The Black Knee ChroniclesVolume 5
by Hugh Frazer
A Small Aside
When I put out the first Black Knee Chronicle in October 1990, I had an inkling of the physical task that I had volunteered myself for, but no idea of the other aspects of such a commitment.
The 'Black Knee' legend was certainly a major impetus, giving me the feeling that I had to do what I could - at least to avoid a constant regret for not having done so.
Strangely for an unspiritual sort of person, I have also a feeling of destiny about the whole business; that the essence of our family tradition is based on truth, not the typical cover-up for an illegitimate birth that is the source of many genealogical claims of 'royal birth'; and that we will be given the answer, not so much by dedicated research, but more by putting the right questions to the right people.
Some family members clearly see the quest as one of establishing a right to the Lovat fortune, and have expressed some dismay that there may be so little left of it. Despite the legend that the Black Knee "will restore the family fortune", I have never felt this to be a statement of acquiring monetary wealth.
The first thing that I seek is simply the truth. This is a mystery in our lives, and while it is quite fun to have some mystery in one's background, in this case I feel a need to solve the mystery. I would rather have an unpleasant truth, than remain in ignorance. Perhaps this is something that I will live to regret, but I do not believe so.
I see the main fortune that can be restored to the family is a knowledge of who we are. While this will not change our lives in any material sense, it is still of value in how we see ourselves. To some extent we are voluntary exiles. I know of no member of our family who has lived in Scotland or taken part to any extent in 'Highland Culture'.
Archibald's son, Robert, declined to take up the challenge of seeking his rightful inheritance. In so doing he also declined to take up the clan responsibilities inherent to that position. In essence, he exiled all of us from our Scots heritage.
I am sure that he had good reasons for his actions, and it may well be that part of learning the truth will clarify his situation. His traditional response to his son Joseph - "Child, what you never had, you never lost" - shows that he had made his decision years before and after much thought.
However, we now live in a different age, where history has softened the harsh judgments of that time. What was then something too shameful to face would now simply be a challenge.
If we do prove that we are the rightful Lovat line, we are then the hereditary chiefs of the Highland Frasers. How can we handle this with honour? How could we be accepted? Regardless of acceptance, the first point has to be that this imposes responsibility first, with only the possibility of honour after responsibility is satisfied. Now there's a real challenge.
There is a trend for heritage culture to become more important, softening the harsh lines of geographical nationalism. This is partly due, no doubt, to increased leisure, but also in part to improved communications. One is no longer limited by distance.
I write these words in Australia, the other side of the world from most of you, and, if we so chose, you could read them milliseconds later through the electronic media. Perhaps this trend will lead to a global clan - there are more people of Scots descent outside of Scotland than ever lived in it. Another challenge?
There are times when such thoughts just seem to be absolute foolishness, and it has taken me a long time to become gradually brave enough to talk about them in public, and will take me much longer yet to learn to do it well.
Wouldn't it just be magic though!