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reason ? "
"Lady Baby,” he said quickly, cuest known i "Hare you seen “ tell me only one thing-has any him ?” she asked anxiously. one, has any other man got any. “I have not seen him, but I have thing to do with this particular caught a glimpse of the insepar
able Williams, which means of “I–I can tell you nothing.” course that Carbury is here. What
He looked at her more keenly. is he here for ?" “Are you trying to make me jeal “Nothing; how can I tell? I ous ?” he asked with a rather faint don't know : I didn't know he was smile. “You tried that once before: here; that is to say, yes—I did.” take care, Lady Baby-you have “You know and you did not enough to answer for already. By know-how am I to understand the way," he added abruptly, that?” “ what is Carbury doing here?" Any way you will; I can't say
“He is _” she began, and then anything more. Leave me, Sir broke off with a start. No-what- Peter,” she added in evident disever happened, his presence must tress, "please leave me at once." not be betrayed ; that would be If he did not leave her at once she base, that would be mean ;-in the felt certain that the whole secret excess of her remorse Lady Baby would be out, for she was beginfelt that it would be so. Had he ning to lose her head. not already reproached her with Then he left her, but he went making him ridiculous? And how with the germ of an idea in his much greater would the absurdity mind, and, unknown to himself, of the position be were his new that germ was striking root.
1.—THE CROFTER COMMISSION.
The Crofters Act of 1886 in- country are to be found in an troduced principles_hitherto un intensified form in the Western heard of in Great Britain. The Islands. Now, therefore, that the Commission appointed to adminis., Commission have done their best ter that Act have been steadily at and worst in these islands, the opwork; but it is only now, after portunity has come to inquire-Has their issue of final decisions for this novel legislation succeeded ? the islands belonging to Inverness are the people better off? are their shire and Ross-shire, that their prospects brighter than before ? method of work and the result of The Commission have visited the it can be tested for any complete islands on three separate occasions, and definite area. A new system they have heard all the cases that which has revolutionised not only have come before them, ample the law of landlord and tenant, opportunity has been given to but also the whole relationship in every man to lodge his claim. which they stand to each other Hence the rent at which crofts over the northern counties, must under the limit of £30 are now be worthy of examination; but the entered in the rent-rolls may be interest is increased when it is re considered as that which will regmembered that politicians are not ulate the relations between landwanting who advocate the general lords and tenants for the future. extension of the Act to Scotland The following table? shows the at large. As I have in a former actual result of the proceedings of article pointed out, all the peculi- the Commission : arities which constitute a "crofting
£ 8. d.
8. d. $ Isle of Skye, 1659 10,082 09 6,924 13 30 3157 79 23,547 1 8 8,354 8 1 15,192 132 Long Island, 686 3,018 193 2,346 840 672 11 3 10,693 1/3 3,686 3,8 7,006 17 7
1173 3,235 9 41 2,225 11 0 1009 18 415,067 01 2 3,688 140 11,398 6.2
3518 , 16,336 9 4 11,496 12 04839 17 4 40,307' 2' 8 15,709 6 9 83,597 '16 11
Thus, the net result of the work cancelled. With regard to the reof the Commission in those islands duction of rents, it is impossible is, that 3518 heads of families, re and improper to comment on one presenting about 21,000 persons side or the other. It is undoubtout of a population of 60,600, have edly the case that in almost every had their rents reduced by £4839, district those who know from long and a large portion of their debts acquaintance the real capacity of
This table is compiled from the Reports of the Commission for 1886, 1887, and 1888, and from the tables published in the press for the current year.
every holding can point to rum- debts which are not only due to berless instances of glaring ine- him for the enjoyment of his proquality in the decisions; but these perty by his tenant, but on account evils are the inevitable consequence of the sums thus cancelled he has of the policy which was adopted, in all cases already defrayed the and the members of tho Commis- landlord's share of rates and taxes, sion doubtless have the most an- and in very many cases those of xious desire to do right between the tenant besides. Thus, in the man and man, and yet are abso- of Lady Matheson of the lutely unable in the short time at Lows, arrears due to her to the extheir disposal to arrive in all cases tent of £11,398 have been canat a reasonable decision. There celled, although she has already are two methods of fixing rents; paid upon this large sum her share one by hargain between landlord of rates, and in most instances the and tenant, the other by calling share which should have been borne in a Commission with arbitrary by the tenant. Mr Fraser-Mack
Both have their disad intosh recently questioned the vantages. The former prevails Lord Advocate as to the accuracy over Great Britain, the United of the statement that Lady MaStates of America, and the conti- theson had paid £582 for tenants' nent of Europe; the latter over rates, she being prevented by legislathe Western Highlands and Ire- tion from securing repayment. The land. Those who perceive the Lord Advocate confirmed the accufaults of the first will do well to racy of the statement, and added inquire somewhat minutely into there was no redress. When it is the evils of the second before they borne in mind that rates for the clamour for the extension of the four parishes in the Lews are of system. On the subject of rents the most extravagant character, it I have only one more word to add. is evident Lady Matheson must The fact of considerable reductions have sustained a loss actually out having been made, is held to prove of pocket, besides receiving no that the poor crofters have been rent of many thousand pounds. living under a system of grinding Surely with such a constructyranny. The reductions have tion of the law operating to amounted over the islands at large their ruin, the proprietors of to exactly 30 per cent. The reduc- the north asked no extreme contions on the large farms recently cession when, with one voice, they falling out of lease, and relet under approached the Government fifteen the old system of free bargain, months ago with this humble have exceeded this figure. It is prayer - "That taxation should therefore sufficiently evident there not be levied on rents rendered has been no injustice in the treat- irrecoverable by Act of Parliament of the crofter community by ment.” The result is a striking the exaction of rents incommen- illustration of the powerlessness surate with the value of produce. of any appeal which is not backed
I now pass to a brief examina- by numbers and noisy agitation. tion of the action of the Commis- The injustice is admitted, but sion in wiping out arrears, and it there is no redress. The effect of is here that the iniquity of the the arrears clause upon the landAct as it stands, and as it is ad- lord is, however, unimportant in ministered, is apparent. The Act, comparison with the evil it has from the landlord's point of view, worked and is working among is indeed iniquitous, for it cancels the people. It is the fruitful
parent of dishonesty, unthrift, for non-payment of this rent, and jealousy, and disunion among the arrears having accumulated for two people at large. As it stands in or three years, it was clearly usethe statute - book, and as it has less to reduce rents for the future been administered, it is a curse to if eviction was to be possible on acthe country.
Should legislation count of the accumulated arrears. designed to effect the same pur- Where rents were found to be expose ever be extended to counties cessive and arrears had accumubeyond the Highland limit, the lated from inability to pay
-in arrears clause stands out as a these cases, and in these alonebeacon of warning lest the evil it it was intended the Commission has wrought should be extended should have power to reduce both to other populations. The reasons rents and arrears. It is clear which ought to restrain criticism from the whole debate, and will and comment on the action of the be admitted by the most strenCommission in fixing rents, have uous advocate of the rights of no force in the case of decisions tenants, that the Commission reregarding arrears. In the former, ceived no roving power to cancel a thousand considerations enter arrears because it was a pleasant into the calculation - climate, and charitable thing to do, but lie of the ground, distance from they were limited to cancelling market, amount of tenants' im. arrears or reducing them in so far provements, &c., and these pro- as they had arisen from honest tect any decision from effective inability to meet the existing comment; but in the latter, the rents. From examples alono is it decisions themselves afford abun possible to realise—I dare not say, dant ground for examination, for the system adopted by the Comcomparison, for criticism, for com- mission, for there is absolutely ment, and, as I intend to show, none, but the course which has for utter condemnation. Why been taken, In every one of the was the arrears clause introduced? following cases the contrasted de For one reason alone. Rents be- cisions were given on the ing, as was alleged, excessive, day, and the holdings were in the evictions possible if not probable same township.
} 3 2 0 3 2 0 16 9 6 1 0 0/15 9 6
Here a debt admittedly incurred for full value received is almost wiped out. Why?
3 3 0 13 16 0
13 16 0
kinnon Widow Nicholson
7 0 0 7 0 0 14 0 0 14 0 0 nil.
The latter, two years in arrear, has to pay the full sum; the former, four years in arrear, is let off the whole. Why?