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The Social and Economic Condition of the Highlands of Scotland Since 1800


THE Highlands of Scotland, being a purely agricultural and pastoral country, and its prosperity closely linked with those industries, we should naturally expect that the development of agricultural and grazing pursuits would be the chief aim of its inhabitants, and that numerous experimental farms and agricultural colleges should be scattered all over the country; but it is not so. The Highland and Agricultural Society, established over one hundred years ago, undoubtedly has done much good, and to some extent stimulated farmers to practise improved methods of husbandry; but the local associations, or farmers' societies, have done little more than create a wholesome rivalry among the few cattle breeders, and it is only in some localities here and there that experimental work has been carried on with anything like scientific precision. [In this respect the Welsh are far in advance of us, for-in the year 1898 a fully equipped experimental farm was established in connection with the North Wales University College, Bangor, which had only been in existence 16 years.]

When comparing the present condition of agriculture with what it represented at the commencement of the last century, notwithstanding the inferior nature of the soil and the ungenial climate, many Highland farmers, by their shrewdness and resolute determination, although labouring under so many difficulties, have distinguished themselves. more than any other class of farmers perhaps any-. where, and the great progress which agriculture has made in the north-eastern parts of Scotland during, the last hundred years testifies to the high position which these Highlanders now occupy as agriculturists. In the poorer localities, particularly among the crofting class, especially in the outer Hebrides, little advance has been made during the past one hundred years. At the commencement of this century, agricultural prices were exceedingly high. In 1812 wheat fetched 126s. 6d. per quarter, but gradually it fell until in 1822 it declined to 44s. 7d. per quarter, while in 1844 wheat sold at 26s. per quarter. Notwithstanding these fluctuations, we find that the rentals of Inverness and Ross-shires stood as follows:—

Showing an increase in the 72 years of 235,327 on the rental of Inverness-shire, and for the combined counties of Ross and Cromarty 188,893; from these figures—after making a liberal deduction for increase in Burghs and valuation of Railways—we must infer that farmers, seventy years ago, must have had a good time, or that to-day the tillers of the soil must be labouring for nought.

Agriculture during the present century has had a series of revivals and of corresponding depressions. The most notable depression began about the year 1879, when a series of bad seasons came-in succession, till affairs became so desperate in 1879 that a Royal Commission of enquiry was. appointed to inquire into the prevailing agricultural distress; and the Commissioners' report, which was issued in 1882, pointed out that two of the most prevalent causes of distress were, bad seasons and foreign competition, aggravated by increased cost of production and heavy loss of live stock from disease.

On the strength of the Commissioners' report Mr. Gladstone's Government, in 1883, passed the Agricultural Holdings' Act, a measure tending in the right direction, yet conferring on the tenant but few of the privileges which he contends he is entitled to. Of the other legislative measures passed during last century I need hardly mention the repeal of the Corn Laws, the Abolition of Hypothec, the Ground Game Act, the Abolition of the Malt Tax, [Some contend that the Abolition of the Malt Tax has been injurious to the farmer, by removing what used to be a practical bounty on British barley. But if this was its effect, the intention of it was undoubtedly good, and the effect was unforeseen by the promoters of the Act.] and the Cattle Diseases Act of 1884, all measures having a tendency to ameliorate the condition of the tenant farmer.

About a quarter of a century ago agricultural prices stood at a remunerative figure, and the demand for farms far exceeded the supply, resulting in fabulous prices being given for land; and at the same period landlords were seized with a mania for creating large farms, and consequently hundreds of the small tenants were evicted, and sometimes as many as a dozen holdings were rolled into one vast farm. Men of capital readily took up every farm in the market, many of them on long leases; but a series of bad seasons landed most of these large farmers in bankruptcy. Some managed with difficulty to carry out their agreement, but on the expiry of their lease they quitted as ruined men, while others failed to complete any more than half the terms of their contracts.

Big farms have therefore proved a failure, and several causes can be assigned for this. The chief cause may, however, be attributed to cost of production together with low prices; because the big farmer when not near a town must employ a large permanent staff, whereas in the days when he was surrounded by small tenants and crofters he could secure labour just as he required it.

The landlords also made a fatal mistake when they converted the small and middle class farms into extensive holdings. No doubt they considered it more economical, as one set of offices would serve where perhaps five or six steadings would be required were the various farms to be re-let, the buildings of nearly all the smaller farms being in a most dilapidated condition at that period. How far their economical policy has benefitted them they themselves know; but now they are compelled to sub-divide those farms its well as to erect premises and offices; and thus it appears to have been simply a case of putting off the evil day for a short period, and during that period the evil was accumulating. Had the small farmers been left in their holdings 'they would in all probability have weathered through the storm of depression.


WITH the exception of a few well-known herds, particularly in Ross-shire high class breeding of cattle does not receive the amount of attention in the Highlands which the beef producing counties of Aberdeen, Banff, Forfar, etc., devote to this branch. Indeed, in these days, what with foreign competition and low prices, it does not pay the trouble and risk involved in rearing fat stock.

The West Highland ox, with his shaggy coat and picturesque appearance, is the breed most profitable and best adapted to the Highland counties.

In 1884 Argyllshire alone had 660,500 head of best Highland cattle.

Sheep farming is an equally if not more important industry than arable farming. In 1884 it was estimated that in the Highlands there were 6,983,293 sheep, of which 2,393,826 were lambs. The once remunerative business of sheep farming-induced landlords to convert whole tracts of terri-tory, then under cultivation, into extensive sheep runs; and sheep farmers are therefore looked upon. by the crofters of Scotland as the primary movers or originators of evictions.

Sheep farming, as well as the kindred branch of agriculture, has suffered in the general depression:. aggravated by the large importations of foreign mutton and wool. The estimated quantity of wool grown in Scotland in 1884 was about 34,500,004 lbs., and the estimated weight of wool imported from Australasia in the same year was 400,000,000 lbs.

Again, the fabulous prices offered for sporting estates led to the breaking up of sheep farms and the converting of them into deer forests, so that to-day there are about 24 millions of acres occupied as deer forests in the Highlands of Scotland.

Before leaving the question of sheep I must allude to the great "Wool Fair" held at Inverness, in July of each year. There are hundreds of thousands of sheep sold annually at this market, and yet not a head is exhibited. "This market is

peculiar," says a well-known writer, "in so far as no stock whatever is shown, the buyer depending entirely upon the integrity of the seller together with the character the stock is known to possess." "It is a great source of pride to the farmers in this. part of Scotland to be able, as they are, to say that no question involving legal proceedings has ever yet arisen out of a misrepresentation of stock sold at this market, which has been in existence since the commencement almost of last century."

Dairy farming is not carried on scientifically, nor to any great extent beyond the requirements of local consumption, and only in a very few localitie's is cheese manufactured beyond what is required for home use. There is wide scope for developing this industry, for in many of the English counties the farmers are solely dependent on the manufacture of cheese as the means of paying their rents. [Co-Operative Dairies, with Central Creameries, have been established in Ireland, and prove most remunerative investments. There is a wide field in the Highlands for the. establishment of similar manufactories.]

On the rich alluvial lands skirting the, shores of the Cromarty and Moray Firths, and indeed throughout the Highlands generally, where farms attain an area of any considerable extent, cultivation is carried out on the most improved principles; and large sums of money have been expended on draining, trenching, and squaring lands. The modern improvements in agricultural machinery have materially assisted the farmer in bringing the soil to the present high condition in which we find the arable lands in those districts referred to.

"No account of the agriculture of Scotland," says the late sub-editor of the "North British Agriculturist"—Mr. James Landells—"would be complete without some reference to the peculiar condition of the smaller tenants of the Highlands and Islands. The system of agriculture pursued by the crofters, or the smaller tenants, is of the most wretched description."

The chronic state of poverty associated with the crofting class is alluded to in an earlier chapter. The land agitation, which had been smouldering over the Highlands during the past fifteen years, at length broke out in the wild and distant township of Valtos in Skye, and from there it spread rapidly all over the Highlands and Islands.

It was not till 1882 that the agitation reached its climax, when the "Battle of the Braes," near Portree, began, where a force of seventy policemen arrested a number of crofters accused of having deforced a Sheriff Officer; they were, however, all acquitted, except two, who were fined. In the .autumn of same year another campaign was commenced at Braes, and similar riots broke out in Glendale; and the turbulent spirit was spreading all over Skye, until it was found necessary to despatch H.M. gunboat "Jackal" with a special Government Commission on board to remonstrate with the inhabitants. The agitation had by now raised such a feeling in the country, and so attracted even the attention of Parliament, that in 1883 the Government appointed a Royal Commission to enquire into the condition of the crofters and cottars of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. The Commission, with Lord Napier as chairman, found " that the crofter population suffered from undue contraction of the area of holdings, insecurity of tenure, want of compensation. for improvements, high rents, defective communications, and withdrawal of the soil in connection with the purposes of sport." "Defects in education and in the machinery of justice, and want of facilities for emigration, also contributed to depress the condition of the people, while the fishing population, who were identified with the farming class, were in want of harbours, piers, boats, and tackle for deep-sea fishing, and access to the great markets of consumption." The Highland Land League was now organised; and at Martinmas, 1884, a "no-rent" manifesto was issued; and many tenants absolutely refused to pay any rent until the land was fairly divided among them. Raids were made on deer forests, march fences were demolished, and lands were forcibly taken possession of, until the whole of Skye and the Long Island were in A complete state of chaotic anarchy. Attempts were made to serve summonses of removal, but the officers were mobbed and deforced. In November, 1884, it became necessary to send a military expedition to Skye with four gun boats and five hundred marines. This formidable force restored order, and the crofters accused of acts of deforcement submitted to be quietly apprehended.

In face of the recommendations contained in the report of the Royal Commission accentuated by those riots in the Hebrides, Parliament in 1886 passed the Crofters' Holdings (Scotland) Act, whereby three Commissioners were appointed to fix "fair rents" and deal with the question of arrears, and at the end of year 1887 the Commissioners had examined 1767 holdings, and for year ending 31st December, 1888, they examined and awarded decisions on 2185 holdings, being a total of 3952 cases dealt with from the opening of the enquiry, having 7621 applications to be still dealt with as at 31st December, 1888.

I append a table showing number of holdings for which "fair rents" have been fixed, and amount of arrears cancelled.

* The total permanent reductions in rent for the nine years 1886-87 to 1895-96 = 21,387 16s.—and the amount of :arrears cancelled in same period = 123,469 2s. 10d.— Vide Parliamentary Return, 6th April, 1897.

This gives an average reduction of rent of 30.15 per cent, on the total number of cases examined, and an average of 64.82 per cent. of cancelled arrears. These judicial decisions prove that the crofters had just cause for complaint; and although I shall not attempt to justify the means which they adopted for the purpose of getting remedial legislation, still I will venture to say that our legislators are pursuing a false policy in allowing bad laws to goad the people to the verge of rebellion before they. introduce measures of reform; for this gives an excitable race the idea that nothing for their benefit can be obtained without becoming turbulent and riotous.

I have already shown that in many parts of the. Highlands agriculture made rapid strides during the last century; yet in the Hebrides, and,, indeed, among nearly the whole crofter community, little if any progress has been made. In the first report issued by the Crofters' Commission we find the following paragraphs:- "`The land, both in Skye and in all the other islands visited, is subjected to a process of continuous cropping which is disastrous. There is no particular shift or rotation adopted, the land being continuously cropped. as long as it will grow anything. The consequent waste and deterioration of the land, especially the. weaker kinds, is enormous. This observation, however, is not true to the same extent of Skye as of South and North list, the soil in Skye being generally of a stronger nature."

"It may be added that in Skye as in some other places we found great room for improvement in the matter of leading drains. It frequently happened that a crofter suffered from his neighbour, failing to make and keep these in a state of efficiency. - It also frequently occurred that a crofter' waited for years on his landlord getting such drains. scoured out in reliance on some real or supposed obligation to do so, instead of putting them in working order himself and thereby greatly improving his croft."

The Duke of Argyll, in a very learned article in the "Nineteenth Century" of January, 1889, on "Isolation," after deploring the alarming increase of the population on the barren shores of the wild Hebrides, says:---"But there was another cause that affected the whole of Scotland, where the rising tide of innovation and improvement did not reach and did not submerge it. This cause was the profound and almost unfathomable ignorance and. barbarism of the native agriculture, together with. a traditional system of occupation, which, as it were,, enshrined and encased every ancestral stupidity in an impenetrable panoply of inveterate customs." This language may sound harsh, or even unjust. And so it might be, if such language were not used. in the strictest sense, and with a due application of the lessons to ourselves. We are all stupid in our various degrees, and each generation of men wonders at the blindness and stupidity of those who have gone before them. Alan only opens his owlish eyes by gradual winks and blinks to the opportunities of nature and to his own powers in relation to them. Let us just think, for example, of the case of preserving grass in "silos," a resource only discovered, or, at least, recognised, within the last few years, yet a resource which supplied one essential want of agriculture in wet climates at no greater cost of ingenuity or of trouble than digging a hole in the ground, covering the fresh cut and wet material with sticks, and weighting it with stones."

"There is, however, something almost mysterious in the helpless ignorance of Scottish rural customs up to the middle of the last century. . . . In a country where there is a heavy rainfall, its inhabitants never thought of artificial drainage. In a country where the one great natural product was grass of exceptional richness and comparatively long endurance, they never thought of saving a morsel of it in the form of hay. In a country where even the poorest cereal could only grow by careful -attention to early sowing, they never sowed till :a season which postponed the harvest to a wet and stormy autumn. In a country where such crops required every nourishment which the soil could afford to sustain them, they were allowed to be choked with weeds, so that the weed crop was heavier than the grain. . . . They sow corn as if they were feeding hens, and plant potatoes as if they were dibbling beans. They think the more they put in the more they will take out. In short, we have here a survival of the wretched husbandry of the -lowest period of the military ages staring at us in the fierce light of our own scientific and industrial times. "Without a doubt, a great deal of the above is quite true; but then we know that however impartial His Grace may try to be, yet his judgment must be more or less biassed, as His Grace has anything but a favourable opinion of what he calls "the worst of all native customs"—"crofter" townships.

"The whole of the outer Hebrides," continues His Grace, "are mainly composed of the oldest, the hardest, the most obdurate •rock existing in the world. It is the same rock which -occupies a great area in Canada, on the north bank of the St. Lawrence. The soil which gathers on it is generally poor, and even what is comparatively good is often inaccessible. In its hollows, stagnant waters: have slowly given growth to a vegetation of mosses, reeds, and stunted willows. Gradually these have formed great masses and sheets of peat. Only along the margin of the sea, where calcareous siliceous sands have mixed with local deposits of clay, are there any areas of soil which even skill and industry can make arable with success. The whole of the interior of the island is one vast sheet of black and dreary bog. . . . To root them in. that soil is to bury them in a bog—a bog physical,. a bog mental, and a bog moral." So decides His Grace the Duke of Argyll; and yet Mr. Nimmo, one. of the Commissioners appointed by the Government to enquire into the nature and extent of the bogs in Ireland, in his report, issued in 1813, says: "I am perfectly convinced, from all that I have seen, that any species of bog is, by tillage and manure, capable of being converted into a soil fit for the support of plants of every description; and, with due management, perhaps the most fertile that can be submitted to the operations of the farmer. Green crops—such as rape, cabbages, and turnips--may be raised with the greatest success on firm bog, with no other manure than the ashes of the same-soil. Permanent pastures may be formed on bog more productive than on any other soil. Timber may be raised—especially firs, larch, spruce, and all the aquatics—on the deep bog, and the plantations are fenced at little expense; and with a due application of manure, every description of white crops may be raised upon bog."

The expense of draining and improving bog land, as estimated by Mr. Griffith, one of the Commissioners' engineers, was about twenty-five shillings per acre, and he reckoned on receiving an annual rent of thirty shillings per acre, on a lease of twenty-one years.

Before the construction of the Grand Canal from Dublin to the River Shannon, a portion of the Bog of Allen, called the "Wet Bog," was originally valued to the promoters of the Canal at one farthing per acre. It now lets for tillage and grazing at from thirty shillings to forty shillings per acre.

I may be pardoned for introducing this extraneous matter, as I wish to show the beneficial effect arterial drainage would have on the swampy lands of the Highlands. Stagnant waters produce one kind of unprofitable aquatic plants; vegetation is affected by the quantity as well as the quality of the moisture which it absorbs for its sustenance; and the cold, damp exhalations from the swampy hollows have a most injurious effect on everything in their vicinity.

The draining of bog land in Ireland has proved remunerative, and were the Government to do for the Highlands and Islands of Scotland what they have on several occasions done for Ireland in the way of drainage grants, and a complete scheme of arterial drainage carried out in the Highlands, with a judicious planting of trees, we should have a more fertile soil, a healthier and finer climate, a more contented and industrious peasantry; and while the canals served as the means of carrying off the superabundant waters, they could at the same time be utilized as a waterway for the conveyance of the requirements of the districts they penetrated, or used as a motive power for mills, which might be erected along their banks.

'The method of letting farms on long leases was, during prosperous years, considered one of the distinguishing privileges of Scots farms, but in recent years matters have entirely reversed. On the other hand, yearly tenancy has many objections. The uncertainty of tenure tempts the farmer to take all he can out of the soil while he has the opportunity; or perhaps, when he has exhausted or impoverished the soil, he quits the holding. Of the two evils, therefore, which is to be preferred, it is difficult to decide The most satisfactory solution of the problem is the adoption of the principle embodied in the Crofters' Holdings Act--security of tenure and rent fixed by a Commission.


ANOTHER industry in the Highlands of equal importance with agriculture is the sea fisheries. The gross value of the sea fisheries of Scotland, according to the Fishery Board returns for year 1887, amounted to 1,915,602 10s., of which sum 1,128,480 Ss. were accredited to the herring fishery. Tow, as the herring fishery is chiefly confined to the Highland waters, it can be readily seen what an enormous source of wealth this harvest of the sea yields to the country. The means of employment it also gives to the surplus population of the Highlands is very considerable, for no fewer than 49,221 men and boys were engaged in the sea fisheries in the year 1866. In addition to this number, 50,973 persons were employed in connection with the summer herring fishery. The estimated capital invested in boats, lines, nets, etc., is 1,712,349.

The herring fishery has gone on increasing at an enormous rate since the year 1809, when the total number of barrels cured was 90,185; in 1850, the number increased to 544,009; while in 1886 the number of barrels cured amounted to 1,103,424. Of this aggregate quantity, 8605,911 barrels were, exported to Germany and other places on the Continent; and a large proportion of the balance was sent to America and to Ireland.

If it were not for this industry, the Highlands —with its present low ebb in agricultural matters --would be in a most deplorable state of starvation and misery; but the All-wise Creator has compensated the poor Hebridean for his bleak and barren land by providing a rich and inexhaustible -store in the precious treasures of the mighty deep.

Although the fisheries of Scotland have made ,extraordinary progress during the last fifty years, -still there is much room for further development; ,and, to accomplish this, several things are necessary. State aid must be given for the construction of harbours and railways, [Since the above was written, the Government granted :subsidies to the Highland Railway and West Highland Railway for extensions of their systems.] and existing railway 'companies should be compelled to carry fresh fish at a rate sufficient to pay them a fair percentage for haulage, without swallowing up the entire profits of the industry; a suitable and central station ought to be selected on the west coast, where boats and steamers could land their cargoes so as to be dispatched by the most rapid and economical route to the great consuming centres of the Empire; and lastly, grants should be made to fishermen, on favourable terms, for the proper equipment of the fishing fleet.

The restrictions surrounding sums devoted by the Treasury under the Crofters' Holdings Act, have rendered it next to impossible to apply the money for what it was intended; and consequently-very few crofter fishermen have benefited therefrom.


I APPEND the most interesting statement made by Professor Ewart before a committee of the House of Lords, in evidence for the proposed railway for the West Highlands, in March, 1889.

Professor Cossar Ewart, of the Scottish Fishery Board, said "that great shoals of herring were to be found all along the West of Scotland; and both inside and outside the Long Island there were immense shoals. There were always large shoals running up the coasts of Coll and Tiree. Many of them pass along between Skye and the mainland into Lochs Hourn and Nevis, and others skirted the-outside of Skye. There was a sort of concentration of herring shoals on +he inner coast of Skye, especially upon the southern part. In 1882 there were cured from Lochs bourn and Nevis no less. than 80,000 crans of herring. The fishing in the following year did not prove quite so good, but there was no reason to suppose that the number of fish had decreased. On the coast the number of fish taken has enormously increased during the last fifty years; some years as many as one million crans were taken. In his opinion it was impossible to diminish by any means in our power the number of herrings on our coasts. Even when the herring did not enter Lochs Hourn and Nevis they were to be found in abundance in the vicinity; but the fishermen in the district were not equipped in such .a way as enabled them to follow the fish, their boats being too small and their gear insufficient. On the East Coast the fishermen with their large boats scoured the whole of the north seas in search. of The herring, going out as far as fifty or sixty miles; and they followed up the shoals wherever they might go. The West Coast fishermen were an entirely different class. Fishing had never been prosecuted by them in any systematic manner. It is difficult to learn the trade of fishing; but the the men of the West Coast were taking advantage of the example shown them by the East Coast fishermen who had migrated there, and already there was a number of very expert fishermen belonging to Stornoway and other centres. Hitherto, except in certain cases, the fishermen of the West had received little encouragement. They had been standing, if he might say so, with one foot on the land and the other on the water, unable to make up their minds whether to engage in fishing or to work their crops. He had known men who, after having the necessary lines and hooks, had forsaken their resolutions to become fishermen and, reverted to their crofts. The difficulty was that they had no prospect of disposing of the fish with any profit .after they were caught. Little was known about the white fish banks on the West Coast. He knew, however, of a large bank lying to the north-west of Coll. The bank ran up to Canna and outwards, and had a depth of from 11 to 50 fathoms. In addition there were banks extending south-west towards Skerryvore and Dhuiheartich Lighthouses. So famous, indeed, was this bank that East Coast fishermen found it paid them to go round to Coll, build themselves huts, and fish for cod and ling, which they dried and took home with them, or exported to the Continent. Undoubtedly these men would prefer to have a market to which they might send the fish in a fresh condition. The white fishing on the West Coast had not been developed in the least, because as long as herring paid well fishermen preferred to keep to that branch of the industry. After suitable boats and gear, what the fishermen on the West Coast required was ready and cheap access to the markets. The existing railways of course performed valuable work, but there was a large district between Strom Ferry and Oban. totally unprovided for. Roshven he regarded as an extremely suitable place for a harbour connecting with a railway line. It was convenient for all the-fishing grounds within the Hebrides, and it could readily be reached from outside. The development of the fishing industry on the West Coast was only a question of time. Already English fishing schooners visited the Hebrides, and Irish vessels carne to Tiree. He had had some experience of Norway, and he found that it cost less to convey herring to London from Norway than from any part of Scotland.

"A scheme of co-operation should also be organised by the fishermen, whereby they could establish a central depot with a responsible agent in every ,large town. By these means complete train loads of fresh fish might be despatched at cheaper rates than by sending in driblets, and the various agents could keep the senders fully apprised by telegrams of the demands of their respective markets."


AT one period in the early history of the Highlands the country was covered by vast tracts of pine trees, and the remnants of these natural forests may be seen on mountain -sides where solitary pine trees are dotted like stray sentinels on the bleak crags of Glenorchy or buried in the deep morasses of Rannoch Moor.

The great forest of Caledonia must have extended over many square miles of territory, and to-day large areas of the country are covered by plantations of fir, oak, and other trees, which take readily to the soil of our Northern Highlands.

The re-afforesting of the Highlands is a matter which should engage the attention of Parliament: or the Congested District Board, for, apart from the effect on the climate, advantages are likely to accrue from sheltering bleak tracts of country and affording cover for stock and game. The beautification of the country is no small factor, but above and beyond all these considerations, there is the possibility of a vast industry in the future, and the possibility of not only supplying our home requirements in the way of timber for railway sleepers and other industrial works, but, owing to the denuding of the Norwegian and Swedish forests, it will be quite within the range of probability that a large timber trade can be carried on with our colonies.

The nature of the soil in nearly every portion of the Highlands is most admirably adapted for the growth of pine, and from the slow growth of timber on our mountain sides, the quality should even rival Baltic timbers.

There are thousands of acres available for afforesting, land not suitable for cultivation or pastoral purposes, but which could be profitably utilised for tree-planting. Again, the vast amount of water power available in nearly every district of the Highlands could be utilised in the manufacturing of the timber thus grown.


THE Highlands are singularly destitute of manufactories, at least to any appreciable extent, for, with the exception of a few wool mills and several distilleries, there is no other branch of the manufacturing industry in the country. Shipbuilding was at one period—before- ironclads were introduced--carried on in the Highlands; and we find it recorded by Matthew Paris that, as far back as 1249, a magnificent vessel (Mavis Miranda) was specially built at Inverness for the Earl of St. Pol and Bloise, to carry him with. Louis IX. of France to the Holy Land. As far as Inverness is now concerned this industry is extinct. I have not seen a vessel on the stocks for years. In so extensive a, wool-growing country as the Highlands, with its unlimited source of water-power, one would naturally expect to find the country studded with woollen factories; but it is not so. Sir George Mackenzie, in his "Survey of Ross and Cromarty, 1810," complains bitterly of the total. want of encouragement by the inhabitants of the, country, and from the proprietors, `in supporting a woollen manufactory started at Inverness by himself in conjunction with other gentlemen, who thought the inhabitants of the Highlands would eagerly encourage home industry.

About the beginning of this century there were a good many woollen mills scattered over the Highlands; but improved machinery caused the old-fashioned Band-loom to go the way of the world, and they have fallen to decay, and neither sufficient energy nor capital has arisen to replace them with modern machinery.

As an example of the decline of the manufacturing industry, let us take the case of the Black. Isle, where at this date not a factory of any description exists. [Through the enterprising efforts of Mr. J. Douglas Fletcher of Rosebaugh, the Avoch Woollen Mills have been recently equipped with new machinery, and a considerable amount of business is now being done.] At Avoch, fifty years ago, there was a large woollen mill in operation, and the manufacturing of coarse linen from home-grown lint was carried on, and herring and salmon nets and fishing tackle were extensively made, and several carding mills were scattered over the peninsula. At Cromarty, less than eighty years ago, "there was a mill for carding wool and jennies for spinning it; also a wauk-mill, two flax mills, and a flour mill," . . . "a large brewery, and houses for hemp manufactory. From the 5th January, 1807, to 5th January, 1808, there were imported 185 tons of hemp, and about 10,000 pieces of bagging were sent to London, which were valued at 25,000. During the same period were exported .1550 casks and tubs containing 112 tons of pickled pork and hams, and. 60 tons of dried cod-fish. There is also a ropework in operation, and shipbuilding just begun." [Sir George E. Mackenzie's "Survey of Ross and Cromarty, 1810."] To-day, I daresay, there is not another town of the size of Cromarty in Scotland more destitute of commerce, nor more ,deserted. One may well ask the question, whence this decay? It is simply isolation, and what is here true of Cromarty and the Black Isle is also true of many other isolated districts in the Highlands.


THE most extensive industry in the Highland is the distillation of whisky, and so enormous has the demand been for Highland whisky that in the year 1851 the quantity of spirits produced in Scotland amounted to 20,164,962: gallons, by far the greater quantity of which was manufactured in the Highlands. In the year 1325, when the duty was reduced from 6s. 2d. to 2s. 4d. per imperial gallon, the quantity distilled was only 4,324,322 gallons. The Government duty per imperial gallon now is 106. 4d. per proof gallon. Smuggling or illicit distilling is carried on to a considerable extent in the remote districts of the Highlands at this very hour; and although the Revenue Officers make many captures, yet the practice can never be suppressed so long as there is so high a duty on whisky. By evading this high duty, the profit is so remunerative as to tempt many a poverty-stricken crofter to venture the risk of capture that he may be enabled to meet his obligations, and in many cases he depends on the sale of his smuggled whisky for the money with which to pay his rent.

Smuggling is an evil which cannot be too much deprecated, for it not only demoralises the manufacturer, but often leads to intemperance and immorality in communities that might otherwise be sober and industrious.


THE manufacture of kelp at the beginning of I last century was one of the most remunerative industries ever established in the Highlands, and maritime proprietors have suffered material loss from the abandonment of this manufacture.

The product of the alkaline sea-weed was used in the manufacture of plate-glass and soap; but scientific research discovered a cheaper substitute, which, together with the reduction of duty on Spanish barilla, completely outworked the profitable production of kelp in the Highlands. As a source of income it was enormous, especially when the price ranged from 15 to 20 per ton; it, however, gradually declined to 4 and 5 per ton, and now little if any kelp is made in Scotland. I recollect seeing some burnt in Orkney about twenty years ago. Lord Teignmouth, in his "Sketches of the Coasts and Islands of Scotland," states "that the number thrown out of employment by the failure of the kelp manufacture—in a memorial prepared at Edinburgh, in the beginning of 1828, by the proprietors of the western maritime estates----amounted to 50,000."

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