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On Emigration and the State of the Highlands
Appendix H.


The fact is perhaps even stronger than is here stated. There is no part of the Highlands where the change in the system of management has advanced so far towards maturity as in Argylleshire. In Dr. John Smith’s Survey of that County, drawn up for the Board of Agriculture, find this remark:

The state of population in this county, as it stood in 1755, and as it stands at present, may be seen in the statistical table. Although many parishes have greatly decreased in their number of inhabitants, owing to the prevalence of the sheep system, yet upon the whole the number is greater now than it was forty years ago. This is owing to the greater population of the town of Campbleton and village of Oban, which have more than doubled their joint numbers in that period so that, if these are left out of the reckoning, the population in the county will be found to have decreased considerably.

This fact is curious and valuable: the population of Argylleshire has not diminished on the whole; yet the value of produce which is now sent away to feed the inhabitants of a distant part of the kingdom, is much greater than formerly. Independently of that circumstance, this fact throws light on the nature of the change which has taken place by the abolition of the feudal system, and on the source of the fallacy which has been prevalent on the subject of population. The diminution in the country is evident to the most inattentive eye; no one can avoid seeing ruinous cottages and decayed villages: but the increase in the towns is not so obvious. This effect, though simultaneous, often takes place in a distant situation, where it can be traced only by careful enumerations.

According to the advancement of commerce, we find in every country a greater proportion of the whole population collected in towns. This indeed is an effect which in a moral point of view may justly excite feelings of regret; but it seems so unavoidable a consequence, that we ought to consider it as the price which is paid by society for the blessings of civilization and regular government.


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