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The Crofter in History
Condition of the Highlands and Islands during the Eighteenth Century


THE nature of the sacrifices made by the Highlanders in the cause of the Stewarts is a passage of their history too well known to be dwelt on in these pages. That disastrous struggle, after a period of forty years of comparative tranquillity and some progress in civilisation, convulsed the Highlands, and everywhere revived and aggravated old feuds. Montrose's strength was largely due to the fact that he drew his recruits from clans in whom hatred of the Campbells supplied as powerful a motive as devotion to his person or loyalty to the race of Stewart.

During the period from the termination of the civil wars to the rebellion of 1745, the Highlanders and Islanders developed that rude system of rural economy which continued with little change up to the commencement of the present century. Sache-verell thus describes the inhabitants of Mull in the year which witnessed the flight of James II. Some of the men he saw were destined to make desperate efforts to restore that Prince to the throne.

"I generally observed the natives to be large bodied, stout, subtle, active, patient of cold and hunger. There appeared in all their actions a certain generous air of freedom and contempt of those trifles, Luxury and Ambition, which we so servilely creep after. They bound their appetites by their necessities, and their happiness consists not in having much but in coveting little.

"The women seem to have the same sentiments with the men, though their habits are mean and they had not our sort of breeding, ret in many of them there was a natural beauty and a graceful modesty which never fails of attracting. The usual outward habit of both sexes is the pladd ; the women's much finer, the colours more lively, and the squares larger than the men's, and put me in mind of the ancient Picts. This serves them for a vail and covers both head and body. The men wear theirs after another manner, especially when designed for ornament, it is loose ard flowing, . . . what is covered is only adapted to necessity, a thin brogue on the foot, a short buskin of various colours on the legg tied above the calf with a strip'd pair of garters, ... a large shot pouch (in front), on each side of which hangs a pistol and a dagger, . . . a round target on their backs, a blew bonnet on their heads, in one hand a broad sword and a musquet in the other: perhaps no nation goes better arm'd, and I assure you they will handle them with bravery and dexterity, especially the sword and target, as our veteran regiments found to their cost at Gille Crankie. Their utensils are few and buildings mean, only suited to meer necessity, and are indeed below description."

In a tract, entitled "A Memorial concerning Disorders in the Highlands," published in 1703, the Highlanders are described as "altogether heathenish." If the writer is to be believed, they had but little improved since the time of James VI. "Thift and Robbery is esteemed only a Hunting and not a crime, Revenge and Murder especially in what concerns a Clan, is counted a gallantrie. Idleness and not undertaking husbandrie or trade is become a piece. Honour and blind obedience to chiefs or brarches takes off from any other influence either of religion or the civil government. . . . Some of them will not stand to let their lands ly waste for some years and wait on their chiefs or branches of their Clan."

To this period belongs also Martin's book—a work for which the author received the honour of being made a Fellow of the Royal Society, and which is said to have inspired Dr Johnson with the wish to visit the Western Isles, a feat he accomplished seventy-three years after its publication. Martin was a man of mean understanding and imperfect education. Amongst many absurd beliefs of the people whose manners and customs he describes, it would be easy to enumerate several, in which he shared. His credulity and simplicity, indeed, made him the butt of the wits of his day. A copy of the book exists, annotated by John Toland, in which very uncomplimentary observations are made on the man whom the Royal Society delighted to honour. The faults of the work did not escape the notice of Johnson: "Martin was a man not illiterate: he was an inhabitant of Sky, and therefore was within reach of intelligence, and with no great difficulty might have visited the places which he undertakes to describe: yet, with all his opportunities, he has often suffered himself to be deceived. He lived in the last century, when the chiefs of the clans had lost little of their original influence. The mountains were yet unpenetrated, no inlet was opened to foreign novelties, and the feudal institutions operated upon life with their full force. He might, therefore, have displayed a series of subordination and a form of government which, in more luminous and improved regions have been long forgotten, and have delighted his readers with many uncouth customs that are now disused, and wild opinions that prevail no longer. But he probably had not knowledge of the world sufficient to qualify him for judging what would deserve or gain the attention of mankind. The mode of life which was familiar to himself, he did not suppose unknown to others, nor imagined that he could give pleasure by telling that of which it was, in his little country, impossible to be ignorant."

But in the absence of a better, Martin's book is a valuable record of the condition of the Western Islanders at the commencement of the eighteenth century. The children of the men he describes witnessed the rebellion of '45, and submitted to the disarming acts. We shall cease to express surprise at the immense sacrifices of that generation in the cause of the Pretender; we shall cease to wonder at the temerity which brought a handful of Highlanders to oppose themselves to the whole power of England, if we study the moral condition of the people when the Pretender appeared amongst them and made that last appeal to their fidelity.

Martin reveals the people steeped in ignorance and grovelling under superstitions which had been fostered by the clergy. In many places the light of the Reformation had not penetrated. The forms of worship used by the ancient Celtic Church lingered in a corrupted form. The belief in witchcraft was rampant, and second-sight undimmed. Martin tells us that in the island of Lewis, on the first day of May, a man was sent very early to cross a certain stream which, if a woman crossed first, no salmon would ascend: another stream never whitened linen: in a certain well no meat could be boiled: persons suffering from jaundice were cured by the application of a hot iron to the backbone: a form of sore throat was cured by gulping a lump of bread and cheese: the fever-stricken were restored by fanning them with the leaves of a Bible: a valley was haunted by spirits, and no one dared set foot in it without first pronouncing three sentences of adulation to propitiate them: one island had been inhabited by a race of Pygmies, whose bones were dug up in handfuls: a change of wind before landing at a particular spot was an omen requiring an immediate return homewards, but if they landed they uncovered and pivoted round "sun-ways": if a dish placed on holy water performed a like evolution, the sick person would certainly recover, but if it revolved against the sun he must surely die: when they commenced a voyage, it was the height of impiety to proceed without first pulling the boat round and round from east to west: at a certain chapel a party stripped themselves at a given signal half naked, and prayed aloud, first advancing on their knees, then circling round the building, and then in some other posture: on sighting a chapel they crossed themselves and said their pater noster. Is it wonderful that such a people were easily imposed on or persuaded to undertake a desperate enterprise?

But that they cultivated their lands to some profit Martin's account amply proves. He tells us that the Island of Lewis had been fruitful in corn until late years of scarcity and bad seasons. The crops were barley, oats, rye, flax, and hemp. The natives showed great industry in digging the ground with spades—a practice which he invariably associates with a large return. He even records that the abundance of corn encouraged them to "brew several sorts of liquor." For manure, sea-ware and soot were used. In one of the smaller north-western islands barley was plentiful enough to be given away to those who came to ask for it. In North Uist the soil was "very grateful to the husbandmen, yielding a produce of barley from ten to thirty-fold in a plentiful year, provided the ground be manur'd with sea ware." He testifies to the great natural fertility of Skye. Ground which had been fallow for seven years bore a good crop after digging. Soil which had not been manured for forty years yielded a large crop. The ordinary yield was from twenty to thirty-fold, and in one instance he mentions one hundred-fold. Regarding their implements of husbandry, in Lewis he saw harrows with two rows of teeth and rough heather in the third row. In North Uist the natives used the four-horse plough and the "ristle"—an instrument which went before the plough and severed the tough roots of bent with a sickle-shaped blade. These instruments were observed by Dr Walker seventy years afterwards. In some places beef was salted in the skin and exported to Glasgow. In South Uist farms appear to have been set in shieling. Martin gives exactly the same description of the condition of the stock which is given by a writer on the farming of Arran at the commencement of the present century. [Headrick's "Account of the Isle of Arran."] There was no green crops for winter food, and the cows were left out to graze all the year round. The result was that in the spring they were reduced to mere skeletons, and were unable to rise without assistance. From this condition they slowly recovered with the return of the grass.

It is remarkable that no evidence of the exclusive right of proprietors to salmon fishing is to be found in this account. It is possible that such rights existed, but Martin's allusion to the methods of taking the fish does not favour the supposition that they were rigidly enforced. Thus he describes the natives of Barra netting the salmon in a peculiar fashion. "The rivers on the east side afford salmons, some of which are speckled like those mentioned in North Uist; but they are more successful here in catching them. The natives go with three several herring nets, and lay them crossways in the river where the salmon are most numerous, and betwixt them and the sea. These salmon, at the sight or shadow of the people, make towards the sea, and, feeling the net from the surface to the ground, jump over the first, then the second, but, being weakened, cannot get over the third net, and so are catched. They delight to leap above water and swim on the surface: one of the natives told me that he killed a salmon with a gun, as jumping above water." Nor is there much evidence of the existence of game-laws. In some places, as in Arran and Jura, the deer were preserved, and no one could kill them without a licence. [In Arran it was forbidden to kill black game.] We learn from Martin that the "barbarous custom" of burning the corn to remove the husk was still in use. "A woman sitting down takes a handful of corn, holding it by the stalks in her left hand, and then sets fire to the ears, which are presently in a flame: she has a stick in her right hand, which she manages very dexterously, beating off the grain at the very instant when the husk is quite burnt; for if she miss of that she must use the kiln, but experience has taught them this art to perfection."

The introduction of the potato and its establishment as an article of diet is generally assigned to the middle of the eighteenth century. There is a well-known story of a chief being compelled to assert his authority in a summary manner on the refusal of his people to eat the foreign root which had been brought from Ireland. But if reliance can be placed on Martin, the potato in his day was part of their ordinary diet. He says, "The diet generally us'd by the natives consists of fresh food, for they seldom taste any that is salted, except butter; the generality eat but little flesh, and only persons of distinction eat it every day and make three meals, for all the rest eat only two, and they eat more boil'd than roasted. Their ordinary diet is butter, cheese, milk, potatoes, colworts, brochan, i.e., oatmeal and water boil'd ; the latter taken with some bread is the constant food of several thousands of both sexes in this (Skye) and other isles during the winter and spring: yet they undergo many fatigues both by sea and land, and are very healthful."

In Jura, "the inhabitants for their diet make use of beef and mutton in the winter and spring; as also of fish, butter, cheese, and milk."

With respect to tenure, contracts between landlord and tenant were not unknown. "When the proprietor gives a farm to his tenant for one or more years it is customary to give the tenant a stick of wood, &c., and then both parties are as much obliged to perform their respective conditions as if they had signed a lease or any other deed." In one passage we have an allusion to the dread of arbitrary rent raising. "The natives (of Bernera) never go a fishing while Mackneil or his steward is in the Island, lest, seeing their plenty of fish, perhaps they might take occasion to raise their rents." In the Island of Arran we are told, "if any of the inhabitants refuse to pay their rents at the usual term, the Coroner is bound to take him personally or to seize his goods. And if it should happen that the Coroner with his retinue of three men is not sufficient to put his office in execution, then he summons all the inhabitants to concur with him, and immediately they rendezvous to the place where he fixes his Coroner's staff."

On the other hand the friendly relations of landlord and tenant are illustrated in Barra, where, "if a tenant chance to lose his milk-cows by the severity of the season, or any other misfortune; in this case Mackneil of Barra supplies him with the like number that he lost." Again, "when any of these tenants are so far advanc'd in years that they are uncapable to till the ground, Mackneil takes such old men into his own family and maintains them all their life after." Equally characteristic of the time is the account of the customs observed with a view to preserve the population.

"When a tenant's wife in this or the adjacent islands dies, he then addresses himself to Mackneil of Barray, representing his loss, and at the same time desires that he would be pleas'd to recommend a wife to him, without which he cannot manage his affairs nor beget followers to Mackneil, which would prove a publick loss to him. Upon this representation Mackneil finds out a suitable match for him; and the woman's name being told him, immediately he goes to her, carrying with him a bottle of strong waters for their entertainment at marriage, which is then consummated."

From Martin's let us pass to Pennant's account of the Western Isles. When the latter visited the the Hebrides ten years had not elapsed since the Peace of Paris, which brought the Seven Years' War to a conclusion. The war with America had not commenced. During this interval of peace many improvements in farming had been introduced in the Low country. These changes had a marked influence on the Highlands. It was not to be expected that the Highland proprietors should be witnesses of the improvements in the Lowlands and not attempt to introduce them into their own country. In the South they saw whole counties rapidly transformed from a state little if at all in advance of the Highlands to one immeasurably superior. The high farming in East Lothian was not commenced until late in the century. In 1750 the farm houses in Ayrshire were no better than those in the heart of Inverness. They are described as the " merest hovels," with a fire-place in the middle of the floor and a dunghill at the door. The cattle were starving and the people wretched. [Chalmers's "Caledonia."] Dr Robertson, in a report drawn up for the Board of Agriculture in 1795, thus refers to the condition of Perthshire, including both the Highland and the Lowland districts, in 1745:—"The husbandry of Perthshire was in a most wretched condition, even so late as fifty years ago. The whole land was occupied by runrig, not only in farms but frequently in estates." The same measures were adopted as in the South. " Upon the decline of the feudal system, the wealthier or more industrious tenant in many cases got the whole farm, with the burden of some small portions of arable land and grass deducted under the name of pendicles, to which the poorer tenants were obliged to resort. . . . Where the country is best improved every vestige of the feudal holdings is there abolished, and the tenants are wealthy and intelligent. In the Carse of Gowrie, in the lower parts of Strathearn, along the Tay from Perth to Dunkeld, and on the banks of the Isla, some of the farms contain more than 400 acres of Scotch measure, and a few amount to 500 acres." [500 and 600 English acres.] Nor did Government, when the opportunity offered, set a different example to Highland proprietors. Amongst the forfeited estates of those who "were out" in the '45, was that of Robertson of Struan. In a letter to Dr Robertson from Colonel Robertson of Struan, we find the following record of the management during the period when the lands were annexed :—" Some farmers upon the estate of Struan, who got leases from Government for forty-one years, of which there are still many years to run, manage their farms with great propriety. A great number of small tenants were removed to make place for those tacksmen"

At the time of Pennant's visit to the islands, viz., in 1772, a rise in rents was almost universal. Apart from the desire to improve and get the full value of their lands, the rise in the price of stock is sufficient to account for the increase demanded by the proprietors. The price of cattle had been more than doubled since the Rebellion. If the proprietors had contented themselves with a proportionate increase, and if they had devoted themselves gradually to introduce new modes of farming, it cannot be maintained that complaints would not have been heard; but it is certain that such complaints would have found little sympathy. [Stewart's "Sketches."] It is vain to expect uniformity of action where selfish motives are in operation; but there is always danger in such cases of the conduct of a minority being taken as characteristic of a class. The action of the few who look only to their own interests has a greater effect on public opinion than the generosity of the rest. The kindness, in its effects, is only known to a portion of the public; the harshness which gives rise to discontent is easily made the subject of a popular cry. But there is good reason to believe that want of consideration for the people was the rule, and not the exception at the period we are dealing with. "The rebound from feudal despotism to insatiate speculation was almost instantaneous and destructive. Deprived of his state, of his patriarchal and feudal privileges, the Highland landholder seems to have resolved upon the part of a hard taskmaster as a satisfaction to his wounded pride for the immunities he had forfeited." ["'Essay on the State of Society and Knowledge in the Highlands in 1745," by T. Anderson, W.S., 1827.] The fact that the Highland proprietors did nothing gradually, and that discontent was so widely prevalent in Pennant's time, is one of the strongest grounds for the presumption that the tenure of the occupiers, in the islands especially, had been far more precarious than is sometimes supposed. If the tenants had a quasi-proprietary right in the soil, we should expect to find improvements gradually introduced, and with full regard for the interests of the people. A commercial policy could not have been at once adopted. Old and kindly feelings could not have been quickly outraged: old customs could not have been suddenly ignored. That the change was in fact extremely rapid was largely owing to the fact that much regard for the feelings of the people had never been shown. Were the people too much accustomed to the exercise of arbitrary power to feel much surprise at an exertion of it that threatened their very existence? The first result of the new management was an emigration movement, which was, however, not looked on with indifference by the proprietors. Indeed at one time the movement of the population so much alarmed them that they used all their endeavours in Parliament and otherwise to arrest it. Reports were sedulously spread of the deceitful methods adopted to entice the Highlanders to the colonies. Emigration agents were represented as little better than slave traders. The system of contracting for the emigrant's labour, and the condition of the emigrant ships, probably gave colour to these allegations, and had some effect in checking what Dr Johnson termed the "epidemical fury." But here again the conduct of the proprietors appears to have been not uninfluenced by a regard for their own interests. A diminution of the population meant, in many places, an increase in the price of labour, and a corresponding decrease in the profits to be derived from the kelp trade. Neither were they willing all at once to lose the influence which a redundant population placed at their disposal, and see themselves deprived of the power of furnishing the British army with its best material, and their sons of the commissions which such services in times of national need were able to purchase. We shall see, when the kelp trade declined, that this last inducement to keep the people gave way to the temptation which assailed them in the shape of offers from south-country graziers.

Almost everywhere Pennant touched in the Islands he found the produce of the land insufficient to support the population. His description of the distress in Skye leaves no room for doubt that the people were pressing dangerously on the means of subsistence. Contending against the effects of a tempestuous climate, the tacksmen had enough to do to maintain and educate their families ; " so the poor are left to Providence's care. They prowl ' like other animals along the shore to pick up lim-pits 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, 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." [Pennant's "Tour": description of Skye, vol. i. p. 353.] The people were too poor to make experiments in rural economy, and the failure of some who attempted them, gave them a " disinclination to go from the beaten track. . . . The quantity of corn raised in tolerable seasons in this island is esteemed to be about 9000 bolls. The number of mouths to consume them, near 13,000; migrations and depression of spirit, the last a common cause of depopulation, having since the year 1750 reduced the number from 15,000 to between 12,000 and 13,000. . . . The poorer tenants who have no winter parks are under the necessity of keeping the cattle under the same roof with themselves during night; and often are obliged to keep them alive with the meal designed for their families."

Of Mull, Pennant says it did not yield corn enough for its inhabitants. Rum only raised one fourth of what was required. The deficiency was supplied by curds, milk, and fish. The people had "famine in their looks;" they were " often a whole summer in the islands without a grain, which they regret not on their own account, but for the sake of their poor babes." The people of Canna were in such want that numbers for a long time had neither bread nor meal. Fish and milk were their sole subsistence. [It is remarkable that here, as in the case of Rum, Pennant makes no mention of potatoes.] Pennant recommended that magazines of meal should be established by public bounty to guard against famine, for, he says, "the isles, I fear, annually experience a temporary famine." In Colonsay the increase in the price of cattle from twenty-five shillings a head in 1750 to three pounds a head in 1772, did not enrich the people, "all the profit being exhausted in the purchase of bread." Not less pitiable was the condition of the people of May. "A set of people worn down with poverty : their habitations scenes of misery — the contents of the ' pot pendent over a grateless fire,' fare that may be called rather a permission to exist than a support of vigorous life — the inmates lean, withered, dusky, and smoke-dried." One thousand pounds' worth of meal was annually imported, and in the year of his visit a famine was only averted by the opportune arrival of a meal ship. In Jura enough bear and oats were raised to maintain the inhabitants in good seasons, but the principal food was potatoes, fish, and shell-fish. In Arran, Pennant observed "a deep dejection" in the people. "No time can be spared for amusement of any kind; the whole being given up to providing the means of paying their rent, of laying in their fuel, or getting a scanty pittance of meat and clothing."

The question arises, how far was all this wretchedness due to improvident and wasteful management on the part of the people? Nothing can be further from the truth than to ascribe it generally to excessive rents or other oppression. It is not too much to say that, had the rents remained at the old figure, there would still have been a very large amount of distress. Indeed, in some places this was actually proved to be the case. The people of Colonsay were receiving more than double the old price for their cattle, of which they annually exported more than 200 head. They manufactured from 40 to 50 tons of kelp, for which they got £3 or £4 per ton. The laird never raised the rents. Yet Pennant says they were too poor either to cultivate the land properly or to fish the sea; and he points to the principal cause in the fact that almost all the grain was used for distilla-tion. In Arran the extravagant number of horses consumed so much corn as often to occasion a scarcity. In May the cultivation of grain crops was impeded by the want of enclosures, which allowed the cattle to roam at large. Overstocking was a frequent cause of loss and failure. As in the time of Martin, corn was commonly graddan'd, though this wasteful practice was sometimes forbidden. In Skye almost all the corn land was worked with the caschrom. It took eight men to do in one day what could be done with a single plough. But on this subject we shall do well to consult the work of a writer who was a contemporary of Pennant. Dr Walker's "Economical History of the Hebrides " is an invaluable contribution to the history of agriculture in this country. Charged with the duty of reporting to the Commissioners for the annexed estates, he took the opportunity of visiting, in the course of several years, almost every corner of the Western Islands. It is worthy of note that while he had to record a state of things which appeared to many to demonstrate the necessity of emigration on a large scale, he was a strenuous opponent of such measures, and devoted himself zealously to the task of introducing those improvements which, in his judgment, might have rescued the people from extreme indigence, and obtained for them comparative prosperity. [Dr Walker went so far as to assert that an increase of population was indispensable.] The first complaint which he makes against the system he found in operation, relates to the division of the land. He divides the possessors of land into three classes—tacksmen, tenants, and sub-tenants. The first ranged from £20 to £55 a year; the second, from £5 to £20; the third, from 15 shillings to £2. The ordinary calculation was one sub-tenant for every £4 of rent, or one for every 50 shillings. Thus, on a farm rented at £30, with sixteen servants, the total number of persons would not fall short of seventy. He urged that this system should be abolished, and that every occupier should pay rent directly to the proprietor. "The progress of improvement, the advantage of the public, the revenue of the landlord, and the liberty and happiness of the people demand this. All the sub-tenants, who are the great body of the people in the Highlands, are tenants at will of the tacksman or farmer, and are therefore placed in a state of subjection that is not only unreasonable but unprofitable, both to themselves and their superiors. . . . 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 one-third of his whole annual labour. He can, therefore, have neither ability nor opportunity to attempt any improvement which many of these sub-tenants would undoubtedly do, were they but masters of their time and independent in their possessions." ["Economical History," vol. i. ch. i.]

The farms were divided into penny, halfpenny, and farthing lands. To each division theoretically was assigned a souming or quantum of stock, but in practice little difference was observed. The penny land, for which £12 of rent might be demanded, bore often an equal amount of stock with the halfpenny land rented at £6, viz., four or five cows with their followers, and from six to eight almost useless horses.

Large farms were not uncommon. Dr Walker mentions a farm in Knoidart which contained 15,000 acres, rented at twopence an acre. On the Gordon estate in Lochaber there were farms of 40,000 acres.

In the North two-thirds of the rent was still paid in grain—a custom which arose principally from the want of markets, and was not without "attendant hardships," such as the transport of the grain for many miles, and disputes about the quality of the grain. On every Highland farm, partly from the want of proper instruments of husbandry, an extravagant number of servants were kept. A plough took three men—one to hold it, another to drive four horses abreast, a third to follow with the spade, "to rectify the imperfections of the tilth." Where the restle was used, two more were required. Thus five men were employed to do work which, with a proper plough, might have been done by one. There were no day labourers, and the farm servants were often paid by giving them grass for three or four milk cows and some potato ground. Dr Walker urged that all the sub-tenants should be converted into day labourers, holding by lease from the landlord, and free of services, and able to devote their spare time to earning wages. If they were given small parcels of uncultivated land free of rent for a term of years, and afterwards bound to pay a stipulated and advancing rent, great additions would everywhere be made to the cultivated land, and every property be increased in value, not by the fluctuation of prices and markets, but by a solid and permanent improvement. He cited as successful examples of this class, the "mailers" who had been settled in East Ross, the crofters of Aberdeenshire, and those who under improving leases had reclaimed the Kincardine Moss. As things were, the soil was miserably managed. It was divided into "infield" or "croft land" and "outfield." The former was cut up into three sections, each of which was manured once in three years. It generally produced thin crops of oats and bear. The outfield was almost entirely under oats. Except in spots where the cattle were folded in summer it never received manure. It had been imme-morially in tillage, and the crops were of the poorest description, rarely giving a return of fivefold. It is described as "a scene of husbandry that is really deplorable, especially as it is carried on by a sensible, frugal, and laborious set of people." Dr Walker recommended a complete change, viz., that the whole of the infield should be thrown into grass and green crops, by which means it would be rendered fit at proper intervals for grain crops, and that the whole of the manure should be given to the outfield. To restore the fertility of the soil he advocated a seven years' shift, which need not be here detailed.

Nor was the condition of the cattle, from the sale of which the Highlanders paid their rents, less wretched. The animals wandered over the farms the whole year round. Turnips and hay were alike unknown. This state of matters is carefully described by Headrick in his account of the Island of Arran early in the present century, up to which time no improvement had been effected. "As every one has an unlimited right of putting as many sheep or cattle upon the mountains as he pleases, every one endeavours to put as many there as his capital or credit may enable him to procure; and there are frequent examples of persons who pay only a few shillings of rent, having more numerous flocks upon the mountains than others who pay above £40. The consequence is what might be expected. The grass of these mountains is torn up even by the roots. You never see a cow or a sheep lie down to ruminate. They are perpetually active, and seem to hold a very unequal contest with starvation. The poor animals barely exist during summer. In winter many die, and the season is commonly far advanced before the survivors are able to travel in search of food." That there were some parts of the Highlands where such mismanagement did not prevail, it would be absurd to deny. In a former part of this work the condition of agriculture in the sixteenth century in the central Highlands is described. There is reason to think that the prosperity noted at that time was long afterwards maintained. When we come to consider the changes which were made when sheep farming spread from the Borders, reference will be made to the work of Colonel Stewart of Garth, in proof that such lamentable mismanagement was not universal, and that examples and traditions of prosperity were not wanting to support those who asserted with Dr Walker that time and patience were only required to produce the best results without having recourse to tenants from the Lowlands.

[Colonel Stewart of Garth states that "grain on all average seasons was so plentiful, even in the most populous glens, in which the people have been retained in their original possessions, that the greater part was unsaleable, nor was there a redundant population except where the people had been cramped in lots of an acre or more."]


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