for shame

Finished Butcher’s Broom last night (Neil Gunn), and went googling for Patrick Sellar.

Sellar features in the book, under the only slightly too obvious name of Mr Heller. Smooth and professional in his discussions with his fellow factors and lawyers, but at the head of his gangs of men with dogs, brutal and vile.

So what’s the worst that the spineless, boneless, marrowless folk in Moray can say about him?

“And yet without the Clearances and Patrick Sellar in particular, would we be celebrating this Year of Homecoming 2009?”
“… his methods, even for the harsh times of the early 19th century, were severe.  But did his actions directly contribute to the rich cultures of Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand and those Scottish connections which we celebrate during this Year of Homecoming?”

Did even the tourists not feel the … the … the pusillanimity?

3 thoughts on “for shame

  1. It would be interesting to know the background of the person who wrote it, and also whether anyone has ever challenged Moray Council on it. To take things to extremes, one doesn’t write an article saying that the creation of the State of Israel was a good outcome of Hitler’s actions, unless one is dealing in religion or philosophy in which case one might look at the passages of Scripture that deal with how evil men, committing evil actions by their own free will and totally under their own responsibility, are used by God to accomplish his purposes. But it would be normal to make clear how evil the persons concerned were, wouldn’t it?

    Have things changed a whole lot, though? I was thinking in the alst couple of days about my friend Levente Horváth highlighting on Facebook (see and various recent news articles accessed via Google News) the Romanian gypsies in Cluj-Napoca being relocated to a site next to a sewage works, while some prefer to work (along with their children) on the city’s rubbish dump – this is in the EU, remember. I think if I remember aright I saw something similar on the outskirts of Oradea from the train from Budapest in 2003. And then I thought – just about the only currently lawful place for (travelling) travellers in the Highlands, was, at the time of its construction, you’ve guessed it, right next to the Highlands’ main rubbish dump! I know my comments on the treatment of travellers to the local press on two or three occasions have not been popular – I had one person shout at me in the street and another phone me up accusing me of undermining the cause of getting rid of them from where they were not meant to be. I’m very aware that the travellers’ lifestyle is often not lawful (nor is that of the drunken youngsters of the Highlands but we don’t have newspaper campaigns to have them and their parents driven out). I also feel that integration is difficult for them if they even desire it, another difficulty being that a mobile lifestyle which was once lawful (and in demand by farmers) is now very close to being outlawed.


  2. Yes – if Canada et al benefited from the Clearances, that only proves that every cloud has a silver lining. It’s not as if expats should somehow be grateful for Sellar & co because now they can enjoy the witless tartanfest that was the Homecoming.

    On travellers, my ignorance is virtually complete. I do know though that there is a respectable tradition of doughty Scottish presbyterians speaking out against oppression. Even on the Clearances, Free Church ministers were anxiously dissuading the people from violent resistance while simultaneously campaigning vigorously for land reform. (Allan McColl, ‘Land, Faith, and the Crofting Community.’)


  3. Actually, everyone who left Scotland to take over Canada and make vast fortunes was a Lowlander. The cleared-off Highlanders went off to live in bitter poverty in Nova Scotia or to die horribly on the walk to the Red River Valley.

    Now, it is great that Nova Scotia has this marvellous tradition of music and that some Nova Scotians are brought up speaking Gaelic at home, but come on. Canada still would have been super-Scottish from Manitoba to PEI between 1776 & 1945 without the Clearances.

    My mother is 100% ethnic Scots Canadian, and she is appalled by the Clearances. Of course, her people came from Edinburgh and Stonehaven, and emigrated to Toronto when the descendents of Lowland Scots and Ulster Scots were still ruling the joint (1900) and how. Oh, and she was here for Homecoming as, of course, was I. We didn’t bother going to the massing of the clans, or whatever it was, for we thought we had done our Homecoming duty by going to Stonehaven and having tea in a shop, to say nothing of traipsing around graves.


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