YOUR Those Were The Days feature on Keir Hardie ("Keir Hardie, the Labour hero who changed the world”, The Herald, September 4) brought to mind his political friend and ally, Robert Cunninghame Graham, “The Aristocratic Socialist”, who not only helped Hardie found the Scottish Labour Party, but later went on to help found the National Party of Scotland and subsequently, the SNP.

Although a significant political figure of his time, it is only seeing Cunninghame Graham’s life as a whole that we can appreciate just what a unique and remarkable man he was, and ponder why he is not more recognised today.

Sent to Argentina in 1870 as a 17-year-old to learn about cattle ranching, he had various trials and adventures on his way to becoming known as a great gaucho.

Returning to the UK following his father's death, he became interested in politics, and in 1886 was elected Liberal Party MP on a campaign which included, amongst other things, calling for universal suffrage, Scottish Home Rule and the establishment of an eight-hour working day.

Having been arrested at a protest demonstration in Trafalgar Square in 1887, he was defended by Herbert Asquith (later to be Prime Minister), but found guilty and sentenced to six weeks in Pentonville.

At the outbreak of the First World War, aged 62, he attempted to enlist in the cavalry. However, the War Department commissioned him colonel, and tasked him with sourcing horses for the artillery from South America.

He subsequently become a writer and, in the early 1920s, was introduced to CM Grieve, better known as Hugh MacDiarmid, who later went on to say that his decision to make the Scottish cultural and political cause his life’s work dated from that meeting.

His time at the desolate Jesuit ruins in Paraguay inspired him to write A Vanished Arcadia, about the Spanish brutality against the native Indians, which in turn inspired the award-winning film The Mission.

At the age of 83, he went one last time to Argentina, where he died from pneumonia in March 1936 in Buenos Aires. He lay in state and received a countrywide tribute led by the President before his body was shipped home to be buried on Ichmahome Island on the Lake of Mentieth on April 18, 1936. He now lies at rest alongside his wife and soul-mate, Gabriela de la Belmondiere, aka Carrie Horsefall, but that’s another story.

Regardless of any political affiliations, RGC can be seen as a man of moral substance and worthy of greater recognition…. any film producers out there?

Iain Jarvie, Busby.


ON September 13, 1873, Queen Victoria set off from Inverlochy and passed through Fort William on her way to Glencoe, a journey which was, she wrote, “the principal object of our coming here”. She also wrote in More Leaves from the Journal of a Life in the Highlands: “The place itself is one which adds to the horror of the thought that such a thing could have been conceived and committed on innocent sleeping people. How and whither could they fly? Let me hope that William III knew nothing of it.”

No doubt she knew he knew and so did Prince Albert when he insisted on travelling up through Glencoe in an open coach on a stormy day in 1847. Yet, despite Queen Victoria’s horror, expressed in print, of the very thought of the reality of the Massacre of Glencoe, the town of Fort William is still named in honour of William III. The town has always been known to local Gaels as An Gearasdan Inbhir Lochaidh (the Garrison of Inverlochy) or An Gearasdan for short.

More than100 years ago it was suggested to the Fort William Town Council that the name should be changed to Inverlochy in English because the name Fort William “carried with it something vindictive, something of a sting, inasmuch as it expressed a sentiment of conquest and subjugation, and invented new names which tend to perpetuate memories of personalities and events which are to many people distasteful or painful.” The council ignored that politely-worded request from Charles Stewart of Achara, Duror of Appin, in January 1914. Should the same request be ignored in 2020?

Ewan Macintyre, Inverness.


WHILE not wishing to eggstend (sorry) this eggy debate, I would like to send one final word (promise) to AB Crawford (Letters,September 11) to remind him that languages do evolve. The version of eggy language we used at school definitely had "egg" prior to vowels as my own name was Jegganeggisegge Weggilseggon.

I consulted some old school friends and was advised by one to cut my losses on this conversation before it became "a storm in an egg cup", which I now intend to do, but not before congratulating your correpondent on an eggcellent (ouch) play on words. Un oeuf is most definitely enough.

Janice Taylor, Carluke.