SHEEP OR STAGS ?
[To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR.] SIR,—Mr. George Blake's letter makes it clear that he meant his article to be taken seriously. His statements, therefore, call for serious examination.
(I) In his article he branded the " native landowner " for the change over from sheep to deer in recent years. I pointed out that the cause was not the wickedness of the landowner but the social system which sacrificed the country to the town, and which made it impossible for the wool of Scotland to compete with the wool of Australia. Mr. Blake admits it is so. " No doubt," he exclaims ! But does he apologise for his baseless charges against honourable men ? Not so. He sets about his own justification by now branding their great-grandfathers ! No man can be justly branded because of his remote ancestors. Mr. Blake's article was " Sheep or Stags ? " It was not " Sheep or Crofters ? " He justifies the mis-statements in the former by assuming that he had written about the latter.
(2) Mr. George Blake now admits the " latter-day amia- bility " of the Highland landowners, but he declares it to be " largely the product of discipline by statute." This, of course, means that Mr. Blake and his class have developed a social conscience by intuition ; but these wicked Highland landowners only do good by compulsion ! Who are they— these deplorable native landowners ? They are men who were knit together with their people in a blood-bath for four years ; they are families whose male-lines have been severed on bloody battlefields ; they are of a class that has learned what sacrifice means by giving everything most dear. These are the men whose " latter-day amiability " is so different from Mr. Blake's. His springs from impulsion : theirs from compulsion !
(3) Mr. George Blake refuses to produce his evidence for the charge against Highland County Councillors that, influenced by the landowners, they " keep the roads in a bad way so that the intrusive tourist will keep away." The reason for this refusal Mr. Blake states thus :—" I am certainly not going to face several libel actions, even in the good cause of enlightening your correspondent." But he insists in his branding the Councillors. " As to evidence of road-improve- ment being held up in the interests of plutocratic privacy, I repeat that it exists "—thus Mr. Blake. Again Mr. Blake changes his ground ! In his original article it was the " native landowner " who was stigmatised. But none of these today
are " plutocrats." They have been taxed until they are bled white. The venal County Councillors must be guarding the " plutocratic privacy " of some class other than the greatly to be condemned " native landowners " ! . . . No man has a right to make charges against men who serve the State unless he is prepared to substantiate them. Mr. Blake owes a duty to Society—to the whole nation. He has discovered a cancer in the body politic : he must excise it. Duty demands that he publish the evidence. Should there be libel actions, Mr. Blake, of course, will win. The whole country will ring with the honour of his name. He really must not allow a lack of courage at the last to dim so great an exploit.—I am,