Check all the Clans that have DNA Projects. If your Clan is not in the list there's a way for it to be listed.
Glenora Single Malt Whisky

Electric Scotland's Classified Directory An amazing collection of unique holiday cottages, castles and apartments, all over Scotland in truly amazing locations.
Scottish Review

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

Scotland as it was and as it is
Chapter V - The Appeal from Chiefs to Owners


THE solemn appeal made by the Parliament of 1578 to the ordinary powers and legal rights of Ownership, as the best and only remedy for the terrible evils which had arisen, both in the Highlands and on the Borders, from a traditional and lawless Feudalism, was an appeal in strict accordance with the whole history and principle of progress in Scotland since the dawn of her Civilisation.

We have seen that from times dating at least 400 years before this Parliament, the right of Owners to select their own Tenants, and to let their own lands on whatever conditions for which they could get acceptance, had been so completely recognised as a matter of course, that the "passing away" of one set of Tenants, and the coming in of another set, was dealt with as a common contingency, and as requiring to be met by an equitable modification of the local burdens imposed for the support of Mills. Celtic Feudalism itself had largely taken advantage of those rights of Ownership by planting men upon estates who could be counted upon as absolutely at the disposal of Chiefs in any enterprise. And now we have to notice another appeal to the same legal power and rights made by a previous Parliament, and for a more permanent purpose. The appeal in the Acts of 1578 had reference to the maintenance of law and order,—to the restraint of feuds and broils, to the cessation of plunder and ravage committed against the peaceful subjects of the Crown who lived within reach of the Highlands or of the Border Clans. These were indeed the first and indispensable conditions of all internal improvement in the districts tenanted by the Clans, and also in all the districts accessible to them. Beyond this, however, the Acts of 1578 did not point to the advance of agriculture, or indicate any methods by which that great industry might be established among the people. But this had been done before. It had, indeed, been a continuous work going on for centuries. The foundations of it had been laid in the encouragement given to free Covenants; and more than a century and a quarter before this date the Act of 1449 had made all Tenants secure in the enjoyment of their Leases. But in like manner, and as an essential part of the system of free Covenants, the Owners of land were to be secured also in the fulfilment of all conditions on which such Leases had been given. Founding on this great principle, both of law and of equitable custom, another Parliament, that of 1454, had indicated to Proprietors that they could bind their Tenants by covenants of Lease to take their part in the agricultural improvement of the country. The particular kind of improvement which attracted the special notice of that Parliament is not a matter of great importance. Scientific agriculture was then unknown, and the interferences of legislation with agricultural industry were not always more intelligent than its interferences with the industry of the Towns. Generally, indeed, they were founded on the better policy of leaving men free to find out the best modes of promoting their own interests. On this occasion, however, for an immediate purpose of great importance, Parliament did point out one of the best and most fruitful means by which the Owners of land could exert their powers for the improvement of the country. The immediate object in view was the progress of enclosures, both for woods and the better fencing of arable land. So much that is valuable in principle is involved in this statute, and its very wording is so intimately connected with the working of chartered Ownership and Jurisdiction, that I give it in full.

"Anent the plantation of woods and hedges, and the sowing of broom, the Lords think it speedful that the King charge all his freeholders, spiritual and temporal, that in the making of their Whitsunday sets (lettings) they statute and ordain that all the tenants plant woods and trees, and make hedges, and sow broom, up to the faculty of their malings (the capacity of their holdings), in places convenient therefor under such pain and unlaw as the Baron or Lord shall modify."

This is rather a Minute or Memorandum as the basis of a law, than a direct Statute. But the informal legislation of those days includes many such admonitions and directions issued to the lieges, and historically they furnish some of the most valuable indications of the public policy of those times. In this case we cannot fail to observe the peculiar phraseology which is employed as to the power of Landowners in respect to the enforcement of the conditions on which they might choose to let their land. They were to "statute and ordain" in respect to that enforcement. Whence comes this expression, which was the usual phrase adopted to express the enacting authority of Parliament? The answer to this question brings us face to face with one of the most important of all the Institutions of those centuries— namely, the Courts of Heritable Jurisdiction, and the combination of these with the ordinary powers and rights of Landowners over the disposal of their property. We are accustomed to think of the Heritable Jurisdictions conferred by Charter upon the Owners of Baronial estates, and also upon the Magistrates of Royal Burghs, as Institutions indefensible in principle, and wholly barbarous in effect. That they led very often to great abuses and oppressions is certain. It is certain also that they became inconsistent with the universal prevalence of the authority of a central Government, and of the equal administration of justice by impartial tribunals all over the Kingdom. But it may well be doubted whether, in any of the centuries before the close of our Civil Wars, the Courts of Baronial Jurisdiction could have been dispensed with over a large portion of the country, and especially in the Highlands. This at least was the feeling of those centuries, and they were centuries full of the instincts which alone can build up a Nation.

Perhaps it will surprise many to know that in the few cases in which we can catch a glimpse of the ordinary working of these Institutions the truth of this feeling is very much confirmed. My own attention was first called to this question—one of great historical interest—by observing the stipulations which were universal in Leases down to our own times, by which all agricultural Tenants were bound to attend "the Baron Baillie Courts" of the Lordship or Barony in which their farms lay. Clearly those Tenants were not asked to appear before the Courts as litigants, or as accused persons, nor merely to express submission. They became bound to attend for some practical purpose, and it is quite evident what that purpose was. It was for the purpose of serving as jurymen or assessors to assist in the administration of justice, or as members of a Council for the general regulation of rural and local affairs. Accordingly, in the few cases "in which the records of these Baronial Courts have come to light we see that the system of Heritable Jurisdictions, which has acquired such an evil name, was in reality, in its best days, a thoroughly popular institution—one in which the Baron or the Lord exercised his powers and jurisdiction with the general assent of those over whom he held them. It is true, indeed, that the Tenants, and others who attended, could do nothing without consent and co-operation of the Lord; and it is certainly true also that he could do almost all he liked to do without them. But it is equally evident that ordinarily he acted with them and through them,—so that by means of these Courts not only did a great Baron execute in the main substantial justice, but a great Landowner could also the better introduce agricultural improvements, and enforce new ideas and new practices upon his Tenants by securing general acquiescence in their obligation and in their value.

All this comes out with striking clearness in the life of one great Highland Chieftain, and in the careful records which he has left behind him. We cannot do better than look carefully for a little into the evidence to be found in both.

Not very long after the death of Robert the Bruce, the ancient Barony of Lochow, which he had confirmed by a new Charter in the hands of the son of his old companion in arms, came in the usual course of inheritance into the possession of one Sir Duncan. He had two sons, the elder of whom, Sir Archibald, became the immediate progenitor of the first Earl of Argyll. To his younger son, Colin, Sir Duncan gave that part of his Barony and territory which consisted of the lands of Glenurchy, including the adjacent shores of Lochow at its head or eastern end. These lands have a remarkable geographical position. From that end of Lochow a very short hollow in the hills, leads up along a rough but easy slope to a low Pass, which is the watershed between the western and eastern coasts of Scotland. From the top of this low Pass, the same great gap in the surrounding hills opens into the long and somewhat winding glen or strath which in its upper reaches is called Strath-Fillan, then becomes occupied, first, by the small waters of Loch Dochart, next, by the larger waters of Loch Tay, and from that point constitutes the bed of the river Tay, till that river emerges on the Low Country north of Perth. This long stretch of glen, strath, and valley is the most remarkable transverse break in the mountain masses which constitute the central Highlands. It affords an easy access to those Highlands from the Eastern and Lowland Counties, and there is reason to believe that along it more than one of the great movements of passage and of invasion have found their. way. It must have been by this route that King Robert the Bruce passed westward to attack his enemy John of Lorne, and it was on the direct continuation of it that he fought the battle of Ben Cruachan in 1308. It is to a part of this long line of depression that the name Breadalbane properly belongs, the only name in which we have the survival of the old name "Alban" by which the whole Scottish mainland was known in the early days of the Scoto-Celtic emigration from Ireland.

From the moment when the younger branch of the Campbell family became Lords of Glenurquhay, they seem to have directed their chief attention to the extension of their authority and possession eastward along this great line of access to the Highlands of Perthshire. In the course of a few generations they had acquired the whole of it either in Superiority or in Ownership—had built Castles on Loch Dochart, at Finlarig near the western end of Loch Tay, and lastly at Balloch, near the eastern end of that Lake, and subsequently known as Taymouth. It would be difficult to find a more typical example of a great Highland estate and Barony. With the exception of a few fiats along the river-sides,---of a very few gentle slopes capable of cultivation at either end, and here and there about the middle,—almost the whole area consists of very steep and high mountains, with a few lateral passes, all more or less narrow and defensible, opening southwards towards Loch Lomond and Loch Earn, and northwards towards the wilds of Rannoch and Glenco. Yet into this country gathered from time to time various "broken men," and "broken Clans," who came to live under the protection of the Lords of Glenurchy on the usual terms of Celtic Feudalism, gradually passing into the more civilised relationship, founded on Charters, of Landlord and Tenant under written Covenants. In this great period of change the single life of Duncan, the seventh Lord. of Glenurchy, spans an important epoch in the history of Scotland. Born in 1545—only thirty-two years after Flodden, and early in the reign of Queen Mary—living through the whole of her reign, through the whole of the reign of James vi., both as King of Scotland and as King of England, and surviving through the first five years of the reign of Charles I., this Baron seems to have been one of the earliest of the great Landowners of the Highlands who exerted himself in the rural improvement of his country. By a fortunate accident his papers, and the papers of some of his predecessors, have been preserved, and a selection of them published by a competent and careful Editor. As Sir Duncan ruled for forty-eight years, from 1583 to 1631, these papers throw a flood of light on the economy of estate management, and of rural conditions generally during the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries.

Here we find a full explanation of the Act of 1454, when it exhorted Landlords to "statute and ordain" that certain things should be done by Tenants as conditions of their Lease. We find that the Baronial Courts were local Councils with very extensive authority over all kinds of matters. They voted their Regulations in the set form of Acts of Parliament—" it is statute and ordained." Moreover, these words are often (though not always) followed by words analogous to those in Acts of Parliament by which the Sovereign declared that he acted with the advice and consent of the other branches of the Legislature. So in the Baronial "Statutes" it is often narrated that they were enacted "with consent and advice of the whole Commons and Tenants." This form varies sometimes, for an intelligible reason, with the subject matter, where special interests were affected. Thus, in one case where the statute affected Mills, it narrates that it had been passed with consent of the "whole Tenants and Millers." Some of the statutes are for the enforcement of old Parliamentary enactments. Some are for the better regulation of morals, as where women are prohibited from going to drink without their husbands in public brew-houses. But the great majority of the regulations concern what may be strictly called estate management—the obligations laid upon Tenants to conform to certain rules necessary for their own welfare, the welfare of their neighbours, the comfort of the Cottars or Subtenants who laboured the ground, and the general improvement of the country. Some important facts come out very clearly in these and other relative documents. In the first place it is evident that all the poorer Tenants held their farms or "rooms" on the Steelbow tenure, under which the Landlord supplied not only the land but the stock and the seed corn.' It is needless to point out that quite irrespective of the powers and rights attaching, over the whole of Scotland, to the undivided Ownership recognised and conveyed both by Charter and by the immemorial usages which we have traced, this position of the Owner of the land being also the owner of the stock, and the lender of the capital required for seed, etc., by Tenants, was a position which must have rendered the exercise of his equitable as well as legal powers of admitting and removing Tenants, a matter of universal recognition. Accordingly among the Statutes of the Baronial Courts of Glenurchy, and in other documents of the same series, we find that the outgoing and incoming of Tenants was as much contemplated and provided for as it had been 332 years before in the legislation of William the Lion. Thus in 1621 , "it is statute and ordained that every Tenant and Cottar shall leave their Dwelling Houses, at their removing therefrom, as sufficient in all respects as they entered thereto—every person failing herein under the penalty of ten pounds "1 (Scots). So, again in 1624 there is a careful statute regulating according to a just valuation the sums which might be due by incoming and outgoing Tenants for houses and head-dikes respectively.2 One example is given of the forms pursued at an actual removal in 1596. The outgoing Tenant was removed by the authority and in the presence of a regular Officer of the Sheriffdom of Perth—the household gear was taken out, and the Cattle, Sheep, Goats, and Horses were led beyond the march of the farm, whilst the incoming Tenant was inducted into his new possession with the like formalities.8 There are a few indications that occasionally the removal of Tenants was unlawfully resisted; but these indications are so rare that they are classed with other acts of violence, against which men protected each other in their "Bonds of Manrent," just as they engaged to protect each other against the ravages of hostile Clans. Indeed, the common and usual danger against which these peculiar personal and family alliances were directed was not the danger of Tenants resisting lawful removals, but the danger of Tenants suffering unlawful violence from others than their Landlord. In one case among the published documents of this kind in the Book of Taymouth we find that the Lord of Glenurchy engaged in a "Bond of Manrent," to defend his friends of the name of Shaw, having lands in Menteith, against all kinds of injury from lawless men, and only as one item among many others, "to assist them in all actions of removing against their Tenants."

On the other hand, the common, usual, and indeed permanent condition of things in those centuries, was the inevitable dependence of the Tenants upon that protection from ravages and violence which lay ill the fear inspired by great Baronial Landlords in the minds of predatory neighbours, and by the power which lay in their hands alone of recompensing their Tenants and Retainers by the grant of new holdings of land where the ravages of such men had not been foreseen and prevented. Of this contingency and of the obligation which it imposed we have a pleasant specimen in a letter from Cohn, Lord of Glenurchy, father of Sir Duncan, in 1570, to one of his fol- lowers who had suffered from the great Robber Clan of those days—the Clan Gregour. The letter runs thus :-" Gregor M'Ane, I commend me heartily to you. MacCallum Dow has shown me how the Clan Gregour has taken up your geir and your poor Tenants' geir, the which I pray you to take no thought of, for albeit I have no cattle to recompense you instantly, I shall, God willing, make you and yours sure of rooms (farms or crofts) that shall make you more profit than the geir that ye have lost at this time, you being a true faithful servant unto me. And if the poor men that want geir, dwelling under you, be true to you, take them into the place upon my expense, and give to their wives and bairns some of my Victual to sustain them as you think expedient. I pray you have the place well provided with such furnishing as you may get, and spare neither my geir nor yet your own, for, God leaving us our health, we will get geir enough; . . . for albeit the geir be away and the ground wasted, I keeping that old House, and Holding (with) the rigs (ridges) whole, as God willing I shall, you being a faithful servant to me, my bairns and yours shall live honorable in it, God willing, when the plague of God will lie upon them and their posterity out of memory that molest me and you at this present."'

Returning to the enactments of the Baronial Courts of Glenurchy in the days of Duncan the seventh Lord, we find that the great powers which the conditions of Society, as well as mere law, placed of necessity in the hands of such Barons, were now setting steadily in the direction of civilisation and improvement. It was ordered that every Householder should provide himself with a Kitchen Garden, such as the scanty knowledge of those days could understand. They were "kailyards," to be well fenced from beasts, and to be stocked with Red Kail, and White Kail, and Onions. Every Tenant was to see that his Cottars, or Sub-tenants, were to be similarly furnished. This seems rude and simple enough. Yet, strange to say, there are thousands of Crofters and Cottars in the Highlands even at the present day, who have never provided themselves with even such kail-yards as this—far less the comforts of the newer vegetables, which are so easily grown, and are so great an addition to the comforts of a family. Similar regulations were laid down for an enclosed and protected place for peats for the Cottars. Careful and elaborate rules were laid down for the protection of existing woods, and for the systematic planting of a few trees, Oak, Ash, and Sycamore, on every farm, according to its size, from nurseries which were to be established in the kail-yards. The plants were to be furnished by the Lord at a fixed and very low rate. These seem to have been made conditions of Leases, and the statutes of the Baronial Courts were directed to the execution and enforcement of them by the general concurrence of the "haul Tenants and Commons." Similar regulations as to manure in the formation of dungsteads show a care on this head much in advance of the time and of the country, whilst another rule against ploughed and manured land too near the banks of rivers, is evidently aimed against the pollution of waters, and the injury of Fish.

But the question naturally arises, what kind of agriculture could possibly be practised in such a country? By far the largest part of it consisted in steep mountain-sides leading up to enormous moors, and very often leading not even to these, but to sharp ridges, which fall down as steeply again into some narrow glen on the other side. Artificial Drainage was unknown. The bottoms of the glens and of the wider straths were often swampy or occupied by bogs. Thus the only area at all capable of cultivation consisted of the knolls and the gentler slopes which lay between the flats of the bottom and the line above which the hills were too' steep for the plough. The universal custom all over the Highlands was to draw a "head-dike" somewhere along this line, and to cultivate such ground as could be made available below it. Potatoes were then unknown. Turnips were unknown. There was no green crop. Wheat was unsuited both to soil and climate. There was, and there could be, no rota-. tion. The only rest for the land was bare fallow, and dense crops of weed. The only crops which were raised, therefore, were some varieties of Oat, and Bear—an inferior kind of Barley. From these bread was made, and beer was brewed. The main produce of the country was Cattle, with some Goats, and a few Sheep. All of these pastured during the winter upon what they could pick up from the last stubbles, and from such coarse herbage as endured the season. No care seems to have been bestowed on making or saving hay. This indispensable article is not even named. It seems to have been unknown. The consequence was that the Cattle were of the most wretched description. When spring came, and it was necessary to sow the arable land, the Cattle and the few Sheep were turned out beyond the "head-dike" to graze upon the lower slopes, on which the wild grasses were beginning to appear. There they gradually picked up flesh as the season advanced. But Cattle, even the smallest and nimblest, are comparatively heavy animals, and there were thousands of acres on every mountain-side which were too steep for them to climb, whilst beyond these again there were miles of moor to which they could not go, and of green faces almost precipitous which every summer covered with a luxurious vegetation. What became of these great surfaces of country in those centuries? The answer is, that to an enormous extent they were absolutely lost, except for the use of Deer, respecting the care and preservation of which, as a valuable supply of food, there were careful "Statutes" made by the Baronial Courts. This is a subject on which there is the profoundest ignorance in the popular writings and impressions of the present day. The mountain areas are supposed to have been pastured by the Cattle of the Tenants and Sub-tenants. The fact is, that they were, for the most part, not pastured by domestic animals at all. And the only exception to this is an exception of great interest in the economy and in the rural life of the Highlands, which like many other exceptions is a signal proof and illustration of the general rule.

Every one who has walked much among the Highland mountains must have come with surprise, every here and there, upon curious marks of deserted habitations, in very secluded and distant spots. There are no such retentive memories as the grassy swards of mother Earth. They keep sacred for generations—sometimes even for ages—the marks of human life both in its joys and in its sorrows, in its business and in its amusements. Nowhere are the graves of men so well remembered as in swellings of the turf. Nor does it forget their pastimes. Looking down from the Terrace of Stirling Castle upon a field below which was grazed by cows, I was struck and surprised, many years ago, to see in the faithful grass the almost ghostly markings of a French "Parterre" which was once the Flower Garden of poor Mary Queen of Scots. And so almost anywhere among the hills we may find ourselves among little rings of mouldered wall—or of turfy ridges, sometimes circular, sometimes oblong, always very small, and generally placed in groups—suggesting rather the huts of a temporary encampment than any permanent buildings. They are always above the steep sides of glens, and they are never on the stony shoulders of peaks, or upon the summits. Sometimes they are among sudden knolls where the ground is dry, and where little tracts of soft green grass are invaded by tufts of heath, and look as it they would soon be covered by it altogether. Sometimes they are in natural hollows through which a "burn" flows, where the Dipper flits and dives, and where the Heron watches by the side of little pools. Sometimes they are on the top of sudden braes rising over a Moor Loch rich in Water Lilies, and lively with surface rings and dimples, which show it to be populous with Trout. But everywhere and always, if we look around, we can see that those who came there, to live or visit for a time, had an eye to the best pasture, the best shelter, and access to a fresh spring or to some running water. These are the summer "Shealings" so famous in Highland history, and the poetry of which makes men as mad now, as it made a primitive population happy, two hundred years ago. That population went to these distant and lonely spots for the one sufficient reason that their Cattle would not go to them unless they were taken there, and unless they were herded by the men and women and children during a few weeks in the middle of summer. Between these spots and the glens in which the people habitually lived, there lay perhaps miles of ascent almost precipitous, or of bogs which could only be crossed by careful paths, or of rocky ground on which the grassy bits were too few and scanty for the grazing of Cattle. It was not then even known that Sheep could be left to graze by themselves among the Highland mountains, The breed was a poor one with thin hairy wool, and considered so delicate that they were habitually folded even at night. Indeed, this was an absolute necessity, for the mountains were haunted by Wolves, and among the Statutes of the Baronial Court of Glenurchy there is one expressly enjoining the regular manufacture of weapons for the destruction of this savage animal. Their ravages must have been formidable indeed when at a date so late as 1622 we find that a case came before the Baronial Court respecting three Cows "whilk were slain by the Wolf."

Under such a combination of circumstances the only way of turning to any human use, even the most favoured bits of the upland pastures, was for the whole population of the Villages or Townships to turn out of their homes, with all their stock, at a certain season of the year, and migrate to some spot where pasture could be found sufficiently good, and sufficiently continuous to support for a time all the Cattle and other stock belonging to them. It was always, no doubt, a delightful time. From the smoky habitations deep in the hollows, where often the sun shone for a few hours only out of the twenty-four, it must have been a pleasant and a wholesome change to live almost wholly in the open air, amongst the fragrant heather, and with the splendid after-glows of the short midsummer nights setting off all the hills around in the superbest colouring. It did not require the conscious eye of a landscape painter to enable even a very primitive people to enjoy thoroughly such a change as this in the routine of life. Even the lower animals often exhibit that unconscious exhilaration of spirits which comes from the influences of Nature. Accordingly the "Summer Shealings" are the theme of much natural sentiment, and the description of them given by Mrs. Grant of Laggan in her once famous Letters from the Mountains, is referred to by gushing Ministers in the House of Commons, as if they represented a condition of things which it is possible or desirable to restore. They might as well go back to the description given by the same Mrs. Grant of life in a very different country and in a very different kind of wilderness. In my own boyhood I recollect having seen that venerable woman. Yet her girlhood had been spent at Albany, in the State of New York, at a time when she heard the talk of men just escaped from the savage and fatal fight of Ticonderoga, and when the path from the waters of the Hudson to the waters of Ontario lay through primeval forests, occupied only by a chain of posts at distant intervals, and dangerous from "the tomahawk of the Indian, and the scalping knife of the savage." Her delightful account of that journey' with her father, —the boating by day, the night encampments, the Mohawk villages and King,—is a still more striking picture of wild life than her account of the summer Shealings in the Highlands.

Both of these scenes belong to an age which, although so recent, has for ever passed away, and this not because of the decline of anything, but on account of the advance of everything. In nothing has there been a greater advance than in that branch of knowledge which, more than any other, has lain at the root of all civilisation—the knowledge how best to use and manage those domestic animals which were among the very earliest and most blessed possessions of mankind. The advance in this knowledge, which has reduced the summer Shealings to rings of turf, has been nothing less than one which has brought some nine-tenths of the Highland mountains for the first time under effective contribution to human use. The dense forests of the upper Hudson and Mohawk, through which Mrs. Grant travelled when a child, were not more useless to the American Colonies than the vast vacant pastures of the Highlands were useless to Scotland, when nothing but little bits of them were grazed during the few picnic weeks of midsummer. No one who has ever looked with an eye, however careless, at the mountains of Glenurchy and Breadalbane, could fail to see what a mere fraction of the ground could ever be used for Shealings. The steep acclivities of such hills as Ben Cruachan, Ben Doran, and Ben More are altogether inaccessible to Cattle. And even on the lower mountains with moory slopes, which were available for summer huts, we have only to consider how short the time was during which these were occupied, in order to estimate this tremendous waste. On this point we have precise information from the Baronial Courts of Glenurchy. It was an essential part of the system that no Cattle or other stock should be left at home. If any beasts of any kind were to remain behind, they would trespass on the cultivated land, and destroy the crops. Every man therefore in the Township must do as his neighbour did. Although the live stock was always the personal property of each Tenant, the management could not be individual because of the promiscuous grazing. Rigid rules therefore had to be laid down as to the moving to, and the moving from, the Shealings. From these rules we learn that in the central Highlands the migration of the people with all their Cattle to the hills was never to take place earlier than the 8th of June, and the return from them never later than the 15th of July.' That is to say, the whole time during which even a few bits of these great mountain surfaces were to be used for grazing, did not cover more than six weeks out of the whole year.

It is clear therefore that during all the rest of all the seasons, the whole of these mountain pastures, even the choicest bits of them, were left to the Deer and to the Wolf, to the Moor-fowl and to the Fox. Those only who have trod the moors and hills of the Highlands during the later summer and autumnal months, and have observed how rich they are in grasses, in addition to the heather, which in itself is highly nutritious, can fully estimate the wealth and the bounteousness of nature which was then wholly sacrificed to traditional and untutored ignorance. Even if the little bits of moorland, which were fit for Shealings, had been occupied all the year round, instead of for only six weeks, a mere fraction of the whole area of the Highland mountains would have been made available. There are hundreds of thousands of acres on every mountain group so full of sudden steeps, and little precipices of rock, that no breed of Cattle, however small and worthless, would ever attempt to approach them, even if they were herded in the neighbourhood. Yet these places are nevertheless very often full of ledges and crannies, of steep faces, and even little flats, of the richest vegetation—every inch of them a perfect garden of wild grasses and wild flowers ready to be converted by the Ruminants into human food and clothing. All these immense extents of surface were inaccessible from the Shealings.

Nor must we omit another immense item in our account. In estimating the enormous difference between the productiveness of the Highlands as they were in the centuries of which we have been speaking, and in modern times, we must take account not only of the immense extent of area redeemed since the Eighteenth Century to economic use, but we must estimate also the nature and value of the animals which came to be fed upon that area. Here, again, the Taymouth papers give us authentic information. From other sources we know that the old breeds of Sheep used in the Highlands were small, long- legged, and with coats more like hair than wool. So late as 1730 this was well described by Captain Burt in his well-known letters. But in the Tay- mouth Book we have an accurate statistical return of the numbers of stones (weight) of wool which these lean creatures produced; and from this return we gather that it took 27 fleeces to make up one stone weight. Now the poorest Sheep possessed by even the poorest Crofters in the Highlands will produce a stone of wool for every six Sheep, and many of them for every five Sheep. Each, therefore, of the old breed was worth less than one-fifth of one of the poorest of the new breed. It is no exaggeration to say that when in the progress of civilisation it was discovered that the finest breed of Sheep could, without being folded by night, or watched by day, live all the year round upon those mountains, and could seek out every nook of them in search of every patch of verdure, a very large part of the Highlands was as much redeemed from absolute waste as if it had been recovered from the sea.

It would, however, be a great mistake to suppose that those great areas of mountain were not valued, and very highly valued, by the Owners of them. Regulations laid down for the burning of the moors are as strict and careful as for the cultivation of the glens. The Moor-fowl they produced were part of the Owner's commissariat. No part of the whole country ever was, or ever could be, separated from the rest. In the first place, the Shealings, however few and isolated, were an essential part of the life of those times. The saving of all the home pastures during six weeks in the height of summer, was perhaps even more of a gain than the mere browsing of the hills. But, besides all this, the Owners of estates in those days set a high value on the mountains of their country for purposes of the chase. It is a great blunder to suppose that Deer Forests are a modern invention in the Highlands. The high money value of those Forests is new, but nothing else. The truth is that an area enormously larger than now was formerly occupied by nothing but Deer. Doubtless, Wolves and "broken men" poached and destroyed them much, and lawlessness often, led to the waste of this resource just as it led to waste and ravage beyond the hills. But the documents preserved, in the Breadalbane Charter Chest prove not only that venison was largely depended upon as an article of food by the Landowners of the Highlands during the centuries which lie more than 200 years behind us, but that they took great care to preserve Deer in special mountain areas set apart for the purpose. Thus we have a Lease of some land in Glenurchy, being part of the same hills which now form the Forest of the Black Mount, granted in 1687, and indicating very ancient customs, of which the terms were that the Tenant was to be Forester —that he was to keep off intruders,—that the Stock of Deer and Roe upon the ground as given to his care was to be estimated by the Chamberlain "and honest men in the country," so that it might be known how they prospered under his care, —that he was not himself to allow, or himself to use, any pasturing of Cattle except upon the outskirts of the Forest, and that he was to supply the Lord's House at Finlarig with not less than sixteen Deer between Midsummer and Hallowmas.

Leases and other transactions of this kind, and of many other kinds in great variety, show that the Lords of Glenurchy were in the habit of dealing with the whole area of their Estate as sole and undivided Owners; that they did so in full accordance not only with the phraseology of Charters, but in accordance with the unbroken traditions of immemorial times, and with the repeatedly expressed acquiescence, approval, and co-operation of all classes and ranks of men living on the land. In nothing is this more remarkable than in the fact that many of these men were themselves the living proofs of the exercise of such powers. They had applied for leave to come into the country under the protection of these powers, and continued to hold their possessions on no other terms whatever than the terms granted to them when they so entered. I have already hinted at the probability that if we could now fully trace the history of the population on many of the great territorial Estates of the Celtic Chiefs and Landlords, we should find that no small part of them had been recruited almost as soldiers are recruited, or adopted in groups and families of "broken" Septs, who came to seek protection, and were selected and planted on the land in substitution for disloyal or predatory Septs who were driven out. This suspicion is amply confirmed by the remarkable collection of Bonds of Manrent which are published in the Book of Tay- mouth. For here we have every variety of circumstance which can show the absolute powers of disposal over the land, which were exercised by the chartered Owners, and which it was absolutely necessary to exercise, for the peaceable settlement and improvement of the country. Moreover, we have in these Bonds of Manrent a very clear explanation of the language which has suggested to many writers a hazy notion that the Celtic Chiefs were chosen or elected by their people. For in these Bonds we see that "broken men," coming to settle in the Lord of Glenurchy's country, were said to "elect him to be their Chief," exactly in the same sense in which a recruit may be said to elect the commanding officer of the Regiment in which he chooses to enlist. Yet the Colonel of the 91st Highlanders would be very much astonished if he were said to be elected by his men.

It is curious, indeed, to observe how complete is the evidence in these Documents of the ancient, widespread, and perfectly natural customs by which Clans in the Highlands had come to be built up during many centuries on the ruins of the prehistoric Tribal system. Except that the fragments which from time to time aggregated round powerful Chiefs were generally all of the Celtic race, there was not necessarily any blood relationship, and sometimes men from even the most hostile Septs came in to join. Thus in 1552 several families, formerly belonging to the Clan Gregor, renounce Macgregor, "their auld Chief," and in their Bond of Manrent record that they have elected and chosen the Lord of Glenurchy and his Heirs as "their chiefs and masters."' This is a transaction repeated over and over again, and seems to have been then quite common. Nor is it less interesting to observe the use made of such men when they were admitted and accepted as Tenants on the Glenurchy Estate. In the following year, 1553, we have a Lease granted of some lands in Rannoch, taken from the Clan Gregor, to a gentleman of the name of MacCouliglas. In this Lease we see the inseparable connection which existed then between the political and the agricultural interests of the country—between the legal exercise of Chartered rights, and the suppression of the rival powers of Celtic Feudalism. In this Lease the Tenant is bound to take in no Subtenants, except such as should be subordinate to himself—to support the Lord of Glenurchy in all his lawful quarrels except against the Crown or against his Chief, the Earl of Argyll—to labour and manure the land and to make his principal residence upon it---also to guard the Forests and the Woods—all for the purposes and objects which are explained very clearly in these words:-" Always and until he may bring the same to quietness for the common weal of the country, and shall not suffer any of the Clan Gregor to have entry or intromission of the foresaid lands."' Nor did the Lords of Glenurchy limit their action for these purposes within their own Estates. By Bonds and Agreements between themselves and smaller Owners of land who were less able to defend their own interests, this younger branch of the Clan Campbell exerted their influence all around them to the same ends. Thus in 1590 they bound themselves to the Robertsons of Strowan to help them to evict and remove Tenants who belonged to the hated Clan Gregor, and to maintain in possession the loyal men whom the Robertsons might plant in their room. Thus, again, in the case of a Widow Lady in possession of an Estate in which probably there was some danger of her strength being insufficient—she comes under an obligation not to admit as her Tenants or Subtenants men who were not first submitted for approval to the Lord of Glenurchy.

The criminal jurisdiction of the Barony seems to have been exercised with care, and with an ample apparatus of form and of publicity. The Assessors or Jurors seem to have been generally fifteen in number. Fines were imposed for offences against the Statutes of the Barony. Sheep-stealing, as in our own code up to a very recent date, was punishable with death, and one case is given with the evidence in full, in which this penalty was inflicted the sentence of the Court being pronounced by an officer called a Chancellor. But the great criminals of those days could not be successfully pursued by the ordinary law, whether in Royal or in Baronial Courts. The most notable exercise of criminal jurisdiction which is recorded in the Book of Tay- mouth is that by which the Lord of Glenurchy, in 1552, assisted by two of his vassals, Campbell of Glenlyon and Menzies of Rannoch, caught and beheaded one Duncan MacGregor and his two sons, who for more than forty years had been the terror and scourge of the central Highlands.

On the whole, these Journals of a Baronial Court give a very favourable impression of the way in which they were ordinarily conducted, and of the indispensable function they must have discharged throughout the country in familiarising the people with the highest sanctions, and with the regular operation of authority and of Law. Considered merely as a means of enforcing the few and simple rules and usages which a very rude condition of agriculture rendered necessary, and some of which were requisite for the management of a great territorial Estate, they must have played a valuable and important part. In this capacity, they must have been essential to the ready and easy administration of those powers of Ownership to which Parliament had always wisely appealed against the lawless ties by which men then banded themselves against Society. It is evident that in these Courts, with their regular and stipulated attendance of Tenants and Feuars of all classes, the authority of Baronial Proprietors was conducted upon principles and in the exercise of powers which were universally accepted as just and rightful. They were in truth traditional powers, as well as chartered powers, and beyond them the memory of man did not run. This aspect of the Heritable Jurisdictions has been too much overlooked. A few great cases of abuse arising out of the inevitable corruption of Celtic Feudalism when it could (as it often did) possess itself also of such an instrument of power, have tended to raise an unjust amount of prejudice against the old Heritable Jurisdictions. In their own time they were indispensable. In fact they were highly popular Institutions, both for the local administration of Justice, and for the local administration of rural affairs.

It must be remembered that it was not in what is now called ordinary crime, still less was it in even a thought connected with agrarian violence, that any danger to civilisation then lay. The real danger —the constant and pressing evil—from which Society then suffered was one which could rarely be dealt with by any Court, because the criminals could not be brought before them until after they had been subdued by arms. Against those criminals Parliament appealed to great Landowners to strike at the root of the evil by not allowing "broken men" to live upon their Estates. It is not until we read the contemporary documents of that time that we can bring home to ourselves the wretched condition of every district of Scotland which was sufficiently near the Highlands to be within striking distance of predatory Clans. A most false and perverted sentiment has come to make men treat as a joke, or even to sing of as a glory, the doings of men whose conduct was characterised by a treachery and brutality which may now seem almost incredible. It is not until we have gone into some detail, and looked matters in the face as they really were, that we can at all understand the absolute necessity which was then attached to the complete power of removal, and of replantation, which the Landowners always had, and which they were specially exhorted to use in the interests of industry and of peace. This and this alone explains the constant stipulations recurring in the Bonds of Manrent between the Lords of Glenurchy and others, whereby it is anxiously provided how lands are to be cleared of predatory Clans, and repeopled with loyal and peaceful men. Some of these Bonds seem very savage in their terms, but they were more than justified by the incomparable ferocity of those against whom they were directed. I will take a case from the Book of Tayrnouth that may in some degree help us to realise what the condition of things was against which civilisation had to fight.

In 1589 the great event which occupied attention in Scotland was the approaching marriage of the Sovereign, James VI., to the Princess Anne of Denmark. The Bride was to come to Scotland, and immense preparations were made to receive her. It will be remembered that angry winds detained the Princess—that they ultimately dispersed the fleet conveying her—that the King was obliged to postpone his marriage till he himself could go to Denmark after some months' delay—that the wedding took place accordingly in Denmark—and that James and his Bride did not return to Scotland until May 1590. But in the autumn of 1589 all this was unforeseen. It was known that the Princess was on the point of setting sail, and with a favourable breeze her Convoy might have been seen any day entering the Firth of Forth and dropping anchor in the harbour of Leith. The Nobles and the people of Scotland seem to have been desirous and ambitious to give a great reception to the Foreign Princess who was to be their Queen. Each and all were eager to contribute something of their best for the festivities of the occasion. Amongst others, Lord Drummond, whose territories included the famous Forest of Glenartney, desired to supply his Sovereign and his Queen with the best venison from a pasturage of such great renown. Not, indeed, for more than 200 years was that Forest to be made for ever famous beyond the bounds of Scotland by that immortal opening

"The Stag at eve had drunk his fill
Where danced the moon on Monan's nil,
And deep his midnight lair had made
In lone Glenartney's hazel shade."

But although its reputation was then local, it seems to have been well established. There was, however, one awkward circumstance about it, which must have been a serious impediment to sport. It was dangerously near the territory and, indeed, the head-quarters of the terrible Clan Gregor. They were specially seated on the hills and glens which fall into the northern and western shores of the beautiful Loch Katrine, whence easy passes led to the neighbourhood of Glenartney. The sportsman in that Forest might very suddenly find himself converted from the Hunter into the Hunted, and be overtaken by the fate he had intended for the Deer. Lord Drummond knew the danger, and he determined, therefore, to take every precaution. Through more than one friendly channel, therefore, he seems to have secured a safe-conduct for those whom he intended to send to slay the Deer. He then chose a gentleman of his own Clan and name, Drummond of Drummonderocht, who was to repair to Glenartney and procure the venison. Accordingly this unfortunate man proceeded on his mission, and began his hunt. He was doubtless watched from his entrance, and when far from all succour or alarm, he was surrounded by the lMacgregors, and barbarously butchered. The method of the murder is quaintly expressed by the document which relates it in the Book of Tayrnouth, which tells us that the Clan Gregor's dealing with poor Drummond was that they "cuttit and aff-took his Heed." According to another barbarous usage of the Clans, the bloody head of the victim was exhibited to as many of the Clan as could be collected in order that by their own code of honour the whole of them should be implicated in the deed, and banded equally in its defence. Ghastly as this story is, it is not so ghastly as its sequel which is told by Sir Walter Scott.' The murderers proceeded with the head to the House of Stewart of Ardvoirlich, whose wife was a sister of the victim. Not knowing their horrid burden, the poor lady offered them hospitality, and when she was engaged in her kitchen preparing their food, they found means of placing her brother's bloody head upon the table, so that it might confront her on her return. The dreadful sight drove her shrieking into the woods, and ended in depriving her of her reason. But before she died she bore a child, in whom the taint of her insanity seems to have come out fifty-four years later, when he committed a treacherous and cruel murder in the camp of the Marquis of Montrose. Such are among the shocking incidents which were not unfrequent in the history of the Clans. It was in consequence of this outrage by the Macgregors and of others of the same kind deemed specially barbarous even in those days, that we find war to the knife proclaimed against the Clan Gregor, and in one case we have a Lease of lands given by the Lord of Glenurquhay, in which it is the main condition of the Tenancy that the holder of it should be in deadly feud with the Macgregors, and should engage to slay and capture them on all possible occasions, whether by open or by secret means.

We see then how the chartered rights of Ownership over land, involving the free and complete disposal of it in all its areas and in all its surfaces, constituted the one great power which alone could mitigate and ultimately abolish the desperate evils which had been developed under the lawless powers and tendencies of Celtic Chiefs. It afforded the only means of introducing with authority the dawning light of agricultural improvement. It afforded the only means of substituting universally the idea of fixed and stipulated rents, for uncertain and arbitrary exactions. It afforded above all the only means of securing that the country should be in habited by peaceful and loyal men.

Turning now from the Central to the Western Highlands we find the same processes in active operation, and always with the same result. The transfer of territorial Estates from Chiefs who were disloyal, to others who were loyal to the Crown and the Constitution, was uniformly followed by corresponding migrations of the subordinate population. These were not clearances of the true old Celtic type such as that which doomed the whole population of the Island of Eigg to suffocation in a cave, or that which swept off the people of the Upper Dee under the exterminating vengeance of the Chiefs of Huntly and of Grant. In the regular transfers of Ownership effected by Charters from the Crown, after the conquest of rebellious Clans, a great part of the true old "nativi," or Celtic occupiers, had never any difficulty in transferring their allegiance to a new Chief or Landowner. Smaller Septs who had settled under the protection of some great Chief were equally ready to accept the same protection from his successor, and so it resulted that were actually removed were only the military and predatory elements of the Clan. Still, this element was large enough, and above all, its possessions in lands and "rooms" were always large enough to give scope for extensive re-plantation of the country. All this indeed had been going on for centuries, but generally until the times of which we are now speaking, there was little change for the better in these re-plantations. One Clan superseded another by massacre or displacement. But the new-corners were as purely military and as purely predatory as their predecessors had been, and no new element of value either in blood or in habits and ideas was rooted in the country. Now, however, after the Union of the Crowns, and the gradual but steady establishment of more civilised Lords and Barons in the Highlands, these re-plantations of the country, often gradual but continuous in their operation, worked an important change. Not only was new blood frequently introduced, but also "milder manners, purer laws;" whilst the whole mind and attention both of Owners and of Occupiers of the soil began to be set on living by peaceful industry instead of by predatory violence.

We have one striking illustration of the great and beneficent changes which were thus brought about, in the history of the Highland District of Kintyre in the county of Argyll. There is no more remarkable feature in the physical geography of Scotland than the long narrow Peninsula of Kintyre which stretches so far out into the Western Sea that at its termination in that direction it approaches within 14 miles of the Irish Coast. Round the stormy Headland thus presented to the western winds the whole force of the Oceanic tidal wave from the North rushes in boiling eddies, rising constantly into foaming and dangerous seas. The brave navigators of the North must have rounded it constantly in their way from the Northern to the Southern Isles. But they had a method of avoiding it with at least their lighter vessels, for across the narrow Isthmus which separates Kintyre from Knapdale on the North, they were accustomed to drag their galleys from Loch Tarbet to launch them in Loch Fyne. They thus anticipated an economy of time, of distance, and of danger which our modern coasting trade does not now enjoy, but which will certainly be accomplished some day whenever the eyes of enterprise and of common sense are opened to the obvious utility and value of the short canal which alone is needed at that point to unite the Eastern and Western waters, and to escape some 60 miles of stormy and dangerous navigation.

A great area of land so conspicuous to all corners whether from the South or from the North,—which fronted the navigators northwards from Galloway and from Man, and Banked on the East for many miles the course of galleys southwards from Mull, Skye, and the Scandinavian Seas,—must have from the earliest times attracted the notice of all the hardy Tribes which were peopling those lands with settlers. Nor would this attraction be diminished when they landed on it. Hilly, but hardly mountainous,
its green sea margins,—the slopes above its low cliffs which have been long abandoned by the waves, and here and there wide openings of comparatively level land,—all afforded precisely the sort of country most easily converted to purposes of pasture and of the rude cereal cultivation which was then practised. Moreover, there was another great feature about Kintyre which has always determined the early settlements of maritime populations. Near the South-eastern termination of Kintyre its shores retreat suddenly into a long and deep bay, or loch, somewhat sinuous in its course, and with its entrance marked by a high and precipitous island, which effectually protects one of the finest harbours on the British coasts.

Here, accordingly, we find that the Scoto-Irish missionaries had established one of their earliest churches, and Kiaran, one of Columba's followers, had given his name to the harbour and the loch. Here, in later times, the Kings of Scotland had erected a castle, and in their naval expeditions to and from the Isles, they had repeatedly made it a point of gathering or rest. In all the contests for and about the Lordship of the Isles, Kintyre was treated practically as one of the Islands from its almost exclusively maritime position. The Lord of Islay and of Kintyre had befriended Bruce, had harboured him in Kintyre, and the place in which he entertained him is as peculiar and beautiful as many more celebrated sites. All round the Western coast of Scotland there are many remains of the Old Red Sandstone rocks, which geologically are of much more recent date than the grey and slaty schists which form the great mass of the Highland mountains. Along the shores of Kintyre these remains are chiefly confined to the outlines of the existing shore, and to an older line of beach, from which the sea has now retired. At many places they present the character of pudding- stones, or of a conglomerate of pebbles cemented in a red paste of sand. Near the south end of Kintyre these rocks are at some points conspicuous. At one spot they present a remarkable position of defence. In a recess of the coast, containing some of the richest land in Kintyre, in the middle of a beautiful curved bay of sand and pebbles, backed by link- land, meadow, and dunes, some strata of this conglomerate have been tilted up, and now form a small rocky promontory with sharp edges, turned steeply to the sky. On one side they fall in a perpendicular precipice eastwards into the sea; on the other side they slope abruptly into a shallow bay, whilst farther round towards the beach the place is protected by the sea-pool of a considerable stream. By one narrow neck alone is it accessible at all from the land. On this curious "Dun" or isolated rocky headland the Lords of the Isles, and all the Clans and Tribes who ever settled in Kintyre, had erected one of the principal castles of defence. "Dunaverty" commands a magnificent view. From it the coast of Ireland seems close at hand, with the island of Rathlin, Bruce's hiding-place in 1307, seen to the extreme right. Southward and eastward it swept all the sea approaches from the Isle of Man and from the Clyde. In this stronghold, when the Clan Donnell had entered on their long career of hostility to the Crown of Scotland, they had often defied the attacks of their enemies. In the final contest, however, with the Campbells and other Clans who were loyal to the Scottish Monarchy, they were defeated early in the 17th century, and Kintyre passed into the hands of the Earl of Argyll, the leader of the Confederacy which acted for the Crown. The Macdonalds of Islay and Kintyre, however, had not in vain meddled so long in the bloody rebellions and feuds of the Irish Celts. They had established themselves there in territorial possessions, and in-the succeeding reign of Charles i. they blossomed into the Earls of Antrim, and did their best once more to subdue Scotland under an Irish and Catholic invasion.

When the Campbells entered upon possession of Kintyre they found the country to a large extent devastated by wars. Out of 353 merk-lands in the whole Peninsula no less than 113 were lying waste.' As in other similar cases the native people and the minor Clans who were willing to accept a new Chief were unmolested, and not a few of them remain in possession of their lands to the present day. But the migration of the leaders to Ireland, and the devastation which continual wars had caused, left large areas to be filled up on the principles which had been so wisely inculcated upon Owners by the Parliament of 1587. It is doubtful whether this process of the plantation of peaceful and loyal men was ever pursued in any part of Scotland under such peculiar circumstances or with so happy a result. It so fell out that not many years after Kintyre had been placed in the possession of the Argyll family, the great contests of our civil wars began. In that contest the Marquis of Argyll took the side which was identified with the Reformed Church in Scotland, and with the determined opposition of the Presbyterian people to the arbitrary measures of Charles I. So early as about the year 1640 he either invited or accepted the offer of a number of Presbyterian families from the counties of Ayr and Renfrew who were disgusted by the persistent measures of the Government to impose Episcopacy upon the Church. These families the Marquis of Argyll settled upon his estate in Kintyre. A second plantation of Lowlanders took place between 1649 and 1660. This was only one item in the whole course of his policy and conduct in support of the popular cause which brought him to the scaffold in 1661. His son, however, the ninth Earl, inherited his sympathies, and pursued the same course, at the same ultimate sacrifice of his life. After the Restoration, as is well known, all the power of Charles ii. and his agents was employed in hunting down the opponents of his policy, religious and political, who were especially numerous, and especially devoted in the Western counties south of the Firth of Clyde. As Bruce used to watch, sometimes from Kintyre or from Arran, the beacon-fires which were lighted for him on the opposite coast of his native Carrick, so did the Earl of Argyll or his agents watch the swellings of persecution which raged against the Covenanters of IRenfrewshire, of Ayrshire, and of Wigtown. On a fine summer evening the low, pink hills of these coasts seem near to men who look for them from the headlands of Kintyre, whilst the noble precipices of Ailsa Craig are, as it were, a halfway milestone between the coasts. With a southerly or western wind a few hours' sail was sufficient for the passage. What more natural than that the Covenanters should look occasionally across the water, and should seek for shelter in a portion of the Highlands where so many of their kindred were thriving well, and which was under the rule of a Chief who exercised his power in favour of the Constitution and of the Protestant religion? And so it was that a third migration came into Kintyre. The persecuted Lowlanders crossed in not inconsiderable numbers, and were again planted in various vacant lands all over the estate.

It will mark the continuity of Scottish history, and the sense in which our days have been hitherto "bound each to each by natural piety," if I relate here an incident which occurred to myself in connection with this plantation of Lowlanders in Kintyre.

The deep depression in the line of hills constituting the backbone of Kintyre, which gives entrance to the sea along the shores of Loch Kilkiaran (now called Campbelltown Loch), is a depression which stretches right across the Peninsula from sea to sea. It amounts, indeed, to a complete gap in the hills, and it widens rapidly towards the western shore, where it terminates in a long sandy bay, called Machrihanish, into which the surf of the Atlantic rolls with such tremendous force that the roar of its breakers can be often heard, in favourable conditions of the atmosphere, so far off as the coast of Ayrshire. This great depression in the central ridge is a feature of much interest both in the geological structure and in the economic history of the district. Its geological interest lies in its immense antiquity. It dates from before the formation of the Coal Measures. Then as now, this hollow was a deep depression in some surrounding country, and formed a "basin" in which the usual succession of deposits was made which constitute a coal-field. It is entirely separated from the other coal-fields of Scotland, and is the only one existing in any portion of the Highlands.' Ever since that age of unmeasurable antiquity it has continued to be subject to the same conditions of alternative depression under the sea, and of slight elevation above it. A thick bed of leaves, derived from the tangled growths of willow and of hazel, testify to a time, very recent, when it was occupied by brushwood. Over that bed there is laid a deposit of marine gravel and of clay, showing that it had been again lowered under the ocean, and the south end of Kintyre had been made an island by a broad belt of tidal waters washing through Loch Kilkiaran between the eastern and western shores. Another elevation had lifted this area again—also during very recent times—and it became covered with a dense forest of oak, whose immense roots and gnarled trunks testify to the length and greatness of their ancient growth. Whether by fire or by inundation, or by other means, this forest fell into decay, and stagnant waters soon accumulated, round and over its fallen trunks, the matted mosses and other vegetation which by decay and pressure became converted into peat. Hence the whole of this wide depression became one enormous peat-moss, stretching from the foot of the hills on one side to the foot of the hills upon the other. Indications have been found that Prehistoric Man occupied the country before these forests grew; whilst more recent remains prove that races of much higher civilisation had carried their arms around the great moss, and had occasionally hid them in recesses of the peat. Very lately a ploughman was startled by the clash and clangour of sounding metal, and by shining fragments scattering around his feet. His ploughshare had broken up a bundle of those beautiful leaf-shaped swords of bronze, with which the Britons and the Picts had encountered the legions of Csar and of Hadrian. The silent continuity of causation had in this, as in many other cases, been perfectly compatible with a very sudden catastrophe. Buried, perhaps, originally many feet beneath the surface of the moss, these swords had escaped the cutting of drains, and for probably 2000 years had lain where they were found. With infinitesimal slowness after it had been reclaimed, the peat had been shrinking and settling from increasing loss of moisture, until at last the moment came when the ordinary depth of ploughing just enabled the coulter to reach the long-hidden armour of some doughty Pict, and then his graceful yet formidable swords were dashed along a very different surface from that in which he had hidden them.

Since the beginning of historic times it has been the work of Husbandry to cultivate along the margins of this great sheet of bog, and here and there to make inroads upon it, and to extend the area of pasture or of corn. Under the manly system of Free Covenants between Owners and Cultivators this work has gone bravely on, and some of the finest farms in Kintyre have been won and furnished upon the old area of bog. On one of my first visits to the Estate I was told of a small farm situated in the middle of this moss, upon one of the little hills which rise out of it, and afford a vantage-ground of dry land. The Tenant was said to be the lineal descendant of one of the earliest refugees from the Lowlands, whose family had remained ever since upon the Estate, although they had changed repeatedly from one possession to another. The historical interest attaching to such a case, as well as the account given to me of the character of the family, led me at once to visit it. I found it a typical example of the middle stage of progress between the genuine old Highland "steading," and the finished and elaborate accommodation which farmers have been asking and have been getting during the last half-century. One long line of low thatched houses built across the slope of the Hill without any attempt to keep a level, or to have any dressing of the ground, recalled the oldest arrangement of Highland hovels. As in them, the shelters for cattle were part of the same range, and in close proximity to the kitchen. As in them, too, this apartment was without a chimney, the fire being made in the centre of the floor, round which the family congregated in the evenings, the smoke curling out at an aperture in the raftered roof, whilst the heat and light were distributed in a warm and comfortable glow among those who sat around. On the other hand, the best apartment was a neat parlour with a regular fireplace, and a couple of beds somewhat recessed in the wall. Moreover, instead of mere turf and loose stones according to the old Highland fashion, the walls were rough stones put together with lime, and though by no means rigidly perpendicular, yet fairly solid. The table in the parlour was covered with such Books as Sir William Hamilton's Lectures, and the best treatises on Philosophy and Theology. These were the prizes won by some of the sons at the University of Glasgow. The father of the family, whose name was Huie, was accustomed to sit on a rough but picturesque chair of oak, rudely carved, with the date of 1626 cut in conspicuous figures on corners of the back. This was a relic of their migration. It had been brought with them from Ayrshire when their ancestors had sought refuge from the persecutions of the Restoration.

Of its hereditary owner I cannot speak without memories of affectionate respect. He was as much a bit of continuous history as the chair which was his domestic throne. Not less visibly than on it, the date of 1626 was carved in legible letters on his brow. As a Celt myself I like to think that the ease and natural dignity of his manners were not wholly underived from the Highland country to which his ancestors had removed. But the type of his religion came, undoubtedly, from the Lowlands. It was the religion of the Covenant very slightly modified. It did not show itself ostentatiously, but in little things. Forms which have become hardly more than forms to us, were vivid realities to him. "Grace before meat" was one of these. I have heard it sung in voices of exquisite harmony by the Glee Club in London. I have heard it monotonously recited in Latin in College Halls. I have heard it droned by chaplains at public feasts; and who has not seen the last stages of its decay in the scarcely instantaneous pause of tongues at an ordinary table? But never but once have I heard a real "grace before meat." After a ride of some eleven miles, with as much before him on his return, I had occasion once to urge Mr. Huie, then above eighty years of age, to take some food. He would accept nothing but tea and bread. But before taking it he said he was sure I would excuse a habit which he knew had become unusual. And then, bowing his grey head, he poured forth a prayer, which was a prayer indeed, full of the old man's belief in the presence and in the reality of the Providence which dispensed his daily bread. He was exactly the sort of man who would have led the singing of a congregation in the hills when the ruffians of Charles ii. and of Lauderdale were already galloping upon them.

Such is the sturdy blood which was brought into this district of the Highlands by the right of letting land freely to free men, in the exercise of the ordinary powers of Ownership. It has answered admirably. The Highlanders were not supplanted. Both races were, as elsewhere in the best parts of Scotland, blended and interfused. The process has gone on for more than 200 years. Celtic Tenants are still among the best—not by special favour, but under the stimulus of a healthy rivalry, and by survival of the fittest. There is no race in the world more intelligent or more industrious than the Celts when they are brought under such conditions. Campbells and Stewarts, Mackays and Macalpines, are found side by side with Hunters, and Wallaces, and Montgomeries, and no district in any part of Scotland has made such rapid advances in agricultural improvement.

From this remarkable example of the powers of Ownership exerted in the cause of liberty and of civilisation, it is most instructive to turn to one of the last exhibitions of Celtic Feudalism yoked to the cause of despotism and oppression. The contrast is all the more remarkable since the two transactions may be said to have been contemporary, and to have stood in close relation to the same political conditions. Probably no legitimate Government of modern times was ever so utterly bad as the Government of Scotland under Charles ii., conducted by Middleton and Lauderdale, and animated by Arch- bishop Sharp. The passions of a secular despotism are often savage enough, but they are generally less relentless when they stand alone than when they are inspired by the religious passions of ecclesiastics. Both were combined under Charles II. A vindictive voluptuary hounded on by a fanatical priesthood, was indeed a terrible affiance. They determined to try to bend to their purpose that very power of Ownership to which the Parliament of Scotland had appealed with a nobler aim. They determined to call upon the Barons and the Proprietors of the Western Counties to put down the Presbyterian Covenanters. For this purpose a Bond was presented to them all, by which they engaged to turn out of their farms and from off their lands, all Tenants who should attend the hated Conventicles. But the powers of Ownership had already brought about in those counties that sympathy of feeling and identity of interests which are deeper seated than the ties of a traditional brotherhood in blood and arms. The Lowlanders, as we have seen, had also been related to each other, not less than the Highlanders as Chiefs and Clans. But only enough of this old relationship remained to give warmth and zeal to the growing and deepening relationships of a peaceful and settled industry. The Barons and the Gentlemen of the Western Counties were thrown into mutiny against the Government. In vain were they threatened with all the vengeance of the Crown, and with the quartering upon them of a lawless soldiery. In vain were the King's forces, then employed in the north of Ireland, ordered to concentrate upon the coast nearest to the shores of Ayr and Galloway. Some, with loud remonstrances against the legality and justice of such a bond—some, with silent and passive but effective resistance—a few only with even a nominal compliance—but all with one heart and mind, either refused to take, or avoided to act, upon this infamous engagement. The Government then bethought them of one other resource. They could invoke the Clans. The powers of Chartered Ownership had failed them. They determined to appeal to Celtic Feudalism. And, sad to say, Celtic Feudalism answered with a bound.

The letter of Charles II., approving of this infamous proposal, was signed on the 11th December 1677. Presbyterian historians, apparently on solid grounds of contemporary evidence and knowledge, universally ascribe this idea to the suggestion of the Bishops and their clergy. The Government at this time was dominated by the spirit of religious persecution, and as Wodrow quaintly expresses it, "almost entirely in the hands of Prelates, grated by the growth of those who disowned them." The Proprietors in the 'Western Counties were told that unless they complied, the well-known predatory Clans of the Highlands would be armed, assembled, and let loose upon them. This atrocious threat was carried into execution. Chiefs were found who were base enough to use their traditional power over their vassals and retainers for the purpose of invading the Lowlands like a foreign army--of living at free quarters upon the property of their countrymen, and by the licensed licence of an undisciplined soldiery, of compelling all Proprietors to become the instruments of tyranny over their Tenants. The old obligations of Celtic Feudalism in respect to "Hosting" were called into operation, and a force of no less than 6000 men was launched upon the Western Counties to punish the patriotism and humanity of Owners through the servility and despotism of Chiefs. This force is known in the history of Scotland as "The Highland Host." During several weeks, from the end of January to the beginning of March 1678, it devastated some of the most prosperous districts in the counties of Lanark, Renfrew, and Ayr, until at last its own Chiefs and the Government began to be ashamed of the results, and the Highlanders were ordered home. They returned laden with plunder, and with such hatred from the Lowlanders that even unarmed men mobbed them on the way, and the students of the University of Glasgow turned out to oppose their passage of a bridge over the swollen Clyde. Some of their heavier plunder they were compelled to sacrifice. But the damage which they had done in three districts of Ayr called Kyle, Cunninghame, and Carrick, was estimated at above 137,000—an enormous sum in those days. 'When, besides all this mere damage to property, we add the insults and outrages which long dwelt in the memory of the people, we cannot be surprised at the fierce counter-passions which such methods of government awoke, and which culminated early in the following year in the savage murder of Archbishop Sharp.

The blame—the infamy indeed—attaching to the action of this Highland Host must be laid entirely on the Government and on the Chiefs who were its authors. The poor Highlanders employed had no understanding of the cause in which they were enlisted, nor did their habits, history, or training enable them to form any estimate of the immorality of their proceedings. Many of them were, doubtless, "broken men" who lived habitually on the plunder of neighbouring Lowlands, whilst others were bound by Celtic usages to follow the leader of their Sept, who again was probably bound under a Bond of Manrent to follow his greater Chief in all his "lawful emprises." What more lawful quarrel could there be than against Lowlanders who would not do the Lord's bidding in religious as well as in secular matters? What more legitimate than to have their predatory habits gratified under the direct sanction of the Crown and of their own Chiefs? All this is true, and serves to concentrate our censure on other men than the natives who came from the banks of the Earn and the Dochart, the slopes of Lennox and Lochaber, or the glens of the Mounth and Drumalban. But all the more on this account is our attention fixed on the striking contrast between the tendencies and working of Celtic Feudalism, as compared with the tendencies and working of Chartered Ownership. All the more does it condemn the Government which reversed the long-standing national appeal made and perpetually renewed during many centuries, from unwritten and licentious usages, to defined, and lawful, and recorded rights.

Most fortunately this contrast, although sharp and violent in this manifestation of it, was not a contrast marked by any line of geographical division. As in the Lowlands old feelings of Clanship, and of at least memories of common blood, were not wanting to sweeten and consolidate the purely industrial relations of Landlord and of Tenant, so in the Highlands no man ever owned land merely because he was a Chief, nor did any man ever occupy land as a Tenant merely because he was a Clansman. Any man at any time might become a Clansman by merely changing his name and addicting himself to a new master, or without any change of name by submitting to the bondages of Manrent. But neither of these very easy processes could give any right to the occupation of land unless his new Chief in his other capacity of Owner chose to give him a "rowm" or a farm. Everywhere, all over the Highlands, and ever since the dawn of history, the legal rights both of Ownership and of Occupation were founded on Charters and on Covenants. These and these only could be pleaded for the security of either. The powers of Celtic Feudalism were constantly exercised in disturbing both kinds of tenure by lawless violence. But in the worst days of Chiefs and Clans they had not pretended to supplant the rights of Ownership or to supersede the laws of the Realm as the foundations of civil rights. Even among the lawless Islanders the conditions of tenure were recognised as founded on Charters and on Covenants. For all civil purposes these had been known, and legally established, for many centuries all over the Highlands, and had been every day becoming more supreme in exact proportion as each district became more settled and more secure from violence.

There is a striking illustration of this in a transaction which arose out of the meeting of Chiefs held at Iona under the direction of James vi. in 1609. No two Clans had a more ferocious feud, or one of longer standing, than the Macdonalds of Sleat and the Macleods of Harris. But in the temper of reconciliation and of repentance which was then brought about amidst the sacred memories and associations of Columba's Isle, the Chiefs of those two Clans entered into a covenant of peace. All their slaughters, murders, and ravages committed against each other were to be forgotten and forgiven,—"all their respective friends, servants, tenants, and dependars" being answered for by their respective Lords. But lest this abnegatiori of all mutual hostility or revenge should be held to include or to imply any sacrifice on the part of either of them of their perfect freedom over the disposal of their own estates as regards the letting of them to whom they would, we have in the middle of the document this emphatic reservation of the rights of Ownership:-" Without prejudice to either of the aforesaid parties to set (let) whatsoever lands alleged pertaining to either of them lying within the other's bounds as law will."' Here we see that even in these Insular districts of the Highlands where Celtic Feudalism and the Clan organisation had reached its highest and most destructive development, it was still the acknowledged right of every Owner of land to let his Farms independent of it, and that this right of the free letting of land by covenant always emerged as the fundamental condition of tenure whenever violence was suspended and law resumed its sway.

The same fact is evidenced in a still more definite form by numerous documents among my own family papers. These show how the traditional and legally established system of letting land for fixed periods of time, and for definite rents, was actually worked in the district of Kintyre—not as regards the Lowland settlers only, but also as regards the native Highland population, which remained in large numbers when the Macdonalds had fled to Ireland. This district had always been essentially Insular, not less in its social state than in its geographical position. It had, indeed, been specially exposed to the ordinary abuses of Celtic customs. The Leases given by the Argyll family, soon after it came into possession of it, show that the cultivating classes reaped an immediate advantage in respect to those usages which were everywhere the overpowering grievance of their lives,—namely, the uncertain and arbitrary exactions to which they had been liable. Agricultural rents, indeed, could not even yet be wholly paid in money, because money was too scarce, and because the burden of turning produce into money would have been often too heavy a burden for the Tenant to bear. A great portion of the rent was therefore generally still paid in produce, so as to take that burden on the Landlord. But the quantity of produce was always definitely stated in the Lease. In like manner, old feudal dues and services in seed-time and harvest "in hunting, in watching, and in warding" were not yet wholly dropped, but some of them are evidently mere formal repetitions, whilst others are referred to as limited by a well-known scale of use and wont.

In the earliest Lease now in my possession, given in Kintyre, there is a significant clause indicative of the condition of things from what the people had suffered undertheir former Chiefs. This Lease refers to a small holding which would now be called a "Croft," and the clause referred to guarantees to the Tenant "to be free from any payment of other presents whatsumever where with the rest of the country is burdened and charged." On the other hand, in this, and in all the Leases granted during the rest of the Seventeenth Century in this district, as in all others, however purely Highland, there is a corresponding precision in the obligations undertaken by the Tenants. In particular, the duration of the occupancy, sometimes for five, sometimes for twenty- one years, is strictly limited, and fortified by the most specific covenants as to the conditions in which the Tenants were to leave the houses, and the fences of the farm, "at their removing." They are secured in the enjoyment of the land only until the specified time is "completed and outrun." They are allowed generally to sublet, but always, and only, to Subtenants who shall "be of no higher degree than themselves," so that the tenure of both should expire together. Above all, agricultural Tenants were universally bound to obey the statutes and regulations of the Courts of the Barony. It was through these, as we have seen, that many regulations for agricultural improvement were laid down and enforced. In the Leases themselves, however, some of these obligations are inserted, as for example in respect to the planting of trees. In these Leases, moreover, there is one very clear indication of a substantial advance in agriculture, namely, in the fact that a certain number of loads of hay and straw are among the produce payable as rent. Neither of these articles was produced, in sufficient quantities to be so dealt with, in the more backward districts or in previous centuries. But the main interest of these Leases lies in their very definite and strictly legal character. They disprove the ignorant notion that land was ever let in the Highlands, any more than in the Lowlands, on the slovenly conditions of mere usage and tradition, or as it is now loosely called, the "footing of status." This would have been a footing not more, but greatly less, favourable to the Tenant, because it would have been a footing Outside the law; and outside the law, in all previous centuries, there had been nothing but the indefinite exactions of Celtic Chiefship. It was everywhere the great work of Ownership, and its inevitable tendency, to induce Landlords to carry down into their own relations with their Tenants the same spirit of legality, definiteness, and limitation, which they valued so highly in their own Charters from their own Superiors. Hence it is, that in every Lease which has been preserved to us from the earliest times, the same precision of mutual agreement is always aimed at.' Hence it is that the wording of these Kintyre Leases, granted in a district not only Highland but almost purely Insular, was as elaborate, but not much more so than we have seen the wording to have been in the case of the Scone Lease, granted in the reign of Robert the Bruce, and indicates a perfect continuity of practice, and a perfect identity of law all over Scotland during a period of nearly 400 years.
But this is not all that can be shown in illustration of the value and of the working of that great change which the Parliament of Scotland promoted, when in 1587 it made its urgent appeal from Chiefs to Owners. We have spoken hitherto of that class of Tenant which held Leases. But in those Leases themselves another class is often mentioned, namely, the Subtenants and Cottars. What was their tenure and what was their condition? In the Scone Lease it was expressly stipulated that when the Tacksman removed, at the end of his term, his Subtenants should remove also. We have seen that in all later Leases the same understanding is sustained in the carefully guarded provision that Tacksmen should not sublet to men of any "higher degree" than themselves. It is almost needless to add that in that reasonable and logical interpretation of men's mutual rights and obligations towards each other in which all law essentially consists, and upon which its maintenance depends, it is not according to reason or justice that the man who hires land from another should be able to dispose of it to others beyond the term which is the limit of his own rights concerning it. It is therefore clear that the footing on which Subtenants and Cottars were placed under the Scone Lease, granted so formally, in 1311, was the footing on which they continued to hold under Tacksmen during all the intervening centunes. But as the Leases never did place the Tacks- man under restrictions as to the rent, whether in produce or in services, which he might be able to get from his Subtenants, it follows that this class of men were under no protection either from Charter or from Lease, and must have been longer exposed than any other class to the abuses inseparable from the old and arbitrary usages of the Celtic Clans. Just as most of the greater Landlords combined the characters of Chief and Owner, so did the Tacksman combine for a limited time as much of these two kinds of authority as his Lease might give to him. But as a mere Tacksinan differs essentially from an Owner, and cannot be moved by the same long range of motive, since he has not the same permanence of interest, he would be under stronger temptation than the Owner to stretch his power over his Subtenants. Clearly, therefore, it is in the relation of these two classes to each other that we should expect to find the last relics of unwritten Celtic customs, and the latest exhibitions of their effect.

And as it might have been expected, so it is. Moreover, as might have been expected also, the remedy here likewise lay in the same appeal from the spirit and the interests of Celtic Feudalism to the spirit and the interests of legal Ownership.

Although, on this subject, the evidence is abounding, it is not evidence that has come much under the notice of the Historian. It has lain hid among the dusty documents connected with the management of Estates. The significance and interest of the subject has escaped the attention of those who grub among old papers to hunt a pedigree or to picture manners. Fortunately I am in possession of some of these documents which are of the highest interest, both as regards the authority of those from whom they emanate—the time to which they refer—and the lands and people they describe. Some words of explanation, however, are required in respect to each of these points, especially on the point of time, and the significance which belongs to them on account of their place in History.


Return to Book Index Page

 


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus

Quantcast