Inverness, 12 October 1883 - Colin Chisholm

COLIN CHISHOLM, retired Custom-House Officer, Inverness (72)—examined.

41721. The Chairman.
—Do you appear as a delegate?
—I do appear as a delegate, for the very best of reasons. There are no men left in my part of the country that had the courage to come and tell what their experience was in my time, and they told me to come on their behalf from Strathglass, to give the story about the glens there.

41722. Then will you make your statement to us :
—I was born and brought up at Lietrie, Glencannich, county of Inverness. Glencannich is about fourteen miles in length, and will probably average about three miles in breadth. The whole of this glen, except one small farm rented by a widow and her son, is at present a deer forest. But in my early recollection there were thirty-three tenant farmers in easy circumstances residing in Glencannich. There were also twelve families of cottars in the said glen, making a total of forty-five families, all of whom I was personally acquainted with. The glen was divided into seven club farms and nine single farms. That these people were as comfortable as the generality of Highlanders were about the first five decades of the present century seems to admit of no doubt. They have educated their sons tolerably well. In my own time there were seventeen Glencannich men who held commissions in Her Majesty's army. There were also in my time nine Glencannich men in holy orders; they were clergymen in the Catholic Church. The following is a detailed list of the names of these twenty-six men, their rank, where they were born, and where twenty three of their number died. Three of the clergymen are still living, and in active service :
—A list of Glencannich men who held commissions in Her Majesty's army in my own time :—
Colonel James Chisholm, born at Lietrie, died at Fasmakyle, Strathglass;
Lieutenant Archibald Chisholm, born at Lietrie, died at Gambia, Africa;
Major James MacLean,- born at Carrie, died at Boulogne, France;
Captain Rory Maclean, born at Carrie, died in United States, America;
Ensign Duncan Maclean, born at Carrie, died at Isle of Wight;
Ensign Colin MacRae, born at Carrie, died at Sierra Leone;
Ensign Angus Macrae, born at Carrie, died at Sierra Leone;
Colonel Alexander Chisholm, born at Mucrack, died at Alexandria, Canada;
Colonel James Chisholm, born at Mucrack, died as Governor of Gold Coast, Africa;
Captain Valentine Chisholm, born at Mucrack, died at Inverness;
Lieutenant Angus Chisholm, born at Mucrack, died at Cape of Good Hope;
Ensign John Chisholm, born at Mucrack, died at Comar, Strathglass;
Lieutenant Christopher MacRae, born at Invercannich, died at Gambia, Africa;
Lieutenant Theodore MacRae, born at Invercannich, died at Stray, Strathglass;
Ensign Finlay MacRae, born at Invercannich, died at Gambia, Africa;
Ensign William Macrae, born at Invercannich, died at Inverness;
Lieutenant John James Chisholm, born at Invercannich, killed at Quatre Bras.

List of Glencannich Catholic clergymen whom I remember :—
Bishop William Fraser, born at Craskie, died at Halifax, Nova Scotia;
Rev. William Fraser, born at Craskie, died at St Raphael, Upper Canada;
Rev. Archibald Chisholm, born at Craskie, now priest at Nairn;
Rev. Duncan Mackenzie, born at Lietrie, died at Stray, Strathglass;
Rev. Angus Mackenzie, born at Lietrie, died at Dingwall;
Rev. Archibald Chisholm, born at Lietrie, died at Dalbeth;
Very Rev. Hugh Chisholm, born at Lietrie, now dean of Paisley;
Rev. James Chisholm, born at Lietrie, now priest at Barra;
Rev. Finlay MacRae, born at Carrie, died at Cuilgaran, Strathglass.

Other Strathglass military officers whom I remember were—
Surgeon-General Stewart Chisholm, Royal Artillery, died at Inverness;
Lieutenant Louden Chisholm, 43d native infantry, East India Company's service, died in the Rangoon campaign;
Captain Archibald MacRae Chisholm, now living at Glassburn, Strathglass;
Major William Chisholm, East India Company's service, now living;
Ensign Thomas Chisholm, East India Company's service, died at Lucknow;
Lieutenant William Chisholm, Royal Artillery, killed at Corrygam, India;
Major Archibald Chisholm, East India Company's service, died at Rugby;
Lieutenant Colonel John Chisholm, East India Company's service, died at Cheltenham;
Captain Donald Chisholm, 42nd Highlanders, uncle of the present Chisholm, died lately at Edinburgh.

 In my humble opinion, this list will show that they were abreast of their neighbours in social position and in general intelligence. However, the crude management of factors and former proprietors cleared out every one of the forty-five families whom I have seen formerly in Glencannich. The farm now occupied by the widow alluded to was not an exception. The factor on the estate for that time took possession, and added it to four other extensive farms and grazings he had in Glencannich. It was when the present proprietor came home from America and succeeded to the estate, that he restored her husband to the farm from which he had been evicted nineteen years previously. The same proprietor, the present Chisholm, brought other farmers back to his estate, and placed some of them in farms which were formerly occupied by their forefathers; and to his credit be it stated he assisted such of them as required assistance in placing stock on the holdings to which he restored them. I remember the time when a former proprietor of Strathglass requested his tenantry to meet him at Cannich Bridge Inn, to enter on arrangements for new leases of their holdings. The men gladly assembled at the appointed time and place, but the proprietor did not come to the meeting. Towards the afternoon, his factor came and stated that he had no orders to enter on any arrangements with them. I was present at the time, and heard the message delivered. The men were greatly disappointed, and justly surmised that some under-current was operating against their interest. In a few days after this fruitless meeting it transpired that the very best farms in Strathglass were let on lease to strangers. The native tenantry
would have been too glad to give as much, if not more, rent for the land. They were not one penny piece in arrears at the time. They were anxious to keep their holdings, and I will prove that they were able to pay for them. This is the way I will prove it:
—When the late humane Lord Lovat heard of the treatment of their own proprietor, he entered on negotiations with the only sheep farmer or flockmaster on his Lordship's estates, and arranged to take the sheep stock at valuation. His Lordship sent for the evicted tenants, and placed them in the farms and grazings vacated by the said flockmaster in Glenstrathfarrar. They took possession at the following Whitsunday. The stock was valued to them, and at the ensuing Martinmas every penny of the price of the stock was duly paid by the new tenants. This proves their ability to have held their own, had they been allowed to remain in their native district, Strathglass. Some fourteen years afterwards, the late Lord Lovat rearranged the largest arable farms on his estate, converted them into ordinary holdings, and every tenant he took to Glenstrathfarrar was taken down again from the glen and reinstalled in arable farms on his Lordship's estate. From that time till now Glenstrathfarrar is a deer forest. (see Appendix A. LXXXI). I have stated from personal recollection that Glencannich was a nursery of military officers; on the statements of the most truthful men I ever saw, I may be permitted to relate that Glenstrathfarrar was also a nursery of brave soldiers. By their courage and prowess they distinguished themselves under their chief and natural leader General Fraser on the heights of Abraham, at the capture of the strong garrison of Quebec, &c. The odium of having cleared the brave native population out of Glenstrathfarrar rests with Archibald, youngest brother of General Fraser and son of Simon, Lord Lovat, who was beheaded on Tower Hill. As I spoke of the crude management of the former proprietors and factors of the estate of Chisholm, it will be necessary to explain how the tenantry on that estate could be in a position to take additional farms and stock them. The explanation simply is, that Alexander, the Chisholm, who died in 1793, left a widow, Elizabeth, daughter of Dr Wilson of Edinburgh. At the time they married he made a fair settlement on her in case of widowhood. He left for her the option of a certain sum of money annually or the rental accruing from a number of club farms. Through the unerring advice of her only child Mary, who married James Gooden, Esq., merchant of London, Mrs Chisholm made choice of the joint farms and kept them intact, and kept the tenantry on these farms in easy circumstances until the day of her death, which took place thirty-three years after the demise of the Chisholm, her husband. During the whole of that time, this kind, considerate, and excellent Edinburgh lady never turned a man out of a house or farm, nor did she ever deprive a man of an acre of land. It was the great good sense of this lady, and the sincere attachment of her daughter, Mrs Gooden of Tavistock Square, London, to her father's tenantry, that enabled the men —when deprived of their old farms—to invest in larger and better farms on Lord Lovat's estate. I remember the time when there were eleven farmers and twelve cottars in the Davoch of Clachan. The grazings here are good, and the arable land is so fertile and productive that this Davoch of land used to be termed the granary of Strathglass. But it now is, and has been, for some years back added to the estate and deer forest of Guisachan, and rented from the recollect a number of warm-hearted, hospitable tenants of small holdings on the estate of Guisacban. So recently as 1855, there were sixteen tenants and six cottars or dependants. They had sixty-two cows, twenty-four horses, and four hundred and twenty sheep among them. But the present proprietor of Guisachan, Lord Tweedmouth, turned every one of them out of their farms, and the land is now virtually in his own hands. In 1851, before his Lordship was elevated to the peerage, he rented Guisachan. In 1851 he bought it. "What induced him to buy it was " simply the game." In order to place his motives beyond doubt, his Lordship added, " The scenery is very fine; but it was the game that induced me to purchase it." So said this peer of the realm in 1873, when he was interrogated before a committee of the House of Commons as to his treatment of the tenantry he received on the estate of Guisachan. If we look at his reasons and consider his actions, we shall be reluctantly compelled to conclude that his Lordship sees no harm in dispossessing and scattering a whole community of respectable Highland tenantry, and perchance replace them with wild beasts and wild birds. . From my earliest recollection the half Davoch of Knockfin and the most of the glen of Affaric were united as one large sheep farm in the hands of two brothers from the south of Scotland. Knockfin and South Affaric are still one sheep farm, but North Affaric is a deer forest for some years back. This forest, beginning about a mile above the bridge of Cannich and extending to Cnoc-a-chuaille (the boundary between Strathglass and Kintail), is about twenty-four miles in length and about two miles in breadth. Intersected in this distance there are about two miles in length of grazing ground, with the average width of about two miles. This piece of hill grazing represents the good old system of letting a portion of strath and glen together. The arable farm of which this hill is the summer grazing is about ten miles from it. It was William the Chisholm, first husband of Lady Ramsay, and herself who cleared the people out of the half Davoch of Knockfin and the glen of Affaric. These evictions took place about the beginning of the present century. The first large party of the evicted left Strathglass in 1801. The second party of them went away in 1803. They settled principally in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and in Cape Breton Island. They gave the name of their Highland home to their residences in their adopted country. In Cape Breton Island there is another county of Inverness. The said William and his wife Lady Ramsay left two sons. Both the sons succeeded—one after another, to the estate and chiefship of Chisholm. Between William, Lady Ramsay and their two sons, they had nearly squeezed the whole native population out of Strathglass. It was Alexander William, the eldest of the two sons of the Chisholm and Lady Ramsay, who turned the people out of Strathglass when they went to Glenstrathfarrar. By this cruel and injudicious act, and the surreptitious manner in which it was carried into effect, he deserved the contempt of all his neighbours, he incurred the anger of all the people he evicted, and lost the confidence of those who remained on his estate, I have now shown by whom and when the glens of Strathglass have been cleared of the native population. We alluded already to the motive for dispossessing the tenantry of Guisachan. It was " simply the game." But the other glens in that district have been ruthlessly and unmercifully cleared to make room for sheep, and now that the furor for sheep is beginning to subside the mania for deer and deer forests seems to take its place. For instance, we read in the public prints that an American " Mr Winans, by the simple process of outbidding all competitors, has turned nearly 250,000 acres in the counties of Ross and Inverness into a deer forest." Some say 260,000 acres, or an area of about 400 square miles. My native place being in the central glen of this immense forest, I think I know the most of the ground tolerably well, and therefore I will make a few observations on it. In the first place, I have no hesitation in stating that some of the grazing lands in this extensive new forest will compare favourably with, if not excel, the best hill grazings in all Scotland. I have seen superior cattle and sheep reared in this glen. I have also seen some heavy and splendid oats, potatoes, and turnips raised on the dales and fields of this my native glen. And as already stated I remember the time when a number of happy families were comfortably located in Glencannich. and members of those families in positions of honour and trust serving their country in the four quarters of the globe. I go occasionally to the west coast, and wend my way through Glencannich. From the road I see the heavy crop of natural grass waving on the hill side and meadows, half tame deer browsing at ease among crumbled walls; empty but substantial houses, some slated and some thatched, still standing at intervals in the glen, their windows bolted and their doors locked up. All the cattle and sheep landed on the Lochalsh side of Kyleakin, and intended for the Muir of Ord and other eastern markets, are driven through Lochalsh and Glenelchag till they reach Duilig, a distance of about seventeen miles from Balamacara. Here the drover encounters a difficulty, namely, whether he will drive his cattle or sheep, as the case may be, along the old easy road through Coireach, or whether he will turn them up to the rough hills of Carn-na-breabaig. As Coireach is converted into what Mr Winans calls a sanctuary for deer, I believe that gentleman would rather see a drove pass through his drawing room than by the above route. The drover, wishing to avoid the displeasure of Mr Winans, turns his drove to the steep Bealach-of-Sgairtlaire, and drives his stock through the rough high hills of Carn-na-breabaig, Leacinn-na-guaille and Glassletter. Then through Glencannich, in which glen there are stations fenced with iron wire where droves of cattle or sheep are secured at night to prevent them from trespassing on forest grounds —there being no accommodation provided in the deer forests for the men in charge of these droves nor for any other men. This is tantalising, inasmuch as there are substantial houses at intervals in this forest. They were built by the hospitable tenantry of former days, but their doors are now closed, apparently in contempt of every sense of shame, humanity, and hospitality. My own worthy landlord Sir Alexander Matheson and my noble chief the Chisholm own every inch of the land through which every drove going by the said route must pass. From Balamacara Hotel, Lochalsh, to Cannich Bridge Inn, Strathglass, a distance of about forty miles, I believe neither drover nor traveller can buy one pennyworth of meat or drink. My great respect for my chief and for my landlord would suffer no diminution if they were to establish a few places of entertainment for man and beast on that road, about twenty miles of which are still in the hands of the sheep farmers and tenants of small holdings. If the proprietors have divested themselves of the power of opening some of the empty houses through this deer forest, they might arrange with these men. I have stated that Sir Alexander Matheson, Bart., M.P., is my landlord; I would not wish for better. My holding under him is small; that is my misfortune, not his fault. He granted what may turn out to be a long lease of this holding, viz., to the end of time. The conditions are simple. I bind myself to pay to Sir Alexander a moderate rent annually, and he, the good man, says in effect perform your promise, live, and be as happy as you can, improve your holding as much as you like, sell it when and where you like, keep it if it suits you best, and will it to your child or friend at last. Briefly stated, such are the terms on which I hold from Sir Alexander Matheson. As these terms are so reasonable and satisfactory to both of us, I sincerely wish Sir Alexander and all the landlords in town and country throughout the kingdom may see their way to grant similar leases or charters to all their tenants, large sheep farms and deer forests excepted. Large sheep farms have been mainly the cause of the unnatural depopulation of the Highlands, and deer forests, as their illegitimate offspring, are daily diminishing the means of subsistence in this kingdom. I have an instance. If any gentleman in this court wishes to defend the system I have so feebly attacked, and that he asks me questions, it will be a source of pleasure for me to answer him. If there be no such advocate here I will only add at present —farewell to the humanity, farewell to the liberty, and farewell to the loyalty basking in the atmosphere of such deer forests as the one here slightly described.
Bidh Alba mhor 'n a frith fo bhèistean.
Muc a dion a muinntir fhèin i!'
[Big Scotland will be run by beasts.
A pig protecting his own people]

41723. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—After the very long and exhaustive paper which you have given in, it is not necessary for me to put many questions, but I wish to put a few. You were long away from the country?
—Forty-one years.

41724. And it often happens that absence makes people more fond of their native country?
—It has been the case with me.

41725. The details you have given of the people who rose to importance both in the army and in the church prove to your own mind satisfactorily that the tenantry in Strathglass and Glencannich especially were in very prosperous circumstances?
—Just so.

41726. They were able to live comfortably, and were of value to their country?
—Of much value, I consider.

41727. Is Glencannich now, though it is a deer forest, very well adapted for the habitations of men?
—I told you I saw comfortable and happy families there, and I see no reason why there should not be so again.

41728. You are aware Glenstrathfarrar forms part of a very large forest?
—It forms the outer glen of a forest. The one I described was the inner glen.

41729. And at one time Glenstrathfarrar had a considerable population, some of whom you describe as having served in Canada?

41730. These men were removed in the time of Colonel Archibald Fraser of Lovat?

41731. And the present family of Lovat are not responsible in any way for the clearance of Glenstrathfarrar?
—I think Glenstrathfarrar was cleared before the father of the present Lord Lovat was born.

41732. Are there parts of Glenstrathfarrar capable of supporting men in comfort?
—Yes; why not? Large fields of arable land are laid waste there.

41733. Going back for a moment to Glenstrathfarrar and its early history, are you aware who the person was for whom Glenstrathfarrar was cleared by the old Lovat?
—Perfectly well. What is the good of mentioning their names? They are dead, and in heaven before now.

41734. There is another forest on the other side of Glencannich called Guisachan; did you kuow a number of the tenants who were there at one time?

41735. Do you recollect when the estate was sold?
—In 1854.

41736. Are you aware, or do you recollect, seeing the advertisement of the sale of the estate?
—I don't recollect them. I was in England at the time, but I was very sorry when I saw the account of its being sold.

41737. I will read to you an extract, and I want to know whether you can confirm it—an extract from the advertisement when the estate was for sale. 'The population on the estate is moderate in number, and of a respectable class.' Do you confirm that?
—Quite so—every syllable of it.

41738. Have you any idea what the rental was in 1851?
—I have not. They were very comfortable, and they were under the man, or rather the men, who sold it, for his grandfather tied him down for four or five years longer than the ordinary years of majority
—I cannot tell why, but he may have had reasons. He was twenty-five before he was allowed to sell, and during that time the estate of Guisachan was actually under the trusteeship of Colonel John Chisholm, who died lately, and Colonel Kyle, Aberdeenshire.

41739. Do you know what the valuation of Guisachan is at this moment in the valuation roll?
—£1334, 6s.

41740. Do you know that when it was sold the rental was something like £1000?
—No, but I am confident there are plenty in Inverness that had an idea of it, for Colin Chisholm, solicitor, was the agent at the time.

41741. Supposing it was about £1000, then, since the estate was sold, there is a rise of about £300. Has there not been a very large sum expended by the present proprietor?
—I hear that, but I know nothing of it. I never was on the estate since he bought it, except once I was there on a message from a party in America ten or twelve years ago.

41742. Supposing, however, my figures are correct, and that it has only risen £300 within the last thirty years, is that anything like a proportion of the value of other Highland estates?
—I think if it were in the hands of the old tenantry, it would have risen much more than £300.

41743. Are you aware that every bit of the estate almost is in the hands of the proprietor?
—Except a baker, a shoemaker, a blacksmith, a chaplain, and a grocer, that are valued at £24.

41744. Are you aware it is commonly stated that lands and houses in the proprietor's own possession are never charged so much as the actual rent that could be got for them?
—I heard that, but rents and these things are not in my line. I look at things as I saw them at one time, and I meditate upon them as I now see them. That is my way of thinking.

41745. Do you know anything about Kintail?
—I do know something about it. I have been there repeatedly, and in my boyhood I used to be back and forward.

41746. Have you been back there lately?
—Yes, I have been there not long ago, some two years ago.

41747. Is that part of the country, Strathglass, Kintail, Glenshiel, and so on, practically one deer forest or forests?
—I am sorry to say they are.

41748. Are you able to state what the effect upon the soil is of this conversion into a forest?
—I hear men who know the country say that it is turning the country back to a state of nature entirely. I daresay I would go there if I were allowed to go through the forests, but you dare not go through one of them. If you pass off the bridle path you are in danger of being collared, and I don't know what after that. I will give you an instance of that

41749. We must not be too lengthy. I merely asked you the question whether, as far as you are aware, or have heard, the result of forming deer forests was to make the land go gradually back to being wild again?
—Quite so—heather and wood growing instead of grass.

41750. Now, although a large rent may be got by the proprietor for the forest as a forest, is it in reality for the benefit of the country generally that such a thing should be going on as the persistent going back to a state of nature of the soil that had once been under cultivation, or sheep or cattle?
—I consider it is very wrong.

41751. Do you consider it so wrong that the Legislature can very properly be asked to deal with the subject?
—If you lose hope of the men now in possession, go to the Legislature. Try themselves first, and see what you can get out of them. If they are not able to manage their own affairs, go to the Legislature at once.

41752. You mentioned the name of a gentleman who is a tenant of very many forests; can you tell me what benefit there is in his occupation, if any, to the country generally?
—I cannot tell you of any benefit whatsoever.

41753. Has there not been a loss of valuable subjects of consumption in the conversion into a forest?
—I told you that I have seen cattle and sheep reared there that fetched some of the highest prices at Falkirk market, and how can it be otherwise than injurious to the country to have such masses of land thrown vacant that will not rear a cow or sheep for the benefit of the community at all?

41754. Do you know there is just now, upon the estate of Kintail, within Glenshiel parish, a great number of people who are in a state of misery, not having as much almost as would keep them in potatoes?
—I believe that is the true state of their case.

41755. And on the shores of Loch Duich?

41756. I presume, therefore, it is not unreasonable on your part, and the part of men who take an interest in their country, to be dissatisfied with such a state of matters?
—I have grave doubts of the wisdom of being satisfied with it. I think it is a serious, a palpable, and an unpardonable state of things.

41757. Have you taken considerable interest in this question of your native Highlands since you returned to the north?
—And long before that.

41758. And you have yourself written upon the subject?
—Yes, published and spoken everywhere I could be heard and listened to against the system.

41759. Mr Cameron.
—You are aware that this Commission has extended its labours to the Island of Skye and the Western Hebrides?

41760. We have there found there are a number of large farms described by the witnesses we have heard as being not perhaps quite so good as, but only second to the farms you described in Glencannich. We have also found in Skye a number of very poor small crofters, and these crofters have all expressed a wish to have a share of these large farms: and the Commissioners have addressed questions to these crofters and others with reference to ascertaining how some such disposal of the farms might be brought about. What I want you to tell me is whether on those large estates you have meutioned there exists a class of crofters who might be benefited by having a share of those large deer forests you have alluded to?
—I believe every crofter and every one who wants land would be benefited by them—by having more land. The man that wants more land and is able to pay for it let him have it.

41761. But does there exist on these estates of the Chisholm, Sir Alexander Matheson, and others, a class of crofters, poor men and others, who want more land, such as we found in Skye and the Western Hebrides?
—With regard to the estate of the Chisholm, I can simply say this, that if you look at the state of the country now, beginning at the watershed of the Glen of Guisachan —the estate is about fifteen miles long —beginning at the watershed, and beginning again at the boundary of the Chisholm, the march between himself and Mackenzie of Kintail; again in Glencannich, and again between Matheson and Lord Lovat, you might as well say that a drag-net was drawn round the whole of these glens and the people brought down to the level of the strath, until they found a harbour on Lord Lovat's estate. With respect to Sir Alexander Matheson, he is an excellent landlord to me; but I cannot conceal from myself that I saw a great deal of what I considered real misery on his estate in other parts.

41762. Then do I understand that, taking the two properties together, the properties which now consist of these enormous tracts of deer forest, there does or does not exist a class of poor crofters such as we find in Skye?
—In Strathglass, from one end to the other, you will not find one crofter at all, they cleared them out so thoroughly.

41763. Then supposing it was proposed and found desirable to adopt your suggestion, and to repeople these glens with farms of moderate and various sizes, where would you suggest that the people should come from?
—The people would suggest it themselves. Give them good terms, and you will soon have plenty people to suggest it.

41764. But I want to know to whom I am to offer these terms?
—That is your business. Advertise the farms and offer your terms, and you will see people come and accept them.

41765. You mean I am to advertise so many farms in such and such a glen, at such and such a price, and let all the world come and choose?
—I mean the people ought to have the chance of the land, but take your own way of giving it to them. A few landlords rent the Highlands; will they be able to rectify that? If not, let them go to the Legislature at once.

41766. But I must ask you to stick to the point. My point is this, that in Skye we find large farms suitable for crofters and poor crofters suitable for farms. But that does not exist in these places, and I ask you how you propose to repeople the glens—where are the people to come from, and by what process is the landlord to repeople glens when he has not got a poor crofter population upon his own estate?
—Well, in the first place, I must tell you that I consider the landlord is the aggressor and the sinner that cleared the people out I leave him to make amends, or to say he is not able to do it, and let the Legislature do it for him.

41767. But will you not help him? You have been working at this for forty years?
—If he comes to ask my advice, I will give him my best advice.

41768. Well, how is Strathglass to be repeopled?
—By simply offering the land on conditions that will be lasting, you will find plenty people to come and be offerers. They are not in Strathglass, and how can I tell you where they will come from.

41769. I think we understand one another. Your proposal is that the landlord should take the same steps to obtain small tenants for Strathglass as he does when he has a large farm in the market?
—That would be the wise plan.

41770. About this Mr Winans. Mr Winans, I suppose, will not live for ever?
—Well, I don't think the people wish him to live for ever.

41771. It is not within the bounds of human probability that another American will come and carry on things in such an extraordinary way as Mr Winans has done?
—I don't know. In my early recollection we never expected such a man, and as long as you leave the laws of the land as they are, and the greed of landlords as it now is, you may have plenty of
Americans, Frenchmen, Russians, and any other men.

41772. And you don't think that if Mr Winans is dead, or after he ceases to care about what he calls sport, the land he occupies is likely to be divided among other people; do you think it will be consolidated and kept as it is?
—It is not at all likely that Great Britain will allow such masses of land to remain in possession of a man that does no good with them, and I do not think they would be left consolidated as they are.

41773. But supposing Great Britain took no steps in the matter, do you think a man would be found to take such a tract of country and treat it as Mr Winans has done?
—I am not sure but there are plenty of them. There are other men without consciences in the world as well as Mr Winans.

41774. But does their want of conscience take the form that Mr Winans takes'?
—I don't know, but it is a very cruel one in our estimation here.

41775. The Chairman.
—I want to ask you one or two questions about this great consolidation of deer forests in the hands of Mr Winans. Can you tell me whether the forests now consolidated in Mr Winans' hands were all forest before he took them, or has any portion of the land occupied by him as forest been cleared for him specially?
—Part of the glens were formerly under deer, but there has been a vast deal of good grazings cleared
for him.

41776. Cleared for Mr Winans?
—For Mr Winans purposely.

41777. Who are the proprietors who have cleared their land and made it forest for Mr Winans personally?
—Well, I wish you would not ask me that question; but I will answer it.

41778. Do answer it?
—First and foremost, Mackenzie of Kintail; and then Sir Alexander Matheson.

41779. Anybody else?
—There is a very small portion of the Chisholm's land cleared for him.

41780. Well, now, I have heard Mr Winans spoken of with some severity on account of his avidity in adding land to land for the purposes of a forest. But, in your opinion, if it is blameworthy at all to have forests, to make them, and to hold them, is the person who takes the land or the person who grants it more to blame? Is Mr Winans, the lessee, in your opinion, more to blame, or are the proprietors more to blame who accept his terms?
—The proprietors are in the first place to blame, and he is to blame for straining the law to have every soul and every beast cleared off the land for him; so that the blame must be divided in his case between himself and the landlord.

41781. Who has the greatest share of moral obligation and duty towards the people of the land —the proprietor or the tenant?
—The proprietor, by all means. He has the power of turning that land to the very best purposes for cultivation, or for grazing, or for feeding, and the landlord who deprives himself of all power over his land seems to me to be more guilty than the man who takes it. That is my view of it.

41782. Sheriff Nicolson.
—I suppose you do not consider deer stalking a reprehensible pursuit, but the contrary?
—Certainly not.

41783. I suppose you would not object to have facilities for pursuing that noble sport on a moderate scale?
—Not the least.

41784. Mr Winans' style of doing the thing is very different?
—Ach I don't like his butchering style of killing game at all.

41785. What is his style?
—Gathering the poor animals together and driving them before the muzzles of the gun.

41786. Does he not stalk them?
—You might as well send an elephant after them to stalk them.

41787. Was there ever a sportsman of that kind known in Scotland before?
—I have not heard of one before.

41788. Does he employ a large number of persons in this slaughtering business?
—Too many, in the opinion of the men who travel round the ground—too many by half. You cannot go within half or quarter of a mile without meeting a watcher watching whether you go off the road. I was cautioned about going off the road a little distance to some good springs to take a drink of cold water; and to show you the humanity of such a system, I knew an instance of a Glasgow artist and naturalist who took lodgings for a few days at Cannich Inn, and by mere instinct or some other way he went up and took himself out of the sight of this public house, and when the man found himself in sight of a beautiful clump of heather he started a number of little flies, small and large, and the misfortune was that this great sportsman saw him from the hill. He sent a man down, brought him before him, and I don't know what he threatened to do for robbing him of his midges. The result was that when the Glasgow man got himself on the Queen's highway, there was a battle of very high words, and the people present thought it would end in heavy blows, and they were prepared to save lives on either side. The flies were dead; but the Glasgow man took every one of them to the road, and then he told Mr Winans that he was not pleased with him at all; and it was very nearly coming to the greatest battle we ever had in Strathglass for an age—the battle of the midges. That is an instance of the humanity and an instance of the hospitality of these glens owing to your great sportsman.

41789. The persons in Mr Winans' employment—keepers and gillies—I suppose, form the principal part of the population in that glen?
—He must get them from other glens. We have no men in that country, and he gathers them from round Lochaber between the land of Lochiel and Sir Kenneth, wherever he can get them.

41790. Have the inhabitants, as far as there are any left, any complaint to make against these men for their behaviour?
—I think not as a rule; and this much I must say for Mr Wiuans, that I believe he pays every one he employs remarkably well.

41791. Could any of the descendants of the people who inhabited these places before, the Macraes, the Chisholms, and Frasers, —be got, supposing they were to be peopled again?
—I believe some of them would come from America, if there were fair conditions and leases similar to my lease from Sir Alexander Matheson, to the end of time.

41792. Most of them, I suppose, are in America?
—Indeed they are, and in Australia.

41793. Professor Mackinnon.
—When you were young in the glens yourself, were there deer in the country?
—Plenty deer.

41794. Upon the high ground?
—Upon the high ground, and on the low ground occasionally.

41795. The deer occupied the upper ground and occasionally the lower ground, but there was other stock all over?

41796. And if the glens were to be repeopled again as you saw them, there would be still no objection to some deer occupying the upper ground yet?
—Not a bit of it.

41797. And that would provide true sport?
—That would be the true

41798. You don't see any difficulty, if the proprietors would so will it, why those places should not be peopled as they used to be?
—No, I don't; and if there was a difficulty, let the proprietors who actually divested themselves of the men and sent them out of the country, send and get them back again.

41799. If they profited by the depopulation, they should lose a little by the repeopling?
—By all means. They have the inheritance left by their fathers, good and bad, and let them mend what their fathers did wrong.

41800. If they do it voluntarily, well and good, and if not, you wish the Legislature to do it for them —By all means.

No comments:

Post a Comment