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The Northern Highlands in the Nineteenth Century
No. 5


The year 1829 is memorable for the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act. The necessity for the measure was forced on the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel by the condition of Ireland. The Whigs had long supported the proposal, but it fell to a Tory Government to carry it into effect. The only choice was between Emancipation and Civil War, and Peel, supported by Wellington, wisely resolved to give way. There is little doubt, however, that the Act was unpopular among the masses both in England and Scotland.

A reference in the Notes to Captain Godsman gives us an opportunity to quote the following passage from the late Dr Fraser-Mackintosh’s Letters of Two Centuries:

"In the year 1759 the old 89th Highlanders was raised, under the influence of the family of Gordon, one of the lieutenants being Alexander Godsman, a native of Banffshire. The greater part of the short time the regiment was embodied (for it was reduced in 1765) was spent in India. After being reduced, Lieutenant, commonly called Captain Godsman, was appointed factor or local representative for the Castle lands by the Duke of Gordon. At the date of the letter, Godsman was living at Dochfour, but he afterwards removed to Crofterton of Altnaskith, and farmed part of the Haugh lands, belonging to the Duke. In a picture of the old house of Drummond and surroundings, dated 1796, it is seen that there was not a single tree on the Haugh and Altnaskiah lands, east of the burn. Captain Godsman’s house stood on Crofterton—a narrow strip on the south side of the Old Edinburgh Road as it starts off from what is now called the Culduthel Road. After his indoor work was over, and his early dinner, Godsman invariably at the same hour—wet or dry—walked along the edge of the Haugh slopes as far as the descent to the burn, not only that he might see how things were getting on, but to enjoy his ‘constitutional’ and the magnificent views all around. He was somewhat bent, and walked with his hands behind his back. Hence the place got, and will now ever retain the name of ‘Godsman’s Walk.’ When Provost Phineas Mackintosh built the old house of Drummond, he and his visitors frequently took the Godsman’s Walk as a short out, the Altnaskiah lands being open and in part muir, until Provost Robertson feued Altnaskiah from Cantray, who had succeeded the Duke of Gordon in the Haugh lands."

Hugh Miller and Robert Carruthers seem to have become acquainted in 1828, the year in which the latter came to Inverness. They were not far apart in age, Carruthers having been born in 1799, Miller in 1802. In his Schools and Schoolmasters Miller relates how they came together; how be sent an Ode to the Ness to the Courier, which the Editor did not publish; and how he then resolved to appeal to the public on his own account in a small volume. He selected some fifteen or twenty pieces in verse, written chiefly during the preceding six years, and put them into the hands of the printer of the Courier. "It would have been a greatly wiser act," says Miller, "as I soon came to see had I put them into the fire instead; but my choice of a printing-office secured me at least one advantage—it brought me acquainted with one of the ablest and most accomplished of Scottish editors." The friendship thus formed remained unbroken until Miller's death. The Poems by a Journeyman Mason were published in June 1829, and in the end of July Miller’s Letters on the Herring Fishery began to appear. "My Letters," says Miller, "attracted attention and were republished in my behalf by the proprietors of the paper, ‘in consequence,’ said my friend the editor, in a note which he kindly attached to the pamphlet which they formed, "of the interest they had excited in the northern counties." Sir Walter Scott endeavoured to procure a copy after the limited impression was exhausted. The Letters now form part of the volume entitled "Tales and Sketches." Many years after they first appeared Dr Carruthers, speaking of the early correspondents of the paper said—"One of these, the greatest of all was that remarkable man who, as Burns said of one of his friends, ‘held the patent for his honours immediately from Almighty God’—I mean Hugh Miller. When Miller sent me his Letters on the Herring Fishery I saw that a great prose writer had arisen in the land and that the land would soon be filled with his fame." It will be interesting to many readers to find below contemporary references to Hugh Miller’s first volume.

From the "Inverness Courier."
1829.

January 14.—There is a gossipy article on the witch stones at Forres and the blasted heath near Inshoch, supposed to be the legendary meeting-place of Macbeth and the witches. The Cluny hills at Forres had been twice planted, and the plantation each time destroyed by fire, and wise folks shook their beads, remembering the curses denounced by the witches who were executed there. "Notwithstanding these startling occurrences, a gentleman lately attempted to break one of the Witch Stones to furnish materials for building, but the whole neighbourhood rose en masse and insisted on the stone being replaced in its ancient site, where it still remains, bound with iron bars or clamps. A still stronger instance, however, of obduracy and hardihood remains to be related. The lairds have actually resolved to divide, cultivate, and plant the identical blasted heath! This has raised a strong outcry among the peasants for more reasons than one. The moor has from time immemorial been used as a common, and was familiarly held to be ‘no man’s land.’ The lawyers are, therefore, they say, worse than the witches, for the latter always secured to them a range of ‘good outshot pasture.’ But hopes are still entertained that the weird sisters will protect their own wild domain and assert their ancient supremacy. The repeated conflagrations at Cluny and the late spontaneous fire in the Moss of Inshoch (which forms part of the heath) are held to be indications of supernatural wrath not to be mistaken. ‘The Moss wi’ the fire spurting up through it looked for all the world like the cauldron itsel’, and a strange serpent was lately seen flying in the air at the same place!’ Whether it be possible to find a counterpoise to this supernatural machinery remains to be proved; but men are changed as well as times. The lairds are resolved to cultivate the blasted heath and the Forresians their favourite hill of Cluny, trusting rather to closer observation and a better police than dreading the influences of fast-decaying superstition."

January 21.—The foundation of a handsome granite monument was laid on Old New-Year’s Day over the pave of Rob Donn, the Reay bard, in the Church-yard of Durness, Sutherland. The ceremony was carried out by Captain Mackay, Marybank, with Masonic honours.

Ibid."Died, at Holbeck, near Leeds, lately, aged 106, Betty Jackson. She had resided the whole of her long life in that village, where she had been parish apprentice. When she was in her 23rd year she accompanied the pack-horses which conveyed rations to General Ward’s [Wade’s] army, then at Tadcaster, on its route to Scotland to oppose the rebels in 1745. She had not suffered much from the infirmities of age; she possessed most of her faculties entire, and retained an uncommon degree of sprightliness; as an instance of which, about two years before her death, she sang a song with a good deal of animation.

January 28.—The trial of Burke, the Edinburgh murderer, had excited a panic regarding the doings of resurrectionists, that is persons who lifted dead bodies from their graves to sell them for dissection. A paragraph in this issue makes it clear that the practice was carried on, and naturally excited dread and indignation. At Gartenmore, Strathspey, a party were fired on by watchmen and one of them was wounded and carried off by his comrades. The charge was of small shot. "In almost every town and village of the North nightly watches are appointed over the church-yards. At Forres, where a short time ago a regular system of disinterment was carried on, a handsome little building has been erected in the church-yard for the purpose of protection, which is furnished with windows looking out in all directions, and is nightly tenanted with guards." A story is told of an innkeeper who detected boxes going through by coach, and being suspicious, had one of them examined. It was found to contain a dead body.

lbid.—A correspondence was going on at this time about a proposal to establish a steam ferry-boat between Nairn and Cromarty. A letter in this issue characterises it as an absurd project. Other correspondents took a different view.

lbid.—It is stated that arrangements are in progress for the emigration of several hundred persons from Lord Macdonald’s estates in Skye. Two respectable agents, Islesmen themselves, had chartered vessels for the purpose, partly as a trading speculation partly as an act of philanthropy. "The Island of Cape Breton, in the Gulf of St Lawrence, is the point to which the views of the emigrants are directed, and thither they are to be carried for the sum of two pounds sterling! the agent finding them in fresh water during the voyage, but every man providing his own stock of provisions, for which a certain extent of stowage is to be allowed him. Highlanders, it is well known, can exist on very little when necessity requires them to do so. If each grown person, therefore, lays in one boll of oatmeal and another of potatoes, there is no fear of him starving; and thus for somewhat less than four pounds he will reach the promised land. A great many Islesmen who have, of late years, gone out under exactly similar circumstances, are now comfortably settled in Cape Breton and Prince Edward’s Island; and this fact, communicated by those pioneers to their friends at home, has in the present instance directed the tide of emigration to these quarters."

February 4.—The death is recorded in Strathnairn of an old woman named Margaret Macdonald, who had served for some time as a soldier. In her youth she loved a young man, Hugh Fraser, who enlisted as a soldier for service in America; and in order to be near him, Margaret, without his knowledge, dressed herself in male attire (not the kilt), and also enlisted. She accompanied the regiment abroad, but her sex was ultimately detected by the regimental tailor, when he was measuring her for some clothing. The Colonel was so interested in the case that he gave permission to Hugh and Margaret to be married. "Nearly all the officers of the regiment were present at the ceremony, which took place in Washington, and a blither bridal had not been seen for many a day. As Hugh Fraser was as brave in the field as he had been true in love, he was in the following summer promoted to the rank of sergeant. On the expiration of his term of service, Hugh and Margaret returned to their native glen, and lived long to enjoy the reward of their well-tried affection. Margaret was the latest survivor, but her heart seemed ever to be fixed on the days of yore, and to anticipate the period when she would sleep by the side of the faithful husband for whom she had displayed such devotedness and heroism."

February 11.—The bill to provide for Catholic Emancipation was announced in the King’s Speech on the 5th inst.

February 18.—There is a long memorial from the Town Council on a bill for building, enlarging, and repairing gaols in Scotland. All the burghs were opposed to the burdens to be laid on them by the proposed measure. The Inverness memorial says :—"Every possible care seems to have been taken in the bill to relieve the counties from expense so long as a farthing can be wrung from the burghs; and every precaution employed to secure to these counties the whole power and credit of the measure, even down to the very trappings of its name!"

Ibid.—There was a good deal of discussion about a project to shorten the route to Dunkeld by a road from Inverness direct to Spey-Bridge through the Monadh-liadh. There is a long letter on the subject in this issue. The County of Inverness was also engaged in promoting a Turnpike Bill.

February 25.—"The rather novel but excellent practice of trial by jury before the Sheriff was exhibited this day in our Court-house. Three cases were tried of comparatively little importance, but the Court was crowded to excess from a little after ten o’clock in the morning till twelve at night."

March 4.—There was excitement over Catholic Emancipation. Strong hostility to the measure prevailed among the clergy of Ross-shire, and petitions were signed in every parish. "Ross-shire appears to be the only one of the seven Northern Counties that has had recourse to petitions. A motion of an anti-Catholic nature was made at a meeting of the Nairn Presbytery last week, but its consideration was adjourned till a subsequent meeting, which in the present crisis was equivalent to a negative."

Ibid.—At a meeting of Commissioners of Supply in Tain it was carried by a large majority that Dingwall was a more suitable site for the County Gaol than Tain. The vote (as given in next issue) was 36 to 24.

March 11.—On the previous Friday a number of boys and lads assembled on the Castlehill, which is described as a "fine green eminence which overlooks the River Ness." There is no hint of any remains of the old Castle existing. The object of the gathering was to burn "a sort of effigy" expressive of hatred of Popery. The proceedings afterwards developed into a disturbance, in which the windows of the Catholic Chapel and the Police Office were broken.

March 18.—This number contains the report of the Edinburgh meeting, at which Dr Chalmers delivered his famous speech in favour of Catholic Emancipation. The excitement now prevailing in the North of Scotland may be gathered from the following paragraph —"A number of respectable gentlemen of the town and county of Nairn meditated last week the drawing up of petitions in favour of the bill now before Parliament, but owing to the present excited state of the public mind, and from a consciousness that the bill will pass, the design has been abandoned. A similar feeling, we may add, is pretty general in all the Northern Counties among the educated classes. There can be no doubt, it is said, but the Premier will conduct the measure to a successful issue, and why should we, merely to declare our opinion publicly, run the risk of creating a disturbance, and endangering the security of our lives and property?’ In Inverness petitions were got up against the bill. One was by the Six Incorporated Trades, and was signed by about 460 names of "masters, journeymen, and apprentices." There were serious riots in the town of Thurso.

March 25.—This number contains an account of the duel between the Duke of Wellington and the Earl of Winchilsea.—There are numerous notices of petitions against the Emancipation Bill.

Ibid.—"The Session Lands of Diriebught, near Inverness, consisting of about 22 acres, were this day let on a 14 years’ lease to the Millburn Distillery Company for the sum of £136. The former rent, on an old lease held by Mr Welsh of Miliburn, was only £16 per annum."

April 1.—The Minister and Heritors of the parish of Kirkhill allowed a decree of reduction of the sentence of the Presbytery of Inverness, in the case of the schoolmaster, to pass by default. The effect was to continue the parish schoolmaster in office, though the Presbytery had endeavoured to remove him. The case at the time caused great local interest.

April 8.—It is stated that universal stagnation of trade prevails throughout the manufacturing districts. In Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, and other towns thousands of operatives were out of employment.

April 15.—In the previous Friday the bill for Catholic Emancipation passed the House of Lords, and in due course received the Royal assent.

April 22.—Mr Telford, engineer, in reporting the observations made by him during his Highland tour the previous summer, has the following note on Sutherland:—"In no part of the Highlands is the progress of improvement so evident as from Bonar Bridge along the coast of Sutherland to Helmsdale. Previous to the commencement of the Dunrobin road the Bonar and Helmsdale bridges, in 1808, when I travelled into that quarter, in surveying for the future roads, it was with difficulty and not without danger that I could scramble along a rugged, broken, sandy shore, or by narrow tracks on the edge of precipices, frequently interrupted by rude and inconvenient ferries; and having for lodgings only miserable huts scarcely protected from the inclemency of the weather; while the adjacent country had scarcely the marks of cultivation. Now a mail coach passes daily from Tain by Bonar-Bridge, the Fleet Mound, Dunrobin, Helmsdale, and the Ord of Caithness, to the extremity of the Island at Wick and Thurso, without being interrupted by a single ferry. Along the coast of Sutherland there are commodious inns; at Golspie, near Dunrobin Castle, there is one equal to any to be found in England. Helmsdale has become an important fishing station, where are two very decent inns, and a number of herring houses. At Brora there is an extensive new village, and the same at Bonar-Bridge. Along the whole of the road the lands are laid out in regular farms, with proper dwellings and offices, some of them very extensive, the whole presenting a picture which must afford pleasure to everyone who feels gratified in observing the prosperity of his country. For the whole of this, excepting the roads and bridges, the public is indebted to the Stafford family and their active and intelligent agents."

Ibid.—."We understand that Mr Robert Urquhart has been admitted as a procurator before the Sheriff and other Courts in Morayshire, and has commenced business in Forres."

April 29.—There is a letter in this issue signed "M.," evidently written by Hugh Miller. It relates to Cromarty traditions which he afterwards published. It was shortly before this time that Miller called at the "Courier" office, which was then in High Street, and made the acquaintance of Mr Carruthers. His Poems had not yet appeared.

May 13.—"We understand that the London Smacks belonging to this place are to commence sailing once a-week after the 1st of June. They are to sail from London every Thursday and from Cromarty every Tuesday." This shows that the smacks still continued to run weekly.

May 20.—There was at this time considerable friction between the Parliamentary Commissioners of Highland Roads and Bridges and the local Heritors. Meantime it is stated that the toll-ban in the county, seven in number, had been let for a total rental of £674, being an increase of more than £200 on the proceeds of the previous year. The writer of the paragraph adds:—"The amount of toll derived from the coaches on the Fort-George and Badenoch Roads, exclusive of the mails, was last year £368, which, being added to the produce of the toils, makes a total of no less than £1042. This will prove the best way of adjusting the differences between the Heritors and Commissioners."

May 27.—It is stated that Sir Peter Lawrie, one of the Aldermen of London, and Sir Richard Birnie, the head Police Magistrate in England, were both natives of Scotland, and began life in the employment of Mr Godsman, "son of that Captain Godsman whose name is as familiar as a household word in Inverness, from the circumstances of his having formed one of the most beautiful and romantic walks in the vicinity of the town." It seems doubtful whether Captain Godsman made the walk, but he certainly used it.

June 3.—In this issue is advertised Hugh Miller’s first work, "Poems Written in the Leisure Hours of a Journeyman Mason." The price is four shillings. The advertisement gives a synopsis of the contents. A note in the same issue announces the publication of the volume, and says that "the author resides at Cromarty, and is unquestionably possessed of genius of no common order."

Ibid.—The Royal Burghs of Scotland are congratulated on the withdrawal of the Gaol Bill, which had proved so obnoxious to them. Another bill, however, was promised, and. was required. The gaols could not be left as they were. "The Lord Advocate draws a melancholy picture of the want of accommodation and comfort in many Scottish gaols, and amongst the rest is that of our own Royal burgh, though in one respect we are outdone by our countrymen of Dumfries, who give their prisoners access to the open air by suspending them in an iron cage attached to the wall."

June 10.—In this number there is a review of Hugh Miller’s volume. The writer, who is evidently Mr Carruthers, quotes a remark by Mackenzie that "there is a certain poetic ground on which a man cannot tread without feelings that enlarge the heart, and that many who are not able to reach the Parnassian heights, may yet approach so near as to be bettered by the air of the climate." Miller’s volume is considered as affording an excellent illustration of this maxim. At the same time, the poems are commended as possessing "considerable power both of thought and expression, and so much harmony in the versification, and variety of imagery, as to afford another instance of the truth of an observation made by Rousseau that genius, like flame, will burst through all obstructions." Hugh Miller’s personality had evidently made a deeper impression on the editor than the poems themselves, though appreciation of their merits is not lacking. Mr Carruthers quotes a passage from the work, and concludes by expressing satisfaction that the author gave unremitting attention to his occupation as a mason, and confined his devotion to the muses to his leisure hours.

June 17.—In this and two subsequent issues there are anecdotes and reminiscences of the Rev. Mr Gordon, who was minister of Alvie, in Badenoch, at the time of the ‘45. He is said to have lived to the great age of 105 years, and his memory was long cherished in Badenoch. He died in 1787. The Scottish Fasti says his death occurred in the 101st year of his age and the 57th of his ministry. It was Mr Gordon who was summoned before the Duke of Cumberland at Inverness to answer for his conduct in relieving rebels after Culloden. The minister is reported to have said—"May it please your Royal Highness, I am exceedingly straitened between two contrary commands, both coming from very high authority. My Heavenly King’s son commands me to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to give meat and drink to my very enemies, and to relieve to the utmost of my power indiscriminately all objects of disease that come in my way. My earthly King’s son commands me to drive the houseless wanderer from my door, to shut my bowels of compassion against the cries of the needy, and to withhold from my fellow-mortals in distress the relief which it is in my power to afford. Pray which of these commands am I to obey?" It is one instance to the credit of the Duke that he commended Mr Gordon, and told him to obey the commands of his Heavenly King’s Son.

June 24.—The Sheep and Wool Fair was held the previous week. Prices—Cheviot wedders, 18s to 24s; ewes, 12s 6d to 14s; lambs, 7s to 8s 6d; blackfaced wedders, 14s to 18s; ewes, 9s to 10s 6d; lambs, 6s to 7s. Little business was done in wool, but Cheviot wool brought last year’s prices, namely, 8s 6d and 9s per stone. The project of postponing the market for a few weeks later, though not formally brought forward, was discussed.

July 1 —Among gifts to the Museum of the Northern Institution is the following: —"A lithographic sketch, from George Mackenzie, Esq., writer, Dingwall, of the arms of Mr Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty, taken from a carved slab formerly in the family mansion-house of Cromarty, and now in the Kinbeachie Cottage, dated 1651. The sketch of this curious piece of sculpture was executed some years ago by Thomas Mackenzie, Esq of Kinbeachie the representative of the ancient family."

Ibid.—The Commissioners entrusted with the administration of £50,000 to build churches and manses in the Highlands report that they have built forty-two churches and forty-one manses, all paid in full; and that they have a small surplus over which they intend to apply in building a church and manse at Carnoch, in Strathconon. This they represent as a specially remote and needy district. With the buildings at Carnoch, the report says, the work of the Commissioners "may be deemed final and complete."

July 15.—The opening up of the Ness Islands is recorded. The appeal made to the public in the previous year had been promptly responded to, several hundred pounds having been subscribed. "The first and larger island has been laid out with considerable taste, and cultivated with great care; it is adorned with a profusion of flowering plants and evergreens, and with spacious, neatly-formed walks winding on each side." A handsome suspension bridge had been thrown across the eastern branch of the river, to make the Islands accessible. "It is a light and graceful structure, and wants only a companion on the other side to render it complete. Without another bridge to connect the walks on the opposite side of the river, the improvement will continue very defective and unfinished; and as the funds are already exhausted, we think the Committee ought to make a second appeal to the public, to endeavour to secure this desideratum."

Ibid.—"Instructions have been received from the General Post-Office that from the date of Sunday next, the South mail will in future, instead of arriving at three a.m. as at present, reach Inverness by ten o’clock on the previous evening. This acceleration has been accomplished by abridging the stoppages and bringing the mail direct by Huntly, instead of the coast road by Banff. The mail at the same time will be despatched for the South at twelve o’clock at night instead of ten."

Ibid.—A summary is given of a new Sheriff Court Small Debt Act. It rendered decrees and arrestments operative in any county, and not merely in the county of the debtor’s residence, as heretofore.

July 22.—The Committee of the General Assembly issued their report on education in the Highlands. Since May 1828 the Committee had established 19 additional schools, making the number on the establishment 85. The progress was gratifying, but the report says—"On a moderate computation, 170 additional schools are still required in the Highlands and Islands, and upwards of 8000 of the young betwixt eight and fifteen years of age are still unable to read and write."

lbid.—The French Duc de Chartres visited Inverness the previous week. He made a pencil sketch of the house in Inverness in which Prince Charles Edward resided previous to the battle of Culloden, and which was afterwards occupied by the Duke of Cumberland. The Duke visited Culloden battlefield, being shown over it by "honest John Macdonald," who was accustomed to act as guide. The paragraph says that the Duc de Chartres had the good taste and feeling to condemn a barbarous practice which existed of opening the graves of the Highlanders for the purpose of carrying off bones as relics.

July 29.—Hugh Miller’s Letters on the Herring Fishery begin on this date, and are continued through several issues.

August 5 and 12.—These two issues contain accounts of the great floods of the 3rd and 4th August. The story is told in full by Sir Thomas Dick Lauder in his book on the Moray Floods. The only flood with which this could be compared at the time was one which occurred in September 1766. The flood of 1829, however, was said to be much greater than its precursor.

August 12.—The young Chief of Glengarry attained his majority on the 29th inst. The occasion was celebrated by a dinner in the Macdonnell Arms, Glengarry. Captain Macdonell of Achad-leathann was in the chair.

Ibid.—"Died, on 25th July, in the house of her son, Captain J. Macdonell of Killiechonate, Catharine, widow of the late John Dhu of Aberarder, and the last surviving of the children of the late Colonel Alexander Macdonell of Keppoch, who fell at the head of his own regiment in the battle of Culloden. Mrs Macdonell was a perfect model of a lady of the old school, and beloved by all for her benevolence of heart, as well as engaging manners. At the advanced age of ninety she retained the use of all her faculties, and was cheerful and active to the last. Her funeral, on Monday, notwithstanding the unfavourableness of the weather, was attended by upwards of 600 persons."

September 2.—A second storm swept over the country on the 26th and 27th ult. It is described as "even more violent than that of the 3rd and 4th ult.," but it was not so widespread and disastrous. Still it seems to have been bad enough. The Valley of the Ness suffered. "Thursday," says the report, "was without exception the most awful day we ever witnessed. The rain fell in torrents, and the wind was a perfect hurricane." A vessel in the harbour at Nairn was wrecked and most of the pier disappeared.

September 16.—"The highly useful project of supplying our good town with water is now nearly finished, and bids fair to be completely successful. Last night the machinery was put to the test in presence of a number of spectators. The water-wheel that drives the force pump, by means of which the water is sent to the reservoir, is of simple but powerful construction, made under the direction of that ingenious mechanic, Mr Miller manager of the Company’s works. It is made to rise and fall according to the state of the river, and propels the water through pipes a distance of 1300 yards, at an elevation of about 100 feet. Last night water was for the first time forced up to the reservoir, and from thence down Castle Street and Bridge Street, thus proving the practicability and success of the works."

September 30.—The Northern Meeting and Inverness Races were held the previous week. "The attendance was more respectable than numerous."

Ibid.—Dr Robertson of Aultnaskiah was re-elected Provost of Inverness. The Common Good of the burgh realised £963 14s. This included £520 for anchorage and shore dues, being a decrease of £45 on the previous year. The Petty Customs and Toll of the Old Bridge fetched £320.

October 7.—The County of Inverness concurred in the proposal of the Convener, Sheriff Fraser-Tytler, that it was expedient and of importance to have the members of Parliament for the Northern Counties added to the Board of Parliamentary Commissioners for Highland Roads and Bridges.—The same meeting considered a report of a Committee on the state of the Inverness Gaol. The report recommended that a new gaol should be built, the expense to be defrayed by an assessment of threepence on every pound Scots of valued rent to be paid by the proprietors, and three halfpence on every pound of rent payable by tenants. Supposing the gaol to cost £10,000, the whole of that sun with interest would in this way be paid in six years. The meeting continued the Committee, with instructions to meet with the Inverness Magistrates with a view to transmit a joint report to the Secretary of State. This joint report was adopted in the end of October. It recommended that gaols should be erected and maintained at the expense of each class of the community according to ability, assessment to be levied on real rent in town and county.

Ibid—" A circumstance, happily now of rare occurrence, took place on the 25th ult. A large smuggling lugger was captured in Loch-Snizort, Isle of Skye, with eleven men and a valuable cargo of gin, tea, tobacco, and snuff on board. The seizure was not made till alter a long chase, and several guns were fired."

October 14.—There is quoted from "The Caledonian Mercury" a cordial notice of "Poems by a Journeyman Mason" The critic says that the pieces contained in the humble volume before us bear the stamp and impress of no ordinary genius."

Ibid.—The death is announced of Bailie John Simpson, in his 68th year. He had been more than forty years a merchant in Inverness, and about half that time a magistrate. He was noted for his freedom "from anything like guile or selfishness," and for kindliness and warmth of heart.

Ibid.—Mr William Murray of Rosemount was elected Provost of Tain. Sir Charles A. Ross of Balnagown was made a burgess of the town.

October 21.—Three prisoners, Irishmen, made their escape from the gaol of Tain by breaking through the walls. A Committee of Commissioners of Supply, and Justices reported in favour of erecting a new jail at Dingwall.

Ibid.—There is a contribution, two columns long, entitled "Authentic Narrative of the Passage of John de Groat from Holland, of his arrival at Duncansbay Head, in Caithness, and his first reception from the natives, &c." It is written by a correspondent at John O’Groat’s, who was in the habit of sending clever poetical pieces, and whom the editor requested to try his hand at prose.

November 14.—At a meeting of the Inverness Farmer Society there was a discussion on the annual cost of a pair of farm horses, including the expense of a ploughman and wear and tear of harness. One practical farmer, whose calculation is given, figured out the cost at £66 19s 3d. The servants’ wages are put at £8, and meal £6, making a total of £14.

Ibid.—" Died, at Aix-la-Chapelle, Lieut.-Colonel Colquhoun Grant son of the late Duncan Grant of Lingieston, of disease contracted at Arracaus. This distinguished officer, during the Peninsular war, and subsequently in Belgium, was at the head of the Intelligence Department of the army."

November 25.—There is a report of a meeting of the Nairnshire Missionary Society—Mr James A. Grant, Viewfield, in the chair. The contributions for the year amounted to more than £53.

December 30.—The Editor closes the year 1829 with cordial thanks for increased support. In less than two years there had been an addition of more than 250 subscribers. He specially thanks his correspondents - "some of them destined, if we mistake not, to reflect honour on the literature of their country." Several contributions from Hugh Miller, besides his Letters on the Herring Fishery, can be traced through the last eight months of the year. They appear in revised form in his published works.


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