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Reminiscences and Reflections of an Octogenarian Highlander Chapter LXXXIII. - The Crofters


FARMERS' associations preceded and set the example of combination to crofter agitation. Classes and castes, secular and religious, in all lands and throughout all the ages, aimed at monopolies and dominating influence. The masses also had occasional outbursts of revolt when their burdens and grievances were more than flesh and blood could bear. Trade unionists learned from aristocracies, Churches, and political parties in Constitutional States how to put up cactus-hedges of separatism in self-defence, and when household suffrage and the ballot came, how to master their masters by strikes or threats of strikes, without the least regard to general interests and future trade and employment. The country people, farmers and labourers, were slow to imitate the town trades unions. In England and the Lowlands of Scotland the feudal system had woven many connecting ties between landowners and tenants, and in the Highlands clannishness made these ties almost sacred when the chief of the clan was the landlord. Although in not a single instance known to me the people on such a chief's land were all, or mostly attached of his own surname, yet the non-clansmen were as much his faithful followers as were his clansmen. They all looked up to him as their natural leader in peace and war. Their ancestors had followed his ancestors in days of old, and many rattling Gaelic songs, and sad laments, commemorated the triumphs and sorrows of their conjoint legends and more recent histories. And clannishness of a strong kind existed between old landed families and their people where there was little or no blood relationship at all. As long as Highland landowners spent most of their time on their estates, knew all their people, and their circumstances, and worshipped with them in the parish churches, their was no chance for the agitator to stir up a war of classes. So deeply rooted in Celtic minds is the habit of clannish looking up to the landlord as natural leader, that men who bought Highland estates and used them for residential purposes, succeeded frequently to gain the respect and influence which belonged, as of right, to the extinct or superseded families whose places they occupied. Evictions, sheep-runs, the incoming of Lowland farmers and shepherds, weakened, but did not wholly break, the kindly ties. Highlanders did not fully realise, although some of them did at the beginning of last century, or later in between the war with- Napoleon and the revolution which the railways brought in their trail, that the old system of domestic industries and shealings, and small farms, had fallen under the doom of economic causes. They understood well enough that it was necessary for them to send out swarms of their young people to seek their fortunes in towns and colonies, or to serve in the army or navy as had always been done; but they thought, rightly or wrongly, that they had claims for help, guidance, and sympathy on their landlords to which many of them who could afford to do so, did not generously respond. While they grieved and murmured at being deserted, hustled, and concussed by not a few of their natural leaders, they did not think of breaking out into lawlessness and forming secret leagues for perpetrating atrocities by night or by day. On the West Coast and in the Islands, the potato famine produced a crisis of distress equal to that in the worst parts of Ireland. In that crisis landlords, upon the whole, did their utmost to save their people from starvation. Several of them mortgaged their estates to obtain money for buying provisions for their people. Some old families, who were struggling before, wrecked themselves entirely for the sake of their people, and not only endless gratitude is felt for them to this day by all Highlanders, but the careers of their representatives and offshoots are watched with the affectionate respect due to unjustly-deposed royal dynasties. With the potato famine set in the determined full current of self-evictions, which the Crofter Acts have done something, but not as much as should be wished for, to stem.

When I came to Inverness in December, 1880, there was as yet no movement of any consequence among the crofters. Farmers' associations, on the contrary, had, by that time, spread themselves all over Scotland. The movement first arose among the Lowland arable farmers; and then it took hold on the sheep farmers of the Borders and Highlands. The agricultural farmers had suffered much from the abolition of the Corn Laws, and were as yet only very slowly recovering from losses incurred during the currency of former long leases. It was, I believe, in 1873 that I heard an English corn-miller, who had until then been a rank Radical, denouncing, in racy Yorkshire dialect, "Bob Lowe," the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, for abolishing, when nobody asked him, the shilling per quarter registration duty on imported grain, to which the Cobdenites had not objected, and which by that time was producing a tidy revenue. The angry miller prophesied that the causeless remission of that duty would go far to destroy the cornmilling business in this country, because the remission would throw the meal-making of imported cereals into the hands of the foreign exporters. His prophesy turned out to be true, although it seemed at the time like the exaggeration of a man who was looking through a narrow and twisted self-interest chink. On returning to Scotland seven years later, I found that many corn-mills on Highland streams and rivers, which were at work in 1873, had already been closed ; and since then many more of them have gone on the list of the unemployed. But in the sheep - farming regions, the letting-out under grass of former arable land was not so much due to "Bob Lowe's" remission of the shilling duty as to the pasturing, and especially the wintering requirements, of stock, and higher servants' wages.

Lowland farmers also let out under grass the less valuable parts of their arable land, and, besides other advantages, got higher and higher rents for wintering sheep that came down to them at the harvest end from the hill districts. Wheat cultivation, because made unprofitable, ceased alike in Essex and Easter Ross; but Scotch agriculturists learned much sooner than their English fellow- sufferers how to recover themselves by labour- saving implements, feeding cattle for the butchers, the use of nitrates, and other artificial manures the stimulating effect of which is visible, but the ultimate consequences to soil, animal life, and human salubrity must yet be held to be somewhat questionable. Above all they set about fencing themselves by a monopolistic class association to protect them against outside bidders when leases had to be renewed, and to place landlords in the position in which they had placed their tenants, when the old relationship had been changed into contracts on purely commercial lines. The Hypothec Law was indefensible on commercial and equitable principles, for when a tenant became bankrupt it gave the landlord a sweeping preference over the other creditors. But for all its iniquity, it was the ladder by which many, who now cried out against it, had climbed from small beginnings into the position of large farmers. Those climbers did not wish that others with small capital and trust in themselves should climb up after them, and, as bidders for farms, whistle up rents which they, in possession, were working strenuously and artfully to compel landlords to reduce, far below open market obtainable value. Hypothec they succeeded in reducing to practical nullity. I must confess that I admire the energy and skill with which the agricultural farmers acted in most trying circumstances, and the readiness with which they adopted new methods for retrieving losses and securing their class interests. But neither sheep farmers nor arable land farmers, when they formed their farmers' associations, took crofters and working people into serious consideration. They were both of them thoroughly convinced that large farms could be more economically managed than small ones; and all things being considered on commercial principles, and from class interest point of view, they had a good deal of reason for the belief that was in them. The large farm involved a large outlay of capital in stock and equipments. How could the one plough farmer compete with the many plough farmer who invested many hundreds of pounds on new labour saving machines, and when seeds and artificial manures required to be purchased, or famous bulls and fancy price tups and splendid horses, needed only to sign cheques on his banker? While taking small or no account of crofter and farm servant questions, farmers' associations aimed at perpetuating large holdings, and at reducing the rents of these holdings by excluding free competition, and exercising a trade union pressure on landlords.

The crofter agitation presented one aggressive front against landlords, and another against the large farmers. That agitation did not spring up suddenly nor without forewarnings for many years. The crofting townships, with one hand on the laud and the other on the sea, were long incited by outside enthusiasts of their race and by Irish object-lessons before they rose in revolt. They grumbled, but in fact they did not attempt a combined movement until they got household suffrage with the ballot, and the political magicians, with their bags of tricks and promises, came among them. Among these agitators were honest enthusiasts, who cared less for political economy and actual facts than they did for the race- interests of the children of the Gael. But most of the politicians were self-seekers, who would promise sun, moon, and planets for votes to give them seats in the House of Commons, with such social and other profits as might with proper care result therefrom. The crofters were by no means so simple as they chose to appear. With their better knowledge of the real situation, they looked with concealed contempt on the bagmen politicians, but at the same time thought they could make use of them as supple tools and loud-mouthed House of Commons brayers. So it came about that landlord and large farmer candidates were defeated at the polls by outsiders. But it was a different affair when County Councils and other local bodies had to be elected. After crofter members got a single trial turn they were set aside, and landed gentlemen and men with good local standing were elected. Crofters and household suffragists, while wanting many things many of which were not attainable wished their local affairs to be managed by men whom they knew and trusted. The simplest among the crofters, how- ever, were made to believe, and others of them who knew better pretended to believe, that there was "plenty of money in London," part of which could be obtained by putting pressure, as the Irish did, on a squeezable Government. It would be nice to get extensions of grazing outruns from deer forests as well as from sheep-runs, and so the crofters joined heartily in the outcry of outsiders against deer forests, although they knew very well that no crop-bearing use could be made of many acres of the large area given up to the deer, the hunting of which brought so much money into the country, and with rents of moors and fishings, such relief to the rates which would otherwise have been intolerable. Not- withstanding incitements from without, and the folly of a few hot-heads within, the Highland crofters, unlike the Irish, refused to be drawn into criminal acts. The nearest approach to such acts were the farcical raiding of a deer forest in the Lews, many years ago, and the quite recent Vatersay seizure of land by Barra men, which, after seeming by their action, or rather non-action, to countenance, the Radical Secretary for Scotland, Mr Sinclair, and his colleague-blunderer, Mr Thomas Shaw, Lord- Advocate, has since in a new form officially denounced. As proprietors of the Kilmuir estate in Skye, our public rulers were also placed in an object- lesson difficulty.

Before the passing of the Crofters' Acts, Highland crofters, whether on the sea coast or inland, had real grievances to complain of, from which people of their class did not suffer in the Lowlands. They had to build their houses and byres and barns, and to keep them in habitable repair. They had to pay rents out of proportion with the rents paid for similar land and acreage by their neighbours, the large farmers, who, in the inland districts, although not on the sea coast, added to their wintering old parish clachan crofts left vacant by the departure of weavers, shoemakers, smiths, and millers who, under the new dispensation, had lost their trades. They were subject to evictions at the will of the landlord. If they added to their arable land by trenching part of their grazings they were not fairly compensated if evicted. There was, however, more trenching and reclamation of wild land on the east than on the west side of the water line. I believe more of that work had been done in Sutherland than in all the Highland counties put together, and after the great upset of "Gloomy Memories," land-lord rule in Sutherland was not oppressive and evictions were not capricious. In verity the old dispensation farmers had pushed cultivation in most Highland districts to its utmost limits, and tried to raise black oats for fodder beyond the line where they had any chance of ever ripening, unless in a most exceptionally dry and hot season.

Fair rent, fixity of tenure, and compensation on disturbance for improvements effected, have infinitely improved the condition of the crofters. And what is the visible result of this bettering of conditions? In almost all places new buildings of the stone and lime and slated order, and, particularly on the east side of the water line, better stock and better farming of the arable land. Better gardening is in its initial stage as yet, but I hope it is sure to follow the other betterings. There is a wide scope for it, and much pot and flower-beauty need for it. In gardening Highlanders have always been as far behind Lowlanders as the latter have, with some exceptions in a few localities, been behind their English fellow-subjects. Whoever knows the crofters and their modes of thoughts and habits, however adverse to some of their land-question views and actions, cannot honestly refuse to admit that they have extraordinarily good qualities, and that they cherish higher ideals of duty, religion, and morality, which they fairly try to act up to as a class, than are to be found anywhere else among what are called "the lower orders" because the poorer in purse section of society.

I cannot say from personal knowledge how the crofters of Argyle and the Western Isles are using their chances, but I can confidently say that since the passing of the Crofters' Acts, the advance made on the northern mainland from the Grampian divide to Thurso, and also in Skye, has been most gratifying, and in particular districts almost marvellous. Crofter townships are by no means up to the ideal standard of what would be best for land settlement if the land-settlers had no obstacles to encounter when carrying out their scientific plans. But there are not only possessory rights, which the State might remove by purchase if it had boundless funds, and feared not to undertake boundless risks standing in the way of the theorists, but, likewise, natural obstacles arising from the way in which the scanty proportion of crop-bearing soil is distributed among the uncultivable areas. The separate holding, whether big or little, is doubtlessly far more desirable than the township system of common grazings and separate arable plots. And most desirable of all would be the formation of many moderately-sized farms, well fenced, which would have arable land sufficient for the working of a pair of horses, and grazings sufficient for a score of cattle and some hundreds of sheep. Things are drifting towards the formation of such a middle class of holdings, between large farms which only men with thousands of capital can venture to take and the usually small holdings of township crofters. The separate holding, be it a good-sized croft or a small farm, puts the occupier on his mettle. With fair rent, fixity of tenure, and compensation for improvements on disturbance, the energetic, thoughtful, frugal, and diligent occupier is sure barring what are called visitations of God, such as loss of crops by blight or bad weather, and loss of stock by cattle and sheep plagues to make more than ends meet, although he may benefit his country by having many hardy, healthy children, and training them up in the way they should go straight in paths of well-doing through life. On separate holdings the good and diligent would be as sure, as anything is sure in this world, of reaping the rewards of their merits; and the slothful, foolish, or debauched would, sooner than in township communities, fall under the punishment of their demerits. In the crofter townships the wastrels are indeed much fewer than they are proportionately among other sections of society, high or low; but few as they are, thanks to the influence of moral and religious public opinion among the crofters, they can make themselves pests to their neighbours, and some thorns in the flesh to their blood relations. Such black sheep are loud-tongued in public-houses, still more loud-tongued at local and parliamentary elections, and, in their own opinion, enlightened politicians of the predatory Socialistic school to which all loafers who seek to be kept up at honest people's cost, without being treated as self- made paupers worthy of coercion and forced labour, rightly belong. In the higher Socialism there is a wild but pure enthusiasm which claims respect, notwithstanding its madness; in the lower or loafer and criminal Socialism nothing of a redeeming character is discernible.

While the formation of farms of moderate size and of fairly large separate crofts should be looked upon as the best means for land settlement, it is a plan which cannot be everywhere carried out in the Highlands, although the building difficulty should in some way be got over, and the mountain tops and conies should be left to the deer as long as they yield higher rents than sheep, and relieve rates, and bring much money into the country. The township community system will have to continue where people have one hand on the sea and another on the land, and also, I fear, in inland places where the small areas of arable land are so situated among extensive grazings, that divisions of holdings would leave some without potato ground in their grazing stretches, and give to others more than their share of arable, and less of the better grazings, than their neighbours had. If introduced where people had not been for untold generations accustomed to it, the community system would be prolific in frictions and fractions, and produce wholesale discontent. But the Highlanders of the crofting regions know how to work it under time-honoured regulations, and settle any quarrels which arise quietly among themselves. Most of the faults of a theoretically bad system can be covered up by equitable administration. The crofting township is the remnant of what was once the general land system of all the Highlands, and of part of the Lowlands likewise. The crofting town-ships of to-day represent the immemorial order, when foundations were undermined by the invasion of sheep at the end of the eighteenth century, and which was blown almost entirely to pieces in the first half of the last century.

By twenty years' good conduct, and very notable material progress, the crofters have falsified many prophesies of evil, disarmed many prejudices, and gained the respect of former opponents. Landlords excusably defended their property rights, and thought, perhaps with some justification, that the Highlands were on the verge of becoming as unruly and criminally lawless as the worst parts of Ireland. They know better now, and discover also that without the crofter communities there would be a dearth of honest and capable farm and domestic servants, gamekeepers, foresters, gillies, and policemen, over all the Highland counties, whether under or not under the Crofter Acts. And without them where would have been the stalwart, trusty, and easily trained Highlanders of the new Territorial Force, and the brave recruits who serve in the Navy or in the Regular Army? So thoroughly has the temporary alienation been succeeded by renewed friendship, that nobility and gentry spare no effort to promote crofter material interests, and especially to save and give new life to the spinning, weaving, and dyeing domestic industries, which, after ceasing elsewhere, were kept alive in a weak state by the crofters' wives and daughters, with many other useful, self-helping arts which have come down from past ages.

In boyhood I saw in every house wheels merrily spinning flax and wool, much home-dyeing done, and country weavers busy at their looms. In early manhood I saw the profitable flax industry brought to its end, and after that the woollen industry brought to such a low state, step by step, that at last it had not an abiding place except among the crofter communities. These also were not sure cities of refuge until renovation, under a new stimulus, set in a few years ago. Welcome as it is, that renovation is too artificial for being relied upon as having an enduring commercial foundation. But it saves the arts of domestic industries from being lost, and it is possible that these arts may have yet a great value. Coal, steam, and machinery concentrated manufacturing industries in favoured localities. Division of labour robbed the workers of a great deal of inherited skill. They became mechanical adjuncts of division of labour and machinery, and, before the Factory Acts, the women and children were reduced to something like slavery, and the men themselves were thirled to capital until they organised themselves in trade unions, which do good when wisely used for legitimate defence, but are liable to be abused for the destruction of trade and for the oppression of non-unionists. I now and then indulge in a pleasant dream. I imagine that centralisation of organised manufacturing industries has reached its furthest limit; that decentralisation which means the emancipation of individualism- is about to begin, if it has not, in a small way, began in some directions already. Lady Electra throws her weird light of hope over this pleasant dream of decentralisation and emancipation. The Falls of Foyers are only one of the many places in which electricity can be caught and stored in our land of mountains and streams and lochs and arms of the sea. The sight I dream of is the restoration of the "calanas" to the coal-less Highlands by means of electricity as a motive power, so harnessed that in every house a woman can work a spinning jenny and a loom. What is between us and the realisation of that dream? Nothing which science and inventors cannot overcome. I suspect that the adaptation of machinery and the harnessing of electricity for domestic industries would soon be done if inventors and men of science turned their attention to that object from other objects which hold forth promises of higher fame and rewards. Is there not among all the scientific and inventive children of the Gael any who will solve the problem, and give to the Highland women remunerative work which will keep them at home to be wives and mothers of Highlanders, instead of drifting away, as too many of them now do, to seek service in cities and towns, where many of them find neither happiness nor fortune, and some meet a worse fate than all that.

In former days of town and mining districts' growth and prosperity, there was excuse for the drifting to these places of multitudes of single persons and of whole families from the country. There is no such excuse now. The hoarse distress cries of the unemployed, mingled in some instances with threats of riot and robbery, should make all who have the slenderest means of decent living in the country stick where they are, or, if move they will, let them go to Canada or some other British colony, and keep there to the rural pursuits for which they are so well qualified. The life of towns is not the natural life for the children of the Gael. Crofter-bred boys and girls, with exceptional talents and ambition to shoot out of their birth sphere into one or other of the professions of this age, must be a rule to themselves. But they will find most of the professions over-crowded, and the struggle upwards correspondingly severe. There are in nearly all parts of Scotland three, or perchance four or five, ministers of religion where one was before 1843, and that one, with the assistance of his elders, did more than the batch can do for practical religion and moral policing. Lawyers and doctors are so numerous that nothing short of universal litigation and chronic plagues could give them all the employment and fees they desire. The mania for education of the sort now in vogue has probably reached its climax, but the army of male and female teachers will, no doubt, be very large and costly for a long time yet ; and in colonies and other outside lands the call for teachers perhaps may get yet much stronger than it is at present. I may be a prejudiced octogenarian "dominie," but I doubt very much whether the present sort of popular education is as sound in principle as was the old parochial school system, which qualified the clever pupils for entering the universities, and having furnished the less clever ones with the reading, writing, and arithmetic keys of knowledge, let them go back to the most useful vocations for which they were fitted, without attempting to drive them through the asses' bridges of crams and exams. I think the pupils of the parochial and humble side-schools were better- taught to exercise their own thinking faculties on matters of faith, morals, and patriotism, than are the pupils of the new schools. The old class of pupils had more reverence for God and man than their successors of the present day, unless I happen to be entirely mistaken. When so many who hoped to forge ahead in lucrative trades or professions find themselves disappointed, they become discontented, and in their discontent take up the wildest views of this unsettled and unsettling age. I have met with many men of little learning, and very humble positions, who seemed to me to think more deeply and justly on questions, both of a public and private nature, than learned pundits, literary stars, and popular politicians are capable of doing, because they are less experienced in the science of human nature, or themselves bound to pander to the crafts or party factions which are fashionable for the moment, and promise them notoriety in literature, or seats in the House of Commons with prospects of offices or birthday honours.

The readiness with which former opponents have recognised their good qualities; the kindly consideration with which people of all classes and parties are willing to deal with claims of theirs which are reasonable in themselves, and can, with some State help, be granted without injustice to others; the world-wide fame gained by Highland soldiers in many wars, and the honours and success acquired in many lands by Highlanders in various callings, have laid the crofters under a burden of obligation to uphold by worthy conduct the high character of their race for manly honesty, morality, and patriotic loyalty. It is scarcely any exaggeration to say that, from the beginning of the crofter movement to the present day, all the dispersed Highlanders in all parts of the world have been watching it with the keenest interest and, at one time, with some fear lest it should compromise race-fame by slipping down into lawless Irish ways and methods. Irish and Clan-na-Gael incitements to enter into lawless and criminal conspiracies were not wholly wanting. Within the crofters' own ranks, foolish, blustering voices were heard, but not listened to by many. As a class the crofters could not let themselves down from the religious and moral platform to which, whether Presbyterians of divided communions, or old-fashioned Roman Catholics, they had been raised by ancestral training, and on which they were fixed by inclination and habit to discriminate right from wrong. I have the firm conviction that there will be no descent from the high platform now. Politicians willing to make unlimited promises for their own ends are seen through very clearly, and used as convenient and only temporary tools. It would be no great surprise if, on the next appeal to constituencies, the unlimited promise - givers found themselves sent about their business, and their seats given to native candidates. The crofters are not over-fond of "coigrich" or strangers, and many of them would like to fall back upon trusted native representatives, who did not make promises which could not be fulfilled, or, if fulfilled in some sort of way, would ignore the eternal distinction between right and wrong. In a certain sense we are all Socialists. Society, rightly constituted, has number- less mutual inter-connections for foundation corner stones. The crofters are, by the township system under which they live, compelled to be more Socialistic than other people. They know better than others how far Socialism, comparable with justice and individual freedom, is workable ; and their knowledge makes them determined enemies of the Socialism which seeks to deprive the individual of freedom, to confiscate property, and to level all to an equality abhorred by natural laws, and denounced and scorned by all communities which are not falling into imbecility and the abyss of chaotic destruction. Socialists have no chance for making- converts in Ireland and Wales, and as for the Highlanders, they are, outside the land question, as conservative a people as can be met with in any country.

Every State or incorporated nation has the right to take possession, on just purchase from former private owners, of all the land of its country, for redistribution, under new conditions, should compelling national needs require it and the purchase money be obtainable. State infringement on private rights, without purchase or compensation, shakes confidence and credit, and is a gross violation of rules of equity and sound policy. Of the pleas urged for State intervention on behalf of the crofters, two at least were thoroughly well-founded and so peculiar to the Highlands that Lowlanders had no share whatever in them. These were the building and maintenance of houses and premises by the people themselves, and no compensation for reclamation of land or any of/her improvement of lettable value on eviction, whether just or capricious, or on the tenant giving up his holding in a voluntary manner. I do not believe that capricious evictions were very numerous, but certainly they were not altogether unknown. Nor were a few cases in which, when a man had made improvements, his rent was raised forthwith. Highlanders have tremendously long memories. The tradition of tribal possessorship, with, in every district, a toiseach at the head of every locality, and a maormor at the head of a province, with a king over all, is ignored in feudal charters and records of the kingdom of Scotland from the reign of King David downwards. But this is mere tiegative disproof. The long- cherished belief was at least a fiction based upon facts. It was no stretch of the long Highland memory at all to recall the events of comparatively near times, when nobles, chiefs, and other proprietors resided almost constantly among their people in their Highland castles and mansions, and when between them and their people there was mutual knowledge baptised in clannish sympathy. In war and peace, and very generally in parish church worship, there were strong ties of union and communion between Highland landlords and people until Napoleon was finally crushed at Waterloo. After that the unpreventable industrial revolution, the evictions, and the introduction of the large-farm system, would not have wholly cut the old ties if noble landlords with huge estates had not delegated their powers to commissioners, chamberlains, and factors, and took to living away most of their time from their Highland residences, and had not other chiefs and proprietors got into financial difficulties, which left them no freedom to act 011 kindly intentions. Nothing was more certain to alienate Highlanders from those to whom they had been accustomed to look upon as their natural leaders, than to be subjected to the delegated power of factors, some of whom had ends of their own to carry out through acts of guile and insolent tyranny, and others of whom had no knowledge of Highlanders and their language, or patience with their fair claims of right. No doubt the honest Lowland factors were doing what they thought right, and which in law was justifiable. They were true to their employers, and not designedly cruel to the Highland people, with whom they had to deal on strictly legal principles. But the factor rule good, bad, or indifferent ran up a heavy score against the invisible or, at least, unapproachable landlords.

Having been made into a privileged class, and having, on the whole, proved themselves by material progress and sensible conduct, which disarms hostile criticism, worthy of the privileges bestowed on them, the crofters could have got in the first part of the Parliamentary Session of 1908, by concurrence of Lords and Commons, an Act to amend and extend the Crofter Acts, if the Secretary for Scotland had not resolved to roll up the cause of the crofters with his scheme for the Lowlands, whose case is radically different. Lord Lovat's Bill, and other moves and declarations, indicated the willingness of Highland landlords to remove reasonable grievances, and to meet the wishes of the crofters as far as they seemed to be just and practicable. How different is this appreciation of and kindly feeling towards the crofters by the landlords from the attitude most of them assumed, excusably, it must be said, in the early days of the crofter agitation? The use the crofters are making of their privileges has been the chief factor in this conversion, although other factors have played their part in it, such as the scarcity of upright and capable servant men and women, and the shuttle cock and battledore game between sheep runs and deer forests. Much has been won, and more can be won, by the crofters' peaceful behaviour, and their quiet persistence in making the best use of their privileges. Let the crofters, by continuing in well-doing, strive to keep and augment the sympathy and respect which they have gained far and wide from people who are not of their race. Let them strenuously uphold "Cliu nan Gaidheal."

Let my wild but pleasant dream of the restoration of profitable "calanas," in a huge volume, to our coal- less land of mountains and of streams, by the reversing wave of Lady Electra's fairy wand, be set aside in the limbo of vain imaginings for the present; but yet in the ordinary developments of changes which must proceed, with or without legislation, prospects of recovery in their native land are brightening for the children of the Gael, and by patience and wise use of increasing opportunities, the crofters may do more than other Highlanders towards turning these fair prospects into fairer realities. Highlanders scattered abroad and at home, and the descendants of Highlanders who left their country ages ago, look upon the crofter townships as the centres from which chiefly the Highlands are in time, and without noise or strife of any kind, to be again re-peopled by Highlanders, who, while as able to use English as Oxford and Cambridge professors, will retain along with it the language of their ancestors. If they drop the ancestral language, they will cut themselves off from an ever-flowing fountain of refreshment of mind and hereditary inspiration. It is really in the crofter townships that Gaelic has just now its last place of retiral and refuge; and even in them the security of the refuge is far from being lastingly guaranteed.


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