Lord TWEEDMOUTH, Proprietor of Guisachan, Beauly (62)—examined.
42942. The Chairman.
—I believe you desire to make a statement in consequence of something that was stated at Inverness?
42913. Will you have the goodness to do so?
—It is my wish to offer a few remarks in reply to the evidence given at Inverness on Friday last by Mr Colin Chisholm—evidence affecting Strath Glass, and the management of the Guisachan property during the last thirty years. That evidence I read on Saturday at Guisachan. I could have wished that Mr Colin Chisholm had given me some notice of his intention to attack the management of the Guisachan property. I think he would have shown not only more courtesy towards myself, but also a greater desire to place the whole truth before the Royal Commissioners, as had he done so I should have been prepared to bring forward witnesses to contradict his statements — for instance, Alexander Stewart, who was my manager at Guisachan from 1855 to 1864; also Hugh Eraser, who has been on the estate for fifty years —he is a son of one of the old crofters; also two Macdonalds, William and Archie, sons of an old crofter on the property; and I feel quite confident that those men would have borne testimony to the consideration and liberality and kindness shown to every inhabitant of the property at Guisachan. I at once say that Mr Chisholm was entirely correct in stating that I, when I took possession of Guisachan in 1855, found sixteen tenants. There were two large sheep farmers and fourteen small crofters; and he was also quite correct in saying that not one of those sixteen is now remaining with land on the property. But admitting that, I deny entirely that Mr Chisholm was right in any of the details he gave, or right in saying that those men were evicted. The only one instance that could bear the colour of an eviction was the case of John Macdonald, the innkeeper. John Macdonald's house was little better than a bothy. He had some land, and he paid £15 a year of rental. His sale of whisky was very considerable, and there were constant rows and constant brawls between the great number of workmen I was employing at that time and also among the labouring population of the place. I told Macdonald that unless he could dispense with his licence for selling whisky he would have to remove at the expiry of his lease, which was in 1864, nine years after my coming to the place. Macdonald said it was impossible he could make a living without selling whisky. He left the property at the expiry of his lease in 1861, and settled at Invermorriston. If Mr Chisholm calls that an eviction, I do not myself, but it is the only case that would bear the smallest colour of an eviction of any kind or sort. My great wish is to be as brief as possible and to take up as small a space of the Royal Commissioners valuable time as possible, and, therefore, last evening I put a few notes on paper in order to show what was the state of Guisachan in 1855, when I took possession, and how Guisachan stands to-day. I may say that, previous to making the purchase of Guisachan, I had rented various grouse moors in the county, Guisachan among the number, in 1851. It was a place of great natural beauties and capabilities, also affording good grouse shooting. For these reasons I purchased the property Lord at what was then, before railway days, considered a fancy price. I certainly did not purchase it on account of its rental, then only £692, exclusive of the shooting rent. The shooting rent in 1851, when I rented it, was £420. The estate was said to contain about 25,000 acres, but Mr George Mackay, after a careful survey in 1857, gave an acreage on his map of 21,944. Later on, a few years since the Ordnance Survey gave 19,186 of an acreage. I believe Mr Mackay's acreage to be the correct one. It was stated a few years since before the House of Commons that the population of Guisachan in 1855 was 227, inclusive of those residing at Guisachan house. In 1855 there were two farm houses, one of them slated, two other cottages, and forty-three bothies, the large majority of which were built of boulders and stones, with wooden vents, and heather thatched. The school-room of the place, where the Church of Scotland held services occasionally on Sundays, was 17 feet by 14 feet, height 7 feet 4 inches. This room is still standing, and forms part of a cottage. In 1855 there were sixteen tenants in all, paying in the aggregate £640. Of this amount the two large sheep farmers —strangers to the place, and introduced in 1847 —paid £499, leaving £141 to be paid by the other fourteen tenants. Taking the acreage at 21,944 —Mr Mackay's survey — the two sheep farmers held 20,291 acres, at a rental of £499; the fourteen crofters sixty-four arable acres, twenty-one of pasture, and 1650 of moorland in common, in all 1735 acres, at a rental of £141. The total of the arable land at Guisachan in 1855, as given in Morrison's book of 1845, which was made at the time of the crofters were given their leases, was 165 acres and 95 pasture —the total arable and pasture at Guisachan.
42944. Improved pasture?
—Yes. Of the larger portion of this arable land, namely 165 acres, about 130 lay between the river and the only approach road, the breadth between river and road varying from 1 to 300 yards; and it is unnecessary to say that the approach road was used in common by the tenants, as also by the two sheep farmers. The sheep farmers had not been doing well for some time. The larger one, Alexander Cameron, emigrated to Australia in 1856, assisted by his brother-in-law, Mr Williamson of Knockiln, and myself, and the other settled at Fort- William in 1857, there having been breaks in their leases.
42945. What was the name of the other?
—John Cameron. They were two brothers. Alexander introduced John. The fourteen crofters' leases expired in 1864. Some three or four had previously asked to be relieved of their crofts, but there was not one removed or one who left until provided with either a better farm or an occupation more suitable to himself. I have here the names of the fourteen small tenants, the quantity of land they each occupied, the rents they paid, and the dates of their either leaving or dying. I have mentioned the two sheep farmers. I then come to Auchblair, in which there were four tenants. They occupied 20½ acres arable land and 84 pasture, and the four tenants between them paid £46 of rental. John Macdonald died at Guisachan in 1870; John Fraser died at Guisachan in 1857; William Fraser died at Guisachan in 1856; William Macdonald went to New Zealand in 1863, before the expiration of his lease. He left of his own accord. At Tomich there were three tenants —John Macdonald, the innkeeper, of whom I have already spoken; Alexander Macdonald died in 1863; Alexander Fraser, blacksmith, died in 1879 at Guisachan. At Easter Auch-na-heglish there were two tenants —Robert Grant died in 1866 at Guisachan; Alexander Macdonald left Guisachan in 1864 and settled at Belladrum, near Beauly. Wester Auchnaheglish, five tenants —Colin Macdonald left Guisachan in 1864 and went to Croil, about six miles off; Donald and John Fraser had a small - holding between them, for which they paid £ 17; Douald died in 1872, John was placed at a small brewery which I had built at Tomich, and which he left in 1869; Donald Macdonald, crofter, paying £2, died at Guisachan in 1868; Alexander Fraser, miller, died at Guisachan in 1870. That is a list of the fourteen tenants said by Mr Colin Chisholm to have been evicted. I have shown that the majority died at Guisachan years after they were said to have been evicted. I will now speak of 1883. Considerably larger sums than the purchase money of the estate have been expended since 1855 in building, levelling, trenching, reclaiming land, draining, fencing, and making roads and bridges. The population is now 169, exclusive of those resident at Guisachan House for six months of the year. There are now thirty-seven good houses and cottages —that is, inclusive of the two farm houses and the two cottages on the property in 1855. That is thirty-three entirely new ones, and four have been repaired, reroofed, and slated. They are all built of hewn stone and slated. To each house is attached a garden, varying from a quarter to half an acre. A shilling a week is the rent for each, with the exception of two, the tenants of which pay £ 5 per annum. The very poor pay no rent. All the working men on the estate are employed regularly at 15s. or 16s. per week; the skilled labourers 18s., 19s., and 20s.; the women at Is. and Is. 6d. per day. The wages are paid on the last Saturday in each month, and exclusive of manager and keepers, they amount to over £2000 per annum. That is at the present time, when all the large works have been completed and things have been placed in regular working order. I consider that the property is more than doubled, if not trebled, in value since 1855. I may say generally that there is no district I am acquainted with that has more greatly improved than Strath Glass during the last twenty years. I am speaking now especially of The Chisholm's property —that is, in regard to the comfort and well-doing and the dress of the inhabitants, their houses, and the greatly improved state of agriculture in the strath. Should it be thought right that the straths and glens should again be thickly populated as they were once said to have been, Government should make either a railroad or a tramway in each strath or glen. The Highland Railway has done more than all the other causes during the fifty years put together to deprive the straths and glens of their population. The working people must and will go to the near neighbourhood of the railway towns and stations. No man rests contented with paying £ 1 a ton for the carriage of his coals, lime, and food, which he must do if he lives twenty miles from a railway, and no man earning 15s. per week, the smallest sum given in Strath Glass, can afford the time to winter his peats as he did in former times. It is cheaper for him to buy coals and to pay for their carriage at the rate of £ 1 per ton —coals go so much further than peats. Besides, a working man in a strath, at a distance from a town, contrives to get a considerable quantity of wood free. I omitted to state that there are now about 600 acres of trenched and improved land at Guisachan —about 305 arable and about the same quantity of pasture. In addition to the expenditure on my own place, I have rented a shooting lodge and a farm from The Chisholm. I spent £6000 on building a shooting lodge on The Chisholm's property, and £4000 in making sixty acres of new land, and draining —thoroughly draining —200 acres of arable. I built a schoolhouse as well. The schoolhouse now serves as a church for the Church of Scotland, and the minister of it resides now at the new inn which I built some years since and in which I placed an old servant of mine, a native of the place. Whisky was still sold, and I thought it best to do away with the inn to stop importation. I may say that the notes I have read from are all taken from the estate book of Mr Morrison in 1845, made for the late Mr Fraser of Culbokie from my rental sheet for 1855, and from the Guisachan book from 1854 to 1863.
42946. You have stated that when you purchased this property there were sixteen tenants, two of whom were large farmers and fourteen of the crofting class. How long had the two large farmers been farming?
—Since 1847. They came in 1817. Alexander Cameron left in 1855 and John Cameron in 1857.
42947. Did the land occupied by these two large farms in whole or in part form small tenancies before?
—I cannot say, it was before my time.
42948. Is there any evidence in the character of soil or the debris of ancient habitations'?
—Certainly not. Of the two large holdings on grazings I put about something short of 14,000 acres into forest. In those 14,000 acres there was not a single cottage save a keeper's and a shepherd's. The shepherd has been moved lower down, and the keeper still remains there.
42949. But I speak of a remoter period—whether this large area of ground consolidated into two holdings had formerly been under cultivation by the crofter class?
—Certainly not under cultivation, neither as pasture nor as arable land.
42950. Had it never been?
—-No, there is no trace. There were remains of a few walls—loose stones—and I am told they were occupied as shielings by people who came up to feed their black cattle towards the end of the last century.
42951. Then the loftier ground which had been consolidated as two farms had formerly been sheiling pasture?
—Yes, to a certain extent, in the more favoured spots, but it is very exposed.
42952. Do you think this sheiling pasture had been attached in any degree to the crofting holdings which you found upon the estate?
—No, certainly not. It must have been held by some large farmer, I should think, from the south probably—from some of the southern counties in Scotland. I found the remains of these old sheilings, and the late Lord Lovat told me the way he accounted for the quantity of birchwood about Guisachan was this, that he remembered as a young man that there was not such a thing as birch, and the birch sprang up when the black cattle were removed and the sheep put on, about 1825.
42953. Does it not seem that if these were the remains of sheilings on these waste grounds, these were sheilings for the service of small tenants in the neighbourhood and not sheilings for the service of large farmers from the south of Scotland? They did not use the sheilings in hills as far as I know ?
—It may be so.
42954. But it is at a remote period of which you have no knowledge?
—Yes, I know nothing.
42955. When you bought the estate, you say it was a good sporting estate so far as grouse shooting was concerned; were there any deer upon any part of the estate ?
—Every now and then a shepherd came down to say that a stag had been seen. The first season I was there, in 1857—looking back at the old game book—I killed three deer.
42956. The two large tenants were named Cameron?
42957. They seemed to have belonged to the country by their name?
42958. Do you think they were in any degree representative of the old class of tacksmen tenants—I mean gentlemen farmers?
—I don't think it.
42959. Well, there were fourteen small tenants, and those fourteen small tenants have gradually disappeared, but, as I understand you, without any individual personal hardship?
—With the exception of^the innkeeper, who left on the expiration of his lease because I would not allow him to take out a licence again. .
42960. When you got the estate you found all those fourteen people in the enjoyment of leases?
—Yes, nineteen years' leases. The leases were granted in 1845 and expired in 1864.
42961. Were there any stipulations in those leases for reimbursement for improvements?
42962. Or to promote improvement of any sort? Were the tenants in any degree bound to reclaim land, or anything of that sort?
—I think not.
42963. Well, those people seem, most of them, to have lived till about the termination of their lease—some of them, however, not—but the most of them, according to your account, died on the ground, as it were, at the place itself?
—Yes, and years after the expiration of their leases.
42964. Now, the leases all fell in at once?
—They all fell in in 1864.
42965. But some, I presume, did die during the currency?
—Yes, three of them, I think.
42966. As to those that died during the currency of the lease, had they any natural heirs, as it were, or did they die without chddren?
—I was requested to take their portions.
42967. Had they families or not?
—I will not be certain.
42968. Then we may be certain that at the end of the lease there were about nine or ten still living and still in the possession of the land?
—Yes, that was about the number.
42969. Were those families, when the lease expired, valid families, in the possession of grown-up children?
—Yes, some three or four were the Macdonalds, whom I have already mentioned.
42970. No attempt was made, I presume, from what you say, to consolidate those small holdings,
—to retain two or three or any number in the possession of larger holdings?
—No. My object in taking that large farm was simply to afford employment for the people living on the estate. Had it not been for that large farm it was impossible I could have found employment for the people at present on the place.
42971. You took the large farm into your own hands?
—Yes, and I doubled the size of it, besides renting a considerable farm from The Chisholm.
42972. Was it essential to the improvement of the large farm and to your benevolent operations that the whole of these small holdings should be extinguished? I mean, would it not have been possible to have consolidated two or three of them?
—No; I might have left the small portion at Easter Auch-na-heglish, but Robert Grant died and the other man left the place.
42973. During the currency of the lease, and before the expiry of the lease, the small tenants were in the possession of several hundreds of acres of hill pasture?
42974. Was any of the hill pasture withdrawn from them during the currency of the lease, or did they retain the whole of the hill pasture?
—They retained it all. Your Lordship asked about the two tenants at Easter Auch-na-heglish. Robert Grant died there in 1866, two years after the expiration of the lease; and not one of those men left without having provided himself either with a better farm or with an occupation which he preferred.
42975. I understood you to say that none of them left without being provided with a proper place, with the means of subsistence and occupation; but what I wished to know was whether those ccupations, those new occupations, were provided by you or by other people?
—Provided by those who went—by other people—but those who remained have been enjoyed with me up to the time of their death.
42976. As the matter now stands, there are a larger number of cottages of a far better quality and a larger population than there were when you got the property, but, if I understand it aright, none of those families are in the occupation of what may be called land?
—No; but the population I may say was larger in 1855 than it is at this moment, and the number of bothies in 1855 was larger than the improved stone and slated houses now.
42977. But there are a number of houses, and there is a considerable population left. None, I understand, are in the occupancy of land. Have any of them got as much as a single cow's grass attached to the cottage?
—Yes, the keepers of course have, and then there is one man, the general dealer; but I may say all of them have milk. I keep a very large number of cows, and there is a place where they go and are supplied with as much milk as they require at a very small price.
42978. Well, now, it is not my wish to cast the least reflection upon the character of the occupants of your cottages, or the manner in which they have been treated, or anything of that sort. I have no doubt they are worthy families and very properly an object of favour on your part, but I would like to know what their occupation generally is. Are they, properly speaking, dependants'?
—On weekly wages.
42979. Dependants on the wages given by you and dependants upon your sporting establishment?
—I would not say altogether on sport.
42980. I do not mean altogether?
—Considerably more than the half of the sum I mentioned is spent on farm labour.
42981. But they are divided between the two?
—Yes. Some are employed in the garden and in various other ways.
42982. They are dependants upon your farm and your establishment in general?
42983. And I presume there are no leases?
42984. All tenants at will?
42985. This seems to be a case on a small scale of the substitution of a little community of labourers and dependants, well lodged and generously treated, I doubt not, for a community of small tenants holding land under lease?
—Yes, that is so. But then, on the other hand, had those small tenants remained, the condition of the other squatters —if you may call them so—other people on the estate would have been now even more miserable than it was in 1855, and anything more wretched and poverty-stricken cannot be conceived.
42986. I find in this report there are six squatters mentioned, to whom I do not understand you have alluded, but I suppose those squatters followed the fortunes of the others?
—I knew nothing of the men who were said to be dependent upon the larger tenants. I knew nothing of that arrangement.
42987. I would ask you generally whether, as a matter of policy, you think that the substitution of a class of persons, however respectable and well treated, in the position of dependants, for the small old tenantry, however ill off, but themselves susceptible of improvement —whether the substitution of the one class for the other is, on the whole, a desirable thing?
—I can answer you if you tell me what on earth I could have done with the 150 people who were on the property in 1855, irrespective of the sixteen tenants, because it was a case of this kind, whether the sixteen tenants were to leave or the 150 or 160 other people; and I thought it better to provide for the larger number.
42988. What were the 160 other people besides the fourteen families of tenants?
—They were on the place living in dry stone bothies with wooden vents—those bothies scarcely thatched—no shoes or stockings,
42989. Well, as to the fourteen tenants what sort of houses had they?
—As to the two sheep farmers, one of them lived in a slated house and the other in the farm house that was thatched—both good enough—but there is no labourer on the place who now lives in such a house as the fourteen tenants lived in in 1855.
42990. I, of course, am not acquainted with the land, and it is not my business to give you advice about your property, and I don't know what could have been done with them. The only thing that suggests itself to my mind is whether it might not have been possible that the two large farms might have been in some degree used for the development of the holdings of the small tenants?
—I have a plan of the estate in the next room, and you will see that it is an excessively narrow strip of land, and that it is only at the east end that any cultivation is possible. I may say, that half a mile west of the house there are no signs of cultivation of any kind at all. I also say it; would be impossible to grow either oats or turnips on any portion of the land west of Guisachan House—say a mile west of Guisachan House. For thirteen or fourteen miles west of Guisachan House it would be an impossibility either to ripen corn or grow turnips.
42991. What is the elevation of the bottom of the valley?
—It is very small indeed in the valley; 380 feet at Guisachan House, and 800 feet at Cogie in the valley, four miles west.
42992. Are the slopes of the hill very precipitous?
42993. Well, according to the account we get from you, this may have been a peculiar case in which any land available may not have been appropriate for small cultivation or the accommodation of those tenants, but I would ask you, as a matter of general opinion, whether you think that in other, and perhaps more favourably situated places, the substitution of dependants and persons living upon labour—upon wages—is desirable for the class living in small tenancies'?
—No, I am clearly in favour of small tenants—clearly in favour of small crofters.
42994. Do you think there is much opportunity for these in your neighbourhood?
—There would have been small crofters at Guisachau if Guisachan had been double the size. If I could have found occupation for the people and given them crofts, I should have done it. Without the farm it would have been impossible to have given them occupation. But you spoke of Guisachan not being favorably situated. On the contrary, I think it is most favourably situated—only 380 feet above the sea. East of Guisachan we grow magnificent oat crops and magnificent turnips, and it is a very mild place, but west of Guisachan there is no land on which you could grow either oats or turnips, and there is not a trace of a ploughshare half a mile west of Guisachan House.
42995. Upon the wild grounds?
—Not a trace.
42996. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—May I ask what you paid for the property ?
42997. And you say you have laid out fully as much upon it since?
—Yes, considerably more.
42998. We shall say £100,000 altogether. You have also stated that the estate, in your opinion, has trebled in value?
—I would say so. I purchased before the age of railways and before the mania for deer forests.
42999. Don't you think, if it is trebled in value since you bought it, the rental should have shown some indication of being trebled since you bought it?
—I think I can explain that. I did mention that I had paid £420 for the grouse shooting in 1855. If I was to let it out as a deerforest I should have £2500 or £3000 for it.
43000. Then do you object to this proposed change by which proprietors— in the occupation of forests and grouse shootings will be charged like other people?
—If all are charged with the county rates, and so forth, it will be as broad as it is long. You only want a certain sum of money for your rates and taxes, and it is as broad as it is long.
43001. But the rental which appears in the roll is only £1300?
—Yes, because it has never been let.
43002. Don't you think the tax payers in the parish suffer rather in consequence of this, that the area of taxation is so far diminished by your rental being so small?
—I receive no rental if I live there. On the contrary, the expenditure is very great indeed.
43003. You stated that when you bought the property the population was 227?
—I said it was stated before a committee of the House of Commons. I do not say it was not so, but that appears to me to be a very large number.
43004. You are not aware that there was anything that would reduce it. It is now only 169. There was no particular reason why it should be reduced?
—-Well, in the first place, I could make it up to 200 at once by including the residents at Guisachan, and I suppose the residents at Guisachan House in 1855 were included. But even say it is only 170. I don't think the decrease would be very great as times go, because there is no doubt in my mind that the Highland Railway has caused a greater amount of depopulation in the Highland glens and straths than all the other causes put together, in the last fifty years.
43005. With reference to the questions put to you about the possession of the land in former times, was not the former proprietor a man of some importance in the county—a Fraser?
—The grandfather was. I do not know it, but I fancy the last proprietor during the time he was proprietor—which was for a few years only—was in America the greater portion of the time.
43006. Do you know that they had a distinctive name in Gaelic?
43007. And are you also aware that that was not generally given unless the person or family was of some consequence?
43008. Well, you referred to your rental account that you had in your hand. You gave the names of the two Camerons; were there not two tenants of the name of Alexander and Colin Chisholm there as well as the Camerons ?
—No; there was only one Chisholm.
43009. Did the Camerons pay something like between £300 and £400?
—Alexander Cameron paid £320.
43010. For Cogie?
—Yes, for Cogie, and down to the Guisachan gates almost.
43011. And Mid-Guisachan?
—No; John Cameron rented that, and paid £179.
43012. But between the two brothers they had both places?
—Yes; in fact, they occupied 20,900 acres out of 21,900.
43013. Look at Auchblair for a moment. How many John Macdonalds were there, tenants and crofters?
43014. Were there not three?
—No; one, and William Macdonald. The four tenants were John Macdonald, John Fraser, William Fraser, and William Macdonald, in 1855.
43015. There was not John Macdonald, first; John Macdonald, second; and John Macdonald, third; paying respectively £5, £10, and £5?
—No. Here is the book of 1848, and I notice they speak of John Macdonald, sen., and then John Macdonald.
43016. When you got it there was only one John Macdonald?
43017. But you stated there were six cottars?
—I know nothing about cottars—you mean servitors of the big tenants. I know nothing about them. I saw it stated by Colin Chisholm, but I know nothing to the contrary, and I do not admit it as a fact.
43018. Did you read the advertisement of the estate?
—I read it three or four years before I purchased the estate. It was in the market several years.
43019. Have you any doubt the following expressions were used in it—The population on the estate is moderate in number and of a respectable class?
—-They were most respectable, and a nicer population of tenantry could not be seen.
43020. And ' moderate in number.' Do you recollect that expression?
—I think 220 a very large population for the place.
43021. For 20,000acres?
—That is not quite the case, because there was no person, no cottage, nobody living half a mile west of Guisachan House, and that would be over 20,000 acres out of 21,900. It was quite a narrow strip on which all these people lived.
43022. Do you know as a fact that the father of the present Culbokie was rather embarrassed in his circumstances and was under trust?
—Yes, he was in the Guards, and his trustee was Mr Sandeman, of some house of business in London.
43023. But, notwithstanding he was rather embarrassed and under trust, he still allowed all those crofters to live upon his property, and they must have made a living of it, both proprietor and tenants?
—You see I do not know the exact date of Culbokie's death, but those crofters were there previous to 1849.
43024. You stated they, the present residents, were weekly tenants, and paid Is. a week; on what notice are they subject to removal?
—Six months, either November or May, on leaving my service.
43025. Is there any writing between you and them?
—No. It would be simply impossible for any person to live up there who was not paid wages; that is just the long and the short of it. It is impossible for any person to live at Guisachan unless he receives wages from the proprietor at Guisachan.
43026. Why did you take this farm and expend so much money upon another man's property—the farm of Kerrow?
—Because the land at Guisachan, which was 600 acres, was not sufficient to employ all the people on the Guisachan estate. I was desirous of employing every person, and therefore I took this farm from The Chisholm. There are about 200 acres at Kerrow, and I trenched a place called Crannich, 80 acres, belonging to The Chisholm.
43027. What will become of these unfortunate people after you yourself must go; have you never thought of them?
—I hope those who will come after me will look after the people in the same way.
43028. Have you ever contemplated that matter?
—I have, but I do not see any use contemplating a thing in which one will have no voice.
43029. But don't you see that if you gave them a certain quantity of land and leases, the leases would last after you?
—You mean give them the fee simple?
43030. No, leases; give them land on certain conditions?
—But if I gave them leases, how could I employ the greater proportion of the people at Guisachan? I have taken a farm from The Chisholm for the express purpose of giving emplovment to the people, and therefore if I was to give leases of farms on my own property, how would it be possible for me to
employ other people?
43031. I put it in this form, without making it in the slightest degree invidious, as no doubt a great deal has been done by you; suppose the same operation had been carried on by other people in the Highlands as by you, that is reducing the position of a crofter or holder of land to the position of a servant or dependent; would it not be most prejudicial to the country generally if everything should be dependent on the will of the person in possession?
—I have said I should infinitely prefer a system of small crofters, but the land at Guisachan would not keep the number who lived on the place in 1855 in comfort, and I say that more abject poverty than existed at Guisachan in 1855 I never saw, and it was borne out by the late Mr Williamson, who was speaking of it at the dinner when The Chisholm took possession of his property. He spoke of it then, and gave very great offence.
43032. So it comes to this, that you found yourself in this position, that to make anything of it you had to do as you did, though you do not recommend that such a course should be generally followed?
—Most certainly not. If you ask me now, I think I made a mistake in buying Guisachan at all.
43033. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—I suppose cottars rather than crofters formed the principal portion of the population when you bought the property?
43034. And they were in poverty ?
43035. And the present population on Guisachan is not in poverty?
—I don't think so.
43036. That is what you intend to represent?
43037. You referred to the fact of having built a new school; is there a large number of children attending there?
—Yes. The average in 1855 was something under twenty, and the average attendance now is fortythree. It is a very good school—a boys' school and a girls'—and in the boys' school on Sundays a Scotch service takes place. A minister is sent up by a committee of the church.
43038. You mentioned that the Highland Railway caused depopulation; you mean that in proximity to the railway the expense of living is lessened, and that this draws down the people to the low country?
—They will go; and I have no doubt in my own mind that the Highland glens are being depopulated by that more than by any other cause.