"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.
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