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
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.