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Donald Morrison, The Canadian Outlaw
A Tale of the Scottish Pioneers

"Man’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn."


Upwards of three years have passed since Donald Morrison, the Canadian outlaw, was imprisoned in St. Vincent de Paul Penitentiary for the slaying of “Jack” Warren, at Megantic, in 1888. That it was justifiable homicide, no unprejudiced person, conversant with the evidence adduced at the trial, will deny. And the almost universal sympathy expressed for the accused before and after said trial, will attest to the truth of our statement.

It was, therefore, not strange that a general feeling of disgust and indignation was experienced when it became known that the outlawed Scotchman had been sentenced to 18 years of penal servitude! And why? Simply because he had a sufficient regard for the “first law of Nature” to defend his life against the unscrupulous alien who had sworn to shoot him on sight!

In proportion, however, as Morrison’s troubles accumulated, popular sympathy also increased, until it became mooted that a monster petition be presented to the proper authorities for a commutation of the severe sentence imposed. But months passed, and good resolutions never matured. Fearful, therefore, lest Time, the healer of all wounds, should allay the sympathy so strongly entertained for Morrison — whom we deem a worthy object for judicial clemency — we offer this little volume to the public in the earnest hope that it may assist the laudable efforts of those who are endeavoring to secure the release of one of earth’s wronged. In a former “Life of Morrison,” a work as absurd as it is untruthful, an attempt was made to stigmatize the religious principles of the Highlanders. Had the authors of the book in question taken the pains to visit the cottages of the lowly, instead of the — perhaps more congenial — liquor resorce of a frontier town, they would have discovered beneath the homespun a religion as sincere as it is unostentatious, and as grand as it is simple; and we would have found it unnecessary to vindicate a temperate, God-fearing community. The wrongs which drove Donald Morrison to the verge of despair, the fruitless attempts to arrest him on suspicion of having turned his lost home; the worthless character of the late Warren; his tragic death; and subsequently, Morrison’s marvellous success in eluding the motley army of pursuers; and, finally, the outlaw’s betrayal and cowardly capture, are all introduced as central figures in the following tale. We sincerely disclaim any hostile motives in dealing with the persons accused of conniving at Donald’s ruin. We can only express our regret that they should have allowed themselves to be drawn into transactions which ended so disastrously for all concerned; and earnestly hope that the lesson taught will not soon be forgotten.

The orthography of the Gaelic words in the present work may be defective from a literary standpoint, as I have followed the style of the late Josh Billings, rather than the correct one. Complaints had been made previous to Morrison’s capture regarding the assistance afforded him during his wanderings in the Compton wilds. The complaints emanated from thwarted speculators, who, while thirsting for the coveted “reward,” still lacked the courage to brave the Scottish youth in his native haunts. From the same source also emanated the story of Morrison’s ferocious and bloodthirsty instincts! a calumny as false and malicious as it was unmerited. The rabid faultfinders could little realise the nature of the hospitality so characteristic of the Highlanders---a hospitality that could turn no one whose needs were urgent from the door. Much less could their mercenary natures understand how the poor Scottish farmer could resist the power of the reward so temptingly displayed. “Come, Scotty, reveal Donald’s whereabouts, and receive 3,000 mighty dollars!” God forbid! Aye, all honor to the people whom no threats could intimidate, or bribes corrupt! We commend this humble effort to the stream of public opinion, and while craving indulgence for our own imperfections, we bespeak the sympathy of all lovers of justice and humanity for the bereft maiden weeping in her loneliness, and for the ill-fated Donald Morrison, who is buried with the cherished hopes of years in the rayless gloom of St. Vincent de Paul Penitentiary.

The Author

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