was a remarkable thing that the quarrel of the crofters was against Macdonald, the under shepherd, and not against MacDiarmid, his chief. That clearly showed that the feeling was due to Macdonald persistently driving these Borodale sheep upon their ground. Even MacDiarmid had a quarrel with Macdonald upon the subject, and had gone the length of calling him a liar, because he had deceived him on that very point. At these meetings whieh had been spoken to there was no doubt a good deal of excitement and ill-feeling, and things were said by individuals in the crowd which the rest of the people would repudiate ; and certainly nothing had been brought home to the respondents, as having said anything or done anything that could be called violent at any of these meetings.

For the statements in the petition, in so far as they were concerned, there was not the slightest evidence. Indeed, as to Macpherson, the witnesses were not sure whether he was even in the crowd. As to the alleged assault on Macdonald at Ramasaig—which was the most serious thing charged—Macpherson and Morrison were not at Ramasaig, but remained with Nicolson, the shepherd ; and Macleod, though he went a little further with the crowd than the other two, was not with the crowd when the alleged assault was committed. In conclusion, the Dean said this was about the first time for two generations in which it had been necessary in the case of Highlanders that any interdict should be granted against them. It was a kind of process with which they were not well acquainted. They were not well acquainted with lawyers or with judges; and their intercourse with the policeman of the district had been of the slightest and most friendly kind. He could not help thinking that when their Lordships considered the whole case, they would come to the conclusion that there was a mixed feeling on the part of these people, greatly caused by this, that while the law was being used against them to produce a state of things which was perfectly legal and right, but which was not usual in these townships, where there was a great deal of freedom, and where they had managed to get on in the same way for generations, a cause of irritation was introduced either by the carelessness or want of reasonable attention to their duties on the part of the petitioners’ servants—that these people, after being forbidden to send their stock across the march, had from time to time, and in spite of remonstrance, large quantities of stock thrust upon them by the Waterstein servants, who knew well that it did not belong to Milovaig at all. In these circumstances, he submitted, it was not a case in which the Court should find these men guilty of intentional breach of the interdict granted, but that their Lordships should hold that the case had not been made out.

Lord Shand, in giving judgment, said —My Lord, the single question that is raised by the proceedings in this case is whether the respondents have committed a breach of the interdict or order of this Court. That interdict was granted upon the 6th July, 1882, and was duly intimated to the respondents and a number of other crofters in Milovaig, as the original interdict had also been duly intimated to them. The order of the Court was an interdict, as has been pointed out by the complainer’s counsel, striking at three different acts on the part of the respondents. The Court interdicted, and prohibited, and discharged the respondents entering or trespassing upon the lands or farm of Waterstein. Again, they were interdicted from pasturing or herding their sheep or cattle on those lands or any part thereof, and from allowing their sheep, horses, or cattle, to stray thereon, or on part thereon; and, finally, they were interdicted from obstructing, molesting, or interfering with the complainers in the occupation of the lands or farm, or with their tenants, dependants, or servants. I regret to say that I have come to the conclusion, and come to the conclusion without the smallest difficulty, that the respondents have each and all of them been guilty of a violation of the order of the Court. It is necessary that reference be made to some of the observations that have fallen from my friend, the Dean of Faculty, to inquire what was the duty and obligation which the order of this Court laid upon the respondents. It has been said that the landlord’s fences upon Waterstein ground were not in a sufficient or proper condition. That element does not appear to me to have a material bearing on this question. The order of the Court required, on the part of the respondents, something active to be done. They were required to refrain from trespassing, to take steps to prevent their sheep from going upon these lands, and, again, to refrain from molesting the servants—the shepherds of the complainers—in the performance of the duty which they owed to their employers ; and it is no answer to the complaint to say that obligation and duty has been neglected because there was a want of fencing on the part of the landlords. It is true, if the respondents had been in a position to say, “We did our best to fulfil the order of the Court, but in consequence of the fences on the landlord’s march all our efforts were unavailing, our sheep have strayed to Waterstein,” of course there could be no reasonable complaint made against them. But the case that is presented is not one of that kind. The ease presented by the complainers is that although that order of the Court was intimated to the respondents, and known to them, they deliberately and wilfully set it at defiance. In regard to the other two branches of this interdict, of the respondents allowing their sheep to go from Milovaig to Waterstein, I think the ease is clearly proved as against two of the respondents now at the bar—I mean John Macpherson and John Morrison. There is a second matter to whieh I have referred, and it is also of a very serious kind. The charge there is, that those respondents, in conjunction with others, were guilty of interfering with and obstructing the complainers’ shepherds in the performance of their duty. While, no doubt, that raises a separate and additional point, I must observe that it enters very fully into the first point with which I have already dealt, because, even if it be the fact that there was a want of fencing or a deficiency of fencing, all the more was it necessary, when an interdict of this kind was granted, that the persons complained against should refrain from interfering with the shepherds, because the shepherds alone could serve the purpose of keeping the sheep out because of tlie defective fencing. Upon this branch of the case I have no difficulty in holding that it has been proved there was a combination and arrangement among a body of crofters on Milovaig ground to drive the shepherds away from keeping the march with Waterstein, and, I regret to say, that they succeeded in their purpose. The steps that were taken, as appears in the evidence, upon repeated occasions, were not acts of single individuals ; but I think on at least two occasions, if not more, it is proved that when meetings took place between the crofters and the shepherds, and the factor to whom the crofters addressed themselves, there was generally a body of twenty, thirty, and forty men at a time. The evidence, I think, clearly shows—and I really do not mean to go into it in detail—that the three of the complainers’ shepherds were, in dread of personal violence, compelled to desist from the performance of their duty. I cannot imagine any more distinct or overt act in defiance of the order of the Court than that which I have described in reference to the treatment of those different shepherds. The only question that remains—it being clear that these are the facts of the case—is whether any possible defence can be set up in reference to those proceedings. It has been said on behalf of the respondents—I do not know whether it may represent anything beyond an explanation, or, possibly, a kind of excuse—that the complainers were themselves guilty of wrongful acts from time to time in allowing their shepherds to drive the Borodale sheep down from the Waterstein grazing upon Milovaig. At one part of the Dean of Faculty’s address, I thought he almost ventured to put that as a defence of this complaint, but I must say, for my part, 1 cannot see how it possibly could be made a defence. The Court having ordered that the respondents in this case should take measures to prevent their sheep going on this ground, it would be no justification of their disregard of that order that the complainers here were doing something wrongful on their part. I could quite understand, although I certainly could not justify, the Milovaig people saying, if sheep are driven upon them which had no right to be there, they would drive them back again, provided there were no interdict or injunction on either side ; but in a case in which there was a direct order of the Court, which the respondents were bound to obey, it would be no answer that there were any illegal proceedings carried on against them. It was equally open to them to resort to the law for protection.

After a few further remarks his Lordship concluded—My Lords, I do not mean to detain your Lordships further; I am of opinion, on the evidence, that it has been proved that two of the respondents, Macpherson and Morrison, have been guilty of a breach of interdict, in allowing their sheep to go on to the Waterstein pastures, and that all of the respondents have been guilty of breach of interdict, in respect that they interfered with and obstructed the shepherds of the complainers in the performance of their duty, and that their acts in doing so were, in some instances, accompanied by serious violence; and I am of opinion that the respondents should receive punishment accordingly.

Lords Mure and Deas concurred, and the Lord President, after a few remarks passed—

Sentence of Two Months Imprisonment

On each of the accused, who were removed from the bar amid the applause of a crowded court.

The Martyrs in Prison.

They were conveyed in a cab to the Calton Jail, where they were at first treated as common criminals, put in prison garb, two of them, MacLeod and Morrison, having had their hair cropped. Macpherson pleaded that his hair might be left untouched until the following morning, as he expected then to get out. This was agreed to, and, although Macpherson was disappointed regarding any expectations he may have formed as to getting out of prison, he was permitted to retain his hair; for the prison officials discovered before morning, that they had committed a serious error in treating the Glendale “ martyrs ” as common criminals. The prison regulations provided that for Contempt of Court —that of which they had been found guilty—they were to be treated in quite a different manner. The officials could not replace the hair so unwarrantably cut off on the previous evening, but to the mens’ great satisfaction their own clothes was returned to them next morning. They were told that, according to the regulations, friends would be

permitted to visit them; that they might receive food from outside, if they, or their friends, chose to supply and pay for it; that they could have any books and newspapers supplied to them, at their own expense or at that of their friends; and that they were to take their exercise separately from the criminals in the prison. Instead of the hard boards, as they had for the first night, to sleep on, they were supplied with excellent beds, and bedding ; they were placed together in a large room, and amply provided with fire, and other conveniences; while the only work of any kind they had to perform, was to scrub out their own room twice a week; and this the regulations permitted them to get done by others, if they preferred to pay for it. Their food was supplied daily, three times a day, from a neighbouring restaurant, by the Edinburgh Highland Land Law Reform Association, through Mr. Dugald Cowan, Secretary, who also supplied them with books, magazines, and newspapers, and such other little comforts as the prison regulations admitted of.

We paid them a visit in the jail, on the 6th of April, and intimated, among other items of news, that we succeeded in collecting about £20 among Inverness friends, to aid in their own maintenance in prison, and the support of their families at home, during their incarceration. They expressed themselves extremely grateful for the interest taken by outsiders in their case, and in their families, and desired us to intimate to their friends that they were more comfortable in prison than they could possibly have expected; that every official was as considerate as the regulations would allow; and that they had nothing but good to say of everyone connected with the prison. We found them all in the same room, provided with the best bedding and a good fire. They strongly urged that their friends at home should not commit any act which would bring odium on those who sympathised with them outside, and that they should keep strictly within the law. John Morrison—the eldest of the three—had been complaining, but he was fast recovering, and the others were in excellent health and spirits. Believing that the circumstance was not accidental, they were much delighted at the enlivenment of their evenings by frequently hearing the bagpipes, in the neighbourhood, playing familiar airs,—an arrangement by their Edinburgh friends of a remarkably considerate and delicate nature. The only thing they complained of was that John Macpherson, the only one of the three who could write, had been deprived of writing materials. Otherwise, they were as happy and comfortable as people within a prison, deprived of their liberty, could possibly be. But they were much concerned about their families, and afraid that their crofts might suffer from want of the necessary cultivation and attention to the other Spring work, during their imprisonmennt.

Professor Blackie’s Opinion.

While the Crofters were in Edinburgh awaiting their trial, Professor Blackie wrote a remarkable letter, about their case, to the Scotsman, who published it, at the same time making a characteristically violent and false attack on the Professor and other friends of the Highland people, including the present writer, an honour— that of being bracketed with Professor Blackie in any good cause— which he highly appreciates. The letter is as follows :—

9 Douglas Crescent, Edinburgh, Feb. 27, 1883.

Sir,—As your columns have always been open to the statement of adverse views, and as your tone lately seems to run somewhat sweepingly against the opinions entertained by myself and many members of the Liberal party who have most practical acquaintance with the Highlands, I crave the liberty to state our view of the Skye Crofters’ case with all succinctness. Our sympathies lie emphatically with the lawbreakers in this case, and we are strongly of opinion that the real guilt lies with the law-makers—that is, historically, the oligarchs of the soil and the British public, who, after the abolition of the clan system in 1746, made no recognition of the consuetudinary rights of the people in the land, and who, from ignorance or apathy, have allowed laws to remain on the statute-book the direct action of which, when not counteracted by kindly influences, is to over-ride, overwhelm, and at last exterminate the best element of the local population. It is a matter of the smallest consequence, in our view, whether the case for the crofters in the present instance, be legally right or wrong. We know that this Glendale outbreak is a mere symptom of a deeply-seated social disease, for which the land oligarchy and the Land Laws are answerable at the bar of eternal justice. We know, and thousands can rise to testify to it, that there is no tyranny in Europe—not even in Asiatic Turkey— practically more grinding than the tyranny which, under our present Land Laws, the lord of the soil, with his commissioner, factor, and ground officer, may, in remote Highland districts, exercise over the Highland crofters. With these convictions, we have no hesitation in saying that we regard the Glendale crofters as martyrs rather than criminals—not because they are legally in the right, or because it is in any case right to break the law, but because the law is radically wrong, and by its very nature instigates a healthy human conscience to the violation which it condemns. When the law is just, and the devil, so to speak, sits as God’s vicegerent on a local throne, it is nothing wonderful that rebellion should break out, and that the rebels should in such cases be not seldom the very select and elect of the land. Such rebels were the Milanese, who revolted against the Austrian rule in Lombardy, and drew out their lives sorrowfully in the dark cells of Moravian prisons. Such rebels were our gallant forefathers—the men who fell at Rullion Green, Aird’s Moss, and Bothwell Brig, and shed their blood to purchase for us liberty to breathe on our own Scottish soil, and to read our own Bibles without Anglican dictation. Whatever deeds of blood were perpetrated during the whole seven-and-twenty years of Charles II. and his pig-headed successor were done with the sanction of the law; and on a smaller and less bloody field the extirpation of the noble race of mountain peasantry that inhabited the once populous Highland glens was done with the sanction of law. The law was always in. favour of the men who had the power; never in favour of those whose natural weakness made them an easy prey to the ambition, cupidity, or indifference of their superiors. The law could always be used to enrich the few and to impoverish the many. Laws were made with solemn show and executed with unsparing severity, to preserve the game, but never to preserve the people. This is our view of the matter. Instead, therefore, of hastily blaming these unfortunate people, let us go to the root of the evil, and not, like quack doctors, treat a skin disease with external lotions and superficial appliances, when the only cure lies in reforming the whole habit of social life, and sending a strong current of fresh blood through the veins. Let us unite heart and hand for a radical reform of all landlord-made law ! This is my programme ; and I am ready to stand by it, though it should rain laws from the statute-book as thick as pike-staves upon the land. Land Law Reform is the only banner under which the Liberal party can hope to gain glorious victories at the present hour ; and if they should fail to see their opportunity, and timidly take counsel from law cunningly confused with right, and from a political economy which confounds well-being with wealth, the Tories may act more wisely. They are not the worst landlords in the Highlands, to my knowledge ; and if God in His Providence should only send us a second Lord Beaconsfield there is no saying what they might be educated .to do. I subjoin a more succinct expression of these sentiments in verse :—


A loud voice blames the men who break the law;
I rather blame who made the laws to break,
Who pressed the yoke so close upon the neck
Of the hard-driven beast, and rubbed the raw,
That in a fretful fit it kicked the board
And tossed the rider. Blame your want of skill,
Blind oligarchs, and your uneven will
To maim the peasant and to arm the lord.
Woe unto you, the grasping crew who join
Wide field to field, and house to house, that you
May live sole lords of earth, and rack and screw
The poor to trick forth Mammon’s gilded shrine!
God is not mocked, whose bolt their head shall smite
Who stamp His name on Might and call it Right.

John Stuart Blackie.

The comments of the Scotsman on this letter were so grossly false and unfair, that the writer was impelled to apply a little good-natured criticism to the Whig organ on his relation to the Highland people, which appeared in the •April number of the Celtic Magazine, in the form of a short article, subjoined, and of which he sent the Editor of the Scotsman an early proof , with the following note :—

Inverness, March 16, 1883.

Mr. Alexander Mackenzie, who is honoured with a share in an article in to-day's Scotsman, presents his compliments to the editor of that journal, and at the same time presents him with an early proof of a little free criticism which is to appear in the April number of the Celtic Magazine. Mr. Mackenzie—who is quite satisfied with it as a reply to that and other articles in the same journal—has no doubt the editor of the Scotsman will accept this small compliment in the same spirit and with the same satisfaction with which Mr. Mackenzie accepts the slight attentions which he delights to receive occasionally from the Scotsman.

There can be no objection to the reproduction of the article, with this note, and the Scotsman's criticism thereon, if the editor desires to help in the laudable object pf extending its circulation.

More definite and detailed information will be forthcoming if desired.

It is unnecessary, perhaps, to state that the Scotsman produced neither the note nor the article accompanying it, the latter of which was as follows :—


In a recent issue of the Scotsman, Professor Blackie published a letter, which we subjoin, setting forth his views on the present agitation and disturbance among the crofters in Glendale, Isle of Skye. This letter the Scotsman, as the special organ of the Scottish Landocracy, could not conveniently swallow, and in trying to dispose of it by a less dangerous process, it lost its head. It has done more ; it has thrown away the semblance of any ingenuousness and fair-dealing which innocent people thought had yet remained to it.

Professor Blackie, speaking for himself and those who agreed with him, wrote—“Our sympathies lie emphatically with the law-breakers in this case"; that is, with those who had broken the law in Glendale ; for he says immediately after, in the same paragraph of which the above quoted sentence forms a part—“We know that this Glendale outbreak is a mere symptom of a deeply-rooted social disease for which the land oligarchy and the Land Laws are answerable at the bar of eternal justice.” The Scotsman, with characteristic unscrupulousness, when dealing with an opponent, which no other publication in Scotland has yet attained to, twists this plain statement into a charge against Professor Blackie of sympathising “ with law-breakers as such ”.

The Professor further says, and says truly, “that there is no tyranny in Europe—nor even in Asiatic Turkey—practically more grinding than the tyranny which, under our present Land Laws, the lord of the soil, with his commissioner, factor, and ground-officer, may, in remote districts, exercise over the Highland crofters*’. How does the Scotsman deal with this carefully-qualified statement? “It is to be read,” it says, “as stating that this grinding tyranny is practised.” It certainly should have been both written and read to that effect as regards the conduct during the present century of many of the class referred to. Professor Blackie, however, does not go that length about any lords of the soil, commissioners, or factors, but the Scotsman magniloquently declares, notwithstanding, that “it is a baseless calumny to say or to hint that landlords and factors are, as a whole, guilty of tyranny and oppression ”.

Who ever said or hinted any such thing as is here placed in Professor Blackie’s mouth. Neither in his letter to the Scotsman, nor anywhere else, did he ever say anything of the kind. He has often, in our hearing, and to the knowledge of his unfair and unscrupulous accuser, said the very reverse. No one has written more warmly in favour of good landlords and considerate factors than he has done, and many good specimens of both are, happily, still to be found in the Highlands.

Enough has been said to show the nature of the attack so violently made upon him, but we may fairly ask what right has the Scotsman to assume to itself the position which it has done on the Highland Crofter Question ? At any rate it is proper in the circumstances that we give a few reasons why it should not be for a moment listened to by any one who has the interest of the native population of the Highlands at heart, for its conductors show singular ignorance of the facts as to the position and interests of the Crofters, and it has never failed to malign and misrepresent them.

The Scotsman itself, conducted, as it is, under influences foreign to Scotland and Scotchmen, naturally tries to encourage proceedings in the Highlands, which would obliterate and destroy all traces of Celtic nationality ; and, to accomplish this end, it delights in fostering a system by which the Southern sheep farmer and the English sportsman monopolise the Highlands, and drive the native population out of the country, caring not whither they go.

While the paper in question has always proved itself the inveterate and uncompromising enemy of the Highland Crofters, this anti-Celtic feeling has, if possible, become more intensified in recent years.

In 1878 the Scotsman sent to the Highlands and Islands a “Special Commissioner” to describe the condition of the Crofters, whose main purpose seems to have been, if we may judge by results, to misrepresent and vilify them ; and he has taken little trouble before making his ignorant aspersions, to ascertain the facts. It is capable of proof that he described the whole of North and South Uist, Benbecula, and Barra —a district of country seventy to eighty miles long from north to south, and containing a population of 12,503 souls—without ever leaving the neighbourhood of Lochmaddy. The same state of things can be proved in the case of a wide district of the parish of Gairloch and other West Coast estates. The public were led to believe all this time that the “ Special Commissioner ” was giving the results of his personal experience, and of his own investigation into the circumstances and surroundings of the people ! Were the conductors of the paper cognisant of these facts ? We know that letters pointing them out were refused insertion by the Editor.

In February last the Scotsman sent another “Special Commissioner” to the West, to give its readers an impartial (!) account of the disturbances in the Isle of Skye, especially in Glendale. Those who knew anything about the subject at once saw, when this Commissioner’s letters appeared, that they were little else than a badly-arranged hash made up from Sir John Macneill’s Report, the New Statistical Account for the parishes of Bracadale and Duirinish, and stale stories repeatedly told by the factor to ourselves, among others, before the “ Special Commissioner ” of the Scotsman ever visited the Isle of Skye. But this was not all! While he was supposed by the misinformed portion of the public to have derived his information from independent sources, he was actually found to be the guest of the factor for Glendale, from whose residence, at Edinbane, nearly thirty miles from Glendale—the district supposed to have been described—his letters were dated. Here the “Special Correspondent,” sent by the Scotsman to Skye when the “Jackal” paid her visit to Glendale, actually found the “Special Commissioner” of his journal, presumably much to his disgust and annoyance ; for the position of affairs had been discovered by the other representatives of the Scottish and English press who visited Skye on that occasion, and they, with many of the natives, naturally chuckled and sneered at the supposed impartiality of the information obtained and published by the Scotsman under such conditions. It may be stated that the “Commissioner’s” recall soon followed the arrival of the “Special Correspondent” at head-quarters, and it may be fairly surmised that there was some connection between the one event and the other. A few of the natives are wicked enough to say that some fat sheep had almost simultaneously disappeared from the district, but what became of them has not been clearly ascertained. It is, however, quite understood that no one but the owner is in anyway responsible for their disappearance.

An exposure of the sources from which the Scotsman and a few other newspapers receiye their Skye local correspondence might prove interesting, and it is possible we may yet feel called upon, in the interest of the people of Skye, to enlighten the reader on that subject

May we not meanwhile fairly ask, Is this a paper which the Scottish people ought to accept as a safe guide on any question affecting the Highlanders ? Its very name has become a misnomer in recent years, edited, as it is, by an English Catholic, under whose guidance the once renowned and brilliant Scotsman in spirit and objects, as well as in name, has become the violent antagonist of institutions the most highly cherished and revered by Scotsmen, and whose attacks upon these are only equalled by its ridicule of the Catholic Church, religion, and creed. It is impossible for any good Scotsman not to feel regret for the fall in recent years of a paper in which we all felt a natural pride from a position in which intellectual power and marked ability were its distinguishing characteristics to one of mere common-place, in which it is principally distinguished by disingenuousness of argument and personal scurrility.

The support by the Scotsman of any one, under its present guidance, is the surest proof that he who secures it is no real friend of the Highlanders.

Since the above was written, the same paper, on the 22nd of March, published in large type, a sensational telegram from Pdrtree, and another from Inverness, in the first of which it was stated that the Glendale  Crofters assembled in numbers from the different townships, proceeded to Waterstein, and again drove the proprietor’s stock off the hill ”; while the one from Inverness asserted that, “ There is no doubt of the fact that the Crofters of Milovaig have resented the action of the Court of Session, in the case of John Macpherson and the others, by a demonstration of defiance of the law. . . . The horns sounded in the Glen early in the forenoon, the people assembled, men and lads, proceeding to the grazings of Waterstein; they drove off the stock that belonged to the trustees, and replaced them with stock that belongs to themselves.” These statements, so circumstantially paraded before the public, turned out to be absolute falsehoods, without a vestige of foundation. Yet the Scotsman gave them the greatest prominence, and wrote another lying, sensational leading article, based upon them, in which the crofters and their friends were ponderously abused, as the very scum of creation. Next morning his Dunvegan correspondent contradicted the Portree telegram of the previous day, but the Scotsman published this contradiction with an editorial qualification which falsely suggested, though it did not actually say, that the same correspondent was responsible alike for the falsehood and its contradiction.

The public sentiment regarding the .trial and punishment of the Glendale Crofters, and the position of the great Whig Libeller in relation to the whole case of the Highland people, were well stated in a leading article in the Greenock Telegraphy immediately after the trial, thus :—

The result of the trial of the Glendale crofters has been in strict accord with the expectations of all who have studied the long and sorrowful story of which this is the latest chapter. The Judges are obliged to act upon statutes framed by a class in their own interests ; and in the present instance it was hardly possible for them to be more lenient than they have been. It is beyond their Lordships’ province to rise to the region of equity; and the administrators of the law in Scotland have never been known to violate its letter, except, perhaps, where they had to deal with a statute passed in the interest of temperance or to give the farmer a title to destroy the rabbits feeding upon his crops. Then, as in that queer case from Kelso the other day, the statute is apt to kick the beam in the interest of the public-house ; and nobody needs to be told how the Court of Session drove more than the proverbial coach-and-six • through the Rabbits Bill, and made of no account the law- that had been newly enacted at Westminster for the protection of the farmer. All these things are duly noted by the public, and the sentence passed on the crofters has this moral disadvantage attaching., to it that nobody thinks any the worse of the poor men who are now in prison. They were loudly cheered as they left the dock ; their families will be well seen to—in spite of the Scotman's sneers at their friends —while they remain in custody ; and they will be certain to get a warm welcome from the public when the day of liberation arrives. It does not seem to be a desirable thing that the moral sense of the community should be excited in favour of men who have been sent to jail. Either that moral sense or the law with which it conflicts must be defective. In the present case we do not believe that the feeling of the community can be said to be at fault-

Referring to the treatment accorded to the Highlanders generally, as described in the recently published “ History of the Highland Clearances,” the same writer continues :—

It makes our blood run cold to read of the enormities that have been perpetrated, which the law has ever been ready to screen, and the Scotsman to vindicate with its pretentious philosophy aud its affected reverence for a law to which it has always rendered abject submission, except when it was mulcted in damages for defaming Mr. Duncan MacLaren. In that case it took leave to speak of the law in terms which it would no doubt deem most flagitious were they employed by the Glendale Crofters to-day. The same tone has pervaded the vast majority of the press throughout the length and breadth of the land North and South.

Attempted Eviction of Four Hundred Souls.

The next step taken by the Trustees was a foolish attempt to serve Notices of Eviction on the already too exasperated people of Glendale. It was resolved' early in April to remove them; and, on Friday, 6th of April, forty-five summonses were issued and sent to Angus MacLeod, sheriff-officer, Dunvegan, to have them served, upon as many tenants, within the statutory period. At the same time, about twenty summonses were issued against those living on Dr. Martin’s Estate of Husabost. These notices involved the fate of nearly four hundred souls.

The sheriff-officer started on Tuesday, 10th of April, for Glendale, with the view of carrying out his instructions, but on his arrival at Skinidin, a township a few miles on his way to Glendale, he was met by a crowd of from a thousand to fifteen hundred people, ready to oppose his further progress. Angus, realising the position of affairs, and feeling that discretion was the better part of valour, decided to act upon the maxim that “ he who fights and runs away may live to fight another day,” at once turned right -about, and made off at full speed to Dunvegan, from whence, the same afternoon, he despatched the summonses to. the Law-agent of the proprietors, at Portree, intimating that he would not, on any account, make a further attempt to serve them.

The people were thoroughly determined not to accept service, and they made arrangements by which notice was-to be given to the whole of Skye, to come to their aid, by the lighting of fires at night, or exhibiting flags by day, on certain hills throughout the island, which could be seen the one from the other, thus intimating the approach of a police or military force in a few minutes to the whole island, the population of which, it is now no secret, almost to a man, had intimated their determination to come to the rescue of the people of Glendale in the event of their aid being required. This is also true of some of the neighbouring islands. Better counsels, however, prevailed ; and it was wisely resolved by the agents of the Trustees to send the notices of removal by post, in registered letters, in terms of the Citation Act, which came into force on the first of January last. The letters were, however, all refused, except three, one of these being for Peter MacKinnon, postmaster in the Glen, who was, of course, obliged to receive the one addressed to himself, into the Post Office, in his official capacity. How the matter ended will have been seen in our Introduction.

The Royal Commission and the Highland Crofters.

A Royal Commission to inquire into the condition of the Highland crofters has just been granted by the Government, composed as follows :—Lord Napier and Ettrick, Chairman ; Sir Kenneth S. Mackenzie of Gairloch, Bart.; Donald Cameron of Lochiel, M.P. ; Charles Fraser-Mac-kintosh of Drummond, M.P.; Alexander Nicolson, LL.D., Sheriff-Substitute of Kirkcudbright; and Donald MacKinnon, Professor of Celtic Languages and Literature in the University of Edinburgh; with Malcolm MacNeill, Colonsay, as Secretary to the Commission. A short account of the way in which this concession has been secured may be advantageously placed on record. It was, for the first time, proposed, by the writer of these pages, when, on the 17th of October, 1S77, he asked Mr. Charles Fraser-Mackintosh, M.P,, while addressing his constituents in the Music Hall, Inverness, the following question, amid the general laughter of the audience :—

Keeping in view that the Government has graciously considered the reputed scarcity of crabs and lobsters, and of herrings and garvies, on our Highland coasts, of sufficient importance to justify them in granting two separate Royal Commissions of Inquiry—will you, in your place in Parliament, next session, move that a similar Commission be granted to inquire into the present impoverished and wretched condition and, in some places, the scarcity of men and women in the Highlands ; the cause of this state of things; and- the most effectual remedy for ameliorating the condition of the Highland Crofters generally?

Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh made the following reply, which, with the question, will be found in the Celtic Magazine, and the local papers, at the time :—

A Member of Parliament had a certain power, and only a certain power. Now, the question which was here raised was a very large one, and he did not think that he would have the slightest chance of getting such a Commission- as was referred to, unless the Government was prepared for the demand beforehand, and unless the request was strengthened by a general expression of feeling in its favour throughout the country. If Mr. Mackenzie, who had written. an able letter on the subject, which had attracted great attention, and others with him, could by petition, or by deputation to the Prime Minister, pave the way for a motion, he would be very glad to make it. His moving in the matter without adequate support would hamper and hurt?, the laudable object Mr. Mackenzie had at heart.

Since that date the question has never been lost sight of, and influential Highlanders extended their support in public and in private to pave the way for action in the House of Commons. The Gaelic Society of Inverness soon after petitioned Parliament in favour of a Royal Commission of Inquiry. Towards the end. of. 1880, a public meeting held in Inverness, and presided over by Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh, M.P., petitioned in favour of it; the Federation of Celtic Societies took the matter up y the Gaelic Society of Perth ; the Highland Land Law Reform Associations of Inverness and Edinburgh, got up meetings, and petitioned Parliament; Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh, M.P.; Dr. Cameron, M.P.; Mr. Dick Peddie, M.P.; Sir. George Campbell, M.P. ; Mr. D. H. Macfarlane, M.P. ; and others, kept the question before the House of Commons and the country • and, on the 2^nd of February last, Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh got up a Memorial, signed- by twenty-one Scottish Members of Par-liaraent, to the Home Secretary,- which was forwarded, accompanied by the following letter:—

5 Clarges Street, W., 23rd Feb. 1883.

Dear Sir William—I have never taken up your time by letter or interview before in- reference to the state of the crofter and rural population of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, bnt now feel constrained to do so.

It is upwards of two years since I presided at a public meeting in Inverness, where the position was discussed, and inquiry desiderated. A notice on. the subject was put on the paper of the House by me in the summer of 188 r, and again early in 1882. A formal resolution praying for inquiry by Royal Commission was tabled. I was, however, never lucky enough to get a first place for the discussion, and I have failed for any night open prior to the ensuing Easter Recess.

In these circumstances, feeling very unhappy at the present state of matters, and believing that many of my poor countrymen are looking to me for Parliamentary assistance, I beg. to represent to you as strongly as I can that— . '

1st. The- people themselves desire such inquiry ; and on this I may refer to a curious petition presented by me on Wednesday from Glendale, to all appearance the true and unprompted views of the crofters.

2nd. The public in Scotland by numerous meetings and otherwise show that they concur.

3rd. The press of Scotland, from the Scotsman downwards, may be said to be unanimous.

4th. The landlords generally, andi officials in the disturbed districts are not averse ; and,

5th, and lastly. I have felt it my. duty within the last two or three days to ascertain the mind of the Scottish members. There are seven members of Government, and one incapacited, reducing our number for present purposes to 52. Several are not in town, but two are known to have publicly expressed favour of inquiry, viz., Mr. Dick Peddie and Mr. William Holmes. Of those to whom I have appealed, 21, including several Conservatives,, have signed the memorial enclosed. Seven, though they hesitated to sigh, have expressed their approval of inquiry. I have only found four decidedly hostile.

I may, therefore, assure you that a large majority of the unofficial Scottish members are favourable ; and this, coupled with what I have said in the preceding four articles, should satisfy the Government no longer to delay.

For my own part, I could not have believed that so soon after the meeting at Inverness in December 1880, the agitation should have gone to such a pitch.

I am as clear as any one that ihe law should be upheld, yet it will be imprudent to delay till every legal point be adjusted. I fear new ones will be constantly cropping up.—Yours faithfully,

C. Fraser-Mackintosh.

To Sir W. Vernon Harcourt, M.P.

The Memorial, with its signatories, Is as follows :—

To the Secretary of State for the Home Department.

We, the undersigned Scottish members of the House of Commons, while fully recognising the necessity of vindicating the authority of the law, consider that, under existing circumstances, it is most important that a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the condition of the Crofter and rural population of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland should be granted by the Government without delay.

C. Fraser-Mackintosh. S. Williamson.
George Anderson. Frank Henderson.
Charles Cameron. R. W. Cochran-Patrick.
T. R. Buchanan. G. Armitstead.
G. Campbell. John C. Dalrymple Hay.
J. Stewart, Claud Alexander.
Andrew Grant. James Alex. Campbell.
Robert Farquharson. Archibald Orr-Ewing.
Alex. H. Gordon. G. Balfour.
J. W. Barclay. S. D. Waddy.
Peter M‘Lagan.

22nd February, 1883.

The seven members referred to in Mr. Fraser-ftlackin-tosh’s letter to Sir William Harcourt, as hesitating to sign, were, it is understood, Mr. Pender (Wick Burghs); Sir Alexander Matheson, Baronet (County of Ross); Sir Donald Currie (County of Perth); Mr. Parker (Burgh of Perth) ; Mr. Bolton (County of Stirling); Mr. Campbell (Ayr Burghs).; and Mr. Dalrymple (County of Bute). Those distinctly opposed to any inquiry were—Si* T E. Colbroke (County of Lanark); Sir H. Maxwell (County of Wigtown);

Mr. E. Noel (Dumfries Burghs); and Mr. Preston Bruce (County of Fife).

Lord Colin Campbell (County of Argyll) afterwards intimated that had he been asked he would have signed the Memorial to Government. None of the others were seen, as they were either out of London or absent from the House.

It will be noticed, we believe, with very general regret and surprise, that not a single Northern Member of Parliament, except Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh, had signed the Memorial. If any proof were wanted that inquiry was looked forward to by the northern landlords with disfavour, and, in some instances, with dismay—though- they felt that it had now become necessary—it would be found in this significant fact. It should also have convinced the Government of the necessity of making the Royal Commission really effective, by placing men upon it who would counteract the landlord opposition and aristocratic influence, which will assuredly have to be met in the course of the inquiry, on every point where the facts are likely to tell against the landlords and their agents. The other side should have been strongly represented, so as to meet, on something like equal terms, the power, wealth, and influence, of those whose conduct throughout the country had made such an inquiry necessary. As it is, it will, unless we are much mistaken, only prove the commencement in earnest of an agitation on on the Land Question, the end of which no one can predict.

Considering the stage which the question has now reached, we feel justified in reproducing what Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh, M.P., wrote to the author on 5th March 1883. Alluding to the question put to him by the writer in the, Inverness Music Hall, in 1877, already referred to, he says —“ I see that you put the question very broadly in 1877, and you are therefore alone entitled to the full credit of initiating the movement.” Whether that initiation will prove a credit or the reverse, the reader will not be surprised if, in the circumstances, we shall watch the proceedings of the Commission with more than ordinary interest.

The Government having resolved to grant a Royal Commission, they surely ought to have paid some deference in arranging its composition, to those who have been chiefly instrumental in impressing upon them the necessity for such a great concession. But how have they acted ? They have, in the face of many and urgent recommendations from representative societies and individuals, whose position and knowledge fully entitled them to proffer advice, appointed a 'Commission which has been universally condemned by every Association, every individual, and by almost every newspaper throughout the country that advocated its appointment. In that condemnation, after the most full and careful -consideration, and fully alive to the responsibility involved in such a step, we are compelled to join ; and we do so with the greater reluctance from the high respect which we entertain for all the members of the Commission as individuals, apart from the duties which in this case they have been called upon to perform. Nothing will satisfy the public short of making the cruel evictions of the past, impossible in future in the Highlands, by giving the people a permanent interest in the soil they cultivate. That a recommendation to that effect can emanate from a Royal Commission composed as this one is, is scarcely conceivable. Nor is it to be expected that they can rise so far above the common failings of humanity as to. be even anxious to procure evidence which will lead to legislation in that direction. Are Sir Kenneth Mackenzie and Lochiel, for instance, at all likely to recommend the modification of their own present rights of property, or the abolition or material curtailment of deer forests, from which they and their class derive a great portion of their revenues ? If they do so they will prove themselves more than human. But no one would complain, if their position and interests as proprietors were counterbalanced on the Commission by the presence of such true representatives of the crofters as Sir Kenneth and Lochiel are of the landlords and their class interests.

If any evidence were wanted to justify the general feeling that the Commission was one-sided and antagonistic to the interests and claims of the crofters, it would be found in the fact that its composition has been generally commended and approved by the Scotsman, the Northern Chronicle, and the Inverness Courier, three newspapers, whose position in the past has been one of strong and long-sustained antagonism and misrepresentation of the Highland peasantry, and, at the same time, of powerful and steady support of their oppressors and their cruel conduct.

As if the approval of these landlord organs, and the general disapproval by actual condemnation in distinct terms, or complete silence, of all the other newspapers in the country were not sufficient, we find another distinguished authority on the same side, Mr. Donald Macdonald, Tor-more—whose factorial reign in the Isle of Skye, and especially in Glendale, had so much to do in finally securing for us the Commission of Inquiry—declaring in a letter, published in the. Northern Chronicle, and in the Scotsman, of the nth April, that its composition was, in all respects, “unexceptionable”; “for,” he continues, “I am confident the result [of the Inquiry] will not only prove beneficial to my worthy, but misguided, fellow-islemen, but will also vindicate many sorely-maligned proprietors and factors from the charges made against them by untruthful outside agitators, not to speak of others, who, while personally conversant with local conditions, have not scrupled to throw out inferences which no view of the facts can justify

With a testimonial like this, and from such a quarter, it would be a pure waste of space to say another word on the composition and character of the Royal Commission to inquire into the grievances of the crofters in the Highlands and Islands, composed, as it isr of four landed proprietors, one lawyer (who is also a landed proprietor’s son), and the Professor of Celtic in the University of Edinburgh, who never exhibited any special interest in, or so far as known, paid^any special attention to the subject of the inquiry, and whose time, in the opinion of many of the subscribers to the Celtic Chair Fund, would have been far better and more consistently employed in the necessary preparation for the important duties of his chair.

It is to be hoped, however, that the criticism so freely heaped upon the Commissioners, from so many quarters, may result in good, and that their conduct will show, in the end, that they fully realise the responsibility imposed upon them by their position in a great crisis in the history of the Highlands. If so, that criticism will not have been altogether in vain. .

This account of the Isle of Skye during the most important period of its history for several generations in its bearing on the social state of its people and those of the Highlands generally, may be appropriately concluded by a quotation from “ St. Michael and the Preacher, a Tale from Skye, by the Rev. Donald MacSiller, Minister of the [New] Gospel, Portree,” a satirical poem of great power, published in January last. The views expressed by the author are undoubtedly advanced, but they are quite justified by the state of affairs which we know to exist in the island, and which most assuredly will be disclosed to a still greater

extent by the Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the grievances of the Highland Crofters. The angel, St. Michael, who visits Skye and listens to the tale of misery its people has to tell, exclaims :—

“Ye men of Skye! ye heirs of woe:
O’er whom great tribulations flow,
Know that the mighty Lord designed H
This bounteous earth for all mankind;
That they obedient to His law
Might from its soil their sustenance draw,
And reap those joys which in the strife
Make light their little round of life:
But Landlords, by their works, have driven
From off the earth the will of heaven:
Thus by their laws they ever stand
The foes of those who till the land. .
Preferring brutes and desolation
To men, the bulwark of a nation! '

But fear not tho’ your countrymen,
By sophistries of tongue and pen,
Condemn ye heedlessly because
Ye dare to dare a landlord’s laws;
These but the men who are impressed
With naught but what will pay them best.
O! be ye of good cheer, the hour
Has struck the knell of landlord power,
And men arise with vatic eye,
And see the dawn of new things nigh,
And fear not to proclaim the creed—
‘The land for those who sow the seed!’
Despair not, be united all,
Resolved for right, to stand or fall,
And should the factor’s law-hounds come
To drive ye from your peaceful home,
Remember this is Freedom’s token—
‘Good laws are based on bad laws broken!’
And no great Cause is worth the name,
Without its martyrs, bonds, and shame.

The Preacher, in reply, insists that “Law must be rigidly obeyed,” when the following dialogue is continued :—

“Law!” quoth St. Michael, “Law of pelf!
Can man make laws to suit himself?
Or is it ‘Law’ when want and woe
From individual actions flow?
Methinks men do no sin when they
or ‘Laws  of this nature disobey!”
“Hold!” quoth the Preacher, “you’ll agree,
That landlords must perforce be free
To value land as they may will it,
Without considering those who till it;
This is ‘the Law’ as realized,
And by the State is recognised,
Hence those who dare resist its sway
Are by the devil led astray.”
St. Michael laughed, “Ay ! Ay ! ” quo’ he,
“Your definition, ‘Law’ may be ;
But stay, I see in it a flaw,
Say, where is Justice in your  Law’?
Can Law be Law when based on Wrong?
Can Law be Law when for the strong?
Can Law be Law when landlords stand
Rack-renting mankind off the land?
By ‘Law’ a landlord can become
The ghost of every Crofter’s home;
By ‘Law’ their little cots can be
Dark dens of dirt and misery;
By  'Law’ the tax upon their toil
Is squandered on an alien soil;
By ‘Law’ their daughters, sons, and wives,
Are doomed to slavish drudgery’s lives;
By ‘Law’ Eviction’s dreadful crimes
Are possible in Christian times;
By  'Law’ a spendthrift lord’s intents
Are met by drawing higher rents;
By ‘Law’ all food-producing glens
Are changed from farms to cattle pens:
This is your ‘Law’ whereby a few
Are shielded in the deeds they do.”

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