Glasgow, 19 and 20 October 1883 - John Murdoch / Islay

JOHN MURDOCH, retired Supervisor of Excise, Carmunnock, Glasgow (65)—examined.

44462. The Chairman.
—Have you a written statement to make to us ?

44463. Do you appear as a delegate ?
—I appear as a delegate. Besides having much myself to lay before the Royal Commission, I have been
requested by the Islay Association in Glasgow to appear for the people of Islay, who have had no hearing at all as yet. I appear for the people of Uist, of Lochbroom, of Assynt, Eddrachilles, Durness, Tongue, and the Ross of Mull, who, from want of time and preparation, were unable to state their whole case. But instead of making separate statements for each of these constituencies, I shall draw upon each merely for facts bearing upon points which, as I believe, have not been adequately enforced. By way of apology to those whom I represent, and who may think my statements too brief, I desire to say that one thing, and the first at which I have always aimed, has been in some measure gained; the people themselves have been heard. Not only have numbers of them stated their grievances, their disappointments, their hopes, and their own ideas as to the redress of what troubles them, they have revealed a good deal of the character of their minds, and given the Commission and the nation besides a glimpse of the sort of men who have been lying so long under the burden of wrong which has at last compelled them to make their voice be heard. Chief among the agents at whose hands the complainants have suffered are the factors ; and so, the chief difficulty which you, my Lord and Gentlemen, have in attaching the proper weight to the evidence of the crofters, has been made by these agents and their co-labourers, in most of the things complained of. At Portree, at Glendale, at Ullapool, at Inverness, and even in Edinburgh, it has been alleged that the crofters have been moved and primed from without to prefer charges against factors, landlords, and others; and that thus the Royal Commission has, to a large extent, been employed, not so much in gathering the genuine testimony of the class to have been inquired of, but the opinions and creations of what the young man writing in Edinburgh to the Scotsman, called certain " cowardly and unscrupulous agitators." Now, it so happens that I am, from direct personal knowledge, in a position to remove much of this difficulty; and one of the best services which I can render to the Commission and to the crofters is to show how little reliance is to be placed upon the allegations which have been employed to raise the difficulty. I have the additional reason for dealing with this difficulty that I have been mentioned as if I were one of those who were engaged in getting up a fictitious case against factors and landlords, and in inciting the people to violence. I mention this, not that I have any idea of vindicating myself, but as giving me a standing as a witness in the case. The first thing to be noticed is, that these gentlemen do not say exactly what we did, or what we said to influence the people; they, as if a mere sweeping assertion from one of them were enough, merely say that the delegates and those who chose them are our mouthpieces, without specifying what particular words we put into their ears or when or where we made the attempts. This, to say the least, is suspiciously vague ; and might, if I did not happen to be better provided with an answer, be swept away with a counter statement equally vague. If these gentlemen do not make concrete statements on this point, they have made them on the same broad subject; and from an examination of their alleged facts elsewhere, you can judge of their less palpable statements to you. When the disturbance broke out over the refusal of Mr Alexander Macdonald, factor, Portree, to restore Ben Lee to the Braesmen, that gentleman issued a circular in which he excused himself by conveying that their demands were unreasonable, inasmuch as their total rent in 1882 was only £200, 12s, whereas in 1829 it was £280. And so successful was the factor in making the impression that the above reduction made up for the taking of Ben Lee from the crofters in 1865, that when a question on the subject was put in the House of Commons, the Lord Advocate quoted that reduction in justification of Mr Macdonald's refusal to let the tenants have the hill back without an increase of rent. The word of the factor was of such weight that it swept away the testimony of the tenants, and the absurdity of supposing that a reduction of rent made in 1830 and in the lifetime of a previous proprietor, was meant to cover the taking of the hill thirty-five years later, and the keeping of it from them fifty years later still, in the time of the second succeeding proprietor. Among those who were attracted to Skye by that disturbance was myself, and, not to be carried away by the statements of the crofters, I made a point of going first to the factor. Among the points on which I sought enlightenment was the relation in time between the reduction of rent and the taking of the hill ; could he explain how a reduction made in 1830 could be held as being in consideration of the taking of Ben Lee from the tenants in 1865. He tried to raise a cloud of remoteness between us and the reduction, he could not be expected to be clear about what occurred so long ago ; and he began to express himself as not being clear that the Braesmen ever had possession of Ben Lee. And, when the case went before the Lords of Session it was on the latter plea, and the pleas in the circular, and the explanation given by the Lord Advocate were cast to the winds, as were the leading articles in the newspapers which stood by the factors—although there is positive evidence that the father of the present Lord Macdonald made an' abatement of £ 3 a year in the total rent of the Braesmen in consideration of his Lordship's having built a cottage, and taken a croft for a gamekeeper, within the bounds of Ben Lee; and an abatement of £4 when the place, no longer required for a servant, was let to another man. The records of Parliament and of the Court of Session furnish proof of these facts and of the misleading character of the matter-of-fact statements made by this gentleman in an attempt to make little of the testimony of the crofters. The Lord Advocate himself is employed to make a misleading statement; and then his Lordship is put in the humiliating position, by the same factor, of giving his sanction to a practical contradiction in the Court of Session; and the Court is made use of to give effect to a plea which is contradicted by the facts of the case. So long as these things are remembered it will take other than the evidence of such men to set aside the testimony of the crofters. I shall have to return to this gentleman ; but meantime, I go to Glendale. There I seek an interview with Mr Donald Macdonald, Tormore, the factor, up to that period, on the estate. I am sorry that I must appear so personal in this little narrative, as I wish to avoid even the semblance of a vindication of my own actions. But I have to give personal testimony, and cannot hide myself. I said to Mr Macdonald, " It is so difficult to arrive at the truth in regard to what has been going on in these quarters that I have come to inquire on the spot." " Yes," said he, " and you have come to do more mischief." I pray you mark the readiness with which he makes this statement. " Stop," I said, " you have known me for some years now, did you ever know me even to attempt to do mischief?" "Well, no," he said at once. Of these two contradictory statements of Mr Macdonald's, Mr Macpherson Macleod and Mr Edward MacHugh are living witnesses. Calming down, he entered into conversation with me on the troubles with which he was beset. Having dilated on the great change for the worse , which had come over the people, he took down a revolver from the chimney piece, saying, " So bad have the people become that I am obliged to carry that with me." Having remonstrated with him on the folly and wrong of resorting to deadly weapons or to violence of any kind, I asked him, " How have the people become so bad ?" " Oh, Irish Land League literature," he said, just as readily as previously he alleged what he had so soon to retract. " I am glad," I said to him, "that you have mentioned Land League literature, for I have been on the lookout for it ever since my visit to the island in the end of April, and I have not been able to discover a trace of it. You will be able to give me the information I require. You have, no doubt, read some of this literature ?" " No ?" he said. " Have you seen any of it ?" " No." "Has any one who has seen it told you about i t ? " "No." "Then, can you tell me anything at all about it?" "No."' I need not say on this more than that in these particulars Tormore did not consider himself under obligation to be sure of his facts before he made his statements ; and I bear this in mind when reading what he said as to the evidence borne by the crofters. To connect the crofters' action with Irish Land League literature was to damage them in the eyes of the country, roused as it was by certain crimes abhorrent alike to Irish and to Scotch. No doubt, subsequently to the disturbance, Irish and other literature on the land question had been conveyed to Skye; but that afforded no foundation for Mr Macdonald's statements. I pray you, bear the revolver scene in mind, while I go back to Portree before leaving Skye. A report of what passed between Mr Alexander Macdonald and myself regarding the Braes had appeared in an English paper; and on this, my second visit to Skye that season, I found the. factor in such a state of fury that he said he would knock me down if I did not retract, and apologise for, what I had written about him. I told him he need not be afraid to strike me, for I never struck back; I had been a strict peace man for forty years, and never, even in putting down smuggling, resorted to offensive or even defensive weapons. These are the two men under whose factorates violence broke out in Skye ; and they are the only men whom I met, in the course of those two visits to Skye and of my long tour this year in the west and north, who showed any disposition to spill blood or to use any kind of violence. It is quite clear that the crofters did not require to have men sent in among them from without to put ideas of violence into their heads. I shall here dispose of Mr Alexander Macdonald's cousin, who writes that the Uist crofters were made use of by " unscrupulous agitators" to malign his grandfather, Dr Alexander Macleod, at one time factor in the Long Island. Here again, the charge preferred is loose, though so sweeping. I, on the other hand, will speak definitely and give facts. In so far as I am concerned, I left Uist, holding the " Doctair Ban " up as a hero; and wherever I fancied there was a chance of learning something of the doctor's principles, maxims, or plans as a rural economist and agricultural engineer, I made an attempt to learn it, and it was in the hope of learning, thus, from one of my hero's daughters that I made the first acquaintance with Mr Alexander Macdonald, his grandson, at Portree. It will thus be seen that I was not on the lookout for faults, far less was I likely to invent accusations against the man who had taken such possession of my admiration. The fact is, that I never heard a whisper against the Doctair Ban until an attempt was made more than a year later by a clever gentleman in Uist, in intimate friendly and family relationship with the present factor, to get me to help in screening the modern management, by publishing statements injurious to the good name of my hero. It is exceedingly probable, even, that the young man whose letter has been serving as fuel for the Scotsman, heard from his own brother, Dr Kenneth Macleod, how pleased and surprised he was to hear me, at a soiree in Glasgow, speak enthusiastically in praise of his grandfather. If there has been any priming in the case, the charge is to be laid at the door, not of agitators at all, but of persons who are afraid of, and bitterly opposed to agitation ; and I am quite willing to abide by the result of inquiry into the matter. Were it not that 1 require so much time for other purposes, I would devote a few pages to holding the Doctair Ban up, as an example for present factors to imitate. I happen to be in a position to give positive evidence in regard to what Mr Gunn said regarding the Coigeach delegates—who, according to him, were no delegates at all, there having been, as he said, no meetings worthy of the name, at which they could be elected. I was told that, before I went there, there had been several meetings. That is only hearsay. But it is a matter of personal knowledge, that the first day I was there the Free Church was threequarters full, and that delegates were then elected. I went back again and found, that so far from grievances having been exaggerated in the statements actually submitted, so strong was the influence of the ex-deputy factor and his friends at subsequent meetings, the general case was greatly understated, and several very telling things were kept back entirely through fear. So thoroughly did I master the whole mechanism of the management—by " wheels within wheels "—that I can say with confidence, that Mr Gunn himself, who tries to operate at such a distance from his office, and who has to contend with so many countervailing forces, can, in reality say very little, of his own knowledge, about the things on which he has taken upon him to speak and write, and is very liable to say much at the instigation of others. I am quite willing to allow, that if Mr Gunn has sinned in what he has been doing before the Royal Commission, he has been sinned against in a greater degree; and his own and his noble employer's case is another variation arising out of an attempt to do the impossible in land administration. I am aware that objections have been urged against persons being out at all to prepare the crofters for the advent of the Royal Commission. I will not take up much time with this. I take it that, the Crown and the Government having, after mature deliberation, determined to make inquiry, the wise, proper, and loyal thing for sincere friends of truth and righteousness was to lend all the assistance they could to those intrusted with the difficult task. Factors and landlords were well provided in their offices with books, statistics, clerks, and so forth; and they had ample time and ability to make the utmost use of all these resources. What a contrast between these advantages on the one side, and the utter absence of aids on the side of the crofters. To have placed these poor people in a position at all approaching the preparedness of the other class, would have involved a vast expenditure of money and of time, and the sending out of men to act as advisers, and clerks, and spokesmen. These were out of the question, unless the Government had undertaken the preparation as well as the inquiry; and all that was done was the sending out of two or three men in a very hurried manner; and all they could do was to give a few words of encouragement and of advice, and move the people into co-operation for the time being, so as to prevent crowding and confusion, and have the most competent men put forward to give evidence. The weightiest part of the work of these pioneers was mitigating the adverse influences of the men who had for so long kept the crofters in a state of unworthy fear; and it is but right to say, as I can do, from coming as I have done in some cases after, as well as before the Commission, that the warping influences which have operated to defeat the objects of the Government and the Crown iu any measure, are those exerted by the very class who have objected to all preparation on the part of the crofters. But the most effective preparation is traceable to these same objectors and their friends. The agitation in Braes and Glendale, for instance, actually set on foot by the doings of the two factors, did much to prepare the crofters for the Commission; and certain vigorous attacks made upon the crofters and their friends, by Mr Thomas Purves in the Northern .Ensign, proved most effective ; they led to a correspondence which was most beneficial, not only in bringing grievances out so as to be seen from every point of view, but also in shaking off the fear of the factors for all time coming. It would be unfair not to mention the services rendered by these gentlemen. For myself, I have such confidence in the truth, that I have no desire to warp it ; and I was so sure of the good sense and good feeling of the mass of the people, that the height of my desire was to have them speak out their own minds in their own native way. I went out in the sincere desire to help the Commission to as full a knowledge of the crofters' case as was possible; and it is with the self-same desire, that this and the following papers have been written, and are now submitted. Serious defects in my statements were inevitable. With so much to say, I have had to write abruptly, and run the risk of appearing to be devoid of courtesy. Then my care, in regard to facts, that they should be easily referred to by others, has made me appear too minute in detail, and sometimes very personal. I have had to deal with very hard materials, and it would have taken time which I had not, and great skill indeed, to put anything else than a rough and even an ungracious face on matters.

And now, with regard to the island of Islay, a few figures, to begin with, will help the Commission to understand not only what is to follow, but also some things which were stated elsewhere. They are taken from the Blue Book of 1874, from the valuation roll of the county of Argyll, from the Registrar-General's Returns, and from the great three-volume Report of the Census Commissioners for 1851 :

Feu to crown
Feus and Public
Kilchoman Parish
Jas H Campbell
£2, 9s 9d
£447 10s 0d
£1245 19s
A M Indeor
£8 7s 5d
Mrs Baker

£14 13s 7d
£599 13s 11d
Mrs Smith

£12 15s
C Morrison

£8253 16s 3d

£299 6s 2d

C Morris

£10,262 9s 7d
£2078 6s
K Finlay
£3,041 5s 5d
Part Kildalton
J Ramsay

£598 13s
Kildalton & Oa

£8513 9s
£1319 4s
J Ramsay

£506 11s 11d
£32,761 19s 2d
£4643 9s

Poor Rates was in 1846 less than £200, in 1882 over £2000.

Kilchoman & Portnahaven
Bowmore & Kilmeny
Kildalton & Oa


So far as I can gather, the rental in 1831 was about £15,000, certainly not more. In 1847 it was officially stated that the rental of the portions now in the possession of Messrs Morrison, Finlay, and Ramsay was £19,712, 19s. 3d. To put in a small space as many of these statistics as I can, I will go back so as to make a more comprehensive comparison.


James Macdonald

Dr Walker





Sir John Sinclair

James Macdonald
£11000 well paid
£19712 19s 3d

Thus it will be seen
—1. The population is now just what it was 110 years ago, after rising to double. The fact is that the population was really up to 15,500 in 1832, the year before the decline began. I notice that Mr Malcolm, in his valuable paper, makes, in the items of population, the incomplete and misleading statement, that the population of the counties mentioned by him had gone on increasing down to the year 1831, but he does not mention the fact of the decreases which have taken place. In the smaller area, with which I am dealing, the population was nearly at its highest, and the next ten years show a decrease, and so downward till we reach the last census, when we find the number at 7574 as compared with 15,500 in 1832. Thus, we have the melancholy spectacle, in the eyes of the lover of humanity, of falling off in fifty years to the amount of 50 per cent, in the population, while the mere financiers have the cheering fact of a rise in rents of more than 100 per cent. It will be seen by a closer comparison, that fifty years ago the rent was about £1 per head of the population; while now it is, between agricultural rent, £32,761, 19s. 2d., and feus, &c, £4643, 9s.
—total, £37,405, 8s. 2d., or within a fraction of £ 5 per head of the people —that is rental per head has gone up 500 per cent. It is a wonder the Duke of Argyll did not quote Islay as a good exemplification of his favourite idea of the beneficence and felicity which are indicated by that blessed factor —rent. Mr Ramsay, when putting his brake on that car of progress which was moving in the autumn of last year in the direction of our having you, my Lord and Gentlemen, out on your agitational mission, said that the decrease in population was not the result of evictions but of education. There would have been no need of a theoretical explanation if the honourable gentleman had quoted the rise in the rental. Mr Ramsay compared Islay and Lewis, and we had the curious fact that, while the former fell 50 per cent, in population in fifty years, the latter went up 73 per cent, in the same period. Now one of the great feathers in Sir James Matheson's cap, as proprietor and benefactor, is his very great expenditure of money in furtherance of education. Of the £329,409 which he is said to have expended in improving his property and the condition of his people, the sum of £ 10,000 is debited to education. It is a pity that Mr Ramsay did not state how much that intelligent educationist, his predecessor, laid out on schools and schoolmasters. Maybe he will tell us yet. as there are few man. who are likely to be so able as he is to supply the information. Of this, I am sure, that the late proprietor, with all his good and liberal intentions, had not it in his power to do one-fourth or one-fifth of what Sir James did in that direction. But let us say that the expenditure was half Sir James's. Well, here is a sum for the honourable gentleman —£5000 applied to education in Islay, reduce the population by one-half ; how much of a reduction should be effected by a similar application of £10,000 ? If £5000 applied to education in Islay reduce the population by a half, £10,000 in Lewis should have reduced the population to nothing. I will not take up your time with the corresponding statistics of Lewis, but state briefly that there was a much greater inducement to clear Islay of its people than was found in Lewis. Mr Ramsay himself told us that Islay was the most valuable of the Western Isles. This lies at the bottom of the business, and agrees with the facts that in Skye, in Farr, in Durness, and even in Lewis, the best lands are as a rule cleared of their people, and those which are less easily consolidated and which are least valuable are left to the native people. The first farm which was cleared in Islay was one of the very best in it—that of the famous Kilchiaran, from which the Campbells of Dunmore, Ormsary, and Rum sprang. There were six comfortable farmers, with the usual complement of cottars. These tenants in chief had a couple of working horses apiece, with a crop of young horses rising to maturity; from eight to twelve milch cows, with their followers ; and about thirty or forty ewes. It is also a well known fact that they had money in bank at Campbeltown. The cottars had a cow or two, four or five sheep some of them, potato ground, and a little patch for what was deemed indispensable —flax. Among these cottars were such as weavers, joiners, tailors, and shoemakers; and their rents were paid with a few days of help in times of need. I am particular in giving this description at this point to save time and make things more pointed by and by. These people had a good many of the things which go to support a family without leaving the spot. The cottars had no difficulty in earning what would procure meal; and they had the sea to which they could go for fish for dinner, when the potatoes were put on the fire. This is a fact and not a fancy, I assure you. We have heard a good deal against the middlemen. They are a sort of universal factors for evil, to account, according to MacLeod of MacLeod and Mr Purves, for most of the ills ascribed to the mismanagement of landlords and the grasping of the sheep and cattle farmers. But the curious thing in connection with this business is that, in all the cases we have heard of, it was not the evil-doers at all that were removed, but their victims. The little community in question was devoured by a parasite; and, in the wisdom of the administrators, they remove the complaining and more important body, and leave the class of parasites to devour all. I do not think that there was one-tenth the harm in those middlemen that there is in the monopolists who have got the land entirely to themselves. But the term has been imported from Ireland with all the opprobrium attached to it ; and Mr Purves seizes it and uses it as a weapon of attack and defence. This seems all fair in the war in which these defenders of their class are concerned; but woe betide the crofter or his friend who would insist upon such Irishisms as "fair rent, free sale, and fixity of tenure." These are like Samson's foxes with the firebrands at their tails among the corn of the Philistines. But middlemen ! What are the Purveses and the Sellars and the Clarks, yea, and the proprietorial MacLeods, but middlemen in a far worse sense. The old middlemen let the humbler tenants have some share of the land with them; but the modern ones who run them down insist upon coming in on the one hand so completely between the people and the laird that they must have it all to themselves; and they come in on the other hand between the people and their God, by saying that the land is their own. The middlemen obtained all over Islay as well as over Sutherlandshire. In 1751 there were, according to the valuation of the county, four proprietors and eight wadsetters. Among them was Colin Campbell of Ardnahow, the father of Lord Clyde's mother. John, a brother of this Colin, was in Kilanalen, and it so happens that I have the names of the sub-tenants who were there under John and Alexauder, his successors. At a later period, William Campbell, called William Buidhe, had Kilchiaran, and from this stock sprang the Ormsaries, Dunmores, and Aros Campbells, and the William
whom I knew of them died a few years ago in Cladville in Islay, leaving a round sum of money. And what is noteworthy here is this, that, instead of the William Buidhe family swallowing all up and clearing Kilchiaran, the people were left in possession and the middleman cleared away. And not less worthy of notice are the further facts. There hardly was a more fortunate or successful family than the sons and daughters of this man, who did not grasp all and crush out the people; while, on the other hand, there is not to-day a well-to-do descendant in the county of those middlemen who seized all for themselves, all which agrees to the letter with the fate of Charles Clarke, Glendubh, the Macdonalds of Cuileag, George Gunn, &c. And supposing the middlemen in Sutherland and Skye, &c, to have been the devouring elements which their successors in large possessions allege, surely the right thing would have been to apply the ointment to the parasites, instead of the handing over the sheep—as I may call the crofters—to the tender mercies of the crows. The justice, the practicability, and the good effects of doing this are seen in the case of Kilchiaran, and the folly and suicide of the reverse is seen in the fate of middlemen and sub-tenants elsewhere. Let me, before I dispose of this gone class, say that the middlemen of those days, although of the class of gentlemen, were right in the bosoms of the people who rented under them ; they were on the most intimate terms with the farmers and crofters, and there is no doubt that it was through the influence and affection which they had among the humbler class of tenants and cottars that they were able to raise so many soldiers in Skye and elsewhere. How many crofters would follow Tom Purves, and William Mitchell, and George Granville Clarke to join the army. But returning to my narrative —the Kilchiaran tenants, whom the middlemen left there, were removed against their will some years later, and one of them was reduced to pauperism in a trial of strength with the laird before the courts. I will make a present of this case to Mr Ramsay to support his educational theory of reduction of population. I believe that the proprietor had an idea that, by introducing Fife and Ayrshire farmers into the country, he would, by means of their example, educate the remaining tenants to be better husbandmen. A great many very disastrous things have been done from the very best motives, and the proprietor in question would have done nothing from any other motive, excepting in the solitary interest of the blood-loving divinity or demon of sport. He loved his people; he was proud of them ; and there never was a proprietor who had a warmer place in the hearts of his tenants than Walter Frederick Campbell of Shawfield had in that of his Islay followers. But this was a blunder, educationally, socially, and economically. It broke up an excellent little community which had lived in humble unambitious independence, and which worked out the two problems of individual enterprise and cooperation. Mr White, the Fifeshire tenant, had a new house and an extensive steading built for him, and he had the farm at less than the rent which the native tenants would have paid on a renewal of their leases. Everything seemed to favour the stranger. Among the very first of his farming operations he was generously found fault with by the neighbours. They told him he was doing what would not pay. One of these was in regard to manuring with sea-weed. He, a southern, a Saxon, and a favourite with the laird, spurned their counsel and went on in his own way. But ere he had a second crop in the ground he began to see the error of his way, and before the end of his fifth year he was fain to surrender the whole concern into the hands of the proprietor and quit the country. So-called high farming from Fife was only made ridiculous in the eyes of the natives, and education in agriculture was thrown back rather than advanced. This was the case conspicuously in Lewis. I knew Mr Smith, the famous thorough-drain agricultural engineer —a man full of fancies and speculation —having, like the Duke of Sutherland, a great predilection for new and improved machinery ; and I have seen his farm-yard at Deanston so full of half and quarter made implements and machines that one would think there had been a war of implements, and that Deanston was an hospital to which the fragmentary survivors had been sent by a generous Government. Mr Smith had been successful in inventing a spinning machine, and he perfected a hydraulic contrivance, by which one portion of the water of the river Teith raised another so high that it crossed an intervening elevation and helped the moss-lairds to clear away what was called the Flanders bog from off the rich clay subsoil of Blair-Drummond Moss on the left bank of the river Forth. The three successes in the parishes of Kincardine and Kilmadock in Perthshire made a reputation for the man; and when Sir James Matheson intrusted him with the work of reclaiming Lewis and educating the Celts, the only things in which he was conspicuously successful were in spending Sir James's money and making, to some extent, real improvements in agriculture ridiculous by his blunders. There need be no attempt made to ascribe any other than good intentions to these four representative men. Yet Sir James Matheson's enormous expenditure, like that of the Duke of Sutherland and Lady Cathcart, might as well have been left at interest in the bank, in so far as the intended beneficiaries are concerned. And this opinion is confirmed by a previous Commissioner, Mr George J. Walker of Aberdeen, whose words will be found in the "Agricultural Interests' Commission" of 1881. He is cautious enough to avoid taking on himself the responsibility of averring that statements similar to those made at Bunessan in reference to costly agricultural improvements were to be accepted as beyond question. Since 1845 the late Sir James is said to have trenched, drained, enclosed, and divided into farms and crofts about 900 acres . . . . and drained, remodelled, and fenced another 1000 acres, most of which had previously been under rude cultivation. In addition, the extensive grounds which surround the castle have been thoroughly trenched, drained, and levelled, and within the policies large tracts have been laid out in pasture grass. Observe he has no reservation in regard to the Castle grounds. A large number of the farmhouses and steadings on the estate have been built anew or added to, and repaired by the late Sir James. There is no reservation there, but note what he savs next. " Not much has been done with the crofters." And then there is au excuse found for this. " When it is remembered that there are about 3500 crofters' houses on the island, including squatters, and that wood, lime, and slates have all to be imported, it can well be imagined what a large and expeusive task the thorough improving of the crofters' holdings really is." The greatest good of the greatest number is here disposed of in less than a line—" Not much has been done with the crofters," and five lines are devoted to an excuse. £134,000 are said to have been expended on lands and houses, and all the farmers we can find in Lewis outside the crofter class, are at the very utmost thirty-six. I have gone a little further into the case of Lewis here to save time again, and I will only say in this connection that there is abundant proof in Lewis itself that if Sir James had simply given his word to the people that they would not be removed, and allowed them proper access to the necessary extent of land, they would have made at least as much progress in agricultural and domestic improvement as they have done in population. Their houses are one of the worst features in the dreary rural landscape of Lewis. But what is the fact? During the short honorary commissionership of Mr Hugh M. Matheson, who was put before the public for a short time after the retirement of Mr Munro, he gave the crofters his word of honour that if they built new houses according to the rules of the estate they would not be removed but get leases. On that mere word, without writing or specific contract, the work of building began and went on at such a rate, that the style and workmanship and number of the new houses which I saw finished and in hand during my run over the island were a positive marvel, and a striking evidence of what the people wished to do. And yet the leases have not been granted yet; and even the man whose word was given ceased to have any power when Sir James died. I am sorry I have not the actual number of houses which have sprung up under the magic of Mr Matheson's few words of encouragement, but I could get them for you. It is not by the expenditure of large sums of money on the part of landlords that the work of real improvement is to be done. The " much food is in the tillage of the poor," as the wise man said, and the poor will be nerved for the work by what Arthur Young calls " the magic of property " be the wand in the shape of ownership, in fact or in prospect, or in mere protection from confiscation. I was looking for the evidence of Mr Fowler, the farm manager for Lady Matheson, but I do not think he went before you at all. Speaking to me in 1875 on the subject of improvement in Lewis husbandry, he conveyed that the methods tried by the proprietor were a vast mistake, that the people themselves were on the right lines, although astray in many things, and that what was required was a combination of encouragement and protection to go forward on those lines. He said they had been impelled by experience, personal and traditional, to adopt the methods they pursued. Some of these methods were forced on them by adverse circumstances, but they were shrewd enough to reason their way out of the latter, and they were teachable enough to adopt hints generously given. The great blunder was setting aside all their ideas, and trying to force on them a system of improvements which went counter to their common-sense, and which events have proved to be what they saw them to be at the outset. This was exactly the case at Kilchiaran in Islay. The Islay farmers had their faults like other people, but they were in a sure way of correcting many of them ; and they were not above taking lessons in Fife, Ayr, or Kintyre nearer home. This I know, that numbers of the young men left their homes, partly to earn a little money, and partly to learn some of the southern and eastern methods of farming. I could give the names of numbers of them. And some of them brought home with them improved ploughs, carts, and harness, as earlier generations of Islay men brought home better milking cows from the north of Ireland, to which they were wont in their time to go to service. They were on the right lines; and they were extending cultivation exactly as Mr John Hamilton John ' of Skibo contemplated in those remarkable leases of his, which Mr Sutherland Walker tried to set aside some years ago —that is, projecting reclamations and homesteads from a parent centre towards a circumference. The same Kilchiaran might, in the course of time, have been so improved, aud the area of cultivation so extended that, instead of being made over to one man, it might have afforded homesteads to as many more tenants, some of the crofters ascending the ladder. But the economic blunder was even more tangible. All the laird's expenditure was thrown away in the meantime, and the farm was on his hands for seven years. One Ralston from Ayrshire took it, and in the course of a few years he made a worse termination than his predecessor, for he became bankrupt, and left heavily in the proprietor's debt. To make a long story short, there have been four lowland tenants in that farm, with intervals between them, until now at last it has fallen to a native, who has not had time yet to prove whether he is to escape the woe attached to adding field to field. With the consolidation idea in the atmosphere, it was hardly possible that the first failure in a series should prove a sufficient warning where the land was so good, and so the work went on, and in its progress we shall see another factor operating to the same disastrous end. You have had a good deal of evidence already as to what factors have done on their own account in clearing people off the best lands. I was repeatedly reminded of Islay as I followed you up Strathnaver. Mr Purves says that Strathnaver is the bast in Sutherland, but Islay is better than the best you have seen on your recent tour, excepting perhaps Cragaig and Easter Ross; and so Islay has suffered a far greater disaster than the county of the notorious clearances. There was a factor in Islay who did pretty much what George Gunn and Patrick Sellar did on a larger scale, and what Mr M'lver did on a smaller scale. He worked, one way with another, until he got, by the year 1851, when I made the calculation, the farms of thirty-seven different comfortable tenants into his own hands, not one of them nearly of so low a grade as the crofters we have heard of, some of them elders in the Established Church, and some actually going to that church in the true guarantee of respectability—a gig. And before the work of consolidation was nearly completed, or Mr Webster had been constrained to give up his office, he had a good many more. But for the regard which I have for your time I would illustrate the factorial methods and capacities in this respect by giving some examples, not only of dealings with widows, but with men who might have been deemed capable of taking care of themselves. Suffice it that in one continuous holding he had at least twenty-five of those better class farms, with a mansion and all its conveniences and adornments, in the very best situation in the island. And while he was feathering his nest thus, and elbowing and shouldering out of his way those whose land he sought to possess, the liberal and trustful proprietor whom he had undertaken to serve was ruined, and a noble inheritance passed away from a family whose nobility was from God and not from the Crown. Thus Islay, the Queen of the Hebrides, found its way into the long list of valuable properties, with Sutherland at the head, which can be adduced to prove the disastrous commercial policy of placing large tracts of country and large numbers of people in the power of factors —yes, even, and of landlords with the best intentions. All the education, all the capital, all the benevolence to the contrary not withstanding, the people were sent out of the country, and the proprietor did so badly for himself that the estate was sold to pay his debts. And there is even more than this moral rolled up in the case. If ever there was a case in which the perfection of ingenuity had been brought to the work of harnessing the business of whisky-making so as to make it an element of estate management, it was done in Islay. The trade was elevated to the rank of a local public industry. It consumed (I do not say utilised) the farm produce of bere and barley on the island, and sent the product mostly to be consumed by people in the lowlands; and yet the distillers, all, with the proprietor at the head, came to ruin, one after another, until there is not one to-day in the island, nor the descendant, I may say, of those I recollect in my early days, that did not come to ruin. The exceptions only prove the rule. Macneill Lossit, who never was but a minor distiller, had the good sense to give up in time. The rule was for the farming to be so managed that a fifth of the arable land was put under bere or barley; and when the farmer left his barley with the distiller the rent was assumed to be paid. But all did not do. On the contrary, the very attempt to link the demoralising traffic with the honest business of farming, raised a moral force against the management which produced the ruin. And yet with numerous facts before us this is only a sample. We are charged with putting complaints into the mouths of crofters, and we are abused as agitators because the peeled and evicted people are at last encouraged by their sovereign to state their grievances. I will now give you an example of the extent to which this sort of thing has been carried. Take what is called The Glen, which is not a narrow cut made through a mountain by a river now tumbling and leaping over boulders at the bottom. It is a strath, in the main, and part of it is called the Strath of Killenan. Well, before this work of desolation began, there were 227 families where now there are just nine tenants, no cottars, and a few paupers I found in fragments of houses which have not been pulled down yet. The most of this glen is on the estate of Mr Finlay, and the rest on Mr Morrison's and Mr Ramsay's. If you will look at the population table from 1831 to 1881, you will notice that the parish of Kildalton and Oa keeps up its population till 1851, but as soon as Mr Ramsay became proprietor and founded a residence for himself at the head of Loch a Chnoic, we see the same rule applied which Webster and the trustees applied so successfully to the rest of the island; and in a few years after his succession the population falls from 3310 to 2283, more than 1000 disappearing from the returns. But these figures do not tell the story in full. In the division of the estate called Oa, and which is outside entirely of the wretched village of Port Ellen, there are only fifteen farmers and twenty-three cottars, where there were ninety-seven farmers and sixty-six cottars; thirty-eight families where there were 163. Angus M'Cuaig, blacksmith at Gleann a Mhuiluin, told me that in one of the little townships he shod thirty-six horses where now he shoes four. And it is not merely that this land is not inhabited, but there is a covering of rushes on it which renders it incapable of supporting the stock which should be available for the feeding of the people elsewhere. It is not tilled, and the grazing, as elsewhere, is becoming too bad for sheep and cattle; and the chief use I saw it put to was yielding rushes with which to thatch the corn stacks of Cornabus
and Lag a Mhuilinn. And let me not forget to state that, so far from the land set free and at the disposal of Mr Ramsay being bestowed to enlarge crofts or farms said to be too small, the whole of the eighty-two holdings
have gone in reality to augment the previously existing large farms of Cornabus, Kinabus, and Kintra, and to form another largs one. So that even so intelligent a man as Mr Ramsay is not to be trusted to make the best use of his possessions. Those three farms were large enough previously, and two of them occupied by two of the old class of gentlemen farmers, who were related to some of the leading families of the county. I have disposed of the education theory of depopulation in so far at least as the earlier emigration from Islay is concerned. I am quite ready to admit that education may be so perverted and applied as to promote emigration, to promote a taste for clerkships in the large cities, and make the pliable youth grow up into superficial creatures who think themselves superior to the husbandman who takes his living out of the soil. But this is a false education, or miseducation; and I admit also that under a London Department of Education, under School Boards composed of factors, sheep and cattle farmers, and others who are not in sympathy with the native people, young men are being miseducated into cosmopolitans, who care not for the things and the duties which lie nearest to them, and they are schooled into such mere verbalists that they do not think the language in which Fingal spoke and Ossian sang worthy of their study and care. This, and much more, I know are being done by means of the machinery of education; but that is not education. In so far as the means of education are thus perverted they are operating from the same source and in the same direction with all the other alien forces which have gone to set aside the instincts, the language, the intelligence, the common sense, the feelings, and the interests of the native people. Let me here pay a tribute due to the late W. F. Campbell of Islay in this connection. He showed so much regard for the people and so much respect for their ideas that he had his son taught to speak their language. And behold one of the results. The man whom a political opponent was paltry enough to taunt with not having a clod of land in the county, won the election for the rich man's son against the rich man's son. And how did he win it 1 By acting in such warm sympathy with the people that they could not but feel it, and by making use of their rich and euphonious tongue to call forth their enthusiasm and co-operation. Let me add that this bit of the education of a young laird has proved a title and an inheritance more glorious and more lasting than if he had been left with twice the estate which his father lost him ; and when estates, as such, are no more, and when the world will have forgotten that the Campbells ever held a clod of land in Islay or in Kin tyre, the title and the honour of having edited The West Highland Tales and Leabhar-na-Feinne will live in better form than those titles which are written on parchment, and those honours which are emblazoned on the most imposing escutcheons. But let me tell landlords and factors that there is a still higher honour and title. There was in the City Hall of Glasgow, on the night of the 30th October 1878, a gathering of Islay men and women, whose hearts were overflowing with the most loyal and loving feelings towards that landless votary of Gaelic lore; and Sir Kenneth Mackenzie will remember that night's demonstration with pride all the days of his life. And few men are likely to appreciate such a thing as this better than Sir Kenneth, because his own father pursued a
somewhat similar course; and his uncle, Dr Mackenzie of Eileanach, in the same spirit, always regretted that expectant landlords were not educated among their people, and interested and instructed so as to be able to promote the good of the people intrusted to their care. I am not forgetting that the worthy doctor was at one time at variance with me on the subject of education in Gaelic, but I know that soon after the discovery of this variance he presided at the best gathering ever the Gaelic Society of Inverness had, and ever afterwards co-operated with me in promoting the education of the people in the spirit of the race, on the lines of the old lore, and by means of the Gaelic language. A leading thought in this work was this —the language and lore of the Highlanders being treated with despite, has tended to crush their self-respect, and repress that self-reliance without which no people can advance. When a man was convinced that- his language was a barbarism, his lore as filthy rags, and that the only thing good about him—his land —was, because of his general worthlessness, to go to the man of another race and another tongue, what remained to struggle or that he should struggle for. Every word that is said against the Highlander is really evidence against his so-called superiors. I will not dispute with the factor or the sheep farmer who charges some Highlanders with want of enterprise—with laziness, if you will. Everything has been done that could be done to paralyse their energies: and, in the light of what we know Highlanders to have done in every part of the world, if there are lazy men among them at home the blame to-day is to be laid at the door of those landlords, factors, sheep farmers, and others, who have done their utmost to stop the education of the race, and substitute for it the godless economies of "the greatest good of the smallest number." This idea of misusing the machinery of education for purposes which are adverse to the people and to the strength of the nation has such a hold in the country that it is entitled to rank among the foremost grievances. It is a systematic attempt, carried out with the public money, to distort and debase the minds of the people, and have the schoolmaster as the co-labourer with the factor and the ground officer in destroying all chance of the people ever raising their heads in their own country. The first utterance of Captain Orde, now Sir John, when I went to him some years ago to learn his side of the story which I had heard from the people, was—" I hope the educational machinery which we are setting up will rid us of a number of these people." I expressed my surprise at the sentiment,
saying I thought he was going to say that he hoped the educational machinery would have the effect of fitting the people for turning the land and other resources to better account. And when I suggested the teaching of the first principles of agriculture, and of having a popular class-book on the subject in the schools, he was honest enough to confess that such ideas had never entered his head. The subject of education is too important to be passed over, as it seems to have been at all the sittings of the Commission, and I prefer bringing it in thus, particularly while dealing with an estate on which it is avowed that education is used as a
centrifugal force to rid the country of its greatest wealth. Instead of this, it surely requires little more than to be said, that in school the children should be taught to love their parents, their homes, their country, instead of to fly from them as soon as they could know enough of other tongues and lands. They should be begun where the bards and the seanachaidh ended; they should not be taught to go counter to all the lore of the race ; and among the more material branches of education should be such instruction as would not only help them to know all about the plants and birds and beasts in which their country is interested, but would interest, them, in the cultivation of the soil, in the growth of plants, and in the rearing of cattle and sheep and hens. When the poor children are taught to think clerical work and all that sort of thing superior to husbandry, and when nothing is done to awaken the interest which all who have gone about the work of the field and the garden from a proper starting-point have felt, we have no right to expect good husbandry anywhere; and I have no hesitation in placing the sin of bad farming in the Highlands at the doors of the School Boards as
well as of the factors and proprietors. It is well worthy of remark here —the smallness of the number of teachers who have shown any sympathy with the poor crofters in connection with the Royal Commission's inquiry. Everything is done to pervert the agency, and to withdraw the teachers from the circle to which their pupils belong. And thus education and its agents are to a large extent as if they were alien forces in the country. They do not prepare the children for home duties and usefulness, but for foreign service. Education in the Highlands should be racy of the soil, and it should do all that is possible to preserve the sentiment of the race, and preserve the high tone which we find in the ancient lore; and foremost among the class-books should be the poems of Ossian, of Donnacha Ban; and, once-a-week at least, they should have a course from the new edition of Mackintosh's Gaelic Proverbs. Thus would I have them to lean gu dluth ri cliu do shinnsre. But even Mr Ramsay had not patience to wait for the effect on the tenants of Oa of this perverting education. He had recourse to the expedient which we heard of last April as having been adopted in the Ross of Mull. As the time approached when the laird wished the people to leave, his factor went among them telling them that it would be better for themselves not to offend the laird by refusiug to sign a promise that they would go when the time came. Numbers of them signed, thinking that it was only a form, and that they would get their lands as heretofore. The effect is what I have stated. But even this gentle pressure did not in all cases succeed. Neil a Bhuacliaille mhoir, taking advantage of the failure of the sheriff-officer to serve the legal notice on him in time, refused to go, and he would not go even at the end of twelve months until force was applied. This was done, and, as if impelled by some blind power behind him, the great educationist of Kildalton placed himself so far in the same category with the Sellars and the Gunns of Sutherlandshire, that, as soon as Neil was out, the place was set on fire, so that the rooks could not return to nest. In 1821 the village of Port Ellen was projected, and 130 houses were built on the promises of 57 years' leases; two-acre lots in case of one story houses and four acres for two-story houses, together with peat mosses and grazing for cows. Port Charlotte started in 1828, and eighty houses were built on similar expectations. Before giving an idea of their present condition, I will direct attention to what the fact of the erection of the villages demonstrates with regard to the condition of the population when it was twice what it is now. In these two villages there were 210 houses erected in a very few years, and if we estimate them over head at only £80 apiece, we have £16,800. I put the question repeatedly when in the island —Could that amount be raised to-day for such a purpose in the two parishes which contained them ? The answer was that it could not, and I am sure it was correct. If to these we add the curious facts of which I happen to have a record for more than thirty years, that in 1847 there was a loan by Islay people to one gentleman of £20,460, and that, it is worth while saying without any security, we have a clear capital disengaged from business of £37,000. Not one penny of this loan was from the distillers. It is true that one of the houses was built by a gentleman who erected a distillery with money taken out of a farm. But the matter of the villages is more instructive than that. The most of the 210 houses were built without money by small farmers, joiners, masons, weavers, shoemakers, &c. They are a monument of the magic of property spoken of by Arthur Young. These people jumped at the prospect of having a permanent hold of even two to four acres of land that they could call their own; and they left us proof to demonstration of what can be done with next to no capital, when there is a fair prospect of fruition before the workers. You will ask how on earth they could do such things without capital. First, they could do it all the better when the people were numerous in the island, and when 60 per cent, of them at least were of the farming class, and when even the cottars were possessed of some stock and had access to some land ; and where the people are, as now in Lewis, in battalions, we see similar work in hand.
The mason built for the joiner, and vice versa, and both built for the slater ; and, meanwhile, numbers of them weut to the homes of their parents nightly or weekly, as the case might be, and got their share of what
was going. Self-reliance, self-sacrifice, hope, co-operation, on the part of 210 persons without capital produced what would to-day be worth more than £22,000 of property in these two villages. This is my matter-of-fact answer to much of the speculation as to how the landless people are to stock the land and provide houses when the chance is given them. As to the money value of the houses, it is a fact that in Port Ellen numbers of them were sold, and with the ready cash the vendors emigrated. Here then were 210 families with a house each, a lot of ground, a field for grazing a cow or two, and access to a peat moss free of charge. The uses which I have made of these facts are in no way affected by the opinion, in which I quite concur, that it was a mistake to build those villages at all. It would have been quite different if the houses now in ruins in Port Ellen had been built in the middle of suitable lots on long leases on the small patches laid out by nature for the purpose to the north of the village. Whatever the villagers might have done, had the population gone on increasing, the villages could not but decay and go to ruin as the surrounding population lost possession of the land and left the country. The time before last that I was in Port Ellen I counted thirty houses utterly unfit for occupation, and at the present moment, out of the 130 village cottars, there are only 14 who have lots, the possessions of the rest having been consolidated into parks and farms for a few persons. Bad and all as the county is, offers have been made to repair the houses; but the proprietor, Mr Ramsay, refuses leases, and the cancer eats its way into the wretched framework of the village. And so bad are the houses in every way that the wonder is that one-third of them are not deserted. Some of the poor people have been praying to be allowed more room; but they have been refused; and, not long ago, fever broke out in a house in which two families occupied one room apiece. One of these consisted of six members and the other of ten. Flora Logan in the one room and James Mackintosh in the other—the two bread-winners among the sixteen—were carried off. Eight years ago things were so bad that the schoolhouse had to be closed repeatedly in consequence of the breaking out of epidemics. H.M. Inspector of schools, the late Mr Donald Ross, was constrained to report upon the insanitary state of the place to the Education Department, and lay the blame at the feet of the great educationist, Mr Ramsay. The matter was all the more awkward that Mr Ramsay was one of the Commissioners of Education at the time, and all the less creditable to him that he actually denied some of the statements made, and tried to run Mr Ross down as meddling in an affair with which he had nothing to do. The best proof, however, of the accuracy of Mr Ross's report, and the best thing that can be said of Mr Ramsay in connection with the matter is that, when the villagers got up a subscription to remedy some of the evils complained of, he contributed one-half of the entire amount required. This whole affair shed a strange light on Mr Ramsay's claim to be regarded as a patron of education. Let me add that these villages are dependent upon such employment as they can get at the distilleries and on the few farms about, and that they have to travel three, four, five, and even eight miles a day in going to and coming from their work. A few years ago Port Charlotte was about as bad as Port Ellen is now, but I gladly report an improvement; and I have little doubt that if the fear of the factor would allow the villagers to approach Mr Morrison, the proprietor, things would be still further improved. Five years ago there was a general complaint of want of milk. I urged the villagers to petition Mr Morrison on the subject, and now I am told that by simply letting them have among them some land previously held by the distiller, they have among them sixty milch cows, and some yeld beasts in a hill and a glen beyond. I cannot help mentioning that the improvement in the village from this, and from the regranting of fourteen lots, of about four acres apiece, to as many of the inhabitants, was so marked, that I had fresh confirmation of the opinion, that the redress of many of the people's grievances is a much easier matter than factors and sheep farmers would have us suppose, and is much more a matter of fair consideration for the people, and of deference to their views, than it is of spending money on them. As certainly as in times past the people have made wealth for the proprietors, with little to begin with but the capital of their strong arms and willing hearts, they will in the time to come make enough for themselves out of the land, if they have scope and a fair start. It is not for me to say what exact plan should be adopted for the redress of the grievances of the people of Islay; but unless there is a very great deterioration in what remains of a noble stock, they will soon recover themselves, and increase and multiply once more, if they are allowed an opportunity. The simple fact, that outside those poor villages there are only about 230 tenant farmers, tells a terrible tale. This gives an average of about 630 acres to each, 180 of them assumed to be arable. I have said very little about Bowmore, the principal village. The first grievance there is that the lots have been taken from the householders and given to augment larger farms and the like. The next in this connection is that, although the feuars were entitled to cut peats and to send their cows to grass at a low charge, now they cannot get nearly the grazing they require even at the exorbitant rates exacted, and they go to other men's lands to cut their peats, and then they have to pay the factor, not the tenant, for cutting up the ground. I do not say that Mr Morrison knows this, but there is the fact, as attested publicly by villagers and by the men on whose ground the peats were cut. A public as well as a local grievance is the want of a pier at which the steamer can take in and discharge cargo; and a similar complaint comes from the fishermen of Port Charlotte, who cannot launch or moor such boats as they require for their vocation. This matter will be better understood in connection with the complaints from Port-na-haven. It should be mentioned that with proper piers, and with such a numerous population as the island is capable of supporting, the fishing out from Port Charlotte would be of considerable importance, and would add materially to the prosperity of the village. Besides these things, the villagers are too poor to equip boats of the size and in the number required. There have been extensive and elaborate statements laid before the Commission in regard to the expenditure of large sums of money by proprietors in improving their estates, accompanied in most of these cases by suggestions and even positive allegations as to the expenditure having goue to improve the coudition of the crofters. With the exception of the cases of Sir Alexander Matheson and Lord Howard of John Glossop, there is not one instance in which the above allegations are not strongly denied. In most of the cases there has been a concomitant if not a consequent deterioration in the condition of the people as a whole. The expenditure in Sutherland, in Lewis, in the Long Island, in Ross of Mull, Iona, and Tiree, cannot be shown to have done any good to the crofters. On the contrary, it has done them harm in many cases, in that it has helped others to add the crofts to their own farms. The expenditure, as has been seen, in Kilchiaran, went to induce a stranger to come in and take the laud, and to make room for him the native tenants were removed and their holdings consolidated. And there is no evidence that the expenditure has been of profit to any one except to engineers, and superintendents, and persons like that. If there is one thing more likely than another in this connection it is that the most of the outlay is to be taken as the measure of the incompetency of the head managers of estates rather than of the good done to any one at all. The outlay of the Duke of Argyll is credited with a large increase of rent, but the great cloud of witnesses, the greater number of the population, complain of this as one of the causes of their sorrows. A landlord may play at ducks and drakes with his money, if he has it, but the law of the land enables him to recoup himself by simply raising rents, and that, as a rule, on those who have not benefited at all by the expenditure. Sir Alexander Matheson has laid out vast sums of money in improving land, but there is not undisputed evidence that the expenditure has been of great and general use to the humbler tenants, and no proof at all that it has been wisely laid out. No one has ever reported on the subject excepting those who have been interested in making the improvements appear to advantage. There is no end to the credit which rich men can get for their expenditure. What commendation was heaped by myself among others, in anticipation, on the Duke of Sutherland in connection with his doings at Shinness ! He had the Times at his command; the Scotsman aud the Courier were eager to praise him for what he was doing; and even the Highlander, glad to have a good thing to say, actually led the chorus of praise. Still, admitting the genuine usefulness of the Ardross expenditure, I have no hesitation in saying that if much more encouragement had been given to the people, and more left to their own judgment, the good results would have been vastly greater. It is said that the rental of the estate has gone, 4 year by year for a long time, in improvement. Mr Loch is reported to have said in the House of Commons, in 1845, that the entire rental of the Sutherland estate for twenty-two years, and £60,000 besides, had 'gone into those "improvements," by which he could obtain no credit for his chief, and for which the above was his best apology. No mere estate management could stand that; and the most striking and superlatively excellent results (and not mere hypothesis) would be necessary to satisfy the common sense of mankind. But supposing now, that Sir Alexander Matheson, instead of expending all this money himself, had taken the tenants into his confidence, and given them, even conditionally, security of possession, and then remitted half the rent, on the distinct understanding that they improved their possessions, I have not the least doubt that the result would have been vastly superior to what has been secured. The crofters know their own circumstances better than any one else can know them, and they can oversee every penny of outlay. But even this is only a consideration minor to that of the free exercise of their own gifts by the tenants. No expenditure of mere money by an outsider, and no result on houses, fields, cattle, or even on the food or raiment of the people, can compensate for the cramping effect upon them of their being kept in leading-strings, and curbed and cowed as they are under all but the very best landlords and factors. The first thing wanted in the Highlands is the revival of the spirit of the people. The second, the
calling forth of their intelligence, common sense, and enterprise. The third, definite legislative protection from interference with them by such petty deputies of absentees and aliens as have kept them so long in a
state of slavish uncertainty and fear.
 Evidence continued the next day

44464. The Chairman.
—A considerable part of your statement yesterday evening was devoted to au argument against the improvement of land by the rapid operation of capital on the part of proprietors, and by the statement of your view that land could be more profitably and successfully improved by the gradual agency of small tenants. Now, have you got any distinct scheme or project for the encouragement of land improvement by that agency?
—I was going to hand in a plan which I prepared and published in 1850, with reference to the admirable estate of Islay that I gave an account of, and that was to lay it out in small portions and to sell it, giving the people time to become the owners of it in fee. That is the plan which was proposed and which numbers of people say to-day is the one that should have been adopted with regard to Islay. But at the same time, I would say that I had no argument against the use of capital. I simply say that capital has been expended with comparatively little good to the people, but that where the people got reasonable encouragement they did improve, and if they got the encouragement which they ought to have they would improve. But I want to say this, that I don't insist upon any definite scheme. What I do insist upon is full scope to be allowed to the
people themselves by exercising their judgment, but to be instructed, if possible, to make a better use of the circumstances in which they live.

44465. There are two questions—occupancy and purchase. My first question was, assuming the people were not to become proprietors of their lots, have you any distinct project respecting an improving lease, with provisions for compensation for improvements and security of occupancy, and so on ?
—No, I have not. I have no scheme, but I was going to give you a fact In Orkney I was sorry you did not fall in with Colonel Balfour. Colonel Balfour told me himself five years ago that when he went into possession of his estate there were only about 500 or 600 acres under cultivation, and the people were very poor. He commenced a plan of operations, aud at the time he was speaking to me he had 6000 acres under cultivation, and that mainly done by the tenants. The method in which that was done was this. When he saw a deserving man, whether he had land or not, he would offer him land. If the man said to him, I have no capital and I have no stock,' It does not matter,' he said, ' you have character,' and Colonel Balfour went to the bank with this man, and got a cash credit for him to a limited amount. If the man had too little land he said, ' Here is more land; I will give it to you on these conditions,' and the man went on. He added, that he had gone security for those tenants of his to the extent of £20,000 in those thirty years, and he had not lost £20 in that time. He added this to it
—' My people came to know that character was capital. I knew my people and my people knew me, and they could trust me. The men whom I could encourage thus were men of character and men who could be trusted, and operated morally upon the whole population, and they came to know that even prosperity in the present life was closely connected with excellence of character.'

44466. That is a description of a very useful, and I daresay, paternal system, but I want to know whether the people had any security in the form of lease or security for compensation for the expenditure of capital and labour ?
—No, that part of the subject did not come up.

44467. With reference to the purchase of land, have you any distinct project for the purchase of land by the small class of tenants, the purchase of their own holdings or of other portions of land with Government assistance ?
—I have this project, I have not formulated it, except so far as I have it here, and that is not with Government aid, but when the question comes to be one of £1,200,000 being proposed to be expended in one year in removing 30,000 people, it naturally occurred to me that one-fourth part of that money would be much more advantageously expended in trying to obtain security of permanent possession to people at home in those lands that are now lying comparatively vacant, and that are always coming into the market.

44468. In connection with what you said about Islay, you gave two examples of considerable villages having been built by the people, as I understood it, on the promise of a long lease or receipt of a long lease ; did the people get long leases ?
—Numbers of them got it, —a sufficient number to be fulfilment of a promise.

44469. What was the particular incentive or attraction which induced the people to lay their money out at these two spots ?
—The security that they were to be in the possession of the ground on a feu.

44470. But was there any particular attraction with reference to the labour market there,—facilities for fishing, facilities for mining, facilities for anything. Was it connected with the distilleries ?
—No, there was not a distillery at Port Charlotte when this began, but there was a good deal of fishing to be done, and there was a large population behind those villages in the country. I remember perfectly well when the farmers in the upper part of Islay used to go in autumn and bring home cart-loads of fish from Port-na-haven, and if the fishing business had prospered in Port Charlotte it would have been a great advantage to the people.

44471. Then the principal attraction which induced the people to lay out labour and capital on their own houses was the fishing ?
—No ; the main thing was the security of tenure, and the other was the fishing.

44472. Well, do you think it is a desirable thing to encourage people to fix themselves and lay out their capital, build houses, and establish themselves, perhaps in great numbers, on small holdings in connection
with so precarious a source of employment as fishing, considering that the fish have frequently left the spots at which they were once taken ?
—No. These people simply went there as a choice of evils, from want of security elsewhere, as I mentioned last night about Port Ellen itself. There is one of the most admirable districts for small fishing crofts between Port Ellen and Kildalton, where Mr Ramsay resides, that could be well imagined—little patches of land broken up by rocks and clumps of trees —that would have been admirable for these people, and, if that had been done, it would have been a model little community like Fortrose.

44473. What was the principal cause of the failure of these two villages ?
—The principal cause was the removal of the population behind them. The shopkeepers, shoemakers, and other tradesman had no employment. They depended upon

44474. A market that failed ?

44475. Can you tell me whether there was any subdivision of those little holdings ? How long did those villages last ?
—They are in existence still. But as to prosperity I won't say exactly ; I was out of the island at the time the greatest decay took place, and I came back and saw them in a ruinous condition.

44476. Did the people multiply on the ground?
—I don't think they did materially.

44477. You don't think they suffered from subdivision ?
—No; what they suffered from really was consolidation. The lots were taken from them from some cause or other.

44478. In the case of people settling in that way on little possessions of their own, either by spontaneous purchase or by assistance from Government, do you think or not that an indivisible community should be
Created —I mean an area which could not be subdivided?
—I daresay that would be advisable but I think the common sense of the people, if they had scope to extend according to their own necessities, is quite sufficient to check subdivision. There has been no subdivision except from the pressure of the want of land. The subdivision is just the other side of the account of the clearing of the laud; the consolidation causes the subdivision.

44479. With reference to the practice of purchasing the goodwill of the holding or existing improvements in the Ross of Mull, first upon the Duke of Argyll's estate, does that practice still exist in any degree to your knowledge ?
—I don't know if it is existing anywhere now.

44480. The incoming tenant does not pay the sitting tenant or flitting tenant anything for the value of houses or improvements?
—I daresay there may be some places where they still pay for the timber or the like of that, but I don't remember any case of paying for the goodwill. I remember when it was the practice.

44481. How long is it since it was the practice?
—Before I left Scotland first it was quite a common practice in Islay. The incoming tenant paid for the timber of the house.

44482. I don't refer to the timber, but for improvements and tenant right ?
—I am not aware of payment for improvements or tenant right. I heard of it in different parts of the country, but I have not of late years come upon any actual case except those I found in the Ross of Mull.

44483. But in the Ross of Mull, thirty or forty years ago was the practice recognised on the estate ?
—M'Cormack and several of those whose names are in the paper state distinctly that this was done with the cognisance of John Stewart, the factor.

44484. Then you think it was recognised. At what period was this practice extinguished, and how was it extinguished?
—I cannot fix a date I don't know when the last purchase was made, but simply the fact. I spoke to the men who had bought and the men who had sold.

44485. When the practice was extinguished do you know whether these rights were, as it were, bought up by the managers of the estate ?
—I was told by these people that they were not.

44486. On the other properties in the Ross of Mull and elsewhere, do you know at this moment any place where it is the practice for the incoming tenant to pay the arrears of the outgoing tenant, or to buy the goodwill or to pay for existing improvements ?
—I did not inquire into that.

44487. You don't know whether such a practice actually exists ?
—No, I do not. I will hand you in a copy of the plan I published, and while I am talking of it I will send you a report on the change that was effected in Prince Edward Island, and also Mr John Hamilton Dempster's leases.

44488. I want a copy particularly of the Dempster leases?
—Yes. The leases were not uniform. The lease was adapted to the particular locality in which it was granted, and consequently you will be the better of having more than one. I happen to have two, but I notice one of them is minus a very important element, such as I referred to last night, namely, granting practical perpetuity of tenure to persons who improved, and who were not in existence at the time of the granting of the lease.

44489. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—In your paper you mentioned that some time previous to your first visit to Skye you had been in South Uist; at what period was that?
—I think it was in 1875.

44490. What was the impression you formed of the Doctor Ban's character at that time ?
—My impression of him was such that I became quite an enthusiastic admirer of him.

44491. Did you find that the people there regarded his memory with esteem and almost with affection?
—Any person who ever spoke to me about him spoke in that way; and I should like to mention that the only question that was ever raised to me with regard to the Doctor Ban was at the time we were finding fault with some of the doings of the present managers. A gentleman of Uist wrote a letter to me to print in the Highlander making unfavourable reflections upon the Doctor Ban, as if by way of relieving the existing administrators of the odium which attached to them, but so far from lending myself to that purpose I took the liberty of suppressing such a statement.

44492. And you think the people do really regard the doctor's memory with respect ?
—That was my impression.

44493. Had you opportunities of forming a proper opinion?
—Well, I must tell you it was not easy forming a very perfect opinion of the people's views, because the people of Uist were in such a state of terror absolutely that I had difficulty in having a conversation with two of them together. One man was afraid that another man would see him in my company, and I never had a meeting in Uist except an exceptional one. I found a whole lot of people at Loch Boisdale, and talked to them there, and another meeting at Iochdar where they were repairing a fold, and I got in among them like a wolf, and we had a very pleasant conversation.

44494. You refer to the fact that you preceded us at several places with the view of rousing the people to a sense of their duty. You will not think it offensive if I ask you if you were sent?
—I was sent by the federation of Celtic societies.

44495. You have had some connection, I think, with the leaders of, shall I call it the reform party, in Ireland?
—I don't know whether you would call it a connection, but I have never hesitated to go with them or be with them or meet them where I had an opportunity, but there was never any engagement and never any league or membership or anything of that kind.

44496. You accompanied Mr Parnell in his tour in America?
—I accompanied him part of the time. I went to Canada and America to canvas for the Highlander, and when I was ready to come home, in Toronto, I received a telegram from some of the Irish friends saying that Mr Parnell would be in Philadelphia on such a day, and asking ' will you come?' I said I would, and when I got to Philadelphia my name was on the programme to appear on the platform along with the hero, and I did so.

44497. You had no connection with the Irish American party who are in such disrepute in this country ?
—Oh, no, no.

44498. You had no connection with O'Donovan Rossa ?
—No, just the the opposite. I am obliged to you for mentioning that. It has afforded me an opportunity of throwing a bit of light upon what the Scotsman would like to make a very dark passage in my history. When I went to America the second time I knew that O'Donovan Rossa was a sort of scare in this country, and I wrote back that they need not be afraid of O'Douovan Rossa, because he was a man who had no repute even among the Irish. That was the impression I had of him, and his boasting and threatening I regarded simply as a method of obtaining funds. In fact, he had not the funds to do the things he said he was going to do. Some kind friends sent this paragraph to O'Donovan Rossa, and you may imagine the result. O'Donovan Rossa and Pat Crow, who, I suppose, was the only follower O'Donovan Rossa had in America, got up a story not exactly against me, but they dragged me into it, that certain funds which were in charge of other persons who had also denounced them, had got into my possession, and then the Scotsman got hold of this, and made use of it to show that I actually did this skirmishing work of blowing up ships and houses, whereas it was an accusation partially against them, and partially against me of my not having done it.

44499. You had no share of O'Donovan Rossa's funds ?
—Oh, no.

44500. Yet you do share the opinions of the Irish party against landlords, do you not ?
—I share the opinion of the Irish party; I say that landlordism and factorism are a great curse to Ireland.

44501. You would like to do away with landlordism?

44502. And in the Highlands as well as in Ireland ?

44503. And in the course of rousing the people I presume you have given vent to your opinions on this subject?
—I have not done much of that. I told them what the Bible said about the land. My attention was directed mainly to themselves, to get the people to give expression to their own opinions. I told you what my own idea was, but the practical thing I say is this, to give the people a fair opportunity of expressing and exercising their own convictions. Things will come all right according as you allow the force of the public opinion of the country to bear upon the legislature of the country.

44504. Have you formed any definite plan as to the proper means of getting rid of landlords ?
—The plan I would adopt is this. As estates become vacant and get into the market, let us be men enough to buy them; and if that had been done in time there would have been plenty of land in Scotland in possession of the people to accommodate all the rural population of Scotland. I have a pretty good idea of the number of estates which have been sold within a comparatively short time.

44505. You would buy them with national funds ?
—Well, I don't know how that would be. I am not very fond of getting national funds. There will be a method found when we are intelligent enough for it. I am not very definite on that subject.

44506. You don't know where the purchase money is to be found ?
—I am not very definite on that subject, but I have no doubt it could be found.

44507. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—You are a native of Islay?
—No, I am a native of the north country. My father was one of the aliens who were introduced into Islay.

44508. But you have a great attachment to that country?
—Yes, I feel myself as if I were an Islay man.

44509. You have been in Her Majesty's service for a considerable period of your life ?
—Yes, thirty-four years.

44510. In the excise department?

44511. And have retired upon a pension?

44512. I understand that, for a long period, your attention has been directed to the state of the Highlands, and your Highland countrymen in especial?

44513. How many years is it since you first began to devote closer attention than formerly to this subject?
—I began in reality in 1843, but I was in England at the time, and when I came back to Scotland the late Archibald Sinclair and the late William Livingstone, and the late Captain Donald Campbell, and a number of men of that kind, were always moving, and thinking, and writing on the subject. That would be about 1847.

44514. But of late years did you find matters pressing themselves so much on you that you resolved to start a newspaper in the interest of the Highlanders ?
—I had the project of the newspaper in my head as far back as 1851.

44515. And, iu point of fact, you did start a newspaper devoted to the interest of the Highlanders and of the Gaelic language?

44516. So your opinions upon the matters that are now so much discussed are not those of yesterday ?
—Oh, dear, no.

44517. Had you any pecuniary interest in any way whatever when you first took took this matter up, or even to this day?

44518. You can say you have entirely taken it up from the strong feelings you entertain upon the subject?
—Yes. I had this selfish view of it, that it was my duty; that was all.

44519. You have been asked what you did with regard to your recent proceedings in the Hebrides; are you able to state that on all occasions when you did address the people there, you addressed them with moderation?
—Yes, surely. I addressed them particularly to give forth their own ideas.

44520. I presume the issuing of this Commission, and the giving an opportunity to the Highlanders of stating their grievances, if any, was so very novel that it was thought by some friends that it was wise they should be instructed as to what the nature of the Commission was; was that so?
—Yes, but what they wanted most was that they were in such fear—I must repeat that—were in such fear that they required to have that fear thrown off them if possible.

44521. You know the Highlands pretty well ?
—I think so.

44522. And you have probably watched with interest the proceedings of the Commission up to this date; what is your own opinion of the evidence given by the delegates in the different localities ? Do you think they have been telling the truth ?
—I think so, decidedly. The only thing I find fault with them for—and it is not a fault exactly—is that they
did not tell the whole truth. They had not time, and some of them were afraid to tell it.

44523. Are there a great many matters that have pressed upon the people that have not come out in the evidence ?
—I believe so, decidedly. But you have got hold of the main thing, namely, first that the opinions and views and feelings of the people have always been kept down ; secondly, that they have too little land; thirdly, that there is plenty land for them to have, and that is what they want. These are the main.things.

44524. You were here when Mr Grahame was examined yesterday ?

44525. I put a question to him whether he thought there was a considerable quantity of land in the Highlands capable of reclamation, and he said he did not know ; is that consistent with your knowledge ?
— In the islands of South Uist, Barra, and Benbecula, along the west side, there are no fewer than thirteen big farms. One of these has been vacant even since the kindly John Gordon and the kindly Lady Cathcart began their schemes. That is Ormicleit; and I said over and over again—Here is an opportunity for extending the lots of the people. Instead of that, it was taken up by the factor.

44526. Do you think it unreasonable, so long as people'_themselves see there are such lands, that they should have a disinclination to emigrate?
—The people are reasonable in objecting to such a thing.

44527. Supposing the time should come when all these lands that could be profitably reclaimed are filled up, I presume that you and others who hold views like yours would have no objection to emigration ?
—None whatever; and I would hold the people always free to go. The rule is that when people have had an opportunity of cultivating enterprise at home they are most likely to exercise the enterprise of going abroad. The fact is, if they get on at home, they will be all the more ready to hive off.

44528. In some places in the islands there is, I presume, a congestion of the population ?

44529. If the people were relieved by migration and otherwise, do you think, seeing the miseries that subdivision has brought upon them, they would allow subdivision themselves hereafter ?
—I don't think it. I take it as a fundamental fact that the subdivision has been forced upon them by the consolidation upon the other side. That is their universal complaint. These people had the instinct of acquisitiveness like other people, and the Highlander will choose more land rather than less, like everybody else.

44530. Going back to Islay, the condition of the whole island of Islay is something like this, is it not, that the population has very much decreased, the rental has very much increased, but there remains a considerable deal of poverty; is that the state of matters ?
—Yes, there is far more actual poverty in Islay to-day with 7500 people than there was when there were 15,000.

44531. There are three large estates, I believe, in Islay ?
—Four or five. Mr Morrison's, Mr Ramsay's, Mr Finlay's, and then there was the Sunderland estate, which is now divided into three.

44532. Have the people been removed from all those estates, or has the operation of removal been greater upon one than upon another?
—The best lands, of course, have always been most cleared.

44533. Then I ask whether the removals of the people have been general over all the estates, or have there been more removals in proportion from one of the estates ?
—There have been more from Mr Morrison's and Mr Ramsay's and from Mr Finlay's than from the others. But I must tell you that the island was under trustees for a number of years—I am not sure how many, but possibly twenty, —under the same trustees who had charge of Lord Macdonald's property for so long, and during whose administration numbers of those removals took place on the Macdonald estates, of which you could not get a very clear account during your visit. I know that Brown and Pearson were trustees, and Webster was factor under them, and during that administration there was a fearful clearing of the country.

44534. That was before the island was sold ?

44535. And you say the same people were instrumental in clearing Skye ?

44536. At all events it was done under their administration ?
—It was done while they were in charge. So I was told by Mr Mackinnon of Strath. I was pointed out stretches of country in Skye that had been cleared during their administration.

44537. Does not the reduction of the population in country localities have a most prejudicial effect upon trade and commerce within that district ?
—Oh, yes. You can simply imagine the one little locality I mentioned, where there were two hundred and twenty-seven families, and now there are only nine.

44538. That is because they are cleared away ?
—Cleared away. There was a good, sturdy, peasant population. Will you allow me to refer to the emigration business, with regard to the probability of the Government getting back the million and a quarter of money that would be advanced for removing the people was in Ontario, the best province in Canada, and the indebtedness of the settlers there is an enormous fact. They went away without capital, a great many of them, and they struggled through, getting land, of course, and building houses, and so on, and they have plenty to eat and drink and to put on, but great numbers of them are heavily in debt. Money lending goes on there from Britain, and I need not say any more about that. So striking is this, and such is the effect of this indebtedness and of the ambition to go to the north-west, that I found thousands of farms to let with steadings, crops in the ground, stock, and everything. I suggested to a friend of mine in Toronto to open a book and an agency for the disposing of these farm3 to people in this country. In a very few weeks he had thousands of them in his books. That is the place to which to send the big sheep farmers, and leave the land clear for the people at home ; but to send the people away again, as was done before, is to subject honest citizens to treatment which is only applicable to downright criminals, because the penal servitude which those people went through that I saw myself in Canada was such as to make the flesh creep when you think of consigning any appreciable number of people to the same ordeal.

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