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The Northern Highlands in the Nineteenth Century
Introduction


THE period from 1825 to 1841 embraced in the present volume was full of changes in our national history. These changes are reflected in the annals of the Highlands, which had also developments and vicissitudes peculiar to themselves. An interval of quiet which existed at the beginning of the period was succeeded by prolonged controversy in the political world. The Act of Catholic Emancipation in 1829 introduced novel elements into the British Legislature, and the Reform Act of 1832 created a new franchise in counties and burghs, bringing with it for ten years the rule of Whig Governments and the animated discussions which their measures called forth. Municipal government was likewise transformed. Railways began with the line from Manchester to Liverpool in 1830. Steamships had previously been utilised for coasting purposes and for short voyages, but the first steamers to cross the Atlantic and inaugurate an ocean service made their voyages in 1838. In the same year the scheme of penny postage proposed by Rowland Hill forced itself on public attention, and in 1840 the new system came into operation. The reduction of taxes on newspapers brought down the price of Scottish journals from sevenpence to fourpence-halfpenny, a step which was then considered a great advance, qualified by misgivings as to the possible deterioration of the press! Education was making progress in the remote and neglected districts of Scotland through the efforts of the Church. The first public grant for English education, the modest sum of £20,000, was given by Parliament in 1833. Sheep farming expanded in the Highlands, and there was a steady progress in agriculture. The first show of the Highland Society was held at Inverness in 1831, the second in 1839.

The record, however, is not altogether one of progress. The condition of the western islands and of congested districts in the northern mainland was going from bad to worse. Population had increased beyond the means of subsistence. Accounts which appear in our newspaper reports, confirmed by the inquiry of a Parliamentary Committee, form painful reading. Emigration took place on a large scale, mainly in the first instance to British North America, but latterly also to Australia. At the same time, knowledge of the Highlands was extending through increased facilities of travel provided by steamers and coaches. In the thirties sport began to be a recognised element of income. In the towns and the more accessible regions there was evidence of advancement. Better houses were built, roads were completed, the burghs were lighted with gas, the local administration of affairs was improved by the establishment of forces of constabulary and the better equipment of Courts. The old prisons, which had long been a scandal, were giving place to a superior class of buildings. New lighthouses were springing up on the coasts. A severe visitation of cholera in 1832 caused great distress and anxiety, but it had some effect in directing attention to the necessity of sanitation. Customs and practices of old standing tended to disappear. The period was, in brief, the beginning of the modern era. A revolution was taking place, carrying with it, like most revolutions, a mixture of blessing, suffering, and danger. Towards the close, the Church of Scotland had embarked on the great controversy which shortly afterwards ended in the Disruption.

When the period began Lord Liverpool was still at the head of affairs, assisted by a Cabinet which was divided on the subject of Catholic claims and on commercial questions. The representation of Scottish burghs was entirely in the hands of Town Councils, which voted through their Provosts, and gave little trouble to the Government. Within the burghs there was at the moment more desire for municipal than political reform. The remark that "even in some instances burghs are almost advertising for members to represent them," must have been of very partial application, but it indicates the spirit which prevailed in some quarters in prospect of the election of 1826. In the counties during that election there was more excitement, and Charles Grant, afterwards Lord Glenelg, had to face a contest in the county of Inverness, the first that had taken place since the election of his father in a three-cornered fight in 1802. His opponent, Lord Macdonald, however, was decisively beaten. Grant was favourable to Catholic claims, but otherwise cautious and accommodating.

The death of the Premier, Lord Liverpool, in 1827 let loose many rivalries and jealousies. Canning, who succeeded him in the office of Prime Minister, was unable to retain his most important colleagues, and passed away in a few months, leaving a distracted situation. Lord Goderich’s attempt to carry on an administration came to a premature end, and the Duke of Wellington was installed in office, with Sir Robert Peel as leader of the House of Commons. The Whigs, including Charles Grant, were represented in the Ministry, but they soon had differences with their colleagues, and resigned. The victory of the Catholic Association, the election of O’Connell for Clare, and the concession of Catholic Emancipation, introduced the stormy period. Great distress existed both in the rural and manufacturing population, and discontent brought about the desire for political reform. George IV. died in June 1830, and the accession of William IV. came just at the time when the public temper was excited. An extraordinary stimulus was given to the reform movement by the revolution in France and the revolt which severed the temporary union of Belgium and Holland. Before the close of the year Wellington’s Government was defeated, and Earl Grey entered on office, with the understanding that he was to take up the subject of Reform. The agitation on the subject did not slacken until the bill was passed in the summer of 1832. Then began the reign of the ten-pound householders in burghs and the fifty-pounders in counties. As we have said, the Whigs, first under Earl Grey and afterwards under Lord Melbourne, had possession of the Government until 1841, although for a short time, at the summons of the Sovereign, Sir Robert Peel intervened, and attempted, without success, to secure a Conservative majority. In the years from 1830 to 1841, there were no fewer than six general elections. In the Inverness Burghs this number was supplemented by two bye-elections, and in the county by three. There was not a contest on every occasion, but the weapons were kept sharpened, and a contest was only avoided when the defeated forces were exhausted and hopeless. During the last five years the Whig Government, under Lord Melbourne, was weak and discredited, though it did useful work. When it fell in 1841, Sir Robert Peel entered on office with a majority of sixty-eight, and with the prospect of a long tenure of power. The rise of new conditions, through the agitation for the abolition of the Corn Laws and the famine in Ireland, belongs to a later period.

The change in political conditions imparted fresh life to the newspapers. For the eleven years from 1830 to 1841 political contests and speeches were at high pressure. In 1830 Charles Grant had to encounter another contest in the county of Inverness. His retirement from the Duke of Wellington’s Government and his support of Catholic claims had given offence. At a preliminary trial of strength, however, on the election of a chairman at the meeting of freeholders, Grant had a majority of nine votes (34 to 25), and his opponent, Macleod of Macleod, withdrew. At the election of 1831, when the country rang with the shout of "The bill, the whole bill, and nothing but the bill," Grant was returned without opposition, receiving in the burgh a great ovation. In 1832, in the new constituency, he had a majority against Macleod of 44. But before another election a reaction had taken place. In 1835 Grant fought his last battle for the county, and, with a majority of seven, was once more returned. But the reconstituted Melbourne Government, in which he became Colonial Secretary, did not care to risk a bye-election, and he was raised to the Upper House as Lord Glenelg. In the contest which followed, Chisholm of Chisholm carried the seat for the Conservatives, and though he was soon removed by death, the county did not return to its former allegiance. On the contrary, it retained unbroken its political complexion as Conservative for the long term of fifty years. Two members held the seat for forty-five years—Mr Henry Baillie from 1840 to 1868, and the late Cameron of Lochiel from 1868 to 1885.

In the burghs during the period there were numerous contests. Sir Robert Grant, younger brother of Charles, held the representation from 1826 to 1830, but for some reason, which was supposed to be personal, the municipal authorities declined to re-elect him, choosing in his place Colonel Baillie of Leys, an Anglo-Indian, who had made himself popular in Inverness as a neighbour. In 1831— when the old system still prevailed—Major Cumming Bruce secured the support of Nairn and Forres, and was elected. In 1832, in the new constituency, there was a three-cornered fight, between Colonel Baillie, Mr Stewart of Belladrum (who stood as a Liberal), and Major Cumming Bruce; and Colonel Baillie won the seat. In a few months, however, he died, and the burghs had to go through another contest. On this occasion the struggle was between Major Cumming Bruce and Mr Stewart, and the former was successful. He represented the constituency for other four years. An attempt was made to oust him in 1835, when a keen contest occurred between himself and Mr Edward Ellice, but Cumming Bruce triumphed with the small majority of four votes. Personally, "The Major" was a popular candidate, combative, frank, and determined; and Ellice, clever and agreeable as he was, had the disadvantage of being a stranger. Cumming Bruce had strong support in Forres, where he was well known, and the family influence was powerful. In Inverness itself he divided the vote so evenly that he was only in a minority of one. But the expense of contesting the burghs was too much for him. The contest of 1835, it is said, cost himself and Mr Ellice £1500 a-piece—a sum so large that the tradition of profuse pecuniary gifts distributed during the canvass may have had a substantial foundation. At the general election of 1837, Major Cumming Bruce retired, but did all he could to secure the return, in the Conservative interest, of the heir of Scatwell, afterwards Sir James R. Mackenzie. The effort failed. The burghs broke with the Conservatives. The Whig candidate, Mr Macleod of Cadboll, carried the seat by a majority of 19. Unfortunately, his health failed, and in 1840 he resigned, causing a bye-election. On this occasion the contest lay between a London merchant, Mr James Morrison, and a native of Inverness, Mr John Fraser, Cromarty House. Mr Morrison was successful, and at the general election next year was re-elected without opposition.

In the County of Ross, Mr Stewart Mackenzie of Seaforth, who was a reformer, secured the representation in 1830, and continued to hold it until 1837, when he was appointed Governor of Ceylon. On his retirement there was an exciting contest, which resulted in the return of the Conservative candidate, Mr Mackenzie of Applecross. In the Northern Burghs and the County of Sutherland the Whig interest prevailed.

In going through the newspapers of the Reform period, the reader finds that political dinners were a prominent characteristic. Before the passing of the Franchise Act it was the custom for members on their election to entertain their supporters, and sometimes the successful and unsuccessful candidates gave dinner parties the same evening, and exchanged deputations. The dinner given by Colonel Baillie of Leys on his return in 1830 was a sumptuous affair, with turtles from London and wines of the finest. When the franchise had been extended the electors themselves took the initiative. After nearly every contest—and sometimes between times—there was a feast. On occasion each party in each burgh had its banquet to celebrate a triumph, to find solace for defeat, or to prepare for future efforts. The Reform struggle called forth public meetings and processions as well as dinners. The oratory is copiously reported. Generally the speaking, most of it no doubt carefully prepared, was eloquent and appropriate. The passion of the hour lingers in the musty columns. The student of politics can still find interest in arguments, denunciations, and witticisms, albeit the flavour is antiquarian. Popular gatherings of the kind were new in the North, and on that account the more appreciated. What is described as "the first open meeting ever held in Inverness for a political purpose" was carried out under the auspices of the Reform Committee in May 1832. It was preceded by a procession of trades and public bodies, with banners flying. One of the greatest dinners, a Conservative demonstration, was held in November 1836 at Invergordon, where a building which was used as a flax factory was arranged to accommodate 247 persons. To furnish supplies a shipload of provisions was brought from Inverness. In the reaction which followed Reform political enthusiasm was stimulated by an ecclesiastical upheaval. The Whigs were accused of truckling to O’Connell. The Ministerial proposals regarding Irish Church funds and tithes inflamed opposition. In 1835-6 a northern Protestant association came into existence, and the feeling of which it was the expression helped to detach the counties from the Whig interest. Since then Ireland has often upset political parties, and the end is not yet in sight.

A picturesque incident in our local annals was the visit of Lord Brougham while Lord Chancellor. In the autumn of 1834 he made a trip northward, coming by way of Badenoch, travelling thence to Dunrobin, and going back by the east coast. At that time his reputation in the provinces stood high, although his flighty and violent character had alienated alike his colleagues and the King. Brougham’s northern tour resembled a Royal progress. He was hailed by admiring crowds, and addresses and burgess tickets poured in from corporations. The visit precipitated his own downfall and the dismissal of the Ministry. His speech at Inverness reads as if he had not been quite master of himself. In his political allusions he fanned the differences in the party, and his references to the King were a curious mixture of fawning and familiarity. He spoke of his Majesty’s gracious condescension and favour to himself, and announced that by that night’s post he would inform him of the fervent loyalty of the Highland Capital. He had hardly returned home when the King dismissed the Ministry, and called in the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel. It was a false move on the sovereign’s part. The nation once more returned a majority on behalf of a Whig Government. But at least the Sovereign and the Ministers got rid of Brougham, who was never called again to office. The end to a great political career—for in spite of all deductions his career had great elements—was thus singularly dramatic. There are touches in our columns which set forth the personality of the statesman who then filled such a large space in the public eye. Brougham had am immense capacity for work. It is mentioned that "he wrote seventeen long letters with his own hand after his memorable speech at Inverness, all which were duly forwarded by that night’s post"—presumably the promised letter to the King among the number. In the town he ordered Highland tartans, and there is a tradition that the order being vague in its terms, he was supplied with a quantity which lasted in perpetuity. Four years afterwards there is a note that in London he had laid aside, "at least for a time," the tartan trousers and waistcoat which he had worn since his northern tour. Whether resumed or not, they had proved so distinctive that they continued in favour with caricaturists.

Another incident in connection with the Chancellor’s tour was not recorded at the time, but appeared afterwards in the memoirs of Sir David Brewster, who was living in Badenoch in the thirties. Brougham was the guest of the Duchess of Bedford at the Doune of Rothiemurchus, and Brewster was one of the party. Alter the Chancellor had retired to rest, on the plea of indisposition, the question arose whether he carried the Great Seal with him. "The Duchess declared her intention of ascertaining the fact, and ordered a cake of soft dough to be made. A procession of lords, ladies, and gentlemen was then formed, Sir David carrying a pair of silver candlesticks, and the Duchess bearing a silver salver, on which was placed the dough. The invalid lord was roused from his first sleep by this strange procession, and a peremptory demand that he should get up and exhibit the Great Seal; he whispered ruefully to Sir David that the first half of this request he could not possibly comply with, but asked him to bring a certain strange-looking box; when this was done he gravely sat up—impressed the seal upon the cake of dough—the procession retired in order, and the Lord Chancellor returned to his pillow." This specimen of "high jinks" was a prelude to the tragi-comedy of the subsequent part of his tour.

The reform of municipalities in Scotland was carried out in 1833 by two bills introduced by Lord Advocate Jeffrey, dealing with Royal and Parliamentary burghs. His measures gave the same municipal franchise for Town Councils as for Parliament, and the old system of self-election came to an end. Before the close of the year the new Town Councils were chosen. The first Provost of Inverness under the changed system was Mr John Mackenzie, agent for the Bank of Scotland, who had taken a prominent part in support of political reform. So highly was he esteemed that prior to the formation of the new Council he was presented with a handsome piece of plate "in acknowledgment of his strenuous and valuable services in support of popular rights during Earl Grey’s administration, a period of the highest importance to the political independence and welfare of the nation." Mr Mackenzie was unable, on account of the state of his health, to retain office for more than a year, but his services during that short period were much appreciated. He was succeeded by Mr John Fraser, father of the late Rev. Dr Donald Fraser, who held office for two years. He might have retained the position longer if he and his friends had known that, being Provost, and so chosen for three years, he was not obliged to seek re-election in 1836. In the contest which ensued he was defeated in one ward, and though elected in another, he preferred to retire. Political feeling at the moment played an active part in municipal affairs, and for a time, apart from the Provostship, the Council was equally divided between Whigs and Tories. In such a condition of affairs the vote of the Provost was of importance.. The Whig Councillors at one juncture— the election of a member between terms - conimitted the mistake of absenting themselves so as to deprive the meeting of a quorum. The remaining members, however, attended the meeting, and elected their man, and the legality of their action was upheld in the Court of Session. The tension of municipal elections kept the burgh almost as lively as Parliamentary contests. In the seven years from 1833 to 1840 four Provosts came and went—Messrs Mackenzie, Fraser, Ferguson, and Cumming—the last retiring when he was defeated in the nomination of bailies. Provost Ferguson was the only one of the four who occupied his full term. On the retirement of Provost Cumming, Dr J. I. Nicol was elected to the vacancy in the Council and called to the chair. He was re-elected the following year. All this time, however, the conduct of local affairs was carried on with spirit The question whether there should be a legal assessment for the poor served to abate political dissension. The proposal arose in the Kirk-Session, but the Town Council by a large majority opposed it. In the neighbouring burghs also political feeling mingled with local questions, and stimulated the activity of the electorate. In the circumstances of the day this state of matters was inevitable, and worked no particular harm.

Before passing from municipal changes, it may be noted that one of the first acts of the Inverness Town Council was to abolish the office of burgh hangman, a functionary who had enjoyed considerable remuneration and numerous perquisites. We are told that in the nineteen years during which the last occupant held the appointment he had carried out "just three executions," and that calculating the proportion of annual payments, the cost might be reckoned at from £300 to £400 a piece. The third of these gruesome services was performed in the case of Macleod, the Assynt murderer, who paid the penalty of his crime in October 1831. In October 1835, however, another man, Adam, was executed for the Mulbuy murder. There is no mention in our files of the man who performed this duty. Happily Adam was the last person executed in Inverness.

The Church of Scotland held undisputed supremacy in the Highlands during the period of which we are writing. Its activity in discharge of its duties deserves ample acknowledgment. There was very little dissent. The large size, however, of many of the parishes crippled the usefulness of the clergy, and it was considered a great advance when a Parliamentary grant, given in 1823, secured the addition of forty ministers to the equipment of the National Church. A report on education, prepared in 1825 by the Rev. Donald Fraser, of Kirkhill, states that even with these new appointments there were only 264 clergy in the Establishment (including 40 missionaries) for a population of 416,000 persons, embraced in the counties of Argyll, Inverness, Nairn, Ross and Cromarty, Sutherland, Caithness, Orkney, and Shetland, with the Gaelic districts of Moray, and of Dunkeld, in Perthshire. In the same wide region there were at that time only thirty-five ministers of "every denomination of dissenters," and six or eight Roman Catholic priests. Episcopalian Churches are set down as six in number, and the congregations of "Seceders, Independents, and other Protestant dissenters" at twenty-nine. The following detailed figures may be of interest:- Episcopalians Synod of Moray, 1 (obviously in Inverness); Synod of Glenelg, 2; Synod of Ross, 2; Synod of Argyll, 1—total, 6. Seceders, &c.—Synod of Moray, 5; Ross, 3; Sutherland and Caithness, 3; Argyll, 7; Orkney and Shetland (English-speaking), 11—total, 29. Within the Established Church the two parties known as Moderate and Evangelical had conflicts between themselves, but they co-operated for the improvement of the people. Though a large part of the population was unable to read, they all entertained great respect for religious ordinances, and attended service when they had opportunity. Communion gatherings were large and impressive. Disputed settlements occasionally excited keen feelings, as may be seen from the newspaper columns. In some places—they do not appear to have been numerous—religious services were carried on by local religious leaders, but the people in those cases rarely disapproved of the National Church as an institution. Towards the end of our period the conflict arising from the Veto Act engrossed a large amount of public attention, but within the limits covered by our volume the organisation of the Church remained unbroken.

The work of education in the Highlands was carried on with earnestness. The Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, formed under the auspices of the Church in 1704, did an excellent work in supplementing the parish schools, which in number were totally inadequate. A limited edition of a version of the Bible in Irish Gaelic was issued about the close of the seventeenth century, but the New Testament in Scottish Gaelic was first printed for the Society in 1769. It was not until 1802 that the whole Bible was published in that language. The Gaelic School Society was founded in Edinburgh in 1811, and in 1818 a Society was formed in Inverness for the Education of the Poor in the Highlands, for which the report above-mentioned was prepared by the Rev. Donald Fraser, of Kirkhill. But further efforts were felt to be necessary. Dr Norman Macleod — "Caraid nan Gaidheal," the Friend of the Highlanders — urged the subject on the Assembly in 1824, and a deputation consisting of himself, Principal Baird, and Mr John Gordon, the secretary, afterwards traversed the Highlands and Islands. A revenue cruiser was placed at their disposal in the western seas. In 1828 they reported that they had travelled upwards of 1600 miles, having spent two months on their journey. The visit established the melancholy fact that 90,000 persons, between the ages of six and twenty years, could read neither English nor Gaelic. During the first two years seventy schools were opened, and statistics show that ultimately this Assembly scheme resulted in the establishment of 233 common schools, attended by 22,000 pupils, with 110 sewing schools besides. In the eighteenth century schools the reading and even the speaking of Gaelic was forbidden, but this led to a mechanical kind of teaching which did little good to the learner. The Gaelic School Society provided Gaelic spelling books, though Mr William Mackay says that in spite of this "the bad old system long survived in some districts." The late Rev. Dr Kenneth Macdonald, born in Glen-Urquhart in 1832, corroborates this statement. "Our schoolbooks," he says, "were in English, and not a sentence could we understand." Dr Macleod from the first set his face against this system. In a speech in London in 1844, he drew special attention to the fact that in the General Assembly’s schools the Highlanders received instruction through the medium of their own beloved language. "Some present," he said, "may object to this system, as in their opinion unfavourable to the cultivation of English, but this is not the case. I am quite satisfied that had we no higher object in view than the introduction of English, we could not more effectually do it than through the medium of Gaelic. This system has done more to introduce English in the course of the last twenty years than the old system—that of teaching through an unknown tongue—could do in a century." Dr Macleod’s opinion is thus stated with no little emphasis. Certainly since his day Gaelic has gone back, and the knowledge of English has been vastly extended.

It must not be forgotten that while ignorance prevailed in the body of the people, an educated clergy lived in the Highland parishes, and disseminated an influence of culture as well as of religion. Dr Johnson found this to be the case during his famous Tour in 1773. The late Mr Sage, of Resolis, born in 1789, relates the manner of his education in Lath in his father’s manse at Kildonan. "With my father," he says, "I read Cordery’s Colloquies, Cornelius Nepos, Casar, Sallust, Ovid, Virgil, Liv, and Horace, and along with these I was so carefully instructed in the rules of Watt’s Latin grammar that I shall not forget them as long as I live. . . . As I advanced in the knowledge of Latin, my father prescribed my Sabbath tasks in that language. I began with Castalio’s Dialogues, and, when farther advanced, read Buchanan’s Psalms." Mr Leask, in his Life of the late Dr Thomas Maclauchlan, who was born in 1816, says that Maclauchlan was educated in a similar way in his father’s manse at Moy. There also he became familiar with the Gaelic hymns of Dugald Buchanan, which "had an immense influence on the character of the Highlands." Nor was this all. The popular tales which were circulated among the people captivated young Maclauchlan, and in later days he was of service to Campbell of Islay in forming his collection. "Such," says Mr Leask, "was the educative force in the North at the time—Latin and folk-lore, the marchen of the country. Whether a newer race, reared in Board schools and on scientific extracts. crammed with the tributaries of the Danube and the length of the Brahmaputra and the Irrawady, is more adequately prepared than was the old, trained on the Latin grammar and the national history, is a question which Aberdeen graduates have not yet sufficiently considered." Let us hope, however, that modern education is not so defective as the writer apprehends.

The clergy in the North at the time comprised names that were locally influential, and are not yet forgotten. The Rev. Dr Rose, who was associated chiefly with the Inverness High Church, was an impressive preacher, and had a position in the Northern Counties, says a biographical sketch, "which subsequent generations can hardly realise, as he left nothing behind to show the qualities and resources of his character." His colleague, the Rev. Alexander Clark, was another minister of great mental activity and a powerful preacher. The West Church, built for him, was opened in 1840. The North Church was erected in 1837, to secure the services of the Rev. Archibald Cook, afterwards of Daviot, whose piety was peculiarly acceptable to the Gaelic people. In the Presbytery of Inverness, the Rev. Donald Fraser, of Kirkhill, was the acknowledged leader of the Evangelical party in the district. He died suddenly from the effects of an accident in 1836. The most inspiring pulpit orator, however, was Dr Macdonald, of Ferintosh, known as the Apostle of the North from his work as an evangelist in the Highlands. Along with him may be mentioned the Rev. John Kennedy, of Killearnan (father of the late Dr Kennedy, of Dingwall), Mr Carment, of Rosskeen; and Hugh Miller’s friend, Mr Stewart, of Cromarty.

In our first volume we gave statistics relating to the population in the beginning of the century in the five (nominally six) Northern Counties of Inverness, Nairn, Ross, and Cromarty, Sutherland and Caithness. In the year 1801 the total population of these counties was 183,038, and in 1821 it had risen to 221,012. In the beginning of the twentieth century the population in the same region reached 231,155, showing an increase of 48,117 as compared with the first date, and of 10,143 as compared with the second. But in the period which we have now reached the comparison gives quite different results. The population in the five counties, reckoning them as a whole, went on increasing until the middle of the nineteenth century, and after that fell off steadily until in 1901 the total was actually 7863 lower than in 1831, 15,671 lower than in 1841, and 22,510 lower than in 1851. During the half-century from 1851 onwards, the population of Scotland rose from 2,888,742 to 4,472,103, but the large cities and industrial centres account for the increase. While rural districts have suffered everywhere, the decrease in the Northern area is specially marked. As it happens, the population of the county of Inverness reached its highest in the year 1841, but the gross total of the five counties attained its maximum in the next decade. For convenience, we embrace the year 1851 in the present comparison. The figures for the three decades ending in that year come out as follows:—

  1831 1841 1851
Inverness 94,797 97,799 96,500
Nairnshire 9,354 9,217 9,956
Ross, and Crornarty 74,820 78,685 82,707
Sutherland 25,518 24,782 25,793
Caithness 34,529 36,343 38,709
  239,018 246,826 253,665

The population of the same counties in 1901 was as follows:—

Inverness 90,104
Nairn 9,291
Ross, and Crornarty 76,450
Sutherland 21,440
Caithness 33,870
  231,155

The continuous decrease which reached such dimensions in 1901 did not, it is to be feared, end there. No doubt can be entertained that during the last five years there has been a further falling off. In many material respects progress was made during the past half-century, but in the matter of population the decay is serious. At the bottom of it all economic causes play an important part. The evictions which took place from time to time have fixed themselves in public memory, but they can only be regarded as lamentable incidents in a widespread movement. As a matter of fact, most of them occurred either in the first two decades of the nineteenth century, or in the middle of it when population was at its culminating point. The stream of migration and emigration from the Highlands is part of a great problem, affecting many parts of the world as well as this country. Canada is at the present time draining us of our most active youth. The situation as it now exists is only an intensified form of a process which has long being going on. A typical case is presented by the parish of Urquhart and Glenmoriston, which had a population of 2663 in 1801 and of 3280 in 1851; whereas in 1901 it had fallen to 1828. The reduction, says Mr William Mackay, the historian of the parish, "is accounted for by the fact that the young men are not now satisfied with remaining at home as their fathers did, but go out into the world, and that the young women also go out to better themselves elsewhere." The truth is that in the Highlands our natural resources are limited. We have no minerals to develop. Water-power may come to be useful, but it is only at the stage of experiment. Sheep-farming fell on evil times, and its area has certainly diminished one-third, perhaps nearly one-half, during the last twenty years. Deer forests have kept up values, but they are incompatible with a numerous population. The growth of villages as summer and health resorts, and the increase of towns which possess golf-links, are the most apparent signs of advance. The Crofters Act has diminished discontent, and has helped in many quarters to improve dwellings, but it has not stopped the decline of population. Such conditions present a problem which has not yet been considered as a whole. All that need be said here is that in the interests of the Highlands the claims of sport, of agriculture, of small holdings, of pastoral farming, and of the village residents, must all be kept in view. To disregard any one of them is perilous. The fact that people nowadays will not live under former conditions, especially when they have hopes of making comfortable homes elsewhere; the fact that sheep farming succumbed to a fall in prices, the deterioration of pastures, and the increase in the expense of working; the fact also that without sporting rents the weight of taxation would become crushing in its severity—all these facts and others like them have to be pondered in seeking a solution of the difficulties of the time.

In the period which the present volume covers we have to do with the state of the Highlands under the conditions which then prevailed. While the population was numerous and increasing, a great amount of distress existed. This, indeed, was not confined to the Highlands. The fluctuations in industry and in agricultural prices called forth frequent complaints from other parts of the country. Those social troubles which produced the Chartist movement were in active operation. In the Highlands, however, the case was aggravated at an early stage by sudden changes in the law which had made kelp gathering for nearly forty years a remunerative industry on the West Coast and in the Islands. It is with this region that the present pages chiefly deal. Kelp produced an alkali which formed an ingredient in the manufacture of soap and other commodities. The same substance could be obtained at a cheaper rate from Spanish barilla, but a heavy duty kept it out. This duty rose from £5 5s per ton in 1787 to £11 per ton in 1819, and the price of alkali rose in proportion. But the manufacturers clamoured for reduction—rightly enough from their point of view—and succeeded in obtaining it. In 1822 the duty of barilla was reduced to £8, in 1823 to £5, and in 1830 to £2. At a later date it was removed altogether, but even before that time the reductions inflicted great hardship on a poor population. The price of alkali fell from £11 per ton to £4. It is said that at the height of the kelp industry from 40,000 to 50,000 people were dependent on it. The steady growth of population intensified the misery which followed. Landlords became embarrassed as well as people; yet it is not to be forgotten that landlords often endeavoured to provide work to stave off destitution. It is recorded, for instance, that in Skye in 1828 a sum of £15,000 had been spent in this way on the Macdonald estates.

Throughout the period there are constant references to distress and to emigration. In the summer of 1828 two vessels sailed from Lochmaddy for Canada, with 600 souls on board, and others were preparing to follow. In 1829 vessels left Skye for Cape Breton; in 1830 "the fever of emigration" was raging in the county of Sutherland, and vessels departed for Canada carrying, it is said, over 900 persons. At a meeting in Edinburgh in 1831, to present a memorial against the reduction of the duty on barilla, it was stated that in the Uists and Benbecula the population numbered 12,500 persons, and that 7000 or 8000 had no means of support, except the gathering of kelp. The representation had no effect. It was a question of diverse interests, in which the remote and the weaker went to the wall. An entry in July 1831 states that the poor people in the islands were most wretched. "Their best food consists of shell-fish, and a kind of broth made of sea-weed, nettles, and other wild plants, into which is infused a small sprinkling of oatmeal." In 1836 the island of Lewis suffered terribly from a cold spring, which destroyed the lambs and caused the death of several thousand sheep and 700 head of cattle and horses. Next year we are told that the failure of the crops in the western districts for two successive seasons had intensified the distress, and an appeal for assistance was made both to England and Scotland. The want of fuel in Skye drove some of the people to demolish their turf huts, the dispossessed owners being distributed among the other families. "We know not," it is said, "that the history of the British people ever presented such pictures of severe unmitigated want and misery as are exemplified at this moment in the case of the poor Highlanders." A committee was formed in Glasgow which raised a sum of nearly £30,000, and aid came also from other quarters, including the Government.

There is no satisfaction in dwelling on these things, but in the history of the time they cannot be overlooked. It must be remembered that this state of matters existed before the coming of the great potato famine, although there are indications that potatoes were already becoming a precarious crop. The circumstances of Skye are described in a paper published in 1838 by the late Rev. Alexander Macgregor (long minister of the West Church, Inverness), who was then a licentiate of the Church living in the manse of Kilmuir. He sets down the destitution as due to the failure of kelp and herring, the fall in the price of black cattle, and the cessation of road-making. Mr Macgregor blames the custom of early and improvident marriages, the low state of husbandry, and the constant sub-division of the soil, in consequence of which the population on many farms had doubled within sixteen years. He also mentioned that when emigration carried away the able-bodied, they left behind aged relatives who had lost their means of support. From all the crowded districts movement to the colonies went forward. In 1838 it is stated that an extensive voluntary emigration had occurred in Lochaber during the previous two years, and that 1200 persons (one thinks there must be some mistake in the figures) were now prepared to emigrate to Australia under the Colonial Act, which provided for free or assisted passages. In the same year a ship with 280 emigrants from the counties of Ross and Inverness sailed from Cromarty, and had a sad experience, as the vessel was leaky and the food insufficient. Evictions which occurred at the time in the island of Harris excited much comment. In the latter part of 1841 there were riots at Durness, in Sutherland, caused by evictions which the local tacksmen attempted to carry out. Other cases belong to a subsequent time.

To resume the more general record. In 1840 Sir Robert Inglis called attention in the House of Commons to the sad circumstances of the Highland people, asserting that many of them had taken a pledge to confine themselves to one meal a day. The editor of the "Courier" said he had never heard of such a pledge, and at the moment there was no unusual crisis, but thousands lived constantly on the verge of destitution, "dependent solely on the potato crop." The Inverness Town Council declared that an organised system of emigration was imperiously called for. In August 1840 it is recorded that three vessels, represented by one firm of agents, had in course of the season carried away 463 persons from the North Coast, and that 248 were from Caithness. Over 500 persons went away from Uig and Tobermory in 1840. The parish minister of Croick, in Rosa-shire, accompanied a band of emigrants from that district and from Assynt to Nova Scotia. In the spring of 1841 a ship with 190 emigrants, most of them from the parish of Reay, sailed from Scrabster. In the same year Mr Henry Baillie, member for Inverness-shire, obtained a Committee of Inquiry from the House of Commons. He also pleaded for a grant of money, but this was refused. Mr Baillie said that "owing to the depression of the kelp trade, by the reduction of the duties on salt, sulphur, and barilla, many of the Highland estates were ruined, and the tenants and occupants deprived of the means of living." In course of the inquiry, one of the ministers of Inverness attributed the destitution to the injudicious means taken to prevent emigration in the beginning of the century. The Committee, when it reported, found that an excess of population existed on the western coasts of the counties of Argyll, ‘Inverness, and Ross, and in the islands; "and this excess of population, who are for the most part, for a period of every year, in a state of destitution, was variously calculated at from 45,000 to 80,000 souls."

The Committee was further informed "that the famine and destitution in the years 1836 and 1837 was so extensive that many thousands would have died of starvation had it not been for the assistance which they received from the Government and the public; that the sum of £70,000 was collected and distributed at that period in the shape of food and clothing, and all the witnesses were of opinion that this district of the country was liable to similar visitations in succeeding years." Such was the condition of the people in the western districts and in a few spots on the mainland. It would be a mistake to suppose that it was anything like universal. In many fertile glens a moderate degree of comfort prevailed. The remedy proposed by the Committee was emigration, assisted and regulated by the Government.

Sheep farming, which had taken a substantial hold in the Highlands before the end of the eighteenth century, developed steadily in subsequent times. A Parliamentary paper published in the History of the Highland and Agricultural Society, gives a tabulated statement of the acreage and live stock in the counties of Scotland for the year 1811. The document is taken from a careful digest made from authentic sources by Mr J. Marshall, and printed on the recommendation of a Committee of the House of Commons in 1833. From this paper we take the following figures of the sheep stock in the Northern Highland Counties in 1811:-

Inverness-shire, Mainland, and Islands 154 000
Ross and Cromarty 50,946
Sutherland 37,130
Caithness 12,748
  254,824

In this computation the Island of Lewis is reckoned with the other Hebridean Islands, so that a little more than its fair proportion is assigned to the county of Inverness. On the mainland of the county the numbers are given as 50,000, about a third of the total for the shire and Lewis. Authentic figures are not to be obtained for many years afterwards. The establishment of the Inverness Wool Market in 1817 proves the rapid extension of the industry.

We find it stated in our columns in 1827 that according to the best information "about 120,000 stones of wool and 150,000 sheep were disposed of on terms generally agreeable to all parties." This, however, seems to have been an unusually prosperous year. In the first edition of the Anderson Guide to the Highlands, published in 1834, the average amount of transactions at the market is computed at 100,000 sheep and as many stones of wool. The same work states that in a report of a committee appointed at the market of 1832, the number of sheep annually exported from Inverness-shire was estimated at 100,000, and that all the other northern counties yielded nearly the same amount, making a total export of about 200,000. In the opinion of the authors, "the modern system of sheep-farming on a great scale seems to have been too generally adopted, with an inconsiderable degree of expedition, in some districts of the Highlands." Cheviot stock had by this time become the favourite breed in suitable localities. For the sake of comparison we give the numbers in the various counties, as reported by Mr Hall Maxwell, secretary to the Highland Society, in 1854. Under pressure from the Society, the Board of Trade requested its directors to collect statistics, and the following are the returns of sheep in the Northern Counties : —

Inverness-shire in 1854 542,028
Ross and Cromarty do. 251,619
Sutherland, do 162,103
Caithness, do. 75,469
 

1,031,219

In 1855, the return for Sutherland is

200,553

The vast increase which had taken place in forty-three years is the most conclusive proof of the economic change which had occurred in the Highlands within the period. For another quarter of a century the sheep industry continued, with some fluctuations, to expand, but since then vital changes have greatly transformed the Highland area. The returns recently issued by the Board of Trade give the following figures for 1906 :—

Inverness-shire 532,880
Ross and Cromarty 262,002
Sutherland 195,453
Caithness 124,197
  1,114,532

It will be observed that the total now is not much greater than it was in 1854, and if allowance were made for the imperfect character of the early returns, the difference would probably be imperceptible. The fact that arable farmers nowadays keep many more sheep than in former times, likewise disguises in the statistics the actual reduction which has recently taken place in the sheep-fanning area.

A change was coming over the agriculture of the district similar to that which had occurred in pastoral farming, though slower in operation. The old primitive system of tillage was disappearing. The work of reclamation had begun, which continued until the middle of the seventies, when the drop in prices made it unprofitable. Improved qualities of seed were introduced, and draining and fencing went forward. A note in our columns in 1839 draws attention to the great improvement which had occurred within the previous twelve years, enabling many parishes which had formerly imported produce to contribute a share of exports. "Thorough drainage and bone-dust," it is stated, "have revolutionised the surface of the earth; and if the whole kingdom were brought under the improved system of tillage, the corn produce of Britain would far exceed the wants of its population." Though this hope was destined to disappointment, the paragraph shows the spirit of activity that prevailed. The Inverness Farmer Society was resuscitated, and societies in other places stimulated general interest. Ploughing matches were held for the encouragement of farm servants. They were not exactly a new development, but they seem to have been revived and made more popular.

The Highland and Agricultural Society did yeoman service in imparting an impulse to every form of agriculture. At the first show of this Society held at Inverness in 1831, shorthorn cattle were represented by only two cows, and the Aberdeenshire polled by two bulls, four heifers, and one cow. There was, however, a good display of Highland stock, and a fair representation of Galloways, though the latter were in the hands of three exhibitors. The show of sheep was extremely small, but this must have been due to difficulties of transit rather than to any other cause. Horses made a more satisfactory appearance. At the second show, held in 1839, there was a great advance. Highland cattle were again to the front, but other classes had multiplied. In shorthorns there were twelve aged bulls (three from the south of Scotland), three yearling bulls, and four bull calves; also nine cows and four heifers. In polled cattle, of all classes, there were eight bulls, nine cows, and five pairs of heifers. There were also a few Ayrshires, with a considerable display of extra stock. Horses are described as a meagre show. In sheep the blackfaced were few, but the display of Cheviots seems to have impressed some of the visitors. The official history of the Society, from which we have drawn these particulars, says merely that they "mustered fairly." This evidently refers to numbers. The contemporary report in our columns, speaking doubtless of quality, and using language of pardonable exaggeration, says that "the show of Cheviots was by far the best that had ever been exhibited under the auspices of the Society." In corroboration of the remark, we are told that "a gentleman from Northumberland states that at the exhibitions in the North of England, no such Cheviot wethers had ever been exhibited." Wherever the exact truth on this point may lie, it is clear that Cheviot sheep were now in the ascendant in the district. A few Leicesters and Southdowns were also forward. The gate money at Inverness in 1831 was £71 13s 6d, and in 1839, £211 1s 6d. The second show was a great affair in the North. It was celebrated by a dinner, at which about 780 persons attended, accommodation being provided in a pavilion specially erected. Our report mentions that the entries at the show numbered 879, "within about twenty of the great Glasgow Exhibition."

Farm buildings began to share in the general improvement. In 1827 a newspaper letter avers that three-fourths, or even four-fifths, of the Highland peasantry lived in black huts of a well-known type, still existing in the Hebrides. Much better provision was made for the pastoral and larger class of agricultural farmers, but even their houses would seldom bear comparison with those of the present day. The Messrs Anderson are again an authority that may be quoted. "The residences of the better classes in the Highlands," they say, "are now (1834) provided with the usual comforts and conveniences of life. Farm-houses of moderate pretensions are not in general remarkable for neatness or comfort; but the better class of such dwellings are substantial and well furnished, while the landed gentry in many cases have gone to an expense in the style of their houses quite unsuited to the value of their estates. Stone is the universal material used in the construction of dwelling-houses. These are frequently harled or white-washed on the outside with slaked lime." It is doubtful if many farm-houses at that time were slated, and in any case slated farm-steadings, even in the lowlands of the district, were not common until a later date. The Messrs Anderson give "on a rough conjecture" the value of the exports from the Highlands and Islands. They estimate the exports of sheep and wool at £250,000 a year; black cattle also at £250,000; herrings, £200,000; grain, £100,000; salmon, kelp, wood, pork, &c., £100,000; whisky, £200,000; making a total of £1,100,000 a year. About half of the herring export is assigned to Caithness.

The history of sport in the Highlands can only be written by an expert, but side-lights are thrown upon it from many sources, including our newspaper columns. The fascinations of sport in all its forms, on moors, in deer forests, in lochs and rivers, existed long before they became a source of solid income to Highland proprietors. Payments may have been made by visitors on a limited scale before there was any general system of letting, but the liberty to shoot was evidently in many cases an opportunity for hospitality. We can go back to Colonel Thornton’s tour in Scotland in 1786, when he occupied Raitts, in Badenoch, and enjoyed shooting and fishing throughout the whole district. This was not his first visit, for he mentions having been in the Highlands ten or twelve years before, and notes the "luxury and effeminacy" that had crept in during the interval. As time went on visitors became more numerous, and practised sport in a free and easy fashion. The following advertisement which appears in the "Invernes Journal" of October 2nd, 1907, tells its own story: —

"PRESERVATI0N or GAME.—Sir George Mackenzie of Coul, Bart.; Sir Roderick Mackenzie of Scatwell, Bart; Henry Davidson, Esq. of Tulloch; William Mackenzie, Esq. of Strathgarve; and Alex. Mackenzie, Esq. of Ord, having found the game on their Estates very scarce, owing partly to the severity of last spring, but chiefly to unauthorised persons destroying it, and travellers shooting on their way to and from Lochbroom, have resolved to prevent, by every means in their power, all unqualified and unauthorised persons from injuring it. They therefore give warning to all persons who may have occasion to travel on the Ullapool Road, and to all others, not to shoot on their grounds; and request of their friends not to ask leave to sport on their property during the remainder of this, or during the next season, as then a jubilee is to be given to the Game."

Advertisements asking friends to avoid for a season making requests for sport appear occasionally at later dates. As a rule, however, in the opening decades of the nineteenth century many gay parties found entertainment during the autumn months. In 1811 Sir Humphry Davy was in the North, and again in 1821 he was shooting and fishing in Ross-shire, "taking the campaign against the grouse" on the moors of Sir George Mackenzie of Coul. The Duchess of Gordon, who died in 1812, may have looked on Kinrara (if we may judge from letters recently published) as in some measure an exile, but her presence there added to the liveliness of the district. Her daughter, the Duchess of Bedford, kept up the succession, and her son, best known as the Marquis of Huntly, delighted in having friends around him on his Badenoch property. In 1816 there are newspaper records of heavy bags on the Badenoch moors, all the heavier, it was supposed, because unfavourable weather had driven the grouse to the lower grounds. In the early thirties the traffic in August is reported as heavy—"there never was a time when the Highlands had so many visitors." Good roads, coaches, and steamers were now carrying their autumn freights to the Highlands. The growth of shooting rents is noted by the Messrs Anderson in their Guide in 1834. "It has now," they say, "become a common practice for Highland proprietors to let the right of shooting on their grounds. Moors may be had at all prices from £50 to £500 for the season, with accommodations varying according to the circumstances." We fancy the latter figure was very exceptional. The late Earl of Malmesbury in his Memoirs gives us some particulars. Writing of the year 1833, be says:—

"This was the first year that the Highlands became the rage and that deer forests were made and rented, but for prices not exceeding £300 a year. Sir Harry Goodrick, who was a leader among the young hunting men, hired Mar Forest, and Lord Kinnaird, Fealar in Athol. We paid the latter a visit in August, at Rossie Priory, and I went with him, Mr Errington and Count Matuschewitz, the Russian Ambassador, to a bothy at Fealar. . . . I went later to the Isle of Skye and to Harris. I was harboured at the latter by Mr Stewart, a gentleman farmer and breeder of cattle, and had the run of the island, which belonged then to Macleod, and the grouse, deer forest, and fishing, all of which are first rate were offered to me for £25 a year. It has been purchased since by Lord Dunmore, and the sporting right let for £2000 a year. At that time (1833) a stranger could fish and shoot over almost any part of the Highlands, without interruption, the letting value of the ferae naturae being unknown to their possessors."

The Andersons, however, afford contemporary evidence that the change, at least as regards grouse shooting, had begun earlier than Lord Malmesbury remembered. His own first experience as a lessee, it will be observed, was in a district which was then considered remote. Sir Alexander Muir Mackenzie thinks that the renting of moors commenced about 1809 (Chambers’s Journal, February 1906). If this was so the returns for years must have been too small to be reckoned important. It was in the end of the twenties and the beginning of the thirties that the business began to assume considerable proportions. The late Mr Joseph Mitchell, C.E., who was born in 1803 and died in 1883, corroborates this in his Reminiscences. He says that in early days "it was reckoned mean to take money for the privilege of shooting and fishing, and the letting which now brings in such vast revenues did not become general till 1826 or 1830." Probably Sir Alexander Muir Mackenzie refers to the Southern Highlands, where letting seems to have begun earlier than in the North.

The late Evander Maciver says that when he entered in 1834 on the factorship of the Tulloch estates in Ross-shire, there was only one shooting let, Achnaclerach, near Garve, at a rent of £100 a year. The Lochbroom shootings, he says, had never been let, and all the shootings round Tulloch were kept in the proprietor’s own hands. We find it noted in our columns in 1835, that is the very next year, that Lord Southampton had taken the shootings and fishings of Lochbroom, and in the same year there is a list of forty sportsmen in shooting quarters. In that year also the shootings and fishings of Strathconon are advertised, with the information that the place had been let for three years previously, and that its tenants certified that it afforded excellent sport. "One of them wrote that an ordinary shot might with great ease bag 20 brace of grouse a day, and that he and one companion killed 13 brace of ptarmigan in about half-an-hour." The right of shooting over extensive districts in Sutherland—to include red-deer "with certain limitations"—was advertised in 1836; the shootings of Achnasheen in 1837. In 1840 a tract in Lochaber, extending to about 20,000 imperial acres, was advertised as suitable for conversion into a deer forest, the inducement being held out that "by adding three or four thousand acres more, these farms might be brought almost into contact with an old-established regular forest, which has been for a century or two strictly reserved from sheep and cattle, and is at present well stocked with deer." The deer forest of Glenloyne, on the Glengarry estates, was in existence at the same time, having been formed by the last notable chief, who was an ardent sportsman.

An article which appears in our columns in 1841 gives an estimate of the value that was then attached to Highland shootings. It is stated that ground capable of yielding 500 brace of grouse would let for £125, and if the house accommodation was good and the moor of high reputation, "we have known 10s a brace offered for a month’s shooting "—a rate which would work out at a rent of £250. One red deer, we are told, was equal to a hundred brace of grouse, which would mean a rental of from £25 to £50 per head of deer. About the end of our period books on sport began to be published, the moat famous being those of Mr William Scrope and Mr John Colquhoun; later came the works of Charles St John. Mr Colquohun died in 1885, and writing some years earlier, he says—" Forty years ago there were no Scotch sporting books, and the few English ones were merely works of instruction and dry detail. Now, however, the Scotch books on mountain, forest, and river sport occupy no mean place in our national literature. How much these books stimulated the demand for Scotch shootings it would be difficult to say; at all events, wild shooting rose prodigiously in the market after their publication. Forty years ago capital small ranges were to be had from £150 to £180. The rapidity with which these rose to thrice that amount was most disheartening to keen grouse-shooters of moderate incomes. The competition for the first-class beats was even greater, and I have been told by agents that the claimants bid each other up to such a figure that they were sometimes ashamed to take the highest offer." Sir Alexander Muir Mackenzie says that the Drumouchter shootings let for £80 or £90 in early days, while in 1906 they had risen to £800.

Coaching was in its heyday during our period and for some time thereafter. A daily mail began to run between Inverness and Aberdeen in 1811, and there was no change in the official route for the next twenty-five years. But the central road to Perth had advantages which commended it to private enterprise. There was an attempt to run. a coach upon it in 1806, which was continued by an enterprising solicitor, Mr Peter Anderson, after it had been abandoned by his associates. In 1809 we had a regular service established, three times a week in summer and twice a week in winter, which was destined to endure. In 1826 there was an effort to make the service daily, but judging from subsequent notices, it was premature. Until 1836 the Caledonian Coach, as it was called, continued to travel according to the original arrangement, being latterly crowded in the autumn months with tourists, sportsmen, and their baggage. At length, in the summer of 1836, the Government acceded to petitions to run a daily mail between Inverness and Perth, and the Caledonian was withdrawn to make room for the postal conveyance, which was "spick and span new, with new guards in new liveries, and horses that find no difficulty, even at the ugly Pass of Slockmuick, in clearing nine miles an hour." At the same time there were no fewer than four daily coaches running between Inverness and Aberdeen, and even at an earlier date it is stated that seven different stage coaches passed daily to and from Inverness. One can understand how much liveliness this created in the streets of the town. Mr Joseph Mitchell enables us to realise the condition of travelling in those days. He says:—

"In my early days coaching was very slow and imperfect. The coachman’s drive was limited to one stage of ten or twelve miles; thereafter he tended his horses and prepared them for the return journey. His reward was sixpence from each passenger. The roads throughout the country became very much improved between 1830 and 1840, and coaches improved also and became numerous. A few years after 1840 coaching in Scotland was brought to its greatest perfection. A great impetus was given to it by an association of some county gentlemen, chiefly Mr Ramsay of Barnton, Mr Barclay of Ury, Lord Glenlyon, and others. They started a coach between Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Their coaches were luxurious and handsome, the horses beautifully matched, and of the first character, harness in good taste and of the best quality. The drivers and guards, in their uniform of red coats and yellow collars, were steady and respectable men, great favourites on the road, obliging, full of conversation and local knowledge, and several of these played with no mean talent on the bugle and cornet. Time was kept to a minute, and so complete and perfect was the whole establishment that a highly paid veterinary surgeon was employed to tend the horses and see that they were properly looked to."

During the same time steamers plied on the Caledonian Canal and in the western seas, and ventures were made in the Moray Firth, but at first with only partial success. As travelling increased, the accommodation for travellers improved. There is a curious passage in the Guide-Book so often quoted, commending the better class of inns on frequented routes, and saying that even in other houses the tourist will often be agreeably surprised.— "Considering the recent establishment of these inns, and the want of familiarity on the part of the Highland peasantry with the more refined habits and comforts of the South, the business of innkeeping has fully kept pace with the other improvements of the country. If much refinement and elegance is not to be seen, there is at least abundance of substantial commodities; no lack of black-faced mutton and poultry, with the addition of salmon, and various other excellent fish, on the seacoasts; and indeed scarcely a burn but affords trout. The traveller may everywhere calculate on the luxuries of tea and sugar, and generally loaf-bred or biscuits; eggs and milk, with whisky, &c., always in abundance. . . . We may add that the horse will be as well off as the rider, good stabling being seldom wanting. Neither need the Saxon be apprehensive of finding himself at a loss to make his wants known, as it very rarely happens that individuals are not met with who understand the English language."

The condition of the Caledonian Canal engaged attention in 1839. Mr Walker, C.E., reported that extensive operations were necessary to give the undertaking a fair chance of accomplishing its purpose, and a scheme was set agoing for leasing it to a company for a period of years. A bill with this object actually passed, but the Commissioners were unable to effect a transfer on the terms proposed, and they had ultimately to undertake the work at the public expense.

The Northern Institution for the Promotion of Science and Literature was founded in 1825, and had a life of ten years. It was a gallant attempt to establish a society for the purposes of local research, but came rather before its time. Its general secretary and chief promoter was Mr George Anderson, then a young solicitor, a member of a family who did much to excite interest in scientific pursuits, chiefly archeological and geological. His elder brother, Mr John Anderson, W.S., was secretary to the Society of Antiquaries, and his younger brother, Mr Peter Anderson, was afterwards associated with George as a legal practitioner, and as joint author of the Guide to the Highlands, a work to which frequent reference has already been made. Their father, Mr Peter Anderson, an active and prosperous Inverness solicitor, and a leader in public improvements, died in 1823. At the first meeting of the Northern Institution one of the vice-presidents, Sir George Mackenzie of Coul, presided, and offered a gold medal for the best essay on the State of Society in the Highlands in 1745, and on the progress which had been made during the subsequent period. The prize was awarded to Mr John Anderson, and presented to him at a meeting held in October 1826. His essay, along with an address delivered on the occasion by Sir George Mackenzie, was published in 1827 by Mr William Tait, Edinburgh. There is much that is interesting both in the address and the essay. Both speak of the changes that had taken place in the management of Highland estates. Sir George suggests that serious consequences would have followed if the people had been left undisturbed. "To those," he says, "possessed of the talent of observation, who are acquainted with the habits of the Highlanders, it is obvious that misery and wretchedness would have resulted to the population and beggary to the proprietors, while the country would have continued a wilderness." Mr John Anderson takes a more sympathetic view. He acknowledges the importance of the introduction of sheep, but thinks that the work was carried out with inconsiderate rapidity and impatience. "It was certainly," he says,. "the imperative duty of the chief, in sheathing his sword, to have provided for the martial soldiers who had done his behests in the stirring times of clan warfare; and to have afforded them an asylum, either on the seacoast, to which his new policy did not reach, or in other valleys as yet undevoted to the universal doom." Mr Anderson gives instances of the advance in the value of landed property, rentals or purchase prices having increased from six to eight times within a period of forty years. These figures show the temptations to which proprietors were subjected.

The Northern Institution began with great prospects of success. In its first year the society numbered 100 ordinary members and 49 corresponding members. The list included distinguished names, among them that of Sir Walter Scott, who was always ready to assist inquiry into the history of the past. The institution in less than two years received 156 donations for its museum, many of them comprising collections of great interest. Financial support, however, proved intermittent, and in the end insufficient, and in 1834 the museum was handed over to the directors of the Academy, who agreed to pay the debts of the society, amounting to about £80. "The coins alone" we are told, "if sold as bullion, are worth this sum." After various vicissitudes the relics of the museum now lie in the upper rooms of the Free Library buildings, along with other gifts, mostly provided by the Inverness Field Club, which started in 1876 in more fortunate circumstances than its predecessor, and still enjoys a healthy and vigorous life. The name of the Northern Institution is chiefly known to the public from the passage in Hugh Miller’s "Schools and Schoolmasters," telling how he called on Mr George Anderson with a poetical address to the members, written in imitation of the illuminated manuscripts of medaeval times. At a meeting held years afterwards - indeed, the year after the museum was handed over to the Academy—Mr Anderson had the pleasure of showing fossil fishes from the Old Red Sandstone which Miller had sent from Cromarty. The Anderson brothers wrote on many subjects (see "An Inverness Lawyer and his Sons," by Isabel Harriet Anderson, Aberdeen 1900). John Anderson, W.S., died. in 1839, from the effects of an accident, in the West Indian Island of St Vincent, where he had been appointed Justice. Mr Peter Anderson, the youngest, died in 1868, while Mr George Anderson survived until 1878.

The subjects of interest in the period are so numerous that this introduction might be indefinitely prolonged. For details, however, readers must be referred to the body of the work. The late Dr Carruthers became editor of the "Courier" in 1828, and for fifty years superintended the journal as editor and proprietor. His early relations with Hugh Miller are illustrated under their proper dates. Sales of property and the sums paid for them indicate some of the changes that were in progress. The establishment of the Caledonian Bank in 1838 contributed to the prosperity of the district. The population of the royal burgh of Inverness in 1841 is given as 9100, and of the landward part as 6318, making a total of 15,418. In the previous returns the town and parish were not discriminated, and if the expression "royal burgh" is to be taken as exact, a portion of the town must have been included in the landward part in 1841. The total of both town and parish in 1801 was 8732, and at the last census (1901) it had risen to 27,046. The comparison is best taken as embracing both town and parish, as the boundaries otherwise are rather uncertain. The population that could properly be called urban numbered 23,066 in 1901.


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