Зображення сторінки

few isolated cases, and under cir- denly to take their place among cumstances exceptionally favour- a community of energetic operaable.

tives may be judged from the Another proposal has been to following extract, which relates to offer the redundant population the the improvements of the late promeans of emigrating to the colonies prietor of the Lows:on what is known as the “ Tuke

" They cheerfully encounter the system.” Under this system the

perils and hardships of such a life passage of the emigrant is paid, as fishermeu), and tug for hours at some little necessary outfit is pro- an onr, or sit drenched in their boats vided, a situation is secured for without complaint; but to labour witlı him, and he is left to shift for a pick or a spade is to them most dig. himself. To this plan there are

tasteful. It was even found necessary two obvious objections it is not

io bring labourers from other districts

to exeouto part of the work, because likely to prove acceptable to any

the inhabitants could not be induced considerable numbers, and it is

to engage or to persevere in it." more than doubtful whether the emigrants would prove desirable Some other means must be deservants to those who engaged vised, if the crofter is to be relieved them. We have already pointed of his parasites, to induce an exout that the effect of recent legis- odus of the surplus population: it lation has been to impress the has been thought by some that the crofter class, to which both sub- creation of a class of fishing-lots is dividers and squatters belong, practicable—that is to say, of holdwith the conviction that its mem- ings comprising merely a site for a bers are farmers, not labourers; dwelling, a potato-ground, and a and probably few would care to right of grazing for one cow. We exchange their life of intermittent fear it is too late to hope that labour at home for the continuous holdings of this kind would prove toil which they know would await an attraction, as their acceptance them as mere farm-servants in the would mean, in the eyes of the colonies.

As to their fitness for people, the final abandonment of colonial employment, they are their aspirations to the possession destitute of the training which of the coveted land. They fish, would make them valuable—they and, for a short "spurt, they are neither navvies, ploughmien, fish fairly well; but their hearts lumberers, nor accustomed to the are not in it any more than in care of valuable cattle. Their the labourer's daily toil. What lives indeed have been passed in they desire is the sense of proprielabour, but it has been in the torship, if possible; if not, then main, labour as fishermen, with that of tenancy at an easy rent. occasional intervals of primitive The prospect of ownership seems agriculture. How little they are to stimulate them to persistent fitted by training or habits sud- effort.


It is positively denied, in answer their holdings, or could cultivate to an official inquiry, that the a larger area if they possessed it; crofters on one of the largest pro- what they are alleged to desire perties desire any extension of is, the removal of the squatters.

were numerous.

Many years ago, the late Sir It will readily bo understood James Matheson, desirous of cn- from the above explanation, that couraging the occupation of larger the first stop, after the removal of holdings on his property, offered the parasites, towards raising the ton-acre lots of arable ground, crofter, is to improve his system thoroughly drained, trenched, and of agriculture, and that no imfenced, with corresponding hill- provement is practicable till indi- . pasture, to certain of his small vidual holdings are fenced—not tenants; they could not be induced only fenced, but cross-fenced—50 to accept lots of more than eight as to enable the moro energetic acres, and after farming these for members of the community to two years, requested that they adopt an approved rotation, and might be divided, as eight acres to retain the results. But fencing proved more than they could crofts is a work of such magnitude manage. These and other similar as to be beyond the means of most incidents, coupled with the paucity Highland landlords : e.g., in 1883 of applications under the Crofters there were in the Lews 2941 Act for the enlargement of hold-crofts ; in North Uist, 362; in ings, justify a doubt whether so South Uist, Barra, and Benbecula, much anxiety for enlarged areas 974; and on other properties they really exists as has sometimes been

Recent legislasupposed. Our own impression is, tion, too, has so far deprived the that if the crofts were restored landlord of his proprietary interest, to their original dimensions, not that, even if he possessed the many, and only the most energetic necessary capital, he could hardly and prosperous, of the crofters, be expected to devote it to the would desire to acquire additional undertaking—an undertaking, too, land—and the explanation is not opposed to the wishes of the great far to seek. Alternate cropping majority of his small tenants. The holds absolute sway over the whole writer of these lines, in discussing crofting arca in the northern this subject recently with several islands and the larger part of the crofters, was assured that fences western seaboard ; turnip-culture erected within the township culand the sowing of improved grasses tivations would certainly be de are unknown; even a period of rest molished. in rough pasture the ground never A few crofters have been reobtains, and this being the system moved under the experimental of agriculture, the crofter evidently scheme in Government colonisalacks the elements of education in tion; but, few as the individuals his trade as a farmer. Nor can have been, it is understood that it he farm otherwise; for, on a given has not been found practicable in dato, the ring-fence of the town- all cases to induce persons already ship arable ground (when there is in the occupation of land to accept a fence at all) is breached for the the vacant lots. In these circumadmission of the stock, and remains stances it is plain that the extenopen till farming operations begin sion of holdings is by no means in spring: the individual crofts 50 easy as has been assumed for being unfenced, no man can grow rhetorical purposes by so many a turnip or sow an ounce of grass- well-intentioned but ill-informed seed for his own use,—all, in persons. Where additional ground short, are reduced to the same is domanded, it will generally be low level.

found, on inquiry, that the settle


>> mous.

ment of subdividers and squatters years ago, the steamer came only is contemplated, not the extension once a-fortnight, and an old herof existing crofts.

ring-skiff sufficed to receive her It militates seriously against the cargo; now there is a weekly call, success of the crofter as a farmer and each cargo would fill the old that he is also usually a fisherman, skiff three times over : the baker while the possession of a croft often of the former days failed to make withdraws him from fishing at in a living, whereas now four of his opportune times. His tendency to craft prosper, and their bread is unite the two callings is, no doubt, sold all over the parish, while the a main cause of his failure in both, consumption of tea, tobacco, and while it is certainly an obstacle to whisky is described as the extension of his holding. It

In 1844 Stornoway had happens that there are already no steam communication; while some £20 crofts in one district of

now there are two weekly steamers the Highlands, and it is disappoint- from Glasgow bringing cargoes ing to find that the occupants are mainly composed of food-stuffs, a in less prosperous circumstances weekly steamer from Aberdeen or than their neighbours with smaller Glasgow, and a daily mail-steamer holdings; the deduction, by a from Strome Ferry. As to the skilled observer near them, is that southern portion of the Long Isno croft should be at less than £50 land, twenty years ago the steamrent, and that provision should service was only fortnightly, and have been made in the Crofters the cargoes were mainly “ Indian Act for the creation of fishing and oat meal, molasses, and coffee ; lots in convenient proximity to there were also very


quangood boat-harbours. On a previ- tities of tea and sugar. Now, the ous page we have assumed £25 cargoes contain great variety; as the minimum rent at which there is practically no Indian meal, new holdings should be created; but large quantities of oatmeal if we raise the limit to £50, it and flour, immense quantities of will be seen that the capital re tea and sugar, butterine, cheese, quired reaches a sum absolutely bacon-stuffs, and tinned meats ; prohibitive.

there two weekly cargoFew persons in any degree rea steamers and a daily mail-steamer. lise how greatly the scale of living In short, “What were formerly has risen in the West Highlands ; rare luxuries to the people are now and as this is clearly an important necessaries, and their wants have element in considering the question, increased in greater ratio than the it deserves to be briefly noticed. means of satisfying them.” The Forty years ago all the food-stuffs increase in the cost of subsistence imported into the parish of Gair- may be estimated by the opinion loch were carried by a smack, of an intelligent native of Skye, which went twice a-year to Glas- old enough to remember the scale gow, and there was no road beyond of living in 1840, when £10 a Kinlochewe; now, a steamer calls family would have covered the weekly at four ports in the parish, whole annual expenditure of the importing tea, flour, meal, tinned crofter and cottar classes in the meats, butter, cheese, apples, or- island, whereas now the expendianges, confectionery, bacon, per- ture reaches at least £50 a family, fumes, clothing, tobacco, and Much additional evidence on this whisky, &c. To Ullapool, fifteen subject might be adduced; but


enough has been said to varrant families many degrees above the the conclusion that the croft, which crofter level in point of means ; could formerly maintain four per- yet theso follics may be seen on sons, will now barely support one, every side. In one small storein other words, that the holdings not the only store in the parishshould be extended fourfold, and there were book-dobts, in 1886, energetically worked also, if the amounting to £15.000, owed by crofter is to live by the land alone. the country people living within a Wo desire to guard ourselves radius of a fow miles; and shopagainst the charge of directing keepors throughout the islands, unfriendly criticism towards the when they can be induced to speak, improved diet-scale which the list toll the same tale, not only of of imports attests : vo hold, on lavish consumption, but, unhappily, the contrary, that it is a legitimate also of tardy payment, when payaim on the part of the citizen to ment is made at all. That the reach a position which enables him character of the people has deteto provide enough food and to riorated in the matter of common spare for those of his household; honesty, we fear there can be no but this is more, much more, than doubt; perhaps they have benecan be done all the year round in fited by legislation,—vo earnestly many a Lovs family, and it is hope that they have,--for there pitiable to have to relate that should be something tangible to actual want of food is there a com show as & set-off to such treatmon experience. On the other ment, for example, as was accorded hand, no one can deny that extra to a lato respected and beloved vagant living is among the roots of clergyman, well known as a benewhat is called the crofter difficulty factor of his people. We do not an utterly preposterous expendi- name him, for all who knew the ture on tea, much money squan- Highlands know him, and he was dered on spirits and fine clothes, one who would have rccoiled from and thriftless household manage publicity where his good deeds mcnt, would reduce to poverty were concerned.


The connection of the crofter popular supposition that the Hebquestion with the condition and ridcan scas tcom with great variety resources of the West Highland of fishos, and that the capture of and Hebridean fisheries is so inti- these fishes would afford employmato that it is useless to discuss ment to a great many people, and the one without a thorough com- yield a rich return, but that the prehension of the other. How far prosecution of the fishing hos the croîter may justly depend upon bcen always neglectod.

Let us the sca as a certain means of sub 500 how experience agroes

with sistence, and what prospects there such suppositions. Martin (1698) are of a substantial development says that there were storehouses of this industry, may be gathorod on the Harmotra islands, North from the account which follows, Uist, which belonged to a fishing taken from the notes of a gentle company of which King Charles man who has boon familiar with was & shareholder. More than a the fishing trado for thirty ycars. contury ago, Professor Anderson,

“It long has been and still is a of Aberdoen, was deputed hy a

[ocr errors]


I am

committee of the House of Com-' tanks, plied round the stations mons to visit the west coast and convoying the fish to market. In the Hebrides, and suggest what he three years the Company had to thought necessary to develop their wind up, after incurring considerresources and ameliorato the con- able loss. The steamer, which was dition of their inhabitants. A the first to afford communication king's vessel was placed at his dis- to theso places, continued to ply posal for the purpose. Amongst as a carrier of passengers and goods his suggestions were the construc to these localities. The Dunara tion of the Caledonian Canal and Castle is her lineal descendant. the Crinan Canal; that houses Had there been any hope of the should be erocted at Bowmore, fishing ultinately proving a sucPortree, Ullapool, and Stornoway, cess, there would have been no conferring special privileges on want of capital to carry it on. fishermen, and that sheriff's should Captain Kerr had a small steamer be stationed at these villages. The specially built, and an able catter, Professor's suggestions appear to for the prosecuting of these fishhave been carried out. Of all ings. His scheme resulted in seritheso villages, . Stornoway is the

our loss.

Others have extended only one which has succeeded as a their operations as far as Rockal, fishing-station. The British Fish- and have ceased through non ery Company built Tobermory and

aware that the Stein, neither of which can be trawl, both by steamer and sailingcalled thriving. At Colonsay, vessel, has been used on the most Carsaig (Mull), and West Tarbert likely places in the west with dis. (Harris), expensive piers were appointing and quito unremunerbuilt, none of which are used to ative results. Great part of the any extent in connection with fish- basin of the Minch, from the ing. There are extensive store nature of the ground, is unfit for houses at Badcal and Lochinrer, trawling. For a century or longer which

used by Mr before 1870 there sailed annually JI'Donald, who carried the about July from the Clyde ports a salmon-fishings of that coast. He large fleet of sloops and schooners, is said to have had twenty tin- filled with salt and barrels, each smiths employed in connection accompanied by two ' skiffs or with his business. He was unsuc- smacks with nets for fishing hercessful. Thirty-one years ago a rings. This fleet visited the lochs Company called the Great West of the west coast. The most of Scotland Fishery Company, noted places were Glendhu, Loch Limitod, was formed, of which Broom, Scalpay, Portree, Loch many of the foremost merchants Hourn, Loch Nevis, Loch Snizort, of Glasgow shareholders. and Loch Scridden. They bought The manager was a person of east fish from the natives, as well as coast experience. The Company fishing themselves. The fleet rehad stations at Barra, Eriskay, turned to the Clyde about the end Looh Boisdale, Rodel and Scalpay, of the year. The cause assigned Harris, Stein, Glendale, Locheish- for the extinction of this fleet is, art. The fishermen were provided that after the Stornoway summer with boats and fishing-gear; stores fishing was prosocuted by so many were kept where provisions were boats with long trains of nets, the supplied; a powerful steamer, herrings did not appear with such specially designed, with sea-water frequency in the lochs as before.






2 N

« НазадПродовжити »