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Evan Dubh

One of the last of the Highland chiefs to lay down his arms (against Cromwell’s Commonwealth) was the renowned head of the Camerons, Evan Cameron of Lochiel, or Evan Dubh, as he was commonly called. On more than one occasion, this distinguished Highland chief, while serving under Middleton, found it necessary to withdraw from the general body, and return to Lochaber to protect his property against the depredations of the
garrison of Inverlochy. On the first of these occasions, Lochiel had a rencontre with an English officer of great personal strength, who, during the fight, marked him out for single combat. ‘Lochiel’, says Scott, in telling the story, ‘was dexterous enough to disarm the Englishman; but his gigantic adversary suddenly closed in on him, and in the struggle which ensued both fell to the ground, the officer uppermost. He was in the act of grasping at his
sword, which had fallen near the place where they lay in deadly struggle, and was naturally extending his neck in the same direction, when the Highland chief, making a desperate effort, grasped his enemy by the collar, and
snatching with his teeth at the bare and outstretched throat, he seized it as a wild-cat might have done, and kept his hold so fast as to tear out the windpipe. The officer died in this singular manner. Lochiel was so far from disowning or being ashamed of this extraordinary mode of defence, that he was afterwards heard to say, it was the sweetest morsel he had ever tasted.

Some years later, when Evan Dubh went up with Monk to London, he had a curious experience which very vividly brought back to him the scene just described. One day when being shaved in a barber’s shop, the operator
observed, ‘You are from the North, sir?’ ‘Yes,’ said Lochiel, ‘I am. Do you know people from the North?’ ‘No,’ replied the barber, ‘nor do I wish to: they are savages there. Would you believe it, sir, one of them tore the throat out of my father with his teeth, and I only wish I had the fellow’s throat as near me as I have yours just now.’ Evan Dubh never again entered a barber’s shop.

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