EXTRACTS from Books Illustrating Statements in REPORT. c.
TENURE OF THE LAND.
The land occupied by the members of the clan was divided into townships or farms, each township consisting of a certain portion of arable land, meadow, green pasture, and muirland.
These farms or townships were occupied in three different ways. They were either possessed by the tacksmen or goodmen themselves, in which case they kept on them a number of cottars, to each of whom they gave a house, grass for a cow or two, and as much ground as would sow about a boll of oats; or they were possessed by sub-tenants to whom the tacksmen sublet the whole or a part of the farm, or else they were held direct from the proprietor in joint tenancy by a number of tenants. These tenants and sub-tenants formed a sort of viRage community, having their houses together, holding the arable land in runrig, which was divided annually by lot among them, and the pasture land in common, each tenant being entitled to pasture a certain number of cattle, sheep, and horses, in proportion to his share of the arable land, which was termed his souming and rouming. In most cases the land was held on what was called a steelbow tenure, when the stock on the farm was the property of the landlord or tacksmen, and was let along with the land, and at the end of the lease the tenant or sub-tenant had to return an equal amount of stock or pay the difference. In the Western Isles there was also a kind of tenancy called half-foot, where the possessor of the farm furnished the land and seed-corn, and the other party cultivated the land, the produce being divided.
The great mountain ranges and the groups of larger hills either formed deer forests or lay waste, and within their bounds were shealings or summer pasture attached to farms, when the contiguous muir was not-sufficient for hill stock in summer, and here the cows were brought in summer and kept for six or seven weeks. The peat mosses furnished the tenants of the farms with their fuel.—Celtic Scotland, Skene, vol. iii. pp. 369-371.
Note.—The extracts from various sources here submitted bearing upon the social and economical condition of the Highlands, chiefly towards the end of the last century, have been selected to illustrate statements in the text of the Report respecting land. They might be indefinitely multiplied, but without any material advantage. The remarks of travellers, however intelligent, must be received with some hesitation, as their impressions may often have been formed on superficial observation and hasty or partial inquiry, or have been influenced by personal prepossessions and even by transitory circumstances, such as the accidents of the season or the weather. The statements taken from the Old Statistical Account written by the local clergy have of course a peculiar value. These accounts, regarded as a whole, point to a considerable variety in the condition of different localities not very remote from one another.
There is a large tract of land possessed as a common in Reasay. They have no regulations as to the number of cattle. Every man puts upon it as many as he chooses.—Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, by James Boswell, Esq., London, 1786, p. 163.
The whole of this estate, like most of the estates in the Hebrides, is occupied by three different orders of tenants—1st, principal tacksmen or gentlemen ; 2nd, small tenants; 3rd, cotters.
The common and ancient computation of lands in these countries is by pennies, of which the subdivisions are half-pennies, farthings, half-farthings, clitigs, &c. Of these a gentleman, according to the extent of his tack, possesses a vast many—perhaps 20 pennies, perhaps many more. This reckoning comprehends muir, pasture, and arable lands, for which the tacksman pays so much yearly rent in the lump during the currency of his lease. Of this extensive possession he may sublet a third or fourth. Each sub-tenant in Harris generally holds the division of a farthing, for which he pays, according to the supposed value of the lands, from 20s. to 40s. in money besides personal services, rated at a day's labour per week, to the principal tacksman.
The personal services of so many sub-tenants are reckoned indispensable under the present mode of management, in addition to the prodigious establishment besides of cottars and household servants, both male and female, which a gentleman supports in order to carry on the common business of the farm throughout the year. The single article of fuel costs a vast expense of labour. A gentleman, according to the number of fires his farm requires him to keep up, cuts of peats from 30 to 50 irons, and the cutting of an iron employs four men; the drying, stacking, and leading of them home requires an expense of hands in proportion. Repairing of the feal dykes and enclosures, a work of perpetual labour, weeding of corn, making of kelp, reaping of the different crops—hay, barley, oats, and potatoes—in harvest, and the laborious tillage for raising these crops in winter and spring, besides the thatching and repairing of houses, tending and herding of the cattle, cows, horses, and sheep, separately, with a great variety of other processes in this complex system, all require such a multitude of servants, that a stranger is naturally struck with astonishment, and wonders how the produce of the most lucrative farm is able to support the expense of so large an establishment of domestics. If means were adopted for simplifying the mode of management, the gentlemen of Harris would gladly release their sub-tenants from the bondage of personal services, and at the same time find themselves relieved of a heavy encumbrance. They are generally humane and beneficent to those whom
Providence has thus placed under them. They are accordingly loved and honoured by them. Under opposite circumstances, the power given them over the inferior order of tenants might justly be deemed oppressive; and while this system is permitted to continue, a proprietor would do well to look to the character of the individual to whom he confides, along with a large portion of his estate, a large portion of its human inhabitants, the most valuable stock, in every moral and political view, which can be preserved on any estate whatever.
It will perhaps excite the wonder of posterity to know that the whole landed possession of the three extensive regions herein described under the title of Harris, was, down to the year 1792, excepting four small tenant farms holding immediately of the proprietor, in the hands of eight gentlemen farmers, on whom all the other inhabitants depend; and that this distribution is so unequally proportioned, that two great farms comprehend more than one half of the estate.
The principal tacksmen live here, as such generally live through the Highlands and Islands, like gentlemen. They are for the most part men of liberal education and polite breeding. They keep decent and respectable families. Their farms afford them plenty of the necessaries of life, and many of its comforts; for which, as there is no market in the country, there is generally sufficient consumption found in the family through the largesses of hospitality, munificence, and charitv, for which they are justly celebrated. A small tenant farm is a little commonwealth of villagers, whose houses or huts are huddled close together with too little regard to form, order, or cleanliness, and whose lands are yearly divided by lot for tillage, while their cattle graze on the pastures in common. The small tenants in this country, who hold immediately of the proprietor, have leases like the principal tacksmen, and possess, some a penny, some half a penny, and some a farthing, of lands. The stock or soaming for the pasture of a farthing land is four milch cows, three or perhaps four horses, with as many sheep on the common as the tenant has luck to rear. The crops vary according to the different qualities of the farms, but may be computed in general at 4 or 5 bolls a farthing, for which the tenant generally pays from 30s. to 40s. rent. This might be reckoned good pennyworth of lands; but when it is considered that the cattle of these tenants, miserably fed throughout the year, and often dying through mere want in the spring season, are neither marketable nor yield much milk, besides that their crops are commonly insufficient to support their families for half the year, the poverty of this class of people in general is easily accounted for. At the same time most of them live as well as people of their rank and occupation in other countries; and some more happily situated than others live even in a comfortable style. In regard of living, the tacksmen's tenants are on much the same footing with those who hold the same quantity of land of the proprietor, though in most instances they pay more rent, and are removable at pleasure. Their common food is potatoes, fish, barley or oatbread, milk, eggs, kail, fowls, and sometimes a little mutton or beef salted for
winter and spring provision. The industrious tenant, even of a farthing land, if not unfortunate, can have of ail these a competency suited to his rank, from the various produce of his little farm, from the first of harvest to the last of the spring season, and may pay his rents by his earnings at summer labour, either in manufacturing kelp or engaging in such other employ as he can procure. He may either purchase from a merchant, or rear on his own ground, some coarse flax, which is manufactured into shirts and other linens, for the use of the family, by his wife and daughters as their winter evenings' amusement. In the same manner is he clothed warmly and decently from the fleece of his little flock.
The third class of the people, whom we have denominated cotters, are tacksmen's servants, constantly employed in the labours of the farm. They have generally grass, on the same pasture with their master's cattle, for one milch cow with its followers, i.e. a three year, a two year, and one year old, a working horse and breeding mare, besides sheep, in the number of which they are seldom restricted, and a farthing division of land for corn and potatoes, with its proportion of sea-ware for manure. They have also a kailyard, fuel, and a weekly allowance of a peck of meal. They are allowed a day in the week to work for themselves, which, with tire help of their families is sufficient for raising and repairing their crops. A grieve, overseer, and grass-keeper, if married men, and holding lands in lieu of wages, have more in proportion to the weight of the several charges committed to them. Having no rents to pay, and being seldom under the necessity of buying meal, unless the harvest prove very bad, they live on the whole better than the tenant of a farthing land.—Old Stat. Account, vol. x. p. 366.
The tenants may be divided into two classes—(1) the gentlemen farmers or tacksmen, who possess one or more farms each; and (2) the small tenants, a number of whom live together in a farm, according to the value and extent of it. The division of tenants into these two classes is not peculiar to this parish, but extends to all the Western Islands and the adjacent parts of the continent. The first of these classes, namely, the gentlemen farmers, are, for the most part, the descendants of the different branches of the families of the chieftains, on whose estate they live. Of old, when the chieftains lived upon their own estates, and had no encouragement to send their younger sons as adventurers to a foreign land, they planted them about them upon their own properties, and gave them portions of land for small rents, which were continued with their descendants from one generation to another. At the expiration of one lease another was granted nearly upon the same terms. The present set of gentlemen farmers in this parish are, though few in number, men of a liberal education, who would be an ornament to society even in a more public part of the kingdom. They are renowned for their hospitality, which the strangers who travel through the country can attest, and which they find very convenient, there being no inns or public houses for their accommodation.
The second class of tenants have the lands divided into small portions among them. The division of farms is into pennies, half-pennies, and farthings. The greatest part of this class of tenants possess half a penny each, some one-third of a penny, and some one-fourth or a farthing lands. All the cattle on the same farm feed in common, each tenant being restricted to a certain number, according to his division of lands. The state of this class of tenants will best be illustrated by an instance, so that when the incomes and expenses are compared, a discovery will be made on which side the balance lies. A tenant possessing half a penny lands, if he has any grown-up children to assist him, will, by manufacturing kelp, make about £6 sterling yearly. He has six cows, that is to say, as many great and small as will be equal to six grown-up cows. Three of them will probably be milch cows. One of their calves will be killed in order to have two of the cows coupled ; another will be supposed to die by accident, or through want, before the time it should be fit for the market, so that this man has only one cow yearly to dispose of, for which he may be allowed to draw £2, 8s. at an average, and which, added to the £6 above mentioned, will amount to the sum of £8, 8s.
This is his whole yearly income, having nothing else that he can turn into money. On the other hand, this man pays £5, 4s. for rent, including public burdens. As he must keep six horses, he will be under the necessity of buying one every second year, at the average price of £3, 10s., which makes £1, 15s. a year. Though in an extraordinary good year, his lands may supply his family with meal, yet he is for ordinary obliged to buy that necessary article, so that matters are not exaggerated when it is said that he buys 1 boll a year, at the average price of 17s. From this statement this tenant has only a balance of 12s. in his favour, for the purpose of buying all his other necessaries, such as timber for keeping his houses, implements of husbandry, and perhaps boat, in repair; for buying iron, tar, spades, flax, and several other articles that a tenant has occasion for throughout the year. This man, therefore, will either fall in arrears to the proprietor, or become indebted to those from whom he buys his necessaries; so that if the proprietor's chamberlain should be rigorous in taking up the rents, and others in exacting their lawful debts, many such would find themselves much distressed.
—Old Stat. Account, vol. Xiii, p 309.
In the parish (Glenshiel) are 17 farms, each of which, with the exception of two, is occupied by a number of tenants, so that each farm forms a village. The tenants graze their cattle promiscuously, each restricting himself to a number of heads, proportioned to his rent; and the arable ground they occupy in like manner.
It does not always happen that the farm is equally divided among the occupiers ; and when one man's division is not large enough to enable him to keep as many horses (which is always four, and they never use oxen) as are sufficient to draw the plough, two or more of them join.
—Old Stat. Account, vol. vii. p. 125.
The tacksmen lived comfortably as gentlemen : the sub-tenants, or fanners, lived decently in their huts, grouped, it is true, with but little regard to cleanliness, or much comfort, forming, as it were, a community, in which their privileges and rights were scrupulously respected and maintained ; and while their live-stock grazed in common beyond the head-dykes, and through the upland pastures in summer and autumn, their arable lands were divided yearly by lot, as already noticed ; and thus the whole demesnes of the chief, or common father, was apportioned, according to the rank or condition of each individual of the miniature commonwealth;—a mode the most congenial with the patriarchal system ; and the best adapted for a peculiar people, such as the Gael, or inhabitants of the Hebrides and Grampian districts.
—The Grampians Desolate, a poem, by A. Campbell. 1804. Notes, pp. 169, 170.
SERVICES TO PROPRIETORS AND TACKSMEN.
There are personal services performed by tenants and undertenants with their labouring cattle in the parish of Reay from time immemorial, but are abolished in some parts of the parish being converted to money rent. On some estates and farms they are limited, on others unlimited, or discretionary on the master's part. The unlimited services are carried to a great extent, and it is to be regretted that a long custom with other circumstances has rendered that thraldom less odious to those who in other respects are of benevolent tender feelings and an obliging disposition. In such cases, though the tenants or undertenants make a shift to perform the services demanded, they would find it impossible to pay an equivalent in money were they converted. The limited services are not established by a general rule, and therefore vary on different estates and tacks. A tenant of a penny land on one estate performs three days in spring with his cattle, five days' shearing, and leading with horses every leading day, and mealing 16 bolls of oats. A tenant of a penny land on another estate is bound to perform twenty-four days in spring with labouring cattle, twelve days in harvest, and leading every leading day, and mealing 20 bolls of oats. Cottagers who possess little more than one-eighth part of a penny land perform services three days every week in spring and harvest, and one in the week during summer and winter. The tenants or undertenants are bound to perform these services every day their master is pleased to call them, perhaps from twenty to one hundred and twenty days in the year. The nature of these services is ploughing and manuring with their own cattle, weeding, growing com, cutting, leading with their own cattle, and building com, mealing corn, cutting, curing, and leading hay, carrying victual to a seaport, in ordinary to Thurso from six to eight computed miles distance, or to any distiller in the country, cutting, curing, and leading peats which is done by the piece, and running expresses, but not frequently. If a well esteemed master falls behind
in his spring or harvest work, his tenants lend him their work voluntarily beyond their limited services when in their power. Services are still performed, though moderately, where they have been converted many years ago. Notwithstanding the conversion, money is still paid as a part of the rent. Hence it appears that nothing but a prohibitory law can abolish this practice. As the tenants and undertenants are generally in straightened circumstances, it would be difficult to derive a method of abolishing services without considerable sacrifices being made by superiors. But were the tenants by a little relaxation brought to easier circumstances, and their own labour under proper management applied to the improvement of their farms, there is little doubt but the consequence would be advantageous to the landlords, and ready payments made more effectual.—Old Stat. Account, vol. vii., p. 577.
Lord Reay exacts no services for his own particular behoof from the people of this parish, which Res at a great distance from his own seat at Tongue; yet that is not the case with respect to the tacksmen. They parcel out among poor people or undertenants such farms and outskirts of their possessions as they do not labour for their own immediate behoof, upon condition of their paying
the full rent of their different small holdings, and some other small items; besides these the subtenant engages to perform such and such services by sea and land as their master's affair may require; especially in harvest and spring they must be ready at a call to do what work may be assigned them, and as they have no lease for their possession, the master's orders cannot be disputed but at the risk of being turned out at the term, when with the character of being refractory, no other tacksman will be ready to receive them, and they must be set adrift, which is a dreadful situation to a poor man with a wife and family.—Old Stat. Account, vol. vi. p. 300.
These services were thought a very great grievance, as the tenants were obliged to perform them at the time they should have been employed in cultivating their own farms. To work without maintenance for their employer from morning to night at the distance of several miles from their respective homes, they justly deemed cruel and oppressive, and a violation of the precepts of religion, of justice, and the rights of men .
— Old Stat. Account, vol. iii p. 528.
Such tacksmen as have subtenants employ them in spring and harvest too frequently to cultivate their land to the almost utter neglect of their own small farms. To abolish this species of slavery (which is doubtless in the power of every proprietor when giving leases), would surely be a patriotic act by which a great number of worthy people would be emancipated from a degree of bondage almost equal to that of the negroes in the West Indies. There are indeed some few exceptions. Some tacksmen are kind and benevolent, and support their subtenants in calamitous times, but the generality naturally prefer their own interests to every other consideration.—
Old Stat. Account, vol iii.p.529.
Formerly the personal service of the tenant did not usually exceed eight or the ten days in the year. There lives at present at Scalpa, in the Isle of Harris, a tacksman of a large district, who instead of six days work paid by the subtenants to his predecessor in the lease has raised the predial service, called in that and in other parts of Scotland, manerial bondage, to fifty-two days in the year at once, besides many other services to be performed at different though regular and stated times,—as tanning leather for brogues, making heather ropes for thatch, digging and drying peats for fuel, one pannier of peat charcoal to be carried to the smith, so many days for gathering and shearing sheep and lambs, for ferrying cattle from island to island and other distant places, and several days for going on distant errands, so many pounds of wool to be spun into yarn. And over and above all this, they must lend their aid upon any unforeseen occurrence whenever they are called on. The constant service of two months at once is performed at the proper season in the making of kelp. On the whole, this gentleman's subtenants may be computed to devote to his service full three days in the week. But this is not all, they have to pay, besides, yearly, a certain number of cocks, hens, butter, and cheese, called Caorigh-Ferrin, the wife's portion. This, it must be owned, is one of the most severe and rigorous tacksmen descended from the old inhabitants in all the Western Hebrides ; but he situation of his subtenants exhibits but too faithful a picture of the subtenants of those places in general; and the exact counterpart of such enormous oppression is to be found at Luskintire.—Buchanan's Travels in the Western Hebrides, pp. 53, 54 (1793).
The poor Hebrideans are on foot every morning at five o'clock at latest,—the women at their querns or hand-mills, the men at some other piece of employment, until day-light invites them into the field, or to the sea shores, where they must begin a set task of cutting sea-weed with the ebbing of the tide. They are obliged to work as for life or death that they may be able to get their quantity of sea-weed carried clear off. If, when they are on work for their master, whether laird or tacksman, they should be an hour behind the time fixed for making their appearance, they are instantly trounced home, with orders to be there more early the next morning. No apology will be admitted : neither the inclemency of the weather, nor the height nor ruggedness of the hills they had to cross, nor an accident by the road, nor the loss of that day, to those who have so few they can call their own very precious. All goes for nothing. The interest, the will of the master must be attended to, not theirs. To all this severity the unfeeling tacksman often adds cruel mockings and imprecations.
—Buchanan's Travels in the Western Hebrides, pp. 55, 56 (1793).
Lismore and Appin
Some tenants go from this island to the mainland to perform the services at the distance of eight or nine miles. They devote at least six or seven days yearly to their master's or landlord's service in this way, and they get some allowance, for the most part to support them while performing their work. This is over and above two or three days that some of them work yearly abroad. Some proprietors in neighbouring parishes carried these services to a shameful, not to say oppressive pitch in obliging their tenants and cottagers to cut, stack, and house their peats, and to find their own. provisions all the time. This is one of the innumerable grievances occasioned by the heavy coal duty.
Old Stat. Account, vol. i. p. 496.
Did the subtenants hold their small possessions by a more certain tenure, and enjoyed them by a lease from the landlord, there would be a far greater appearance of industry among them than there is at present; but their precarious situation must continue, as it has hitherto been, an effectual discouragement to every improvement of the soil. Their subjection to the tacksman or farmer, on whose ground they live, leaves them no more time than what is barely sufficient to support themselves and their families in life. The tacksman generally has one day in the week of the subtenant's labour the year round, which, with the spring and harvest work and other occasions, will amount to more than a third of his whole annual labour. He can therefore have neither ability nor opportunity to attempt any improvement, which many of those subtenants would undoubtedly do, were they but masters of their time and independent in their possessions.
—Walker's .Economical history of the Hebrides, 1812, vol. i. p. 54.
A subtenant who pays in rent only 30s. a year, will pay sometimes to the tacksman, in the above casualties and services, to the value of £3 yearly—the whole amounting to £4, 10s. But for such a possession, was he freed from these incumbrances, he would willingly pay £6 or upwards. Beside the rent and these casualties and services, the subtenant sometimes pays so much a piece for every head of black cattle, horses, or sheep in his possession. The labour also required of him is not always restricted to a certain number of days in the year, but at particular seasons his services are demanded without any limitation. This state of servitude disconcerts him in his labour. Being at the call of another person, he can never depend upon having anything done in
proper time upon his own farm. On the other hand, it is impossible that the tacksman's work can ever be properly executed by people in this situation, employed in another person's harvest, while their own is neglected, and a great part of whose labour must be lost, by being mistimed and misplaced. All parties, and especially the landlord, must therefore suffer by this method
of management.— Walker's .Economical history of the Hebrides, 1812, vol. i., p. 80.
While the poor men and their families are thus employed upon the business of their superiors, and for which they receive neither money nor provisions, their own affairs lie neglected, and their little crops rot upon the ground ; yet the rent must be paid, or they must turn out to make room for others.
—A tour through the Highlands of Scotland in 1786, by John Knox. London, 1787, p. 87.
CONDITION OF THE COUNTRY AND PEOPLE.
Notwithstanding the ruggedness of the ground, and the wild appearance of this country, scarce any place affords a more commodious habitation to poor people, if there be any such in it. For upon a farm of 20s., and sometimes only 10s., many families want none of the necessaries of life, having bread and potatoes, fish and some flesh, wool and clothing, milk, butter and cheese,
all the fruit of their own industry and produce of their farms. Their fuel they have also good and on easy terms, every farm having plenty of peat mosses free to all.
—Old Stat. Account, vol. vi. p. 278.
They are extremely industrious, more properly laborious, in the cultivation of their possessions, superstitiously treading in the footsteps of their ancestors, disregarding every new mode of improvement, in which, unfortunately, this country is not singular. To emancipate from a prejudice so universal and deeply rooted, will require strong and uncommon exertions. The efforts of a native have hitherto had so little effect that they only serve to verify ' That a prophet has no honour in his own country.' The only effectual mode would be, by one or more strangers of experience settling in such districts, as a necessity of this kind requires. Though proprietors, for a number of years, should give the highest encouragement, the advantage in time would be immense. Until of late, the people were very fond of a military life ; but the wages of servants increasing so exceedingly, that spirit is almost totally overcome.
Formerly none would enlist but in the Highland corps. Bounty money now determines the choice. The people are sufficiently economical, yet extremely hospitable and well-disposed. They enjoy the comforts and advantages of society, as much as an inland country, a severe climate, will admit of. The situation of the parish in 1782 and 1783 was truly distressing. Had it not been for Government bounty and Sir James Grant's large supplies from distant countries, the poorer class of people would have perished. So great was the destruction of the crop in 1782, by the frost setting in so early as the month of August, that the most substantial corn, which was sent to some of the mills in tins parish, was a crop of wild oats from a piece of ground which had been ploughed but not sown. From various observations made upon this kind of grain, it appears to be a spontaneous production; so that should oats, by some calamity, be sweeped off from the face of the earth, it might be regained by a proper cultivation of this species of grain, offensive
as it is. Old Stat. Account,, vol. iv. p. 315.
A great change has certainly taken place in the worldly circumstances of the people since the last statistical account of this parish was drawn up. Then almost every respectable householder paid rent to the laird, and all were in easy, happy, and comparatively affluent circumstances. The contrary is now too often the case. Rents were raised, the people became poor, they were
either deprived of or voluntarily gave up their possessions, and many who then were in good circumstances, with from six to ten and even sixteen milch cows, with horses, goats, sheep, & c, have since died in poverty, or now live in penury ; and yet, strange as it may seem, in manners and dress there is the greatest improvement.
—New Stat. Account, 1836, Ross and Cromarty, p. 179.
The period that preceded and succeeded this last era (1745), so important in the history of the Highlands, seems to have been one during which the inhabitants of this parish enjoyed a large measure of prosperity. It is still referred to as a species of golden age, and after making every necessary allowance for the fondness with which it is natural that the memory of better times should be cherished under the pressure of present misery, it is likely that the people during the period in question possessed in a high degree the substantial comforts of life. Secluded by their inaccessible position from the turmoil of general society, enjoying to a considerable extent, in virtue of their high character for prowess, security of life and property ; and holding their lands
such terms as admitted of their consuming among themselves a large proportion of the produce, they passed their days in peace and comfort, alike free from the drudgery of labour and the privations of indigence.
The valuable and respectable class of substantial tenants has been entirely swept away; such of their number as did not emigrate to America having sunk to the rank of letters or cottars upon the large farms, are crowding along the shores of the loch, dependent for their subsistence upon the laborious and uncertain pursuit of the herring fishing, or the still more fatiguing, precarious,
and pernicious practice of smuggling.
It cannot be said with truth that the class of people of which the great majority of the population consists enjoy the comforts of life even in a moderate degree. Poorly fed, scantily clothed, and miserably lodged, their's is a life of penury and toil. Exposed to the temptations of idleness without its ease, and to the slavery of labour without its rewards, they drag out a wretched existence, suffering under the continual fear of impending want, and uncheered by any prospect of amendment in their condition.
—New Stat. Account, 1836, Ross and Cromarty, pp. 196, 198, 200.
The tenants pay their rents by manufacturing kelp and sale of their cattle. The proprietor employs a number of them in making kelp upon his farm, for which he pays from £1, 10s. to £2, 2s., and for the kelp made upon their own shores, which he also has at his own disposal £2, 12s. 6d. the ton, which is the highest manufacturing price given in the Highlands, so far as I know.
So that from the sale of their cattle and making of kelp, the people live very easy, excepting in bad years, when there is a scarcity of bread, they are under the necessity of buying low country meal.—Old Stat Account, vol. xiii. p. 331.
Kilmore and Kilbride
In respect of the circumstances of the people, three small villages of tolerable black farm houses were almost wholly stocked with inhabitants consisting of tenants and cottagers. The rents being then very moderate, the people lived comfortably in their line, though on simple fare and in homely clothing; but since that period, the rents having been doubled, nay, in some parts trebled, and many of their possessions have been taken by the more opulent, the lower tenants were of course obliged to remove and shift for themselves. The aged, the feeble, and the poorer sort became cottagers, but the most vigorous and by far the greatest number engaging in the public works that were carrying on over the country, to a very great extent found means to subsist more comfortably.
— Old Stat Account, vol. xi. p. 135.
Abernethy and Kincardine
What they complain of chiefly is the method followed in letting their farms when their leases are expired. It is seldom that the tenants are called on to renew till within a few months of the term of removal, and then, perhaps, left for years in suspense before they are settled with, and tried for some addition every year, and every year receiving a summons of removal. The offers received are generally kept private; and when they get a lease, it is only for fifteen or nineteen yenrs, which they think too short. The effects of this method are very bad, both for master and tenant: for during the last two or three years of the lease they are under apprehensions of being removed, and of course plough up what they ought not, or would not, if they were certain of continuing, and all this while careless about the repairs of their houses and buildings. By these means they either hurt themselves, if they continue, by renewing, or their successor if they remove, and the proprietor's interest in either case. Besides that, while people are kept long in suspense, it occasions much unhappy anxiety and restlessness of mind.
—Old Stat. Account, vol. xiii. p. 145.
From the foregoing circumstances, the poverty of the inhabitants may be inferred as an unavoidable consequence. An aversion to labour, combining with local disadvantages a*nd feudal oppression, cannot fail to render a peasantry poor, dispirited, and comfortless, To say the truth, the wretched appearance of numbers of them is a sufficient proof of the hardships they endure. A few individuals, perhaps, in the rank alluded to, may be found who are easy and affluent; but whoever is at pains to examine minutely the condition of the bulk of the people—to view the mean, Reconstructed huts in which they reside,—and to consider the scanty and precarious crops on which they depend in a great measure for subsistence, will be far from thinking that the picture of their misery is drawn in exaggerated colours.
—Old Stat Account, vol. ii. p. 39.
In every country where leases are from year to year, and in which there is no independent occupation in trade or manufactures; much of the character of the people must depend, either on the virtue or the caprice of their superiors; for though local jurisdictions be abolished, there is still a species of despotism remaining, by which the displeasure of the superior is equivalent in its effects to the punishments of the law.
—Old Stat. Account, vol. iii. p. 375.
The local attachment of the Highlanders, hath, for some time back been gradually abating. The influx of money, and their communication with other countries hath introduced a desire for better living ; and the rapacity of the superiors, in applying all the advantages of the times to their own private interest, hath effectually released those attachments. The increasing population of the country at large is favourable to the interested views of the proprietors. For every farm, a multitude of candidates is ready to appear, and the culture of the ground, being the sole occupation of the inhabitants, the disappointed have no other option but either to emigrate or beg.
—Old Stat Account, vol. iii. p. 377.
The sense of grievances, whether real or imaginary ; the fear of having the fruits of their industry called for by their landlords, many of whom think they have a right to the earnings of the tenants, except what barely supports life ; the want of employment for such as have no lands to cultivate; the encouragements held out to them by their friends, who are already settled in that country, of living in a state of much greater affluence with less labour; and
the facility of procuring a property for a small sum of money, the produce of which they can call their own, and from which their removal does not depend on the will of capricious masters,—these are the principal motives that determine people now to emigrate to America, without at all attending to the difficulties and discouragements in their way, arising from the danger they
must encounter in crossing the sea, the expense and trouble of removing the Country with their families some 100 miles from shore, for the benefit of enjoying the society of their friends, who have gone before them; the inconvenience of buying all their necessaries, till such time as they are enabled to live by the fruits of their own labour, and the disagreeable effects that a change of climate may have on their healths and constitutions.
—Old Stat Account, vol. xiii. p. 317.
Means by which the situation of the people might be meliorated.
—The inhabitants of Harris can never rise to a comfortable degree of prosperity till they learn to avail themselves of the natural advantages of their local situation. It is evident from the foregoing account, that in cultivating the barren land. They strive against nature to force a miserable pittance from the earth, while in another element she presents her treasures to enrich them. Were a judicious selection made of proper stations on the sea-coast, for prosecuting the fisheries, and manufactures established for constant employ to the fishermen's families, and in the intervals of the fishing to themselves, a foundation would be laid for a progressive system of industry, which, under the vigorous direction of an enlightened proprietor, and cherished by the fostering hand of a beneficent Government, might, in a few generations, prove no inconsiderable accession to the commercial interest of the British Empire. But these are ideas of a consummation devoutly to be wished which, in present circumstances, some may think chimerical even to mention, and which we are by no means sanguine in our expectations of seeing it brought into a promising train of commencement. In the meantime a proprietor, of a liberal mind, more ambitious to provide for the future aggrandisement of his family fortune than
solicitous to squeeze from his tenants a temporary supply to his coffers, ought never to lose sight of this object, and should endeavour gradually to prepare the people for its accomplishment in due season. Before the renewal of leases, a well-digested scheme of the most rational and practicable improvements should be laid down, with the approbation of sensible people acquainted with the country and zealous for its good. The lands should be given to substantial tenants, specincally bound, by the tenor of their tacks, to co-operate with the proprietor, on terms of mutual equity, in bringing this salutary scheme into execution. Little, it is true, can be done to improve the lands in general, yet something may. Sufficient encouragement should be given to each tacksman to enclose and cultivate, to the best advantage, the few arable spots, or such as may, by skilful and economical management, be rendered arable, for raising, chiefly, if not wholly, hay and other green crops for provender; while all the rest of the farm, secured at its outmost boundaries, by proper fences, should be laid out for pasture, on winch either a good stock of black cattle or of sheep might be reared. There should be either no common, or as little as the nature of circumstances can possibly admit. The lowest class of people, now, in effect, a burden on the hands of the landholders, an annoyance to one another, in many instances rather a nuisance than useful members of society, in a state of wretched dependence, of inactivity and of want, should be gradually weaned from the clumsy system in use; and taught, instead of labouring for a pitiful subsistence from the scanty and precarious fruits of a sterile soil, to look for a more secure and comfortable maintenance in the profits arising from their manual industry employed in a different line. They might be collected into villages erected for them, on those parts of the coast that lie most contiguous to the fishing grounds. They should be supplied, at a moderate price, in meal, and constantly furnished with the proper materials to work on, both when ashore and when at sea. They should be free to prosecute the fishing for their own immediate benefit, and made to feel the advantages of working for themselves. They should have little or no land to withdraw their attention from these new pursuits. Thus situated, at first their wants and afterwards their ambition and will prompt them to follow the line of industry now pointed out; and if the habits of the people are once formed to it, men of sufficient capital may embark in this design at their head with a fair prospect of success.
The proprietor should, at all times, give ample encouragement to every public institution calculated to extend the means of religious instruction, to educate the rising generation in a knowledge of the elements of literature and rudiments of industry, to reform the habits and remove the prejudices of the people at large, to introduce the arts of civilised life, and to promote the happiness of the community.
—Old Stat. Account, vol. x. p. 389.
Character of the People.—The rude state of the people, in regard to civil and religious improvement, already represented with fidelity, scarcely requires a comment. It too clearly indicated neglect on the part of those whose interest and whose duty it was to have enlightened them. Their vices are such as must be supposed, among a people professing Christianity, to proceed from difficulty of access to gospel ordinances, and from a total want of police. We would therefore spread a veil over them. They are more than counterbalanced by their virtues, almost the pure fruits of nature. They are sober, docile, sagacious, and capable of industry, were a channel opened to them in which industry might be profitably exerted. They are kind and courteous to strangers, hospitable and charitable even to excess. They have the strongest attachment to their native country, and entertain the most ardent gratitude to benefactors.
An object of the most noble and laudable ambition is presented to a liberal and public-spirited proprietor of Harris, in the emancipation of so many of the human race, possessed of so many good natural qualities, from a state of servitude, ignorance, and sloth.
—Old Stat. Account, vol. x. p. 387.
Mackenzie of Seaforth is the sole proprietor of all Lewis, a tract of country of, or about seventy miles in length, and twenty miles in breadth, with many fertile islands adjacent. All Lewis is inhabited for the most part by tenants who rent their farms immediately from himself. Mr Mackenzie easily perceived the folly, as well as the inhumanity, of lending out the people on his
island to imperious tacksmen for the purpose of raising fortunes to themselves on the ruins of the unfortunate subtenants.
—Buchanan's Travels in the Western Hebrides, pp. 33, 34 (1793).
The tacksmen who rent from the great proprietors of land large districts, are able in general to rank with gentlemen of from £200 or £300 to £1000 and upwards a year. They are for the most part relations of the families of whom they hold their leases, and many of them half-pay officers of the army. Ministers, too, of parishes have for the most part advantageous leases, of which they make much greater account than of their stipends. There are some of the tacksmen who unite the business of grazing and agriculture with that of trade, and oftener of smuggling. There is not perhaps any part of the world where the good things of this life are more unequally distributed. While the scallag and subtenant are wholly at the mercy of the tacksman, the tacksman, from a large and advantageous farm, the cheapness of every necessary, and by means of smuggling of every luxury, rolls in ease and affluence.
In South Uist the chief tacksmen are, Captain Macdonald, tacksman of Phrobost, son and successor to the laird of Boisdale, whose good qualities he inherits, and particularly a tender concern for the comfort of his subtenants and scallags ; the minister of Howmore, who has accumulated several farms on the expulsion and ruin of the former possessor ; the tacksmen of Milton, Geary, Vailteas, Staal Gheary, and Borenish-wachir; and Mr Patrick Nicholson, an industrious farmer and enterprising merchant. Mr Nicholson in his commerce with mankind is as just and upright as any man in his line of life, and in a quarter so distant from the seats of law and government can well be supposed to be. He is a great encourager of the industrious poor ; and, though not a native of the place, is highly and justly esteemed by all ranks of people.
In North Uist, Mr Macdonald Balranald, a very sensible and agreeable man, has greatly improved his farm by draining lochs and converting the ground into rich arable fields. It is to be hoped that his landlord, who, through his well-directed industry, will acquire a considerable accession to his landed property, will reward him at the expiration of his present lease according to his merit.
Another valuable farm in North Uist is possessed by the reverend gentleman of Ty-Geary, who, of all the tacksmen, clergymen, and gentlemen of the Western Isles of Scotland, is the largest and j oiliest, as well as one of the most hospitable and the best natured. Never was the minister and tacksman of Ty-Gheary known to kick, beat, or scourge, or in any shape to lift his hand against his scallags in the whole course of his life. Were he not so well-tempered a man this moderation, not a little unusual in the Western Hebrides, might be ascribed to motives of self-interest, for a few blows, even with his naked fist, would break their bones to pieces, and render them for ever useless to himself or to others.
—Buchanan's Travels in the Western Hebrides, pp. 38-41 (1793).
Harris, with its dependent isles, contains about three thousand souls, most of them in a state of actual bondage. Mr Norman Macleod, tacksman of Bernera, when we consider the vast number of his subtenants, servants, and scallags, the farms, with cow-houses, & c , in his own hand, and the kelp made on his numerous rocks and isles, may be reckoned the first tacksman in the isles, or in North Britain. This gentleman and his lady are both advanced in years. They have three daughters, all of whom will, at the death of their father, be well provided for. Mr Macleod has introduced into his district many new improvements,—as English sheep, and large horses and bulls to mend the breed of cattle, as also jack-asses to breed mules, a hardy kind of animal, and
well fitted for labour in a hilly and rugged country. He sows peas, turnips, linseed to advantage. He has introduced the use of carts and sledges into his husbandry instead of carriage on the backs of horses and scallags, and mills wrought by horses instead of the hand-mill or quern. He sets many good examples to his neighbours and tenants, and is, on the whole, a useful and
respectable member of society. But he gives himself no trouble about the execution of justice ; he leaves the other tacksmen to treat their subtenants and cottagers with all the freedom and caprice of a Scottish baron before the Jurisdiction Act.
—Buchanan's Travels in the Western Hebrides, pp. 43, 44 (1793).
The gentlemen in the Western Islands have, many of them, the advantage of a university education. They are commonly connected together by the ties of matrimony, or consanguinity, or otherwise, which makes them firm to one another ; while the commoners are no less united among themselves by similar bonds of friendship in their respective departments.
— Buchanan's Travels in the Western Hebrides, p. 45 (1793).
The tacksmen and subtenants formerly, or nearly, on an equal footing, were wont to plead their cause on equal terms before a common chief. At present they are obliged to be much more submissive to their tacksman then ever they were in former times to their lairds or lords. Formerly they were a free, animated, and bold people, commanding respect from their undaunted courage, and repelling injuries from whatever quarter they came, both by words and the actions. But now they must approach even the tacksman with cringing humility, heartless and discouraged, with tattered rags, hungry bellies, and downcast looks, carrying their own implements of husbandry for ten or twelve miles back and forward, over hills and mountains, to do the work of their tacksmen, and must either sit wet in their clothes all night in a dirty kitchen, or sleep in dirty clothes, particularly at Luskintire in Harris, exposed to be trampled on by swine, where the kitchen is commonly the stye. But I must , here observe that there is a great difference between the mild treatment which is shown to subtenants, and even scallags, by the old lessees descended of ancient and honourable families, and the outrageous rapacity of those necessitous strangers who have obtained leases from absent proprietors, who treat the natives as if they were a conquered and an inferior race of mortals.
— Buchanan's Travels in the Western Hebrides, pp. 49, 50 (1793).
The land is parcelled out in small portions, by the tacksmen, among the immediate cultivators of the soil, who pay their rent in kind, and in personal services. Though the tacksmen, for the most part, enjoy their leases of whole districts on liberal terms, their exactions from the subtenants are in general most severe. They grant them their possessions only from year to year; and, lest they should forget their dependent condition, they are every year, at a certain term, with the most regular formality, warned to quit their tenements, and to go out of the bounds of the leasehold estate. The subtenant, by what presents he can command, or by humble supplications, endeavours to work on the mind of the tacksman, and, on any condition he pleases to impose, to retain a home for himself, his wife and children, for he has no other resource. It is an invariable custom, and established by a kind of tacit compact among the tacksmen and inferior lairds, to refuse, with the most invincible obduracy, an asylum on their ground to any subtenant without the recommendation of his landlord, or, as he is very properly called in those parts, his Master. The wretched outcast, therefore, has no alternative but to sink down into the situation and rank of an unfortunate and numerous class of me n known under the name of scallags.
The scallag, whether male or female, is a poor being who for mere subsistence becomes a predial slave to another, whether a subtenant, a tacksman, or a laird. The scallag builds his own hut with sods and boughs of trees; and if he is sent from one part of the country to another, he moves off his sticks, and by means of these forms a new hut in another place. He is, however, in most places encouraged by the possession of the walls of a hut, which he covers in the best way he can with his old sticks, stubble, and fern. Five days in the week he works for his master ; the sixth is allowed to himself for the cultivation of some scrap of land on the edge of some moss or moor, on which he raises a little kail or cole-worts, barley, and potatoes. These articles boiled up together in one mash, and often without salt, are his only food, except in those seasons and days when he can catch some fish, which he is also obliged not unfrequently to eat without bread or salt. The only bread he tastes is a cake made of the Hour of barley. He is allowed coarse shoes, with tartan hose, and a coarse coat, with a blanket or two for clothing. It may occur to an English reader, that as the scallag works only five days out of seven to his master, he
has two to provide for himself. But it is to be recollected, that throughout the whole of Scotland and all its appendages, as well as in the opposite countries of Iceland to the north, and Norway and Denmark to the east, Sunday, or the Sabbath, as it is called in all those countries, is celebrated by a total cessation from all labour, and all amusements too, as well as by religious exercises.
—Buchanan's Travels in the Western Hebrides, pp. 3-7 (1793).
The huts of the oppressed tenants are remarkably naked and open,—quite destitute of furniture, except logs of timbers collected from the wrecks of the sea to sit on about the fire, which is placed in the middle of the house, or upon seats made of straw, like foot hassacks, stuffed with straw and stubble. Many of them must rest satisfied with large stones placed around the fire in order. As all persons must have their own blankets to sleep in, they make their beds in whatever corner suits their fancy, and in the mornings they fold them up into a small compass, with all their gowns, cloaks, coats, and petticoats that are not in use.
But those farmers who are blessed with the protection of their lairds live much more comfortably, as they can separate the housed cattle from their firesides by a little partition, but so open as to allow the benefit of the fire to reach their cattle; though still the whole of them, whether rich or poor, keep he cow-houses without cleaning them till spring.
— Buchanan's Travels in the Western Hebrides, pp. 91, 93 (1793).
The wages of a full-grown active maid amounts to five shillings sterling a year, and lessened or increased in proportion to her age or supposed merit; and out of these few shillings she must repay any damage of tea-cups or other articles that may suffer through her hands.
The yearly wages of the men-servants bear the same proportion with the women's; for there are no day-labourers for daily wages here as in other countries—no such thing is ever allowed or encouraged by the oppressors; but such people must become scallags, and yield their labour for less profits than even the young servant-men do, for the labourer or scallag must hang about his helpless wife and family, whereas the servant-man often betakes himself to the sea service to get out of their reach.
— Buchanan's Travels in the Western Hebrides, pp. 96, 97 (1793).
The severe carriage of manure for the land in spring, and of kelp in summer, wears out the horses ; supplies of which are brought every year into the other islands of the Western Hebrides from Lewis. In the back settlement of Harris men, women, and children must be constantly under the panniers, as no horse could be of much use there, where the men can hardly walk with their loads.
One must be a hard-hearted taskmaster that will not pity a poor woman, with her petticoats tucked up to her knees, and a heavy load of dung or wet sea-tangle on her back, mounting those rugged declivities and sheep hills, to the distance of a complete mile from the sea, before they lay the burdens on the ground. The men work with skins above their coats under the panniers, and their short sticks in their hands, and neither frost nor snow, wind nor rain, will make them quit their labour till night when once they are begun and thoroughly wet.
— Buchanan's Travels in the Western Hebrides, pp. 148, 149 (1793).
A very different face of affairs from that which we have just been contemplating in Lewis takes place in the neighbouring island, or rather peninsula of Harris, and for the most part in all places in the Hebrides, where the people are not under the eye of some great and liberal lord, whose mind and fortune conspire to nourish liberal ideas in his breast, and to diffuse comfort all around him. On a general survey of the Western Hebrides, as we have seen, the picture that is oftenest presented, and which recurs again and again to the mind, is that of melancholy and depression. Those isles are in condition of general the melancholy abodes of woe, of suffering in various forms, where the the people are treated merely as beasts of burthen, and worse than beasts of burthen. If want and stripes leave any room for sensibility to a state of slavish dependence and cruel revilings and mockery, surely the tears, the cries, the groans of so great a number of oppressed, though lively and acute people, call for pity and relief at the hands of Government !— Buchanan's Travels in the Western Hebrides, pp. 193, 194 (1793).
They have a fine vein for poetry and music, both vocal and instrumental; more especially in both the Uists, where one may meet not only with studied but even extemporaneous effusions of the must acute and pointed satire, that pierce to the heart, and leave a poignant sting.
At the same time, in these compositions, one meets with the most soft and tender strains of feeling affection that melt the soul with heart-felt sensibility and love, along with the most moving dirges and lamentations for their lost sweethearts and friends, and the whole composed by the vulgar no less than by the most refined. In these qualities they excel any of the English or old Scots songs which have hitherto been published, however much and deservedly celebrated and admired by every true judge of musical compositions. And had the language been so generally understood, the Gaelic music would have been introduced, with admiration and delight, on every stage on which taste and elegance prevailed.
Their luinneags, with the chorus of the band, are inconceivably agreeable to the ear ; and the manner of turning the hands and handkerchiefs, when united in the circle, is no less entertaining to the eye. Vocal and instrumental music make up part of their entertainments. In their agility in the dance they stand almost unrivalled by any people. In Lewis, since their late happy change from servitude to freedom by the present noble-minded proprietor, they are animated with such life as to meet in companies regularly every week at stated places, where both old and young take their turn at this agreeable pastime, when they exercise themselves with amazing alertness and spirit. Their musicians receive regular salaries. The violin is more used on these occasions than the small pipes. This last, with the great pipe, is mostly used in the held, at weddings, funerals, and other public meetings. The piper must play up a Cuart Phibrachd, a march that is heard at a great distance, and produces a fine effect on the spirits of the company. Most of the great families had their pipers to play before the doors or in the great hall during meal-time, and appointed certain lands for their support, which continued in the families time immemorial. Some still retain this ancient custom. The M'Cruimmans of Skye hold their lands from Macleod of Macleod, still as their family seat for attending the chiefs person and family.— Buchanan's Travels in the Western Hebrides, pp. 80-82 (1793).
On the north side of the town there is a great number of miserable thatched huts, occupied by sailors, fishers, and other people, with their families. The poor inhabitants of those huts have built more commodious thatched houses along the shore of the bay, east of the town; and Mr Mackenzie of Seaforth gives every head of a family one guinea to encourage them to remove, and to help them in defraying the expenses incurred on the occasion. He gives those poor people twenty years' lease of their dwelling-places, to each of which a small garden is joined, and they pay three Scotch merks yearly for every such house-room and garden. He gives them full liberty to cultivate as much as they can of a neighbouring moor, and exacts no rent for seven years for and such parts thereof as they bring into culture. In this, and all the other parishes of the island, the women carry on as much at least of the labours of agriculture as the men; they carry the manure in baskets on their backs they pulverise the ground after it is sown, with heavy hand-rakes (harrows being seldom used), and labour hard at digging the ground, both with crooked
and straight spades.—Old Stat. Account, vol. xix. p. 258.
Tacksmen’s Stores.—Upon inquiry I found that most of the principal tacksmen in those districts have come into the practice of keeping a kind of store or warehouse of necessaries for the use of his immediate dependants, and that the usual and avowed rate of profit, which they think reflects no discredit on them to exact, is about 50 per cent., and on grain and other articles considerably higher. Last season oatmeal sold at Greenock for about 16s. per boll—in many places of the Hebrides it was about 24s., in some places, I was told, 28s.; and this I was informed is not beyond the usual proportion. Some men, as must be expected in all cases where the people are under the power of an individual, exact much more than others. A n abatement in the price of what articles the people have to dispose of, at least equal to that, must be in general made, so that the situation of the poor people is truly deplorable. Nor are these storekeepers so much to be blamed as me n would in general be disposed to do on first viewing the matter. The expense they must be at in procuring the articles for sale, must be uncommonly great, their sales are languid, credits long, and payments precarious. In these circumstances, very great apparent profits must be obtained before a reasonable profit per annum on the stock thus employed can be got.—Anderson's Account of the Hebrides, 1785, p. 165.
Food of a Highland family, 1746.—They earnestly entreated me to abandon my intentions, and to remain with them for some time at Samuel's in Glen-Proper.
Samuel was a very honest man, but extremely poor. We remained seventeen days in his house, eating at the same table with himself and his family, who had no other food than oatmeal, and no other drink than the water of the stream, which ran through the glen. We breakfasted every morning on a piece of oatmeal bread, which we were enabled to swallow by draughts of water; for dinner we boiled oatmeal with water, till it acquired a consistency, and we eat it with horn spoons ; in the evening we poured boiling water on this meal in a dish for our supper. Honest Samuel and his family had scarcely any other food than this the whole year through, except perhaps during summer when they mixed a little milk with their oatmeal instead of water.
—Memoirs of the Rebellion in 1745-46 by the Chevalier de Johnstone, London, 1820, p. 185.
The occupations of the inhabitants in the neighbourhood of Lochawe are chiefly pastoral, the country, except in the Vale of Glenorchy, being very hilly, and better suited to the support of sheep than agriculture. Almost every person, however, cultivates some oats and barley; the return of the former is not in general above three or four seeds, and of barley six or seven; but potatoes thrive very well here, returning from twelve to twenty-fold. For nine months of the year the useful root makes a great part of the food of the middle and lower ranks of people ; add, indeed, till the general introduction of it into the Highlands, which is not very remote, the poor and lower classes pined away near half their time in want and hunger, the country being so little adapted both from soil and climate to the growth of grain.—Tour through the Highlands of Scotland, by T. Gamett, M.D., London, 1800, vol. i. p. 116.
The grain which they commit to the furrows thus tediously formed is either the oats or barley. They do not sow barley without very copious manure, and then they expect from it ten for one, an increase equal to that of better countries ; but the culture is so operose that they content themselves commonly with oats ; and who can relate without compassion that after all their diligence they are to expect only a triple increase ? It is in vain to hope for plenty, when a third part of the harvest must be reserved for seed.—A Journey to the Western Highlands of Scotland,
by Samuel Johnson, London, 1775, p. 180.
The houses of the common people in these parts are shocking to humanity, formed with loose stones, and covered with clods, which they call devots, or with heath, broom, or branches of fir; they look, at a distance, like so many black mole-hills. The inhabitants live very poorly, on oatmeal, barley-cakes and potatoes ; their drink whisky, sweetened with honey. The men are thin, but strong; idle and lazy, except employed in the chace, or anything that looks like amusement; are content with their hard fare, and will not exert themselves farther than to get what they deem necessaries. The women are more industrious, spin their own husbands' cloaths, and get money by knitting stockings, the great trade of the country.—Pennant’s Tour in Scotland, vol. i. p. 131.
Parish of Far.—The whole of these four parishes was of old called Strathnaver, from the river Navar, which was so called, as some think, from the name of one of King Kenneth the Second's warriors. It is a noble body of water, well stored with salmon, having many fruitful and beautiful villages on the banks of it, and is so inhabited for eighteen miles.—Pennant’s Tour in Scotland,
vol i. p. 344.
Parish of Rogart.—Consists of good pasture and good corn land.— Pennant’s Tour in Scotland, vol. i. p. 361.
Parish of Kildonnan.—Consists of a valley, divided into two parts by the river Helmisdale, or Illie, only fit for pasture.— Pennant’s Tour in Scotland, vol. i. p. 361.
The men are strong, tall and well made; all speak the Erse language, but the antient habit is entirely laid aside. Their diet is chiefly potatoes and meal; and during winter, some dried mutton or goat is added to their hard fare. A deep dejection appears in general through the countenances of all: no time can be spared for amusement of any kind; the whole being given for procuring the means of paying their rent; of laying in their fuel, or getting a scanty pittance
of meat and cloathing.— Pennant’s Tour in Scotland,, vol. ii. p. 200.
The produce is corn of different kinds; such as bear, which sometimes yields eleven-fold; and oats six-fold: a ruinous distillation prevales here; insomuch that it is supposed that more of the bear is drunk in form of whisky; than eaten in the shape of bannocs. Wheat has been raised with good success in an inclosure belonging to the proprietor; but in an open country where most of
the cattle go at large, it is impossible to cultivate that grain; and the tenants are unable to inclose. Much flax is raised here, and about #2000 worth sold out of the island in yam, which might better be manufactured on the spot, to give employ to the poor natives.
A set of people worn down with poverty : their habitations scenes of misery, made of loose stones ; without chimnies, without doors, excepting the faggot opposed to the wind at one or other of the apertures, permitting the smoke to escape through the other, in order to prevent the pains of suffocation. The furniture perfectly corresponds : a pothook hangs from the middle of the roof, with a pot pendent over a grateless fire, filled with fare that may rather be called a permission to exist, than a support of vigorous life: the inmates, as may be expected, lean, withered, dusky and smoke-dried. But my picture is not of this island only.
Notwithstanding the excellency of the land, above a thousand pounds worth of meal is annually imported. A famine threatened at this time; but was prevented by the seasonable arrival of a meal ship; and the inhabitants, like the sons of Jacob of old, knocked down to buy food.— Pennant’s Tour in Scotland, vol. ii. pp. 261, 262.
As soon as we had time to cast our eyes about, each shore appeared pleasing to humanity; verdant, and covered with hundreds of cattle: both sides gave a full idea of plenty, for the verdure was mixed with very little rock, and scarcely any heath: but a short conversation with the natives soon dispelled this agreeable error: they were at this very time in such want, that numbers for a long time had neither bread nor meal for their poor babes. Fish and milk was their whole subsistence at this time: the first was a precarious relief, for, besides the uncertainty of success, to add to their distress, their stock of fishhooks was almost exhausted; and to ours, that it was not in our power to supply them. The rubbans, and other trifles I had brought would have been insults to people in distress. I lamented that my money had been so uselessly laid out; for a few dozen of fish-hooks, or a few pecks of meal, would have made them happy. The Turks erect caravansaras. Christians of different opinions concur in establishing hospitia among the dreary Alps, for the reception of travellers.
I could wish the public bounty, or private charity, would found, in parts of the isles or mainland, magazines of meal, as preservatives against famine in these distant parts.
The crops had failed here the last year: but the little corn sown at present had a promising aspect; and the potatoes are the best I had seen: but these were not fit for use. The isles I fear annually experience a temporary famine: perhaps from improvidence, perhaps from eagerness to increase their flock of cattle, which they can easily dispose of to satisfy the demands of a landlord, or the oppressions of an agent. The people of Cannay export none, but sell them to the numerous busses, who put into this Portus Salutis on different occasions.
— Pennant’s Tour in Scotland, vol. ii. pp. 311, 312.
The length of the island is about three miles; the breadth near one: its surface hilly. This was the property of the bishop of the isles, but at present that of Mr Macdonald of Clan-Ronald. His factor, a resident agent, rents most of the island, paying two guineas for each penny-land; and these he sets to the poor people at four guineas and a half each ; and exacts, besides this, three days labor in the quarter from each person. Another head tenant possesses other penny-lands, which he sets in the same manner, to the impoverishing and very starving of the wretched inhabitants. The arable land in every farm is divided into four parts, and lots are cast for them at Christmas: the produce, when reaped and dried, is divided among them in proportion to their rents; and for want of mills is ground in the quern. All the pasture is common, from May to the beginning of September. It is said that the factor has in a manner banished sheep, because there is no good market for them; so that he does his best to deprive the inhabitants of cloathing as well as food. At present they supply themselves with wool from Rum, at the rate of eightpence the pound.— Pennant’s Tour in Scotland, vol. ii. p. 315.
Isle of Rum, in an open bay, about two miles deep, called Loch Sgriosard, bounded by high mountains, black and barren : at the bottom of the bay is the little village Kinloch, of about a dozen houses, built in a singular manner, with walls very thick and low, with the roofs of thatch reaching a little beyond the inner edge, so that they serve as benches for the lazy inhabitants, whom we found sitting on them in great numbers, expecting our landing, with that avidity for news common to the whole country.
Entered the house with the best aspect, but found it little superior in goodness to those of Islay; this indeed had a chimney and windows, which distinguished it from the others, and denoted the superiority of the owner: the rest knew neither windows nor chimnies. A little hole on one side gave an exit to the smoke: the fire is made on the floor beneath ; above hangs a rope with the
pot-hook at the end, to hold the vessel that contains their hard fare, a little fish, milk, or potatoes. Yet, beneath the roof I entered, I found an address and politeness from the owner and his wife that were astonishing: such pretty apologies for the badness of the treat, the curds and milk that were offered ; which were tendered to us with as much readiness and good will, as by any of old Homer's dames, celebrated by him in his Odyssey for their hospitality. I doubt much whether their cottages or their fare was much better; but it must be confessed that they might be a little more cleanly than our good hostess.
— Pennant’s Tour in Scotland, vol. ii. pp. 317-318.
The westerly wind blows here more regularly than any other, and arriving charged with vapour from the vast Atlantic, never fails to dash the clouds it wafts on the lofty summits of the hills of Cuchullin, and their contents deluge the island in a manner unknown in other places. What is properly called the rainy season commences in August: the rain begins with moderate winds, which grows stronger and stronger till the autumnal equinox, when they rage with incredible fury.
The husbandman then sighs over the ruins of his vernal labors: sees his crops feel the injury of climate: some laid prostrate; the more ripe corn shed by the violence of the elements. The poor foresee famine and consequential disease: the humane tacksmen agonise over distresses, that inability, not want of inclination, deprives them of the power of remedying. The nearer calls of family and children naturally first excite their attention: to maintain and to educate are all their hopes, for that of accumulating wealth is beyond their expectation: so the poor are left to providence's care; they prowl like other animals along the shores to pick up limpets and other shell-fish, the casual repasts of hundreds during part of the year in these unhappy islands. Hundreds thus annually drag through the season a wretched life: and numbers, unknown, in all parts of the Western Highlands (nothing local is intended) fall beneath the pressure, some of hunger, more of the putrid fever, the epidemic of the coasts, originating from unwholesome food, the dire effects of necessity. Moral and innocent victims, who exult in the change, first finding that place where the wicked cease from troubling, and where the weary are at rest. The farmer labors to remedy this distress to the best of his power, but the wetness of the land late in spring prevents him from putting into the ground the early seed of future crops, bear and small oats : the last are fittest for the climate : they bear the fury of the winds better than other grain, and require less manure, a deficiency in this island. Poverty prevents him from making experiments in rural economy: the ill success of a few made by the more opulent, determines him to follow the old tract, as attended with more certainty, unwilling, like the dog in the fable, to grasp at the shadow and lose the substance, even poor as it is.
The produce of the crops very rarely are in any degree proportioned to the wants of the inhabitants : golden seasons have happened, when they have had superfluity ; but the years of famine are as ten to one. The helps of the common years are potatoes : it is difficult to say whether the discovery of America by the Spaniards has contributed to preserve more lives by the introduction of this vegetable ; or to have caused more to perish by the insatiable lust after
the pretious metals of the new world.
— Pennant’s Tour in Scotland, vol. ii. pp. 351-353.
It is a land of mountains, a mixture of rock and heath, with a few flats between them bearing bear and black oats, but never sufficient to supply the wants of the inhabitants.
— Pennant’s Tour in Scotland, voL ii. p. 363.
This tract seems the residence of sloth; the people almost torpid with idleness, and most wretched: their hovels most miserable, made of poles wattled and covered with thin sods. There is not corn raised sufficient to supply half the wants of the inhabitants: climate conspires with indolence to make matters worse ; yet there is much improveable land here in a state of nature: but till famine pinches they will not bestir themselves: they are content with little at present, and are thoughtless of futurity; perhaps on the motive of Turkish vassals, who are oppressed in proportion to their improvements. Dispirited and driven to despair by bad management, crowds were now passing, emaciated with hunger, to the eastern coast, on the report of a ship being there loaden with meal. Numbers of the miserables of this country were now migrating: they wandered in a state of desperation; too poor to pay, they madly sell themselves for their passage, preferring a temporary bondage in a strange laud to starving for life in their native soil.— Pennant’s Tour in Scotland, vol. ii. pp. 365, 366.
AMOUNT OF GRAIN RAISED IN THE COUNTRY. BAD SEASONS.
The crop of the whole parish consists of oats, the small black kind of barley, and potatoes. When good years occur the produce of all these on the heights of the parish may suffice for six or seven months at most. In the lower parts and along the whole coast it will probably serve for ten months; and in case of a good herring fishing, and plenty of them secured for family consumption, the year may pass tolerably well in this quarter, but in bad years no less than 1500 bolls at least, and that used with the greatest economy, as an addition to what may remain of the produce here, will serve the whole parish, what the narrator believes to contain 3000 souls.
—Old Stat. Account, vol xvi. p. 192.
The most remarkable instances of bad seasons are the following :—In 1766, when the narrator came here, the crop was lost, also the peats almost. In spring 1772, in consequence of the preceding indifferent harvest, one-fourth part of the cattle perished. In particular the case was that a great storm of snow came on in the beginning of January, it continued off and on till the
beginning of April, when it was carried away suddenly by a great and uncommon deluge of rain. Frost continued throughout April. In a word, though all the provender and even the corn was given, the cattle perished. The 1782 was bad, but nothing so distressing as the last mentioned. This same 1793 has been distressing throughout the whole of it; the crop is for the most part damaged, and the best of it hurt. In short, by observation, the narrator can truly say that every ninth or tenth year turns out distressing either by loss of crop, loss of cattle, perhaps both, if the spring proves not favourable. The intermediate years betwixt every ninth or tenth year are, u pon the whole, not to be complained of.
—Old Stat. Account, vol. xvi. p. 192.
The people always buy a great deal of grain, the land not providing above
eight months' bread for the inhabitants, for it is m u c h more calculated for
breeding cattle than for yielding corn. The only crops are oats, barley, and
potatoes, and these in scanty portions, as the land is mostly let to small
tenants who cannot improve their farms.
—Old Stat. Account, vol. ii. p. 571.
Parish of Farr, Strathnaver.
There are fifty ploughs in the parish, but most of the farmers delve their land. The plough is drawn with four horses abreast. They generally sow in April and May and reap in September and the beginning of October. Very little of the parish is cultivated, compared with what is lying waste and common. It is, therefore, by no means surprising that it does not supply its inhabitants with provision. In 1782, there were 1000 bolls imported. The situation of the people in 1783 was deplorable. They killed the few cattle they had, and ate their flesh without bread or salt. Many left the parish and went to other places for employment.
—Old Stat. Account, vol. iii. p. 541.
The parish in general does not raise grain sufficient to supply itself. The kinds usually cultivated are bear, oats, and rye. I have already stated my opinion on corn-farming in this climate ; and yet, notwithstanding the disadvantages mentioned, were the exertions of the industrious tenant properly raised in directed,—were he instructed by those whose circumstances enable them to
the make useful experiments,—were he freed from vexatious servitudes, that are the bane of improvement, and taught to look forward with hope to the period when he should enjoy the fruit of his labour, secured to him and his children, by a lease for a length of years; there is little doubt but the soil could be brought to maintain double the number of its present inhabitants. The reverse of this picture is unfortunately too true. The lands in many places are only held from year to year, or on very short leases. Grassums fines are frequently exacted; additional burdens are imposed without regarding whether they correspond with the progress of improvement, and personal ser vices are so often demanded, that the tenant, in many instances, is more at the disposal of his landlord than the feudal vassal was of his superior in former times. The rigour of these exactions has of late been in some degree alleviated : and it is to be hoped that, in an enlightened age, the practice will be discontinued altogether.
—Old Stat Account, vol. iii. p. 37.
This country is but little adapted for the purposes of agriculture; there are some farms which will not raise as much com as will be sufficient for the consumption of the occupiers for one-fourth of the year. The height of the parish is believed to be much calculated for rearing sheep; and, in the year 1786, triple rent was offered for that district by sheep farmers (it being then out of lease), which the proprietor absolutely refused, declaring that he would never prefer sheep to men, at the same time that he set the lands to old inhabitants (who are not over fond of sheep), on their paying a pretty moderate augmentation.
—Old Stat. Account, vol. vii. p. 128.
The barony of Sleat is now subdivided into twenty-six different farms or tenements, which, at a moderate calculation, may sow about 20 bolls each, in all 520, there is hardly any barley, the sea-ware growing on the shore being almost entirely laid out in manuring potatoes. That useful root is much, and indeed necessarily, cultivated here, the inhabitants living great part of the year on potatoes and various sorts of fish, chiefly herrings, shoals of which regularly and providentially make their appearance in almost all the bays and lochs round the island about the 25th of July, and generally remain in less or greater bodies till the middle of December. Nature, indeed, seems to have made some provision for the support of the inhabitants of this land, as the fish casts up nearly at the time that the meal is consumed.
—Old Stat Account, vol. xvi. p. 534.
In summer 1773, Government generously sent a cargo of meal to the Western Islands, of which this parish got 44 bolls and 3 firlots, which was a most seasonable relief to the poorer sort of people.—Old Stat Account, vol. iv. p. 134.
The only crops in this parish are small oats, barley, and potatoes. The parish never supplies itself with sufficiency of provision, but always imports a great deal from Caithness, Berwick, &c, and is at this time (1796) in great distress, without a probability of a speedy supply.—Old Stat Account, vol. xix., p. 259.
They have of late begun to plant potatoes in light sandy soil, which answers very well, and Mr Macneil, the proprietor, plants almost all his with the plough, which gives ample satisfaction, and every one begins to follow the example. The principal crop here is barley and potatoes; there is some small black oats and little rye. The returns in barley are from ten to fifteen, in potatoes from fifteen to twenty. Sea-weed is the principal manure here; as that is sometimes precarious, the crop must be so also, for when a sufficient quantity of sea-weed is not cast upon the shore, a plentiful harvest is not to be expected. Formerly the sea-weed that grows upon the shore was used for manure, but since kelp has become so valuable, the proprietors everywhere have restricted the people from cutting it for that purpose, which is certainly prejudicial to agriculture. The people also make some compost. In good seasons they raise as much crop as will be sufficient for their subsistence, otherwise there is a scarcity; but the proprietor supplies the country with low country meal at the market price. It is to be hoped that a scarcity may not happen so frequently henceforth, if the people in general could adopt the improvements lately introduced in raising crops and rearing cattle.
—Old Stat Account, vol. xiii. p. 330.
The principal food of the inhabitants is potatoes, of which great quantities are raised. The parish, however, never serves itself entirely, even in the best years, and in bad seasons great quantities of meal are imported. That year was much severer than summer 1783, and together with several bankruptcies that happened then, reduced the inhabitants to great difficulties.
—Old Stat Account, vol. xiv. p. 176.
Under such a climate the best years are bad. Every third year upon an average is a year of famine. In all these years of famine, as they are called, the people, instead of being able to pay any rent, must be supplied by the laird, his factor, or some trader, with the actual means of existence till the grounds yield better crops. When one bad crop is succeeded by another bad crop, as in the years 1782 and 1783, the proprietor must either purchase grain to support his tenants, tum them out of doors, or see them perish by slow degrees through want.
—A Tour through the Highlands of Scotland, 1786, by John Knox, London, 1787, p. xci.
The Highlanders are not without considerable quantities of corn, yet have not enough to satisfy their numbers, and therefore yearly come down with their cattle, of which they have greater plenty, and so traffic with the lowlanders for such proportions of oats and barley as their families or necessities call for. The lowlanders have plenty of most sorts of grain, especially oats and barley ; and as for cattle, though they have large herds and Lags (sic) of their own, yet their plenty of this kind depends much on the yearly descent of the Highlanders who come hither with considerable droves to exchange for corn when their own is spent at home.—A Short Account of Scotland, by the Rev. Mr Thomas Moser, London, 1715, pp. 5 and 12.
TAXES ON COALS AND SALT, &c.
Jura and Colonsay.
It is to be hoped that the Legislature will adopt proper measures to take the duty off an article so universally and absolutely necessary as coal.
—Old Stat Account, vol. xii. p. 333.
Lismore and Appin.
The high duty on coals is the greatest disadvantage these parishes labour under, and proves an insurmountable bar to manufactures and improvements of all sorts. The duty on salt is likewise a great grievance as managed at present, and requires to be remedied.
—Old Stat Account, vol. i. p. 500.
We spend the best season of the year, which should be otherwise usefully employed, in providing fuel, in ruining the face of our farms, while there is such an unequal duty on coals, and yet we must soon buy them at whatever price.
—Old Stat Account, vol. x. p. 393.
One of the chief disadvantages is the scarcity of fuel. There are, indeed, inexhaustible funds of moss, but so distant, either on the summits, or behind the mountains, and so inaccessible, by reason of the steepness or ruggedness of the mountains, that the most industrious have a difficulty in being comfortably supplied during the driest seasons. The coal laws, as they presently stand, are the subject of universal complaint on the west coast of Scotland ; but in no place is their operation more bitterly felt than in Kintail.— Old Stat Account, vol. vii. p. 130.
The parish derives its principal advantage from its local situation on the sea coast, so contiguous to the bays of Lochdwich, Lochcarron, Kishom, and Lochom, some of which, and generally all of them, shoals of herrings never fail to visit, between the end of June and the beginning of November. From benefiting by this advantage, they are, however, in a great measure, prevented by the present existing laws regarding salt. If this obstacle were removed, by allowing the country people salt at the same duty as the fishcurers have it, for curing fish for home consumption, their condition would be greatly improved. They would then not only have it in their power to cure a sufficient quantity for the use of their families, at a smaller expense, but likewise find profitable employment in curing herrings for the Irish markets. It is now not at all uncommon to see them, after catching a quantity of fish, in proportion to their small stock of salt, return from a lake where boat loads might be taken. The country people, from the same cause, not two years ago, sold good herrings in Lochdwich to the masters of busses at from Is. to
2s. per barrel.— Old Stat Account, vol. xi. p. 427.
The only fuel used is peats.'which in wet seasons, in this rainy climate are expensive and precarious. Necessity has sometimes obliged them to purchase coals, at the extravagant rate of 19s. per ton.
It is to be hoped the justice of the British Legislature will not suffer a country, where firing must always constitute one of the most essential comforts of life, to groan any longer under a partial and iniquitous tax on that necessary article.— Old Stat Account, vol. ii. p. 427.
O n the subject of improving the Scottish fisheries, it is irresistible to animadvert on the most impolitic restraints which have been laid in times less enlightened than the present on the manufacture of salt in Scotland, and the carriage of coals from one place to another in that country, with which the manufacture of salt is intimately connected.—A Tour in England and Scotland by Thomas Newte, Esq., London, 1791, p. 106.
It is to be hoped that the Legislature will no longer hold a deaf ear to the universal cry of the poor people on the western coasts; and that, in consequence of a wise modification of the salt laws, they may all soon have access - to a sufficient quantity of that most necessary article, to cure their fish for home consumption, on reasonable terms.— Old Stat Account, vol. x. p. 389.
Salt is often here a scarce commodity. It has happened, oftener than once, that an ounce of salt was not to be had here, at the very time when the greatest shoals of herring entered the lochs ; and a barrel of herring has sold fresh for 2s. which, if salted, would have sold for 12s.
— Old Stat Account, vol. xvi. p. 228.
Grazing seems to be the only kind of farming for which this country is adapted; from necessity, and not choice, agriculture is carried on; the frequent rains, together with the inundations of the rivers, prove so destructive as to render the crops sometimes insipid and useless ; but the price of meal, which is considerably advanced since the late corn-bill passed in Parliament,
will still urge them to continue their old method of farming with all its disadvantages, it being impossible to purchase the quantity required at such exorbitant prices. In the most favourable seasons, the crops raised are barely sufficient for the maintenance of their families during three-fourths of the year ; and in summer, the supplies from other markets are always scanty and precarious, owing to the tedious navigation from the east of Scotland, and the impractibility of land-carriage over a hilly district, more than fifty computed miles in length.
— Old Stat Account, vol. xvi. p. 268.
It is to be observed that it is only with humane proprietors, and under whom they live easily, that they are disposed to enlist.
—Old Stat Account, vol. xiv. p. 210.
When the 42nd Regiment was first raised, and particularly when the heirs of Ardkinglass and Strachur were appointed officers in Lord Loudon's regiment in 1745. Though it was not then the mode to make the officers' commissions depend upon raising a certain quota of men, yet the two young gentlemen got most of their company, who followed them as volunteers, from their paternal estates. How different the sentiments of the people in 1778! When it was proposed to raise a Western Fencible Regiment, the gentlemen of Argyleshire engaged to furnish a certain number of men ; but though the men had an express promise from Government that they should not be called out of the kingdom, nor even into England, excepting in case of an invasion, the heritors were obliged to bribe them high.
The district is now thinned of its inhabitants. The people have been forced to leave their native hills. Such as have gone have changed their manners, and the old spirit of the Highlander is extinguished in those that remain. The sheep have banished the men. Where, in twelve or sixteen families, a hardy race was reared, ever ready to repel an enemy and gain glory to their country, an opulent tacksman, with a shepherd or two, occupy the lands.
—Old Stat Account,, vol. iv. p. 575.
The inhabitants consist of six heritors, three of whom are resident; several officers retired on half-pay, from the army and navy, and the remainder almost wholly of husbandmen and cottagers ; excepting smiths and weavers, there are few mechanics of any kind. This is owing partly to the cause already stated, there being no village in the place ; and partly to the genius of the people, which is more inclined to martial enterprise than to the painful industry and laborious exertion requisite to carry on the arts of civil life. Till of late, it was even with reluctance that they would hire as day-labourers, and still the greater number of those employed in this way are brought from other counties
—Old Stat Account, vol. iii. p. 39.
Until of late the people were very fond of a military life, but the wages of servants increasing so exceedingly, that spirit is almost totally overcome. Formerly none would enlist but in the Highland corps. Bounty money now determines the choice—Old Stat Account, vol. iv. p. 315.
Abernethy and Kincardine
They make hardy, clean, tractable soldiers when in the army; numbers of them are excellent marksmen. Their chief attachment is to Highland corps, which Government ought to make always as provincial as possible. This would increase their attachment and their spirit to a degree that none can understand but such as know their tempers. A man that is harsh and austere, and fond of severity and punishment, is not fit to command a Highland corps; but their officers do them justice, speak to them in a discreet, friendly manner, and encourage them by a little familiarity, and they find them respectful, attached, and obedient. The vagabonds that are recruited in cities and towns ought never to be allowed to mix with them. The method adopted by Government of late, in making their Highland Fencibles provincial ones, is a wise measure, and will answer the end proposed. It is peculiar to tins parish to have two heritors, who have got each a Fencible regiment—the Duke of Gordon and Sir James Grant—and who have not only raised them in three weeks and a few days, but have each of them supernumeraries, for
additional companies, in forming a considerable part of second battalions, if Government should need them; and all recruited in an easy, discrete, smooth manner, without force or compulsion. Men so pleasantly got, and so content when well used, cannot miss of giving satisfaction to their officers, and may be relied on by the nation. The people here are loyal to a degree that cannot be surpassed; amazingly attached to their king, because they like his character and his virtues, and that he is a good man. —Old Stat Account, vol. xiii. p. 143.
Some spirited young men are fond of the military profession; but here, as likewise in the other parts of the country, the generality seem to have lost that martial disposition which was so characteristic of their fathers. When any is enlisted for the service, his relations are for some time inconsolable; and in particular the mothers, sisters, and wives would rather have their respective relatives to pass the most miserable and wretched life with themselves at home, than see them go into the army. If. go they will, it would not give them near the concern, were it along with their chief, his connections or dependants, with whom they are acquainted, and who, they are impressed with the idea, have a greater right to them, and would be more careful and
tender of them. However, the different recruiting parties through the country tins year have been pretty successful.
—Old Stat Account, vol. xvi. p. 161.
The common people of Skye are blessed with excellent parts; a liberal share of strong natural sense and great acuteness of understanding. They are peaceable and gentle in their dispositions, and are very industrious when they work for themselves ; but when they work for hire or wages, they are inclined to be lazy and indifferent. They are rather too fond of changes and emigrations; and though they are brave and very loyal, they are averse to the naval and military services, and are extremely disgusted with the idea of being pressed.
— Old Stat Account, vol. iv. p. 137.
The zeal with which the followers of any chieftain came forward to enlist was prompted not only by affection and the enthusiasm of clanship, but likewise by obvious views of private interest. The tenant who on such an occasion should have refused to comply with the wishes of his landlord was sensible that he could expect no further favour, and would be turned out of his farm. The more considerable the possession he held the greater was his interest and his obligation to exert himself. The most respectable of the tenantry would therefore be among the first to bring forward their sons ; the andlord might, with an authority almost despotic, select from the youth upon his estate all who appeared most suitable for recruits.
—Observations on the Present State of the Highlands of Scotland, by the Earl of Selkirk, p. 62.
The proprietors, either to become persons of consequence in the eyes of Government or to increase their incomes by procuring the command of the regiments they raise, and many of them, no doubt, with a laudable view of serving their country, are ambitious to raise regiments and companies, and call upon their tenants for their sons. They have undoubtedly no longer a legal power to compel the young me n to quit their parents and join the army, as was the case formerly; but few of the peasants have any leases, and the fear of Military losing their farms is a sufficient motive to induce them to comply. Hence the reader will easily perceive that, though the feudal claims have been abolished, the Highland chieftain has nearly the same power as ever over his vassals, and will have till long leases are granted, which will render the tenants a little more independent.—Tour through the Highlands of Scotland, by T. Garnett, M.D., London, 1800, vol. i. 167.
At present, these countries are so remote from the seat of justice, that it is a matter of great difficulty and expence to obtain justice by law; which is one of the many causes that tend to depress the people. This, therefore, is one of those most essentially necessary regulations that ought long ago to have been thought of.
Those who have not turned their attention to subjects of this nature, will not be able easily to form an idea of the hardships the natives experience from this circumstance. In some places, the people are nearly two hundred miles from the seat of justice, with which they have no correspondence, but by expresses sent on purpose. In this situation, suppose a man of wealth and power chooses to do violence or injustice to a poor man, how is he to obtain redress ? In all cases, a prudent man will compute which is the least of two evils, when he must submit to one. If, then, the injury he sustains, be not so great as the loss he must submit to before he can obtain redress, he will in prudence bear with it, rather than attempt to obtain justice. Suppose, for example, that a man who has power in his hands, defrauds or injures another to the value of five shillings, and the person injured knows that it would cost him at least five pounds expences to recover these five shillings, he must submit to that loss without attempting redress. In the same manner, if one man owes another any smaller sum, and does not choose to pay it, the means of compelling him are so difficult, that it can scarcely be attempted. On these accounts, rascals and oppressors of every kind are allowed to practice their villanies almost without controul; and, were not the morals of the people in general better than in places where social intercourse is greater, it would be impossible for any quiet well-disposed person to live there at all. But, where the checks against iniquitous transactions are so few, it is sufficiently plain that commercial transactions must of necessity be few also. To attempt, therefore, to introduce commerce and manufactures, in these circumstances, were absurd.—Anderson's Account of the Hebrides, &c, 1785.