Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

are given) and to collect rents, with the least possible trouble to themselves. And here I may express my great regret that so very few landed proprietors seem to realise the duty of training up their heir (where they have children) to the most important of all national professions, viz., the management of land and its cultivators. In other professions where the son is to succeed the father, would the latter he deemed wise, if, as soon as the son could do without his mother's care, he was removed as far as possible from the country and people in which, and by whose labour, he had to live 1 But, in the trade of landowner, as soon as the son's education is gone through, do we not see almost every heir to land pushed into the army, or some other employment quite unconnected with the management of land, although, if he survives his father, that is to be his employment for his daily bread ; and very often kept in the dark till he is so old that he quite shrinks from beginning a new profession at his father's death, and, so long as his factor supplies him with money, cares nothing how or where it grows; the natural common consequence being that the rents do not meet his expenses, and, unless the estate is entailed, it is soon sold to a wiser person.

Under this system, it is not very surprising if a trustee or factor persuades such a proprietor that were " these troublesome crofters " removed, their neighbour sheep farmer would give a higher and a punctually paid rent for their land, while the people would do better in other employment, or by emigrating; and then the factor could settle everything with the sheep farmer in a few minutes yearly, which now takes him sometimes weeks to arrange with the crofters.

The next chief cause of " Clearances" is the crofters and their followers forgetting the eighth commandment and the game laws, and so, by poaching, &c, are constantly irritating their landlord. They may often escape conviction, but, greatly as I prefer them to game, I never yet heard of ground adjoining a crofter township where one head of game could be found for every score it would produce under the same keeper and circumstances, when marched by large farms and no crofters near to it Long ago, near my farm, there was for generations a large crofter township of happy, thriving people. But, marching their land, and running past our landlord's house, was a noted salmon river, and he or his keeper needed to rise very early, otherwise the best pools would probably be fished before either could throw a line. One day the laird, taking a walk, with his gun, observed one of his crofters busy angling a salmon, and he was giving him his mind loudly from the opposite bank ere the poacher noticed him. Down went the rod, its owner instantly disappearing among the ferns and copse, but not before the laird's shot rattled about his ears; and that very day the fisher slept in the county jail. A lawyer very soon taught the laird that shooting poachers was the most expensive of all amusements. But an immediate clearance of every crofter from that beautiful township, and replacing them by sheep, put an end to all poaching there.

A third apology for "Clearances" is the constant trespassing and breaking down of the laird's fences by cottars and crofters, and carrying them off for firewood; putting their cattle into his woods at night, and cutting and carrying nwny branches and trees as if these had no owner! Some years ago I placed two nwu before the Sheriff, caught at night by our

EVICTIONS ANT) THE HIGHLAND CROFTERS.
Bt Ax Ex-factor

L

Mcch interested by your "Highland Clearances," and by Skaebost'a thoughts on the crofter system in the Celtic Magazine for August, permit me, as a Highlander, in close contact, since 1803, with crofters and others who depend chiefly on land for their daily bread in the north of Scotland, to orTer some thoughts on a matter of such vital importance to Great Britain.

During most of my life I was factor on several large Highland estates, in charge of some thousand families, chiefly cottars and crofters, some entirely terrestial, and others partly amphibious; and having studied farming practically, and also crofting in England, Ireland, and Belgium, I believe I understand the subject sufficiently.

Newspaper commissioners and their pupils tell us our Highland soil and climate are so bad that those who hope to exist on crofts in the north are to be pitied for their ignorance, and should be driven into towns, or to those happy regions abroad, where all that man requires is to be had for the taking, without either anxiety or the sweat of his brow. But I am surprised to see, at page 43 of your own "Clearances," even you taking the newspaper view of the subject, as to "the impossibility, in the North-west, of bringing up a family, in anything like decent comfort, &c., on one to four acres of arable land."

Now, I assert, that neither our Highland climate, nor our average soil, nor its being divided into four acre lots, can justly be blamed for the apparent poverty of our crofters; but that the "discomfort and chronic starvation " which you say is their lot lies chiefly at their landlords' doors; as they, forgetting they are their brother's keeper, have allowed them to grow up untaught; and, for want of instruction, they do not even properly try to support themselves in comfort where God has cast their lot, subject of course to the occasional trials of bad seasons and sickncps, to be found in all countries, so ordornd, surely, lest we forget that "here is not our home," and that, • protection aud a bless

ing from above, nothing can prosper.

Indeed, our Highland crofts, si •tions have produced

millions of men and women secor^F Wworld for morality or

vigour of mind and body, cannoJ^ 4Rle homes as you describe

then;. Our crofters, of course^J r their bread, but

not aware of any people whg^' our crofters,

.sists of mere health and er<> they can hire servanj

Now, as to the to oiler some exeuseaj lords disliking' placed thern^

these scyP

[graphic]
[ocr errors][graphic]
[ocr errors]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

1

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

D, in all th

He married, secondly, Margaret, daughter of George Mackenzie of Kildun, by whom he had—

2. Alexander, who obtained the estate and became progenitor of tho Macdonalds of Boisdale, which see,

3. Ann, who married John, second son of Lachlan Mackinnon of Strathardale.

He died in 1730, and was succeeded by his son,

XXIIL Ranald Macdonald, fifteenth of Clanranald, who, born in 1692, was then in the 39th year of his age. He refused to take any part in the Rebellion of 17-15, though earnestly pressed to do so by Prince Charles, who called upon him immediately on his first arrival in the Long Island. He, however, offered no resistance to his son to join in that unfortunate enterprise; indeed, once the Prince did embark he extended to him every support and encouragement in his power. The particulars of his life are so well known to the reader of the papers on Flora Macdonald and Prince Charles, which have recently passed through these pages from the pen of the Rev. Alexander Macgregor, that it would be quite superfluous to go into lengthy details here, but we may quote Home's interesting account of the arrival of the Prince in South Uist, his visit to, and reception by, Clanranald. After describing the voyage and arrival of the Doutelle with his Royal Highness on board, Home proceeds to say that "she came to an anchor between South Uist and. Eriska, which is the largest of a cluster of small rocky islands that lie off South Uist. Charles immediately went ashore on Eriska. His attendants giving out that he was a young Irish priest, conducted him to the house of the tacksman, who rented all the small island; of him thoy learned that Clanranald, and his brother Boisdale, were upon tho Island of South Uist; that young Clanranald was at Moydart, upon the mainland A messenger was immediately despatched to Boisdale, who is said to have had great influence with his brother. Charles staid all night on the Island of Eriska, and in the morning returned to his ship. Boisdale came aboard soon after. Charles proposed that he should go with him to the mainland; assist in engaging his nephew to take arms, and then go as his ambassador to Sir Alexander Macdonald and Macleod. To every one of these proposals Boisdale gave a flat negative, declaring that he would do his utmost to prevent his brother and his nephew from engaging in so desperate an enterprise, assuring Charles that it was needless to send anybody to Skye; for that he had seen Sir Alexander Macdonald and Macleod very lately, and was desired by them to acquaint him (if he should come to South Uist, on his way to the Highlands), that thoy were determined not to join him, unless he brought over with him a body of regular troops. Charles replied in the best manner he could, and, ordering the ship to bo unmoored, carried Boisdale (whose boat hung at the stern) several miles outward to the mainland, pressing him to relent, and give a better answer. Boisdale was inexorable, and, getting into his boat, loft Charles to pursue his course, which he did, directly for the coast of Scotland, and, coming to an anchor in the bay of Lochnanuagh, between Moydart and Arasaig,sent a boat ashore with a letter to young Clanranald."* Ranald married Margaret, daughter of William Macleod of Bernera, by whom he had issue—

* History of the Rebellion.

1. ltanald, his heir.

2. Donald, an officer in the British army, who greatly distinguished himself, and was killed with General Wolf before Quebec in 1760.

3. Margaret, who died unmarried. He was succeeded by his eldest son,

XXIV. Ranald Macdonald, sixteenth of Clanranald, who was, with Macdonald of Kinlochmoidart, and his brother, and young Glenaladale, the first to join the Prince in 1745. We cannot do better than continue the account fiom Home of how young Clanranald finally consented to join His Royal Highness. Continuing the previous quotation, he proceeds— "In a very little time, Clanranald, with his relative Kinlochmoidart, came aboard the Doutelle. Charles, almost reduced to despair in his interview with Boisdale, addressed the two Highlanders with great emotion, and, summing his arguments for taking arms, conjured them to assist their Prince, their countryman, in his utmost need. Clanranald and his friend, though well-inclined to the cause, positively refused, and told him (one after the other) that to take arms without concert or support, was to pull down certain destruction on their own heads. Charles persisted, argued, and implored. During this conversation, the parties walked backwards and forwards upon the duck; a Highlander stood near them, armed at all points, as was the fashion of his country. He was a younger brother of Kinlochmoidart, and had come off to the ship to inquire for news, not knowing who was on board. When he gathered from their discourse that the stranger was tho Prince of Wales; when he heard his chief and his brother refuse to take arms with their Prince, his colour went and came, his eyes sparkled, he shifted his place, and grasped his sword. Charles observed his demeanour, and, turning briskly towards him, called out, 'Will not you assist meT 'I will, I will,' said Ranald, 'though no other man in the Highlands should draw a sword; I am ready to die for you.' Charles, with a profusion of thanks and acknowledgments, extolled his champion to the skies, saying he only wished that all tho Highlanders were like him." Without further deliberation the two Macdonalds declared that they also would join, and use their utmost endeavours to engage their countrymen to take arms. Immediately Charles, with his company, went ashore, and was conducted to Borrodale, a farm which belonged to the estate of Clanranald. Having once decided to join he proceeded at once to raise his vassals and command those of Arasaig and Moydart to attend him, and bring their arms. These amounted to about 250 men. A list of their names and arms is still preserved.* The standard being, a few days after, raised at Glenfinnan, they proceeded to Perth, from whence Clanranald, at the head of 500 men, was despatched to Dundee, where he arrived on the 7th of September, and next day, Sunday, the 8th, proclaimed James VIII. as King. He then threw open tho prison, took possession of all the public arms and ammunition he could find, and allowed all the prisoners their liberty. On the following day he searched several private houses for arms, and in all cases where hu found any, he took possession and gave a receipt for them. On the 10th, by special command, he returned and joined the Prince at Perth. From that day he took a distinguished part, at the head of his men, in all the

* Printed in the Appendix to the Clanranald Family History.

« AnteriorContinuar »