Rev. EVAN GORDON, Minister of Duke Street Free Gaelic Church (59)—examined.
44876. The Chairman.
—Your name appears upon our list among the delegates, as it were, of one of the Celtic societies?
—Yes, the committee of the Federation of Celtic Societies. I have been asked and consented to appear, but absolutely free to express my own opinions, and not committed to any beyond.
44877. How many societies compose this federation ?
—I don't know, for I am not a member. I suppose they asked me just from a general interest in the question, and general acquaintance with the condition of the Highlands for a great many years.
44878. Are you charged with any written statement on the part of a society ?
—No, I am not.
44879. Will you kindly make a voluntary verbal statement ?
—The point to which I wish to direct the special attention of the Commission is the one introduced here yesterday by an emigration agent. Perhaps I am not in order in giving an expression of any kind of feeling with reference to what occurred yesterday, but it is my distinct impression that the gentleman in question had no right to stand here in connection with a question that is exciting, as is well known, a very, very deep feeling throughout the country. Now that gentleman made a statement with regard to emigration
44880. I beg your pardon. I think I must interrupt you for a moment. I understood you to say the gentleman had no right to stand here ?
—That is exactly my opinion.
44881. But he was authorised to stand here by the Commission ?
—Well, I have no doubt of that, but I have exactly my opinion about it.
44882. Very well, you can go on ?
—The question of emigration, I consider, is a very important question at all times. There has been, and there will be, and must be emigration ; but there is a prior question, which I consider is of very great practical and imperial importance, and that is the question whether we have room in the Highlands for all the population we have, and for many more. Now, I maintain that when we consider the extent of deer forests, and the enormous extent of sheep farms in this country, there is full scope for the population in the Highlands and for far more. I suppose I am quite entitled to make reference to some statements previously laid before this Commission, for example, in my own native country. I was born in the parish of Kingussie. Well, I find that Sir George Grant of Ballindalloch made a statement something to this effect, that the best use was made of a deer forest which he mentioned in three parishes. He maintained also in connection with that, that if ground was higher than about 1800 feet, it was not fit for grazing sheep. Now I was very much astonished at that, for the fact is —and I believe any practical sheep farmer in the country will maintain —that a blackfaced sheep or wedder will stand and thrive where a deer cannot live. Of course, I am quite prepared to show that it is not a fact that the height he mentioned is the utmost limit suitable for grazing —that that is not nearly the height of Ben Lawers, not nearly the height of Schiehallion, not nearly the height of the Monadhliath, which was a common in the days when I was a little boy. My grandfather was a lieutenant in the 92nd, and my father and uncle, in common with some others, had the hill of Monadhliath as a common. It is admitted that even the Highland pony, what is called the garron, which I am sorry to find is scarce now, through one cause or another, even the Highland pony could thrive on the top; and it is well known in the country of Lochiel that Corriehoillie, the greatest cattle dealer of Great Britain, used to keep droves of those Highland ponies in Glen Nevis and up the side of Loch Askaig all the year round. Not a hand was put upon them till they were driven to the Falkirk market. Then I hold, for this is really the pith of my argument, Gordon. if there is congestion of population in Scotland throughout, of course we must resort to emigration ; but I maintain that the question of emigration is beset with immense difficulties to the population, and I will take my own personal experience during a tour through Canada and a large portion of the United States in the year 1881. I went from Liverpool, and arrived in about nine days at Quebec, then took the Grand Trunk to Toronto; and one morning, when I got up at the hotel where I put up, I was very much struck, when I opened the columns of the Toronto Globe of 21st June 1881, to see column after column as long and as broad as those of the Glasgow Herald with literally nothing in them but farms for sale. I was prepared for a very different state of things in that country, and if the emigration agent is here I think he would render a vast service if he would state one fact; but that fact is omitted, and hence his whole argument in favour of emigration on the part of poor penniless people is null and void. The fact I wish him to bring out is this. How many of the tenants, or of the owners, if you choose to call them so, but I don't think they are so, have their lands free ? Well, my belief is —I cannot give you the exact numbers, but my belief is that there is a very large proportion of the people occupying Ontario that have never freed their land. They have carried on and done wonders in the way of work. For a long time the money lenders extorted a very extortionate rate of interest; and if my memory is correct, some years ago the dominion Government put a check upon that by limiting the interest to 6 per cent. Well, then, the cultivators of the soil in Ontario now under that condition have a great advantage, but what is the meaning of so many farms appearing in one paper. I could not understand this. I could understand that a farm now and then in the ordinary course of things should be in the market, but why such an enormous stretch of country all in the market ? Surely the owners had not all died ? There must have been something, and this excited my curiosity, and when I went up through the country I asked the meaning of it. ' Oh, the reason is,' said they, ' that we were driven to put our land into the market.' I asked, ' Who drove you to do that? 'Just the money lenders.' Now, my view is this, that in such a strictly agricultural country as Canada, a penniless crofter is one of the most helpless of human beings, and I will give you my reason. Your Lordship will understand that Canada is not like the home country. Farmers there as a rule do their own work; and then in a comparatively new country like Canada they go to the towns and to the cities. In a new country there are not so many industries as yet, and there are hundreds of young men who go to Toronto and Montreal expecting to get into offices and employment, and utterly fail. That is my view of the subject. Then I understood the gentleman to refer specially to Manitoba. Well, can a penniless man do anything there 1 Moreover, as regards the extremes of the climate, let them say what they choose, I will give this as a fact, that in the district of Glencoe, in the month of July, when I was there, the thermometer stood at 110' in the shade. I asked one of the most successful settlers there, and a relation of my own, ' If you got nearly the same chance in the mother country as you have in this, would you prefer it Ì' ' Decidedly,' he said. ' What is your reason for that, you could never grow in many parts of the Highlands such grand wheat crops as you have?' ' No,' he said; but there is this serious drawback about it, —first of all the intense heat, and secondly the intense cold, and thirdly the heavy labour of it, taking the pith out of the men in this country before they are old.' That is his experience, and he had been there for twenty years by that time. Well, the newest county in Ontario is county Bruce. I have the Government directory of that county, and I was looking over it, and there I find the name of every settler and the number of acres he owns, and the hold- Gordon. ings range from 2½ acres, but not one have I discovered in that volume up to 400 acres. Well, I consider that a very fair distribution of the land. But in our country again I think it becomes not merely an imperial question, but it is a question that our landlords should most seriously consider. What is the situation at the present moment ? It is this. There are so very few having capital sufficient to be offerers for our large sheep farms. Some farmers in this country own as many as 35,000 sheep. There was on the property of Lochiel at the time I was in the Lochiel country one man having the north side of Loch Arkaig. He had 21,000 sheep. He was an absentee. There was another farmer at Strone, a Mr Kennedy ; another at Fassifern.
41883. Mr Cameron.
—It was the same one—another 20,000 ?
—Very well. Then there is another large sheep farmer, Mr Milligan, a most estimable man, I believe, though I don't know him. He was before the Commissioners. Well, he has a farm here and there. He has one at a place where I spent two days' holidays, in the district of Ardnamurchan. I found he had the most of the south side of Loch Sheil, a most lovely country, shut up entirely from tourists and people who would circulate money; and I believe it would be a capital speculation to take a railway up the side of it, and I can assure you it would be a very popular line. Failing that, surely there ought to be a steamer there. There is a vast deal of land on the south side of Loch Sheil. Mr Milligan has an enormous farm there, stretching over to the head of Loch Sunart, a large farm in Glenelg, and a large farm in Dumfriesshire. I mention these things to show the situation of our landlords. I am a liberal conservative, and I have not a particle of the radical about me at all; but I say they have put themselves into a position in which they will be worsted in the end of the day, and my reason is this. They are bound to take stock over at a valuation. Well, in the case of Lochiel, I think this occurred in my time. Sheep were exceedingly high in the year 1866. Lochiel was bound to take the stock of these farms over, and surely that was a very great inconvenience in many respects. No ordinary tenant would ever venture it. Well, the capitalist can certainly settle his own question with the landlord, and I know there are pleuty at the present moment paying £300 in the district of Arnamurchan. One is a personal friend of my own, and I asked him if he meant to keep this place, and he said, 'No, unless I get £100 reduction.' There is a farm that will be thrown on the hands of the landlord unless he submits to the terms of the tenant. Then here comes the sportsman, and of course he can make his own terms; and unless the area of occupation is made wider than it is at present my impression is that many of the landlords, whom I would like to support and see living, and their descendents after them, will certainly lose their properties. I will give you an instance. I have very great reluctance to give the instance, just from my very high personal respect for the proprietor, Cluny
Macpherson, than whom there is not a finer gentleman in broad Scotland. I don't know if there was any reference made here—yes, there was reference made—to the Benalder deer forest. "Well, wild clover grows to the very top of that Ben, and the finest blackfaced wethers used to be sent from that Ben to the Falkirk market. I remember when Lord Abercorn got a long, and as I consider, a very foolish lease of the whole of that. What was the result? At that time rents were very low, but yet the finest parts of the Cluny property were locked up, and the result is it is no longer Cluny's —that is to say, it no longer belongs to Cluny. How was this? He lost pecuniarly immensely upon that transaction. Well, no man will take a lease of a deer forest without having a pretty long lease of it; but here is really the pith of the matter. The number of competitors for these farms and forests is fewer, and must necessarily become fewer according to the present policy, whereas if there were a better distribution of the land it would increase the number of competitors, and the interest of the landlord would be served. Of this I am perfectly confident, that facts are developing very fast, I believe, in the direction I indicate. Now I wish to say something —but really it is very inconvenient for me to be here to-night, and other witnesses have to be considered —about what was before the Commission in regard to the district of Badenoch. The half of the truth was not told before the Commission. Then there was nothing said about Lochaber at all. Can any person say there is congestion of population in Lochaber Ì No, there is absolute scarcity of them. Some gentlemen manipulate figures and statistics. I don't attach very much value generally speaking in a question of this sort to statistics; but there is a question of humanity as well as mere money making, and I believe that that is one of the great evils in our country —that the land is just set up like a bale of cotton or a railway share on the exchange —and I hold that that is lacking in the moral element which ought to mingle with the administration of the land. Moreover, it has a bad moral effect. I have noticed that. The crofter class feel they have no rights secured to them by law except the protection of their person, and a right to go to court to sue any person for debt. That is all the right they have, and yet they are expected to contribute to the wealth-producing power of the country, and to the defence of the country. Now, I mingle with Highlanders every day. Many of them are sent from the country here, and some of our newspapers, knowing nothing about it —for what can a man sitting on a three-legged stool in an office here know about the state of the people?—say ' Oh, let them come south to get work.' I will tell you how that matter stands. Thousands of them do come south ; but how can a young man, however well he may be educated in the Highlands, have the least chance in unless he has parents behind him to back him with money for a number of years Ì In all our best offices and warehouses every young man begins with £10. No man can live upon that. He must either borrow or betake himself to something else, and there is not a day in the week but parties are coming to me to use my influence to get them a day's work. That is really how it stands. There is another point closely connected with the present administration of the land of which I have thought and thought for years, and that is the question of pauperism. At the present moment we pay in Scotland, I suppose, over £900,000 yearly —close upon a million. In here alone I counted the other day as many as 200 private charities, and the amount of private benevolence exercised in can hardly be exceeded anywhere, for the people are extremely liberal. Now, when I put all these items together,—I could find out the income of those 200 societies, but I cannot find out the private charity, —but put these two items together, whence comes this enormous mass of pauperism ? No doubt a good deal may spring from evil habits, but I hold that the large proportion of it arises from what I consider the mal-administration of the land. How is this to be met ? I cannot understand how it is to be met except by a proper distribution of the land. I cannot conceive of any other plan. To send those people to poorhouses is to me a very painful idea indeed. People who have been living comfortably in their own humble homes, when they come to have no other resources. These are my general sentiments, and I thank you for your patience, and I shall be ready to answer any question that is in my power.
44884. The Chairman.
—I would like to hear you further upon the elevation at which sheep and cattle can grow; have you been familiar with agriculture yourself?
—More or less.
44885. With reference to the blackfaced stock, up to what elevation do the blackfaced stock in Scotland run in summer?
—Well, I do not know any hill except Ben Nevis, and perhaps some of those very, very barren
peaks near Loch Inver, between the district of Coigach and Loch Inver, where there is no inducement for them to go; but they go, for example, on Ben Resipol, at the foot of which I resided for two months this summer. That is, by the Ordnance Survey, 2774 feet, and the sheep go to the very top of it, and black cattle go up to the very middle of it.
44886. You think then, that sheep are not deterred by elevation from going to any height, but are deterred merely by the nature of the soil or ground?
—On the contrary, wedder stock, in my experience, love to go high; and the best wedder mutton is got from the highest elevation.
44887. Can you mention auythiug higher than 2700 feet?
—The Monadhliath, stretching between Inverness and the district of Badenoch. The highest part of that is 3245 feet.
44888. They run all over that. What becomes of them in winter; where do they winter ?
—They must go down, but they are never sent out of the country for wintering. It is the hogg stock, I understand, that are sent to the low ground for wintering.
44889. But the wedder stock are not sent off the farm ?
—No, they are not. Then, there is Ben Alder, 3757 feet, and it is well known to natives of the district and to me that wedders will go to the very top of it, and they have as much inducement to go there as ministers have to go to Ontario. There is Schiehallion again, 3547 feet. I have had a summer house there for three or four years, and as I love to climb hills I go to the very highest of them, and I found wedders feeding there on the very top. Then there is Ben Lawers, and it is notorious, for they leave the evidence
behind them —3934 feet. Now, these are in different parts of the country, not in the mildest climate, but in what I consider the very coldest part of the Highlands, except the extreme north-west.
44890. I am interested in hearing your personal statement to the effect that the sheep are found grazing in summer habitually at these great elevations, but I don't think that has ever been disputed. I did not understand Sir George Macpherson Grant to say that sheep were incapable of being fed in summer at those elevations, or to deny that those great elevations were used for summer grazing, and summer sheilings by the people of the country themselves in ancient times before sheep farming was introduced. But what I understood him to say rather was this, that the value for summer grazings of those regions and elevations was so small that if a very high rent could be secured for those tracts in the form of deer forest, they were more profitably used for deer forest with reference to the general interests of the country than as mere summer grazing for sheep ?
—I understand that was exactly Sir George's meaning, and I doubt not that a deer forest brings a greater revenue to the landowner. That is perfectly true. But I don't think that that question will settle it when viewed in an imperial aspect. No doubt wealth is made in that way, but then, if you make all the deductions from that, such as the growth of pauperism and many other things, I question if the national gain is at all what it seems to be from the mere figures.
44891. Let us put this case; supposing the lower ground towards the strath is occupied by small farms, and that the middle elevation, say, between 800 and 1800 feet is occupied extensively by woods and plantations; in that case the upper ground cannot be used for sheep at all, because there is no ground left for wintering ?
44892. Well, might not that union of land employment, small farms below, timber in the middle, and deer at the top, be a profitable and commendable distribution of the soil?
—Well, however profitable it might be, I don't think it would work. That is my objection to it, because it is well known that deer don't live very long up on the tops. They come down amongst the people's corn.
44893. Might they not come down among the woods?
—They come and eat up the crops of the tenant, and dig up the potatoes after they have been pitted.
44894. But might not that be corrected by imposing the duty of putting sufficient deer fences up ?
—I don't believe the deer could live through the winter there—most assuredly not.
44895-96. To what elevation have you seen cattle going on the Highland hills ?
—Well, the best evidence of the like of that is their droppings, and I have seen these at very high elevations. I cannot give the exact figures, but black cattle in fine weather do go very high, especially in hot weather, when they go for the cooler air.
44897. You mentioned there was the prospect of a great diminution in the number of competitors for sheep farms and deer forests ?
44898. Would you be so good as to state what is your ground for thinking there is a diminution and cessation of the demand for deer forests ?
—If you will allow me I will speak of the sheep farms in the first place.
44899. I admit that. But I want to know for information, do you think, and what ground have you for thinking, that there is a diminution of the demand for deer forests'?
—Because really I think the people are afraid to invest in deer forests now, and I think some gentlemen far better acquainted with that aspect of it than I am stated before the Commission that there is not the same demand for deer forests, or, at least, it will not be so great very soon, because really a very large proportion of the Highlands is turned into deer forest already. Mr Malcolm, factor for Mrs Ellice of Glengarry, mentioned there are two million of acres under deer. I don't know whether it is intended to turn the whole Highlands into a sporting ground or not, but it will be a sad day if it is.
44900. There were one or two persons who told us there was rather an apparent diminution of the demand for deer forests, but on the other hand there was another gentleman who told us he thought a good deal of the sheep pasture still was adapted to deer forests and might be let, and we had evidence before us of a proprietor who was on the point of forming a deer forest of 20,000 acres for the market ?
—I presume that is Sir Robert Menzies.
44901. I don't think it necessary to mention names. But do you think the Highland proprietors are under any apprehension that they will not be able to let their deer forests, or will not be able to let able to let any more deer forests?
—I cannot say whether the proprietors themselves are under such an apprehension as that, but I think deer foresting has gone very, very far already, and I don't believe that our landlords in the circumstances that I look forward to will extend them to any extent now.
44902. Mr Cameron.
—Did you read in the newspapers the account of the evidence given at Kingussie ?
44903. And that Sir George Grant had stated that he could obtain ten times the amount of rent for this high land as deer forest that he could if it were let for sheep ?
—I believe he could, but then the question of meat , comes in.
44904. You admitted to the Chairman that the higher rent could be obtained as deer forest, but you thought it would increase pauperism ?
—Yes, and looking at the whole question in the light in which I look at it I believe the policy is suicidal, and that it will end soon. The growth of pauperism is enormous in this country, and cities like this have the burden very grievously laid upon them.
44905. But with reference to the district of Strathspey and Badenoch, you probably did see in the same account a statement by Sir John Ramsden that he had spent £200,000 since he came to the country in connection with the forest and plantations and other works, which he would not have been in a position to spend had he not bought the property; how do you reconcile, that statement with your belief that pauperism increases in consequence of deer forests ?
—Well, but there is a decrease of the population notoriously on Sir John Ramsden's property.
44906. Well, it has been stated, not only by Sir John Ramsden but many other proprietors, that deer forests, so far from decreasing the population taken from sheep farms, have been the means of increasing the population slightly over what existed when these lands were pastured by sheep ?
—That does not concur with my experience ; but perhaps, Lochiel, I may refer to your own property. You will be able to correct me, but my understanding when I was in the Lochaber country was that your forest lay on the other side of Loch Arkaig ; but I understand it stretches a little at the head of the loch towards the north end. Well, there was a large population by the north side of Loch Arkaig, and traces of their habitations are still there.
44907. That is exactly the point I wish to bring it to. It proves what I wish to suggest, that this population on Loch Arkaig side existed before the sheep farms were formed. But what is stated to us is that, granted the existence of large sheep farms, the change from sheep farms to deer forests did not diminish the population, but slightly increased it ?
—I cannot see at all however that can be. Sir John Ramsden has a large sheep farm there. That was in the hands of a tenant not long ago, and employed a great many servants, and then there were other farms ou that extensive property without going out of the province of Laggan at all. I cannot see how the deer forest has increased the population, but the population may have temporarily been increased by the extensive plantations.
44908. What constituted the population of a large sheep farm? Take the two big farms of 20,000 sheep on my estate, and with non-resident absentee tenants, what constituted the population except a few shepherds?
—There were tenants of Lochiel up to the very head of the loch.
44909. I must again remind you that I am speaking of the period after the introduction of sheep farms, when the two large farmers occupied the whole of that tract. I want to get from you what the population of these farms in the days of sheep farms consisted of beyond the shepherds ?
—Certainly, I say that the sheep farm tends to depopulation as much as the deer forest. They are pretty much on a par.
44910. I mentioned to you that the evidence we had was that if there was any difference in population it was slightly in favour of the deer forest. That being so, and Sir John Ramsden having stated he had spent £200,000 since his purchase, which he would not have spent if he had not come for the sake of the deer forest, how do you attribute pauperism to the afforesting of land formerly occupied by large tenants under sheep ?
—There were several tenants about the deer forest. For example, or the Loch Laggan side, there were a number of tenants— farms arable and grazing. Then towards Loch Ericht side—for Sir John's forest stretches along the banks of the two lochs—there were several farmers, and they cultivated the soil and employed far more, unless Sir John employs more then I usually see employed about a deer forest.
44911. Do you think, in spite of the £200,000 that has been spent by Sir John Ramsden in twelve years, the people are poorer than when Sir John went there ?
—I don't at all maintain that they are more impoverished, but the people are not there. That is the point.
44912. But if the land, when Sir John went there, was occupied by the same number of people, how can there be fewer people now ?
—What I maintain is that the people are not there as I have seen them.
44913. But were they there when Sir John went there?
—Most decidedly, and many of them even after the Marquis of Abercorn got the lease and turned it into forest.
44914. But I am talking of Sir John Ramsden?
—I say the population existed there when Lord Abercorn got the forest, and existed there after Lord Abercorn gave it up to Lord Bentinck, but they are not there now.
44915. But the £200,000 was spent by Sir John after the people had disappeared ?
44916. Then how can you attribute pauperism to the fact of Sir John Ramsden coming there?
—I do not attribute it in his case. I speak of the country at large. I don't believe there will be any great pauperism, and there can be none in a country where the population is so sparse, but I will give you a sample of the increase of pauperism though I cannot give you the figures. Take the parish of Kingussie. There is a wretched village there called Newtonmore, that is the haunt of all the poor people, and the land is laid waste. Reference was made to Glen Banchor, but that was only half the strath. There was another township cleared as certainly as Glen Banchor was—the township of Milton—so there are many miles where there used to be a great many people, who educated and brought up their families in the most respectable manner. In my college days no fewer than thirteen young men, mainly the sons of these crofters, received a university education in Edinburgh; and Sheriff Nicolson, whom I am glad to see as an old class fellow, knew some of them. One very distinguished man was Mr Rose, late of Poolewe, and Sir Kenneth will know about him. At present there is only one solitary individual receiving higher education out of that district. In my boyish days there was not an uneducated child in the district, and there was no need of the compulsory officer. The excellent minister's word was enough, and they were ambitious of giving education to their children, so that morally and physically, and I fear, religiously, that country is not what I have seen it to be.
44917. You have quoted Lochaber as a place where there was no congestion of the population, I don't quite understand what inference you wish to draw from that ?
—I stated that fact to show that emigration is not at all such an urgent thing as some money-lenders and loan companies abroad would have us believe.
44918. Supposing no suggestion was made that emigration should take place from Lochaber, but that migration should take place from those spots that are congested already with population, then your illustration will not apply, will it?
—-You will see that in proportion as education takes effect upon the youth of the country they will not submit to the conditions of life offered to them in their own native country.
44919. Well, when you quote Lochaber you don't quote that as an illustration of anything but merely to show that emigration is not needed from that spot ?
44920. Have you any scheme in your own mind, or any idea, how the want of population of Lochaber and the over-population of any other parts of the Highlands may be made to equalise each other so as to spread a sufficient number of people over the whole country ?
—I have been very seriously thinking of that, but it is a very difficult question in relation to existing interests. That is the view I take of it. For example, much of the land on your property is bound up by lease just now. Now, I am certain Lochiel is a friend of the people, and I never heard during my ten years' residence in the country anything but the kindliest word of him, but it may not be in his power to do what he would be disposed to do owing to these leases.
44921. But supposing it were in my power and also in my will, what, according to your view, should be done?
—Of course the natural remedy, as far as it can be applied, is additional land to those who have too little.
44922. But you say there are no people in Lochaber who have too little. What I point to is this ; do you mean that to places like Lochaber, where there is no congestion, crofters should be removed from places like Skye or Lewis where there is congestion ?
—No, I don't think there is any need for that.
44923. Then, in that case you would leave Lochaber and those places out of consideration in the meantime, and deal entirely with those places where there is congestion ?
—Yes, and as a rule, so far as my knowledge goes, I don't think in the main, and especially on your property, that these crofters are hard up. I believe you gave them some advantages during my own time.
44924. I want very much to get at your views about the places where there is congestion. We found it chiefly in the islands and Hebrides. What do you think should be done or might be done either by the
Legislature or by individual proprietors to relieve that congestion and improve the condition of the people?
—Leaving Lewis out of sight, for I never was in that island, I may say I am very well acquainted with Skye, and the solution of the problem there is that the Skye people should spread themselves better over the island. I was exceedingly pained and distressed last year, going through that noble piece of land included in the parish of Bracadale, and seeing the perfect desolation there, and I felt very much about the idea of wanting to send those penniless men away when they had waste land at their door. I do feel that as a patriot. Again, I will be told very likely that they have not the means to stock it. Now if the Commissioners will allow me to state my opinion upon that, I think that that question was pressed too hard, for this reason, that all those people, I believe, have rich relatives abroad, who are perfectly ready to come and help them. For example, there is one young man from the Highlands in New Zealand. He is a full cousin of your own tenant of Clunes, Duncan Cameron, a most successful man who farms 4000 acres of wheat, raises 21,000 sheep, and exports from that country ship-loads of wool and fresh mutton, which he says arrives in London as fresh as it is there. Now, that will bear down the value of land. It has done it already in the price of wool. I was simply going to remark, in regard to the question how these crofters, on the supposition that they get more land, are to stock it, that I believe many of your large sheep farmers now are kept up by borrowed money. I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that, and I believe many parties would come to the help of these crofters at once, and you would see the result, and they would cultivate the ground.
44925. Supposing a sheep farm to be out of lease now, say in the isle of Skye, and what is very likely, no one comes forward to take the farm, do you think that if the proprietor made an offer either privately amongst his own tenants or publicly by advertisement, the crofters would be inclined to come forward to take suitable portions of that farm ?
—Well, if they will not do it they are unreasonable in complaining. I have no sympathy with groundless complaints, nor have I sympathy with the indolent.
44926. You said just now, in answer to the Chairman, that you thought the days of making new deer forests were about coining to an end ?
—Yes, I should believe that.
44927. Don't you think the same remark might apply to large sheep farms ?
—Most certainly I do.
44928. Perhaps more than to deer forests?
—Of course, there will be large sheep farms, and there will be large deer forests as well.
44929. So in all probability there will be plenty openings for proprietors who are so inclined to try the experiment to endeavour to settle some of their crofters upon some of these sheep farms which fall into their own hands, and which they have no means of disposing of unless they are prepared to farm them themselves?
—I fully believe that that will be the issue, and that it will be the interest of the proprietors, considering the amount of foreign produce, and it is only beginning..
44930. I quite agree with you about the interest of the proprietors, but do you look forward with any degree of confidence to the chances of the crofters coming forward to assist the proprietors in taking these farms and becoming their tenants ?
—I think so, and if they will not do that if they get a fair offer, I say they should never have begun this agitation.
44931. So, in your opinion, the experiment, if things are left alone, is in a fair way of being very shortly put to the test?
—I believe that—of course, not to reduce the whole country to mere crofts, no person would approve of that; but the enormously large holdings should certainly cease.
44932. Sheriff Nicolson.
—You are a native of Kingussie, I think?
44933. Have you observed much change in the course of your life in the condition of the people of your native place?
—Certainly I have.
44934. Is it for the better or the worse?
—Morally, I believe, for the worse, and even physically the most of the people are most decidedly poorer.
44935. To what do you attribute that ?
—That village of Newtonmore, and scarcity of land. The village of Newtonmore was built on a lease—I
don't know whether it was by the son of the reputed author of Ossian or not. That village was built within my memory, and I may say it is a great haunt of pauperism. These villages without public works in connection with them are great evils, and should not be tolerated.
44936. And how was the village peopled?
—Just from the country. It is the country people who built almost all the houses in that village. In my boyish days there were only four or five houses altogether, and it got up as by magic. I don't know what tempted them. They got what are called sa.all tenements in connection with the houses, but the village was built up, and there it is at the present day, of no great use in connection with the country.
44937. Were most of them crofters before?
—Yes, they were.
44938. Did they remove voluntarily or were they obliged to go?
—Several of them were tradesmen, such as joiners, shoemakers, and masons. I think it was built mainly by those three classes, and some built also a little on speculation for letting, but these were all country people.
44939. Do you think the condition of these people is decidedly worse, than it was before?
—Certainly. The village did not exist in my younger days. It was only beginning, but I have seen the beginning, and I have seen what it is, and the money collected for the poor was simply the pence
contributed at the church door, and I did not know anything like the abject poverty I come across in every day.
44940. Is there anything else in the parish that you would particularly mention as an evidence of the deterioration of the people ?
—Well, they have not the church-going habits that they had in my day. It was thought a disgrace for any person not to attend the church in my days, but I suspect they absent themselves now in hundreds.
44941. You say that the people on Sir John Ramsden's estate have decreased very much; have you ascertained the state of matters ?
—I cannot tell how much, but the ruins of places show that they were there.
44942. But there were no removals of crofters by him?
—I am not aware. I think he must have removed some.
44943. Are you aware of any?
—I could not name it distinctly, but you have the places where the people lived. Take for example Gallavie—I would not call that an eviction at all. It is one of the best spots on the property of Sir John Ramsden, arable and grazing. There used to be a farmer there with a great number of shepherds and farm servants. I think Sir John must have that in his own hand now. That is one instance where the population has decreased. I should make this statement, that I don't know altogether the exact boundaries of Sir John's property. I know something of Alvie.
44914. There was a removal from there, but it could hardly be called an eviction ?
—No, they were put down just on the banks of the Spey, and planted down on one of the poorest pieces of land you could get anywhere, and the people had to trench the ground. No doubt Sir John has planted a great many trees, and that is a very valuable product of the soil, but then the people were deprived of what they had.
44945. Do you think their condition is worse than it was before ?
—Assuredly, these crofters. I don't know on what they can live.
44946. Do you say that from your personal knowledge?
—Certainly. No doubt, when these plantations grow, they will afford a very great deal of work to the people, and perhaps their circumstances will improve then, but what will become of them between this and that
44947. There was a very good character given to us, which I hope they deserve, of the whole class of gamekeepers and gillies. Have you any opinion on that subject from your personal knowledge?
—I have known different characters belonging to that class, and I don't think they are a whit worse than any other people, taken as a whole.
44948. There is nothing in their occupation to make them worse than other men ?
—Well, I don't know but there is. They are exposed more or less to temptation when they go to the hills sporting. I suppose some mountain dew will be going there, and I am afraid some of them will come
to be a little too fond of it. I have seen instances of that sort, but I suppose the Commissioners will not desire me to mention them.
44949. I suppose that would not be a novelty to the Badenoch gillies?
—I am not referring to the Badenoch gillies. I am far better acquainted with gillies in many other places thau in my own country, because I have been out of it for the last thirty-five years.
44950. Do you think, when men are employed as gillies only for a short time in the year, that is apt to lead them into habits not conducive to general industry? What will become of them the longer part of the
—I don't know.
44951. It seems there is this difference between the men employed on Sir John Ramsden's property and those on many other deer forests, that he gives them employment all the year when not employed as gillies in the deer forest. He gives them occupation in the woods and elsewhere ?
—That is all right, so far as it goes.
44952. Mr Cameron.
—That is fully as conducive to moral habits as any other occupation—to get good employment all the year round in plantations and other works ?
—Yes, that is what every one should desire to have, no doubt.
44953. Then, as to the comparative numbers of men employed on deer forests and sheep farms, have you any knowledge of that ? Which is most likely to give employment to the population?
—I think sheep farms, on the whole, employ more. There is one element of advantage in connection with the sheep farms. I suppose they don't smear the deer. Very well, neither do they clip them, although they take the skins off them when they get hold of them. Now, it is well known that the sheep farmers employ a great many at smearing time and clipping, and sometimes sending men down to herd their hoggs in the low country. So far as the question of labour or giving labour is concerned, decidedly the sheep farm
has the advantage.
44954. You are perhaps not aware, as it is thirty-five years since you were in that country, that sheep farmers have to a great extent given up smearing. They dip their sheep ?
—Yes, but somebody must dip them.
44955. But you dip a great deal faster than you smear, and the shepherds who are permanently employed can manage the dipping ?
—Well, I suppose so. They plunge them in some sort of place, and take them out very quickly.
44956. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—I believe you are well acquainted with the district of Badenoch ?
44957. I am sure you would not wish that anything you may say should not be entirely accurate with regard to any individual?
—No, certainly not.
44958. Well, Sir John Ramsden, when examined before us at Kingussie, told us that pauperism had decreased in Laggan, and the population had decreased in Laggan, but he also told us the population on his estates had increased. I presume when you hear he said so, you have no reason to doubt his correctness ?
—Certainly; Sir John must possess better information than I do.
44959. He also stated he never evicted a single person from the time he took possession of the property ?
—Well, I am very glad to hear that.
44960. You also stated you were not quite sure of the boundaries of the estates, and you made use of the expression that there had been a considerable population on Loch Laggan side ; which side of Loch Laggan do you refer to ?
—I presume Sir John's property goes to the north side of Loch Laggan, or is it solely on the south side? I don't know the boundaries. Now if Sir John's property embraces the public house called Cambuskillen, then I say Sir John did not send away the people that were there, they were sent away long before his time. There are the ruins of an old chapel, and everybody must see there had been a very considerable number of people there, but of course he is not to blame for that.
44961. Well, the great population you refer to were upon the north side of Loch Laggan ?
—But they were on the other side, on the south side of Loch Laggan, down about Gellovie, and all the way to Strathmashie. Any one will see the signs of cultivation there; but it was not Sir John who sent the people off.
44962. You spoke of the village of Newtonmore as being a very wretched place; have you seen it lately ?
—Yes. I pass through there every year, and stay for a while about Kingussie. _^
44963. Is it a very crowded congested locality?
—Yes, the village, I think, is an unmixed evil.
44964. Has not a considerable portion of the land close to the village been taken away for planting ?
—-That is quite true.
44965. And still further compressing the inhabitants of that wretched village as you call it?
—Yes. The only advantage I see in connection with the village, that is the only means of livelihood they have apart from mere stray days of work, is that they have two large parks down at the banks of the Spey, but the pasture has so deteriorated that, though some of them have cows, and liberty to send them down to graze, the grazing is completely run out. All that land belonged to my grandfather at one time, and he had the whole of Monadhliath, in common with some others, as a common, and my father and uncle had the common with him. The grazing on that park was completely run out.
44966. So, though they have the privilege, it is really so deteriorated as to be almost useless?
—Yes. Of course, I don't blame the proprietor for that, but that is the fact.
44967. How about Glen Balloch and Glen Banchor? Was there not a large population up in those glens at one time ?
—I think there was within my memory, but there were more earlier than that, though I cannot go back upon it. Within six or seven years ago, I suppose there were seven or eight families there, and they were all well-to-do tenants.
44968. Had they not a considerable quantity of the glen under cultivation?
44969. Is there any one now resident in the glen at all, except it may be a shepherd ?
—Exactly; and I may add that when I was there about the month of June last I went up to the mouth of the glen, and taking out my glass I looked to the head of it, and I saw something like two chimneys smoking. That was all I saw in those two glens. There was another thing that was not brought up, namely, about the property of Sir George Grant.
44970. But stop a little. Let us finish this first. Were these places not cleared for summer grazings or sheep farms?
44971. Not for forests?
—I am not aware they were. Sheep were put upon them at once.
44972. So you find upon the same estate, do you not, a congested village very much scrimped, and two glens in the immediate vicinity with nobody in them ?
—Precisely so. Then, about Ruthven, in my day there was a large population, and there was no reference made to them. Some of the most thriving tenants of that class that were known in Badenoch were sent off, and they went to Australia, and that was added to the farm of Ruthven. Then there was Knappach, where there was a small tenant, and Drumallavie. All these three are put into a farm that was large enough already.
44973. A sheep farm?
—Arable and sheep.
44974. You know Glentruim ?
—Yes, very well.
44975. Were there not a very great population removed from Crubenveg and Crubenmore ?
—Yes, but the rest of the glen. I would not consider any temptation to any person to try and cultivate it. The grazing, it is true, would be valuable. As to the people I don't think they were forcibly evicted, but they are not there.
44976. Were not the Comyns, lords of Badenoch, very great men ?
—There is no doubt of it—perhaps too great
44977. And I suppose their importance consisted very much in the number of men who were upon their possessions ?
—Decidedly. If it will be agreeable to the Commission, I will state a very interesting fact with regard to the last Duke of Gordon. The last time he paid a visit to the country, shortly after he sold it, they mustered the clans. They came down from the Lochaber country, and Cluny Macpherson and other chiefs led the men, and they were aU dresssd in the Highland garb and armed and placed in array on a piece of elevated ground on the east side of Kingussie. When the Duke appeared in his carriage and four, he was received by some of the officers and he looked at the men, and I can assure you he wept bitterly, and said, ' If yesterday had been to-day, neither Badenoch nor my property in Lochaber would have been sold. I have never seen such a body of men.' Well, the most of these melted away after the Duke sold the property, and they are to be found now in every quarter of the globe.
44978. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—You said you thought it would be a good thing for proprietors that the large farms should be divided, in order to widen the area of competition?
—Yes, within certain limits.
44979. In regard to this question of competition, do you think small tenants should be exposed to competition in taking their farms?
—Not necessarily at present; but large farms are exposed to competition, and I speak with reference to them, and if that system is to be carried on it will end probably just as I have said.
44980. But you don't contemplate, when the farms are made small, that they should be exposed to competition?
—Not necessarily. I think there should be a reasonable valuation; and whatever notions about land some people may have in their head, my own impression is that while some legislation may be required, I can never see how the land question is to be settled without friendly co-operation between the landlord and the people. 1 therefore desire security of tenure, with a reasonable rent; and I think, if the landlords would come to see that, there might be a very useful and happy solution of the whole question. It cannot be solved without friendly co-operation on the part of the two parties.
44981. You have no scheme in contemplation for a forcible redistribution of the land ?
—No, I have never gone into theories of that kind. I think it is very much practically that the thing must be settled. It is very easy to cut out a theory that will suit the existing population, but then changes will come and you have to lay down a theory to suit another generation. I would not lay down any theories about it, but the thing is practicable by degrees.
44982. The Chairman.
—Can you give me within your personal experience any single example of land being cleared of living tenants and crofters for the purpose of forming a deer forest, not a sheep farm ?
—The forest, of Glen Tilt, Blair Athole forest, was a very clear instance of that.
44983. How long ago ?
—Beyond my personal memory.
44984. But within your personal memory, say within the last thirty years, can you give me any single case of land being cleared of industrious inhabitants, small tenants, for the purpose of forming a deer forest?
—-I don't recollect that at present, and I should not like to say anything but what I am perfectly sure of. I think it was brought out in evidence —but I am not so well acquainted with that region —that people have been sent off from the deer forest of Mr Winans. I think that came out in evidence if my memory is correct.
44985. I know one case, perhaps two cases, myself, but I wanted to know from you, as you have been much interested in this question, whether you could at this moment put your finger upon any single case in which small tenants have been cleared off ground for the purpose of making that ground immediately and directly a deer forest?
—Well, I cannot say I am certain of that.
44986. You gave an interesting account of your own journey in Canada and the impressions which you there received as to the state of the small proprietors and their indebtedness, and you founded your impression of indebtedness, besides information, on the number of advertisements you saw in the newspapers, the number of farms which were offered for sale. Do you not think that the number of farms advertised or offered for sale might be in a great measure accounted for, not by poverty, but by the enterprise and restlessness of the people, who are constantly led to leave and sell cleared ground and go further west?
—Yes, I am quite well aware of that, but the proper account of that, if it were thoroughly investigated, I believe, is this. There are plenty vacant farms in Ontario. The tenant begins without capital and borrows every penny he requires. He cannot pay up, and of course he sells out, and perhaps makes more or less of his interest in it. There is a considerable floating class in Ontario, and they just live by that rough sort of clearing, and go to other places ; but the great body of the tenants, I don't speak of that floating class, the tenants with whom I conversed, tenants from Lewis and tenants from Skye, find it very difficult to pay up their loans.