« PreviousContinue »
fight in the couneeping sort a great lady, for
matter enough to preoccupy a great lady, for an economic revolution of a sweeping sort was being made by and for her in the county of Sutherland. In the days of the fighting earls the acres grew men. Once again, and in 1793, a regiment had to be raised in Sutherland, and the acres of the clan had to find soldiers for the Crown. The letters of the Countess reflect the state of the country and the alarm which prevailed after the execution of Louis XVI. The best and quietest way of showing loyalty and of preparing for the defence of the country from ‘riotous, mischievous, rebellious, "and levelling spirits,' was to raise · fencible regiments. This was not the first time that troops had been raised under the authority of Sutherland's chieftainess. When she was only twelve years old, and after the declaration of the independ. ence of the United States, she was heard to say that she had no objection to raising a Sutherland regiment, and was only sorry she could not command it herself. That had been a regiment of one thousand giants, and the brave little girl reviewed them from the windows of her aunt's (Lady Glenorchy) house in Edinburgh. Now again (1793) a regi. ment was to be raised, and very peremptory are the Countess's letters, and liberal were her feasts to the companies which are now embodied in the 93rd Regiment. This levy was the last important one inade in Sutherland, and, in spite of its size and importance, the fact remained that the population of the county was too redundant, that misery was endemic, and that the condition of the people was, and had long been, one of chronic distress. How was the evil to be remedied at a time when the potato had only recently been introduced, and when means of communication and transport were as few as they were ruinously costly? The scanty produce of a rocky region did not yield sufficient for the subsistence of the human beings dependent on it. This is a problem common to mountainous districts, and it is differently solved in different places. In the Maritime Alps it is met by the immigration of foreign residents, and by the purchase of commodities through the money they scatter. In Auvergne and many of the Swiss cantons, as in Piedmont, it is met by the emigration of the young people as servants, chimneysweeps, coachmen, and labourers. In Sutherland it was thought that it could be cured by the devotion of the land to pasture on a great scale, and by the partial removal of the population. The people were removed, transplanted, evicted, and emigrated, and large tracts of land were turned into sheep-farms. The people were heartbroken at the unwelcome
itute Copefully on all tha, inspecting, shot neglect tas the
changes. They loved their old places in the straths, and did not wish to live in villages of the coast or to catch fish. Celts are not by nature industrious; the new industries were repulsive to them, while undeniable hardships gave rise to a great deal of bad blood. Indignant comments, too, arose. But the great lady and her factors could say, with truth, that all over Scotland similar schemes had been broached, and sometimes carried out. What made her case remarkable was the vast size of her estate, one which she did not neglect to visit in its length and its breadth, inspecting, sketching, and commenting carefully on all that she saw. When tenants were destitute of provisions and their cattle of provender, and when this state of affairs was chronic, surely, she observed, a radical change was necessary. Of the population, she writes that it is an infinite multitude, roaming at large ' in the old way, despising all barriers and all regulations.' Some idea of the barriers to be formed for them may be got by recalling that in her lifetime she replaced most of the turf houses by stone, that she made 450 miles of road and built 134 bridges. From 1811 to 1833 not one sixpence of the rental of Sutherland was retained by its chieftainess. Her husband spent 60,0001. on the people, and she gave away 12,0001. in direct relief, which in many cases reached families of squatters who, paying rent to no one, had drifted on to her estate, and settled on it without her leave. None the less did her plans of transplantation bring about what she termed a kind of mutiny,' one which had to be suppressed, lest similar disturbances might affect neighbouring proprietors. Fierce passions were roused, and to this day the names of the agents instrumental in the Sutherland removals are mentioned with hatred in the most distant parts of the world. Sutherland emigrants still regret the glens where their forefathers lived, and probably starved.
The process of clearing for sheep-farms has been criticised; but in the face of the failure and caprices of the potato crop since 1847, it is difficult to imagine what might have been the fate of the people of Sutherland had its population existed in multitudinous numbers. Since the formation of sheep-farms the practice of letting land for purposes of sport has also arisen, and been carried to great perfection. By some politicians this is a state of things as heartily abused as ever were the sheep-farms and farmers of Countess Elizabeth and Mr. James Loch. Yet these sportsmen and the railway traffic of the Highland Railway open out the wildest parts of Sutherland, distribute money, and provide distant markets for game, cattle, and fish. The truth is that the economic question in Sutherland has not yet found an answer. It is a Sphinx, and, seated between two seas, she sits and waits. Two points ought not to be lost sight of. The one is, that when the Crofters' Commission sat in Sutherland, the late Duke's rents, so far from having to be reduced as excessive, were in many cases ordered to be raised. The other is the systematic agitation for which the Gaelic press and Free Church are largely answerable, and which has broken the old ties between chieftain and clansman, landlord and tenant. The land. lords, by their original blunder in refusing free sites to the congregations and clergy of the Disruption, put themselves in the wrong; though it is doubtful whether, if the Irish question did not exist, agitation in the Highlands would have been either as deep or as well organised as it now is. It is not easy to see what the next changes may bring forth. When property is vested in the hands of few, too few, owners, it is like an inverted pyramid, unsteady because of the narrowness of the base. All that remains to be wished is, that in the county, as in the kingdom, moderation and charity may prevail over agitation and covetousness; that Sutherland may not forget how, in the pregnant words of the Duke of Argyll, two great partners in the life of man,
and in the greatness of nations, have been married before • the altar of God-partners never to be separated without
calamity and tears—the love of liberty and the love of <law.'
ART. VII.-Mémoires du Général Baron Thiébault.
Three vols. 8vo. Paris : 1894. THESE volumes are rather a good specimen of the mass of
literature, composed of Souvenirs' and Memoirs,' of the revolutionary and Napoleonic era, which has been given to the world of late years. Their author, Paul Thiébault, was a soldier of mark, known as a good military writer in his day, who took an honourable if not a prominent part in many of the stirring scenes of the great drama of war which began at Valmy and closed at Waterloo, and who, having survived many of his companions in arms, passed quietly away under the monarchy of July. His · Reminiscences' – these volumes are, perhaps, the first instalment-extend from 1776 to 1806, and abound in anecdotes and curious details respecting a period which stands out conspicuously grand in the history of the world, and of which the fascinating interest seems ever on the increase. They give us glimpses of the life of the French colony at Berlin in the later years of the eighteenth century, and of the court and camp of Frederick the Great; and they contain passages which throw fresh light on the characteristics of the Ancient Régime in France and of French society before its tremendous fall. Passing on to the great upheaval that followed, they illustrate scenes of 1789-95, if not very strikingly, with good sense and judgement; and they convey a vivid and clear impression of the true nature, and, so to speak, of the genius of the memorable conflict of 1792–94, the boast justly of revolutionary France, but the opprobrium, even more, of old monarchic Europe. The author took an active, sometimes a distinguished, part in several of the great succeeding campaigns from 1796 to 1805; his experiences of the splendid contest in Italy, of Championnet's shortlived invasion of Naples, of the siege of Genoa, of the crowning day of Austerlitz-history has here found a place for his name--though not of particular value, still deserve attention. In his account of these famous passages of war Thiébault shows a strong republican bias, and gives proof of wellmarked likes and dislikes; he has no sympathy with the Napoleonic legend; and, while he is blind to Masséna's faults, he detests Berthier, and especially Soult. Yet he does justice to Napoleon's genius in civil as well as military affairs, though the empire, at least, was not to his taste; and, speaking generally, all that he tells us about the Consular VOL. CLXXXI. NO. CCCLXXII.
and the Imperial era agrees with the judgement of wellinformed writers. We cannot help censuring whole chapters of the work, recurring over and over again, though they are no doubt true to the spirit of the time, and we are not slaves of over-nice prudery. But Thiébault has devoted bundreds of pages to narratives of his bonnes fortunes, told in the fashion of Crébillon and Paul de Kock; he gives names, places, and even prurient details : an 'Index Expurgatorius' of this stuff is required by decency.
Paul Thiébault was born in 1769, a scion of a family that had long held lands along the wooded slopes of the Vosges. The child's father was wont to boast of his roturier descent -a homage, perhaps, to the new ideas of the day, though he was probably allied to the noble house of Sucy. He often repeated the boast to Frederick the Great, whose métier, nevertheless, was distinctly 'Royaliste.' Through the interest of D'Alembert, M. Thiébault, a man of letters of some repute, obtained a place at the Prussian Court connected with the archives of the State ; he was for some years rather a prominent figure in the small but brilliant French society of Berlin. He seems to have remembered the quarrel between Voltaire and Maupertuis; a great personage endeavoured to patch it up, but Voltaire made the characteristic remark : What two Frenchmen owe to each other! • Remember that if two Frenchmen were to meet at the 'uttermost parts of the earth, one would certainly devour the other; it is a law of nature.
With intervals of short visits to France, Paul was at Berlin until he had passed his first teens. Nothing in the habits or the education of the boy gave promise of a soldier of daring and resource. He was half deaf, and had an impediment in his speech, was too sickly to bear reading, and was so impressionable, excitable, and weakly sensitive that his parents trembled for his precarious health. At eighteen, the Nouvelle Héloïse' made him almost insane; yet we may recollect that Jean-Jacques's masterpiece turned some of the hardest heads of the time, and left a deep mark on the mind of Napoleon, as we see in the first writings of the youthful Corsican :
"After the first pages I became delirious. I did not read, I devoured. Days were not enough, nights were spent, and from emotion to emotion, from paroxysm to paroxysm, I arrived at the last letter of Saint-Preux, not crying, but screaming, howling like a wild beast.'
These volumes contain rather pleasing sketches of the