29 OCTOBER 1937, Page 19


[To 'the Ediior of THE SPECTATOR.]

Sra,—In a last, despairing effort to get this discussion back on the lines off which, I submit, it has been derailed by Mr. Norman Maclean's concern for the feelings of the modern Highland landlord, let me repeat my original, simple, incidental generalisation, thus : that the laird, historically considered, cuts a mighty poor figure in the social records of the North and West. If Mr. Maclean can read the four-volume report of the Royal Commission on crofting conditions (1884) and still maintain otherwise, there is just nothing to be said. Nor must he saddle me with his own inconsistencies. Sheep, stags and crofters are all figures in the same historical process. A controversialist so brisk, by the way, really ought to begin by knowing that the truth can be libellous, and that to prove the truth of an allegation is by no means to escape damages for libel. And Mr. Maclean should be very careful about trotting out his laird-hero in the blood-bath, as he calls the last War. Otherwise, " Mr. Blake and his class " (your correspondent's phrase) may turn really nasty ; pointing out, for instance, that the Highland troops had some outside assistance in winning the War, and that quite a lot of shop-keeping and labouring families had their male-lines " severed on bloody battlefields," also learning " what sacrifice means by giving everything most dear." For myself, I found .the spectacle of shipyard fore- men lying dead among dead shipyard labourers fully as affecting as spectacles with perhaps more feudal colour.—I am, Sir, &c.,