THE QUEEN IN THE HIGHLANDS.
4‘ WERE I not to see the heather once a year, I should die,"
exclaimed Walter Scott. The Queen seems to have imbibed the sentiment. She has become by adoption a true and attached child of the North ; fond of its people, whose deeply cherished loyalty neither needs nor finds the attestation of oppres- sive "demonstrations ;" fond of its natural beauties, into the true spirit of which she has entered with a profound and exquisite felicity ; fond of the romance and poetry, the traditional and historic associations, in which it is surpassingly rich ; fond of the simplicity and naturalness of the life she there can lead, and mingling with all else, fond of the memories it recalls belonging to the happiest hours of her happiest years. This season she has gained the materials for a fresh chapter in that "Highland Journal," the publication of which, up to 1861, shed so pleasant a light upon the home pleasures and pursuits of the Royal household in its autumn retirement. She has made an " expedition " of wider reach than any of those conducted from Babnoral as the starting-place which are described in that volume. For a week she was the guest of Lord Abinger, at his seat on the banks of Loch Linahe, right under the shadowy Ben Nevis. In going to and returning from this place she took different routes, traversing in part ground she has been over before, but entering also on a large extent of new country. In the place itself she was in the heart of a district replete with scenes that overawe and fascinate, now austerely grand in their wild sublimity, now bewitchingly sweet in their soft beauty, the effect of which is enhanced by the neighbouring ruggedness. It is a district, likewise, which will not yield to any other in the number and potency of its historic associations, particularly in connection with the stand made by the hillmen for the Stuarts- against the Hanoverian dynasty. All over it, in secluded cover, or by the side of dreamy lochs, there are the remains of ancient chapels—small, weather-worn, unroofed—which carry one back to the days of Columba and his associates, Brendan, Finian, Fillard, and the rest, by whose disciples they were founded. There are ruined fortalices, and multitudinous cairns, the memorials of fierce clan fights, of which only the vaguest traditions now survive. But the uppermost thought, at least with the vast majority of stranger visitors, is of its Jacobite memories ; and these, exagger- ated and sentimentalised, are suggested in rife abundance wherever one may turn.
Her Majesty made great use of her time during the seven days' sojourn, and had the visit been planned with the special purpose of including the places rendered memorable by Jacobite enterprises and adventures (as it very likely was, for it is generally believed, not, we imagine, without some good grounds, that the Queen has a tendrem for the unfortunate Princes of the House of Stuart, from whom, be it remembered, she claims descent no less than from the House of Hanover), it could not by possi- bility have been made more comprehensive and spirit-stirring. She passed Killiecrankie, where Claverhouse, the only man of military genius on that side who had a clear conception of the task to which he gave himself, or the energy adequate to its fulfilment, fell ignobly. She visited Glencoe, the scene of an outrage that, though dwarfed in magnitude by many subsequent political crimes where blood was spilt, has attained an evil fame of curious pre- eminence, marking the little spot of vivid green where the Mac- donalds were massacred; taking note of the Black Crag, with Fingal's Cave and Waterfall; sketching the "Three Sisters "—Furies, rather —immense hills which vie with each other in towering majesty; and seeing the Glen throughout, in its most impressive character, which is not what Macaulay describes it as being, the "Valley of the Shadow of Death," or if so, it is death without its sting, the calm slumber and the impressive majesty, but not the accompany- ing horrors. She was within sight of Moidart, where Prince Charlie landed when he came to make his wild rush upon Eng- land. She stood upon the spot in Glen Finlas where his banner was unfurled, and the pibroch called the clans to that fateful enterprise. She skirted the field of Culloden, where the hopes of the Stuarts were extinguished, and the Clan system got its death- blow. She saw Castle Ruthven, where some 8,000 of the fugi- tives from that field anew pledged their faith to the cause they deemed sacred, and offered to continue the contest, if their darling Prince would lead them on. And she visited the wilds of desolate Loch Ericht, where the unhappy adventurer, having declined the hopeless pledge, found shelter while dodging the bloodhounds of Cumberland. Everywhere she was encircled by remembrances of that epoch. Mountain and glen must alike have seemed to re-echo "the owetcome o' the sang, '0 woes me for Prince Charlie !' " the sound sweeping through like that of a coronach. And in her own mind, there must have been an answer to the strain in the reflection—how strange that she, the representative and successor of those who were so sternly opposed to the Stuarts—and certainly not the representative, though inheriting the blood of the Stuarts—should now be the object of a devotion as warm and cordial as the previous antagonism had been fell and in- censed! Among the revolutions of which history takes note, what evidence of completeness could be more significant than that she slept, a visitor whose presence was universally known, without a guard, in the very centre of Lochaber?
Yet there is a circumstance which surpasses this. It is that she should have been the guest of one who is the grandson of an English lawyer, and whose parentage, if traced farther back, carries us to the West Indies. Than such a fact nothing could
speak more powerfully as to the extraordinary change which is passing upon the proprietory system in the Highlands. Long ago, in the early days of Scottish history, it was the policy of Malcolm Caenmore and other far-sighted rulers to give Norman and Saxon favourites a hold upon Celtic territory. They accommo- dated themselves to the feelings of the population, became their chiefs, and were served with a fidelity that has never been out- done. But now they are being displaced by a new immigration of millionaire brewers, bankers, and ironmasters, who are fast buying them out, and who threaten soon to leave them without a rood of land where their predecessors governed despotically for centuries. Locheil, the chief of the Catnerons, along with Cluny Macpherson and the Mackintosh, the rival heads of the Clan Chattan, are the only men who retain any extent of possession throughout the district Her Majesty has - visited. Clanranald the dauntless has only a burying- place in all Lochaber. Glengarry knows nothing now of its ancient chiefs, the last resident survivor of whom was the original of Scott's Fergus MacIvor. The Macdonalds of Keppoch have vanished from Glen Speen. The brave and devoted Stewarts of Appin are without a local habitation or name in their ancient dwelling-place. The Macleans of Morven have vanished from the shores of Loch Linnhe. And so it is with other representa- tives of the old septa. " Fuimus" is their motto. They are all fast being " wede awe," like the flowers of the forest. The process is suggestive of serious reflections to the thoughtful student of British history. Its causes, its concomitants, and its probable consequences, all present subjects that deserve to be pondered. What was the real state and species of civilisation existing in the Highlands before 1745? Was it just or prudent, when abolishing the patriarchal system of clanship, with all its traditional checks, to convert per saltum the chieftain into the proprietor, and thereby to enable him, or the purchaser of land from him, to remove at will entire populations, who had as good, if not better, titles to their homesteads than could be adduced by an English copyholder ? These, and kindred questions, we should like to see searchingly discussed, as they have never been. And if it can be shown, as we suspect it may, that the legislation which followed the '45 has generated monstrous abuses, that the gravest oppression which err provoked a strike of labour against capital is not comparable with the abuse of power which enabled Highland landlords to con- vert whole districts into wildernesses, then, though it may be too late to do anything for the protection of those who have made so sorry a profit out of the iniquity, it is questionable whether some- thing ought not even yet to be done for the purpose of preventing its spread.