Inverness, 13 October 1883 - Duncan Darroch

DUNCAN DARROCH of Gourock and Torridon (47)—examined.

42732. The Chairman.
—You desire, I believe, to make a general statement?
—I do.
The evidence which I desire to give you to-day is on the amelioration of the crofters' condition, caused by the change from sheep farming to deer foresting. Having myself cleared a district of some fifty square miles of sheep ten years ago at Torridon, I am in a position to speak on this side of the question, more particularly as, having no factor and working out all the details myself, my evidence is first hand, and not derived from the reports of others. When I began the air was full of denunciations of the wickedness of deer foresting; the Game Committee of 1873 had not reported; and I was a little afraid of entering on an undertaking which many good men, misled by the persistent clamour of the noisier portion of the sheep farming interest, had been brought to regard as unpatriotic and worthy of severe condemnation. But I was encouraged by observing that though deer forests were spoken of as ruining the sheep industry, yet the people's wrongs were never touched on, their welfare was contemptuously ignored; and deeming that the life of man was above even that of sheep, I thought I saw my way to bettering the condition of some of my fellow-countrymen. The report of the 1873 Game Committee silenced the cry against deer forest for the time; but presuming I suppose on the shortness of the public memory, here are the old stories once more. It may be said that the grievances now complained of have arisen since that time; but as an interested party I have been carefully watching, and only one instance has come to my knowledge, that of Kintail, where the good wishes of all in the north have gone with the proprietor, who has successfully resisted the unworthy attempts of the American who has been trying to turn the poor Highlanders out of their little holdings : I have heard no one approve of his conduct, and surely for this solitary case, the attempted tyranny of a foreign lessee, the whole system is not to be condemned. It seems, however, that there is still an impression that deer foresting means driving away or otherwise oppressing the inhabitants of the country; and there is a further idea fostered, mainly by the sheep farming interest, and in support of which I observe some statements have been tendered to your Commission, that it diminishes the actual amount of food which the land supplies to the nation. And these views are not confined to Scotland, even in London society I find them pretty largely entertained, deer forests being looked upon as an expensive luxury indulged in at the cost of the well-being of the unfortunate aboriginal Celtic population. I will now endeavour to show that the only chance of existence for the crofters in large parts of the north-west coast of Scotland, is the restriction of the large sheep farms, and that the cultivation of cattle and deer, not only gives a possibility of living to the inhabitants of that country, but actually provides the nation with a greater supply of food. The physical peculiarity of the district is, that the mountains are high and rugged, rising to a height of between 3000 and 4000 feet, giving good grass up to the very tops in summer, but in winter very wild and generally snow-capped, in consequence of this, in October, when the first snow usually falls, all sheep come down from the heights of their own accord. To winter all the sheep that the hills will summer is an impossibility; about one-fourth of the stock has to be sent away to the east coast to winter on turnips, and the remainder can only be kept in the west by utilising the comparatively flat ground by the shore; but this is all the land that the crofters can till, and on it they have to depend for feeding for their cattle and potatoes for themselves, so that to provide for the wintering of the sheep stock the people have to be restricted as much as possible. In the year 1872 I became the purchaser of the estate of Torridon, in Wester Ross. When I went to see it, I saw noble hills well adapted for deer, with no deer on them, and a population driven to the verge of starvation by the all-devouring sheep. To most intending purchasers, the population was an objection—to me the reverse. It was just such a place as I had long thought of, and I speedily concluded the purchase. It had been well foreseen by an intelligent clergyman, the Rev. Roderick M'Rae, factor for Seaforth in 1827, how large farms held by strangers would work. He says in his report to Seaforth :—
" It may not be amiss to observe that Torridon is best calculated for small tenants, and when such fail, great shepherds will never succeed, as they have not so much-industry or economy or so many shifts to pay rent as the poor people have."
He was a man wise in his generation, and it was a dark day for Torridon when " great shepherds " came in. Large farmer after large farmer failed; little or no rent came to the proprietor; while the condition of the poor crofters, by slow but certain steps, tended to the lowest point of misery and despair. My agent, on inquiry as to the circumstances of the estate, reported to me before I saw Torridon:
—" There are a good many smaller crofters; these, I understand, have no leases, but are the remains of the old peasantry settled on the lands from time immemorial. They are not an enterprising race. They do very well any kind of work that their fathers did before them, but eschew anything that is new. The younger members of the families, however, now principally emigrate to the Lowlands, and the elder members generally go on the poors roll, and as they die out the cottages are taken down." A truly charming and edifying result of some half a century of sheep farming. Reference is often made at Torridon, as elsewhere, to the good old times, and that period all agree to be the one when the M'Kenzies of Torridon ruled. But I find a judicial document of 1825 stating that the rental then was £627, while the arrears were £1963, and that the rents were hopelessly high, such as could only have been agreed to on account of there being a large surplus population, and in the hope of making money by smuggling; and I am assured, both by the ground officer and the elder, that the people have never before been anything like as prosperous as they are now. To cite independent testimony as to their condition as contrasted with the relief obtained by the sweeping away of the sheep, I will quote parts of a letter written me by the Rev. George Macleod, Free Church minister of Stratherrick, who laboured on the Torridon estate for more than ten years, first as ladies' teacher, and latterly as missionary appointed by the Assembly of the Free Church. He says—
" Could I describe the actual condition of the people of Torridon in the year 1870, and contrast it with their condition when I revisited Torridon in August last (1882), I believe my description would be considered a gross exaggeration by any party who did not know Torridon at both dates. While I was there last August, I spoke to a man who is an elder in connection with the Free Church there, about this great change since 1870. He remarked, 'Oh, this is not the same estate or the same people you saw when you came here first,' meaning of course that the estate and the people were so much improved since that time that both were quite different. Indeed, there was much truth in his remark, for improving the estate improved the people. When I went to Alligin, as missionary and teacher in 1870, the condition of the people was most deplorable, the children were almost naked, and many of the aged people very ill off for want of clothing. I have known families who for days, perhaps for weeks, had no other food than shell-fish; and what made it more sad the old people knew better times. When the Mackenzie family formerly possessed Torridon the people lived in comfortable circumstances, as they had land and stock then. But the late proprietor let the estate in large sheep farms, and in order to clear the ground for the sheep the poor people were deprived of their land and stock, and were huddled into corners on the sea-shore, with small patches for potato ground. In many cases, even in whole hamlets, the poor people had not an inch of land for potato itself; they in consequence got careless, and were not afraid that any harm could be done to them, since, in many cases the miserable huts in which they lived were all that coidd be taken from them. Considering all this, I often wondered how quiet and law- abiding the people did continue. When Mr Darroch got the estate he cleared away the sheep, the only possible arranagement which could benefit the poor people, for I believe under sheep it would be a necessity to retain the low ground along with the hills; the poor people could not of course take the whole land, the high and low, should they get it. But Mr Darroch gave them kindly what they could take, the low ground as crofts. Special interest was taken in the schools, and the children soon had a very different appearance to the almost starved and naked, a condition in which I found them when I went there. When I visited the school at Alligin in August 1882, the change was so marked that any person who knew the same school and the same children before could scarcely believe that such a change was possible. But when the children got food, especially milk, and proper clothing, it made all the difference. The people are encouraged in every respect, even their moral tone is so raised. Mr Darroch, by his regard for their welfare, has gained their confidence and respect, so that they fear to do anything wrong that might offend him. This is one good result of a proprietor living on his estate along with the people. I believe if proprietors resided on their estates, there would be less poverty and less cause of complaint with landlords and tenants."
To return to my purchase. Having invested a large sum, I feared I could not afford at once to throw away the whole interest of the money, so I thought I would try to let a part of the ground, if not the whole, as a sheep farm, for a time. I accordingly advertised the estate in due form, to be let in one or more parts as sheep farm; though I now can see that it was hardly fair to the people that I should have tried to prolong their time of bondage even for a short time, yet I do not regret that a thorough attempt to let as sheep farm was made. It puts on record unmistakably that some at least of the western hills, even in the sheep farmer's opinion, are better suited for deer than sheep. No real offer was made, and the only man who seemed at all likely to make a bid, inquired suspiciously whether the people were to have their cows still. To this I replied, "If the gentleman wants to know whether I am going to deprive the people of their cattle, you may tell him that such is not my intention."
The sheep stock went, but I was still hesitating when the following petition was handed to me :
—" We, the undersigned Easter Alligin tenantry, have been blamelessly deprived of our lands by the late proprietor, which ourselves and forefathers possessed from time immemorial, consequently we have been subject to great privations, possessing only small patches of potato ground, which is insufficient to support us. Your petitioners most earnestly solicit, if at all possible, that you would kindly grant the low ground, and a cow's grass; by your doing so, we shall most thankfully pay any amount of rent which you may deem proper to ask." This petition finally decided me; and having been fully warned that if I gave the people cows, no retreat would be possible, and that letting as a sheep farm would be no longer practicable, I gave an order that every family on the estate might keep a cow. The sheep having departed, the field was now clear before me, but a rough one it seemed to be. I had been told that the crofters I had to deal with were the worst of characters, never would pay rent, and most troublesome in every way; even dishonesty was imputed to them. All this was so entirely opposed to my knowledge of the Highlander, that I declined to believe it, though I could very well see that the way they had been treated was by no means calculated to make them extra complaisant to the south country factor in his unfrequent visits. And I am proud to say that I have found my people all I had hoped or trusted they would be. One slight circumstance will show the feeling between us; my ground officer had often said to me that there was no one thing I had ever asked them to do that they had not done cheerfully, and two or three years ago, at my wish, though not directly expressed, they gave up drinking whisky at the grave at funerals. Those of you who know how tenacious the Highlanders are of their customs, will appreciate what this sacrifice of one of the most cherished of them implied. I informed my people from the first, that I considered they had a right to enjoy their holdings undisturbed, subject always to the rides of the estate, and these rules they must trust me to make. Our trust has been mutual You yourselves have seen in our parish how they comported themselves in my presence, you heard how they spoke of me, you doubtless noticed that they asked for no protection before giving their evidence; and does not this show how hollow the cry of the sheep farmers is, when they assert that deer foresting necessarily means oppression. It is no wonder, though it is admirable, that there should exist confidence and affection between the people and chiefs of ancient name, descendants of patriarchal landlords of kindly memory, such as Lochiel and Sir Kenneth Mackenzie; but when you see such relations obtaining between the Highlanders, and unknown men like myself, it surely is an indication that the system which Mr Wallace, Dr Cameron, and others would rashly sweep away, is not entirely inapplicable to the Highlands of the nineteenth century. It was in June 1873 that I finally gave notice that any tenant could have a cow. But the people were miserably, incredibly poor, and the difficulty of getting the wherewithal to pay for cows was immense; it was by getting hold of calves and rearing them, borrowing of any who would lend, letting grazing to neighbours, and by all sorts of odd persevering ways that they gradually got their cows. We had some little anxiety at first about the old arrears; though the rental was only £224, the arrears were £292. But John Mackenzie, Camustrole, has told you how these were dealt with. The rental now is £337, and the arrears nil. I consider that it is no kindness to allow a crofter to fall into arrears, and as every tenant comes before me personally about his rent, I am able to make any allowance that the case may require. When I gave leave to all to keep cows I laid down a rule that, unless by special arrangement, no one who had a cow should have less than an acre and a half of arable, and that no cottar should have less than half an acre for potatoes. No question arises as to extent of grazing, as owing to the system of deer foresting the outrun for cattle is practically unlimited. Every man who has a cow pays £4 at least, which brings his name on the valuation roll, so that he has a vote for parochial and school boards. In adjusting this, I hoped that by having a voice in public matters the people would take larger views of life, and eventually when the suffrage is extended have their proper share in the government of the country. When I came to Torridon there were ten names of Torridon tenants on the valuation roll, now there are sixtynine; they take a real interest already in parochial and school matters, and I have no doubt, from what I see, that this interest will continue to increase. On his £ 4 rent, a crofter, besides leave to cut peats, stance, and wood for house, and right to sea-ware, gets grazing for his cow, two year-old, and stirk. The produce of his cow in milk and butter, as I will show afterwards, amounts to £9, and his stirk sells for from £ 6 to £7, 10s. He raises at least £6 worth of potatoes to feed his family, and if he does not winter extra stock, he sends some corn to the mill, so that altogether the money value to him is about £22, that is five times the rent. The cottar, who does not keep a cow, has his sea-ware, peats, stance, and wood for house, and if he plants his half acre with potatoes, he raises £6 worth. But, instead of his having insufficient potato ground, as you will find from Sir John M'Neill's account he had in 1851, he utilises a large portion of his half acre now in growing corn, to sell to his neighbours. None have complained of the 15s. rent for the half acre. In my opinion, the crofters pay more rent in proportion than the large farmers; and as they do not want expensive buildings ' put up for them, and pay forehand rent, so that no real risk is incurred by letting to them, the craze of turning them out to make room for large farms seems to me as senseless as it did to Seaforth's factor in 1827, before the sheep mania had fully set in. I will now briefly refer to the circumstances of the townships from which you received petitions at Shieldaig. The Annat people in 1825, in the good old Mackenzie times, sat at a rent of £81, and their arrears were £196. In 1853, Colonel M'Barnet, having trenched some twenty acres with Government money, gave them a fourteen years' lease at a rent of £88. At the end of that lease the arrears were so heavy that the factor got them to sell off their sheep, and thereby pay off their arrears. One or two, in the usual way, had plenty of sheep at that time, but the majority had few or no sheep, and were practically insolvent. Their rent then was reduced to £3, 3s. each, and each was allowed to keep one cow, but no calf. Twenty-four acres of arable were taken from them, and enclosed as a park, and to crown their misfortunes, eighteen families from Fasag, the village on the opposite side of the loch, were given a share of the remainder of the arable land. Thus I found them, with less than an acre of arable land to each family, forced to buy the wintering even for their one cow, and owing to the depasturing of the land by the sheep, the yield in milk of three cows was less than two give now. I at once removed these Fasag people, and finding the Annat crofters were still short of land, I gave them five acres of the enclosed park, and as with the cow and followers they can make some £22 a year out of the £ 4 lots, I don't think the rent too dear. They can hardly want more arable land, as I in 1875 offered them the rest of the enclosed park, nineteen acres, at a rent of £12, 10s., and this they declined; and as for wintering, none has of late years been purchased out of the estate, enough having been produced to winter all the cattle on it. My grieve from Renfrewshire, on inspecting the place in 1873, thought that a fair rent for Annat would be £4, 10s. for half an acre of arable land and one cow. You received the petition purporting to come from those Annat people, and you permitted it to be read. The history of that petition is worthy of note. At a meeting of the majority of the Annat tenants the whole matter was debated, but nothing was agreed on; very shortly, however, before the meeting at Shieldaig, Mr John M'Donald, the personage who composed the petition, and who though not elected as a delegate was so very anxious to be spokesman, went round at night with one or two others, and got most of the tenants to put their names to the document, which was not even read over to them, telling them that if they would not accept it, it was too late for them to have any say at all This John M'Donald is not a tenant, has hved most of his life away from Torridon, being employed I believe as a navvy and tommy shopkeeper, and his main occupation seems to be amateur preaching at other places, not at Torridon. You doubtless observed that both the Annat delegates at once acknowledge that they had not read the petition, and John Mackenzie, honest man, when he had heard you read it, and was asked if he agreed with it, said that I had always been very kind to them, and that he did not want any sheep. So the complaint resolved itself into this, that the land was a little too dear, and that some few of the fifteen tenants might like to have a dozen or half a dozen sheep. It is well worth remarking the strongest case of oppression that can be cooked up as applicable to the so-called plague of deer forests at Torridon. There was something very touching to me in the honesty and candour of these Torridon delegates, the very men who had been described to me as a set of lawless incorrigibles. An impression had got abroad through the Highlands that your Commission was all-powerful, and that on the mere request of the crofters, any grazing, reduction of rent, or other privilege would be at once granted to them by you; so that any admission on their part of their circumstances being comfortable, and any failure to make a claim for what they desired, would seem in their eyes to be giving up benefits actually within their reach. But, besides John Mackenzie of Annat, you heard how Duncan Beaton of Alligin, when questioned by you, at once spontaneously mentioned the fact of their having had sheep given to them by me, and that they had failed in making a profit out of them by their own inability to manage them properly; and that they were quite satisfied with the grazing they have, if it is to be continued in their possession. This they might well be, as they have all the land both arable and pasture they ever had; but that they should say so much after all the expectations that had been raised, speaks volumes for their fairness and gratitude. You heard the evidence of George Mackenzie, the Fasag elder. His expression that I had swept the Fasag people across the river, seemed doubtless to you as if some harsh conduct was referred to; but he meant to describe, in his own homely language, the indignant way in which I at once brought back the Fasag people from the middle of the Annat lands, and gave them some of the best land on the estate, that beautiful green park which you my Lord remarked at the head of the loch, which had for years been reserved for the wintering of the sheep. The Fasag people are mostly old, with few children, and only four out of the whole townships have taken the opportunity of having cows. Some idea of the difficulty of arriving at the quantity of land each man held may be gathered when I explain that, in taking account of one man's plot of ground, I had to measure out sixteen separate bits in Annat, with chain and sextant, and at Wester Alligin, where the ground is more broken, I had to measure no less than forty-three ! But the certainty obtained was worth all the personal labour; and I may mention, to show the confidence the Highlanders have in their proprietor, that when I told the Alligin people in 1874, that we would soon know whether they had full justice in extent of land or not, as the Ordnance Survey people had nearly completed their plan, the reply was that they did'nt know much about that, but if Mr Darroch would only come with his instruments it would be all right. Working thus, from one end to the other, I by degrees got all who wished for cows comfortably settled, and gradually I came to see that for the ordinary crofter at Torridon with his cow or two, an acre and a half of arable is all that he can manage. The reason is not hard to see. The land has all to be tilled with the hand plough; the younger and more energetic members of the family go off south for employment, leaving the weaker ones to cultivate the croft; manure for more land they can hardly get, as besides the cow they depend on the sea-ware or sea-weed; this can only be got effectively at two spring tides in the beginning of the year, and altogether they have hard enough work to make up sufficient manure for the acre and a half. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, as one question has been set to rest thereby, the success of my work has been much delayed by a trial of co-operative sheep farming at Wester Alligin, on the land formerly possessed by the Alligin people. You asked John Mackenzie, Camustrole, the reason why the people were allowed no sheep. Camustrole had at the time his mind entirely on his own case, and it did not occur to him that it was a question referring to the whole estate. The question of sheep for crofters is not an easy one to solve. The old habit of allowing them sheep in common is one that in my observation has always worked badly and caused injustice. When a whole township pays rent, each man his own share, and each is supposed to have a certain complement of sheep, it invariably happens that in time, through misfortune and other causes, some few get large flocks together, while their poorer neighbours, with little or no stock, pay the same rent Mr Wright, Lord Middleton's factor at Applecross, made the same observation to me the other day, and told me what trouble he had been put to in trying to set the matter right. But, even after all his trouble, a reference to the Applecross returns in your possession will show you that the inequality still goes on. At Ardtishlie you will find Donald M'Donald paying £6, 7s. 6d., and allowed fifty sheep, has only four; while his neighbour Farquhar M'Rae, paying £7, and allowed fifty sheep, has his full complement. At Aridhnacrianachd you will find two tenants each paying £3, 15s., and allowed fifteen sheep each; but while Alexander M'Lean has twenty sheep, poor Norman M'Beath has only two. The only fair mode in my opinion is, that so strongly advocated by Sir Alexander Matheson, the club farm system, where the sheep are held in common, all under one shepherd, and the profits are divided. This system I endeavoured to carry out at Wester Alligin, with what result the delegate Duncan Beaton briefly mentioned. From the first I heard that if they were only allowed sheep at Alligin, all poverty, all complaint, would disappear. In fact, I heard from the men themselves the same sort of loose inaccurate talk about the benefit of sheep to crofters, that we are now-a-days so dosed with. I resolved then on trying the experiment. After many a parliament with them, the land was valued; I found the sheep stock, they were to manage the farm, and after paying the rent and interest, were to divide the profits. But the whole thing turned out a failure, there was so much trouble about the management, and so little knowledge of the proper thrift of sheep farming, and the fact of twenty families having sheep, worked so much hardship on the ten who declined to join the undertaking, that at the end of six years, finding loss and vexation all round to be the only result, we, in another full parliament, agreed, by a large majority, to sell the stock and break up the arrangement. It is as well to say here, that all the complaints I have had about depasturing crops have had reference to sheep and not to deer. Sheep from neighbouring properties are most troublesome, and the craving that some have to keep a pet sheep, as they call it, is a great source of annoyance to their neighbours. Cattle are easily kept out by a small stone dyke, but the active sheep is a perfect pest in an unenclosd country. My people are supplied with wool, as I kill a good many wethers, and they take this if they like at wholesale price, in which case it comes much cheaper to them than if they stopped at home from fishing or labour to mind half a dozen sheep; and I had a good illustration the other day of the fallacy of supposing sheep culture betters them in clothing, for while inspecting a school, on an estate where the crofters keep sheep, a member of the board, although much in favour of the system, called my attention to the fact that the children of the sheep-owning crofters were not so well dressed as the children of my cattle-rearing ones. The sheep having thus for a second time disappeared, I saw more and more clearly that a return to the old native industry, cattle, was the best destination for the land, and the best chance for the people. Being desirous to let them this ground exclusively for cattle, the rent was the next difficulty. Ready money is most difficult for our people to get, work being scarce, and any money addition to each man's rent would probably not be paid for the first years anyhow. Thinking it unwise to make any stipulations which cannot be enforced, gradually I was forced back to an old custom which I had always hitherto condemned, but which I see now is the only one applicable to the circumstances—namely, service in lieu of rent. On the nature of this service I need not dwell, as your Lordship, I think, elicited from Duncan Beaton all the necessary information on this point. But this anticipates a little. To give an idea of the condition of the people, I cannot do better then quote an anonymous notice which appeared in a paper not too much prepossessed in favour of landlords, the Highlander. To this day none of us at Torridon have any idea who the writer was, or how he got his information. He says (April 28, 1874):
—" Torridon Improvements.
—In times gone by, people in this district gnawed away their hearts in silent sorrow, not daring to make their woes known; but a year of release has arrived; a new proprietor has come, and relieved them from the causes of complaint; and now that freedom of expression is allowed them, it is the good their landlord does, and not his oppression, they proclaim." Then after alluding to their getting all the arable land, and to the employment given to them, he says
—" This is a very different state of things from what existed when nothing higher than the proprietors sheep had any consideration." The writer was evidently unacquainted with details, but it is instructive to mark the relief at once apparent in the people's circumstances after the change from sheep farm to deer forest. When you held a sitting at Shieldaig, you may not have been aware of the fact that you were in the middle of the estate in which, according to Dr Cameron, M.P., if rightly reported, " 60,000 to 80,000 acres of arable land had been turned into waste for deer." Dr Cameron professes to quote Mr Wallace, but Mr Wallace says {Land Nationalisation, p. 79), speaking of the Game Committee of 1873 :
—"It was shown that on one estate of Ross-shire from 60,000 to 80,000 acres had been cleared of inhabitants, and the arable land turned into waste to form deer forest." This is a tolerable sample of misquotation; but when we look a little further we find that Mr Wallace has omitted to mention that the evidence about the Applecross estate was given by Mr Thomas Purves, a sheep farmer, from hearsay, and from a letter not produced,—that it was contradicted personally by Mr Tennant, who had been proprietor of a large part of the estate, and that the committee seems entirely to have disbelieved the story. As, however, the fable of the Auchnashellach evictions under Lord Hill is still I see cropping up in the newspapers, it is as well to mention that the eight Gorston families said by Mr Purves to have been " cut off," and by Mr Mundell to have been " cleared off the Lochcarron property," are still holding crofts on the estate formerly belonging to Lord Hill. Their names are all in the present valuation roll, at rents averaging £12, 4s. 6d., and can be quoted if necessary. On this part of the subject I venture to recommend a careful study of the report of that committee. In it, for instance, you will find that their opinion was that deer forests had not tended to the depopulation of the country, and that they had not by the displacement of sheep raised the price of meat. In this part of the report Mr M'Lagan and Mr M'Combie agreed without calling for a division. The whole of the arable land in the two parishes of Lochcarron and Applecross, in part of which the Applecross estate lies, consists of 3038 acres, if we are to believe the New Statistical Account of Scotland. So Dr Cameron lays waste for deer twenty-five times as much arable land as there is in the two parishes put together ! This case should be noticed specially, as it is the case brought forward by land reformers as the most glaring and conspicuous instance of cruel hardships having been inflicted on a patient people for deer. And I wish particularly to call to your remembrance the sort of evidence that was given before you at Shieldaig. None of the poor people there asked for protection before giving their evidence. True, there were five people at Deruner who asked for a fence to keep the deer off, but from Applecross proper no man ever thought it worth while to make his appearance! Compare this state of things with the evidence in the sheep farming countries, and you can draw your own conclusions. You have seen the people of Torridon, people in tolerably comfortable circumstances, people who have no complaint, except that some say that the rent is a little too high, a complaint not uncommon among farmers. But leave the deer forests of Applecross and Torridon, and look about you on your way to Inverness. What did the delegates from Strath Bran say to you, what account did they give 1 Delegates there were none, because people there are none. There the political economy system has been carried to its full extent. There you see the stances of ruined houses beside the railway. Sheep and desolation reign supreme. No one can ameliorate the condition of the inhabitants; they are gone, and can never be recalled. The stock of deer being much lighter in proportion than the sheep stock, and being a natural production of the country, instead of an exotic, does not require the low arable ground for wintering as the sheep do. All through the winter, except on some of the very few days when the snow reaches down to the seaside, the deer are to be seen up under the top rocks, long after every sheep has of his own accord taken refuge below. During the autumn, when the crofters' crops are on the ground, as a rule the deer are all on the heights, and the harvest is all housed, and the potatoes secured, long before the deer come at all low. No turnips are grown, so that even if the deer do come down in winter, there is nothing for them to ravage. I am here stating the results of my own observation and experience, and my experience is no common one. I live in the midst of my people more than nine months of the year. Any man can see me privately any morning at a set time, and any grievance real or imaginary can be, and practically is, brought before me personally. The people have in the ten years of deer instead of sheep improved marvellously in appearance and physique, and what will astonish some people more, in numbers. In 1873, according to a census taken for me, there were 118 houses and 458 people; in January 1883, 121 houses and 519 people—showing an increase of nearly 14 percent., the increase of the population of Scotland in the same decade being a little over 11 per cent. The population of the Loch Torridon district, of which district my estate comprises about one half, was 616 in 1792, and in 1881 it was 1281. As I have 519, as before said, I keep in comfort on my estate, through the means of deer foresting, nearly double the population that lived on it a hundred years ago. Now, as to arable land said by so-called reformers to be laid waste for deer forest, the total amount of land tilled by the people under the rule of the sheep in 1872 was about eighty-seven acres, if so much; now they cultivate about 142—an increase of 63 per cent. You may remember my pointing out to you the hillside above the Inver Alligin people, those who petitioned me for cows, and a wonderful and pleasant sight it is; land where nothing but the hostile sheep had been seen for forty years and more, where not one inch was allowed to be tilled, now waving with corn and green with potatoes, every possible bit of ground among the rocks being utilised and turned up by the hand plough. The sheep experiment detailed above has delayed very much the full working out of my plans, but already the increase in wealth of cattle is most encouraging; whereas the people, including the shepherds, had 64 cows when I entered, they now have about 109. The 64 cows were all the cattle they had, as they were not permitted to keep the calves; but now the total head of cattle belonging to them is 225, an increase of 161 head. Reckoning these at an average of £8, 10s. each, we get an increase of wealth to the people of over £1368. As might have been expected, I had to help them in getting first-rate bulls, as it is difficult to persuade a not too energetic people that a good bull is more profitable in the long run than a bad one. This year I have known £7, 10s. given for one of their stirks, and £13 for a two-year-old. My expectation is, and that on good grounds, that in a very few years they will have about 200 cows with their followers, and then I think most of them will be beyond the present great danger to crofters, the ruinous effect of one really bad season. In 1792, the total wealth of the parish in cattle was 3000 head; but those were small, three of them counting for two of the ones now kept. The area of Torridon is less than one-fourth of the parish, so that when we have 500 cattle at Torridon, we will have the same proportion of cattle stock in our part of the parish as was kept in the good old times, one hundred years ago. In 1792, as the parish minister says
—"The hills abound in deer; thirty, forty, or fifty is no uncommon sight in a flock." Here again we are approaching the good old times; whde the cattle are feed- ing quietly below, the herds of deer again adorn the heights, a sight charming both to proprietors and tenants. I have thus shown that my
people are far better off in land and in stock than they were during the reign of the sheep; but now comes in the assertion
—"You are depriving the nation of food, and thereby injuring the resources of the country." Even were this to be the case, it can hardly be seriously argued that the oppression formerly practised on the people for the sake of the sheep is to be renewed on the chance of providing a little more food for the
rest of the nation. Surely the rearing of such a race of men as we can show in the West Highlands is a matter of the last importance to the community at large. But on this point I take issue decidedly and fearlessly. I might rest on the report of the 1873 Game Committee, above quoted; but I will show from statistics carefully collected, that the actual supply of food which Torridon produces now is much greater than in the time of the sheep, and that when my plans have had their full time to be worked out the supply will be doubled. The accounts of the sheep produce are as correct as possible. I got them from the two head shepherds on the estate, shortly after I entered into possession, as well as from the late proprietor's factor, as I was determined to have correct data for comparing results. One of these shepherds had been thirty years at Torridon, and the other fifteen years, so that I am not going to deal with fancy figures, but hard facts. The total sheep stock in 1873 was said to be 6000 head; there were 5554 advertised to be sold at the displenishing sale. The sales each year were on an average about 700 three-year-old wethers, 300 slack ewes, and 200 lambs. Taking the average weight of wethers at 56 lb. at 8d. per lb., slack ewes 40 lb. At 6d., and lambs 27 lb. at 8d., we have a total of £1786 for mutton produced in the year. But the weight of wethers sold was not all due to the sheep farm, as they were bought as wether lambs weighing on an average 27 lb. each; we must therefore deduct 700 at 27 lb. each, £630, which reduces the value of mutton produced to £1156. And further, 1400 sheep, more than a quarter of the stock, had to winter away in the east country for about half the year, so that at least one-eighth of this sum must be deducted, say £144; and £45 was paid for wintering on a neighbouring estate besides, so that £189 has to be deducted, leaving £967 value of food produced by the sheep stock formerly, and now done away with. But we have to add to this sum the produce of the sixty-four cows which the people and shepherds then had. After going care fully into the matter, I find that, as nearly as I can make it, a cow gives two gallons of milk per diem for six months of the year; reckoning the value of this at one penny a bottle, gives us £9, 2s. value of milk produced; and to this is to be added the value of butter about 2 | lb. per week for six months at Is. 6d. per lb., amounting to £4, 17s. 6d; total produce of cow in milk and butter, £13, 19s. 6d. But with the sheep cropping the grass up to their very doors, and the insufficient wintering, three cows then only gave as much milk and butter as two do now. This you had in evidence from Camustrole. So that we must deduct one-third of the above sum, £4, 13s. 2d., and we have £9, 6s. 4d. representing the milk and butter, which for sixty-four cows gives us a sum of £596. As to the calves, half the cows in those starvation times used to be yeld each year, so that only thirty-two calves would be born. The calves were not permitted to be kept, so that as a matter of fact three-fourths of them were knocked on the head, and eight only would be kept. For these the people used to get 14s. or 16s. each, but reckoning that they weighed 50 lbs. each at 8d. per lb., we have a value of £1, 13s. 4d. each, making a total of £13, 6s. 8d; total pro- duce of cows in value of food, £609. As to land, about fifty-four acres were under potatoes, producing sixty barrels per acre, at 4s. per barrel; value of food, £648. The remaining thirty-three acres of arable were employed in growing corn, and produced about three quarters per acre, but all of this was used in wintering their cattle, and they had to buy wintering besides, the price of which ought by rights to be deducted from the value of the produce of the cows. Some stags were also shot, and I think it best to reckon them in, though they were mainly stragglers from adjoining forests. According to all I can hear, ten is a liberal allowance, and the average weight of a stag in 1873-74 being about 11 st. 1 lb.; allowing 28 lbs. for the horns, skin, &c, we have an average weight of 129 lbs., which taking 7d. per lb. as the price of venison, gives a total of £37 value of food produced on the hill. So that in the sheep farming days, counting flesh of sheep, produce of cows, yield of land, and venison, we have a money value of £2261 food produced for the nation. As to the present time, each cow now, in addition to milk and butter, is to be credited with a stirk. The stirk on an average weighs 200 lbs., winch at 8d. per lb. Makes £6, 13s. 4d.; adding that to the yield of milk and butter, £13, 19s. 6d., we get the total value of produce of a cow now to be £20, 12s. 10d. The calf, however, takes half the milk, say £4, 12s. 10d., so the produce of the cow may be taken at £16. There are 109 cows at present, so that the produce from cows is £1744, taking one year with another; this year there have been fewer stirks sold, but a good many two-year-olds about double the weight. As to land, there are about seventy acres now under potatoes, which produce £840, and forty-two additional acres of corn land at £3, which come to £12, 6s.; total from land, £966. To this is to be added the produce of the forest. In 1881-82, there were forty-four stags shot, and the average weight of a stag now is 13 st.; deducting for horns, &c. as before, so as to take the net weight at 154 lbs. we get a value of £197. Total food produced now of the value of £2907, which is £646 more than the value got out of Torridon estate under the sheep days. But more than this: I am entitledto look forward to the results expected when my plans have had full time to be worked out. I look forward to the produce of 80 more cows, making £1280 in addition, and when the deer forest is fully stocked, 16 more stags (value as above £71), and 90 hinds will be annually shot. Taking the hinds to weigh 110 lbs. each at 6d. per lb., we have £247, so that adding this future profit of £1599 to the £646 present profit, we have a total of £2245 additional value of food resulting from the abolition of the sheep. In making this comparison I have not taken the home farm into account, to avoid complicating matters, but I cultivate about the same acreage, and keep about the same quantity of stock as the late proprietor. It will be objected that I do not take the wool into account, but even if wool were food, which it hardly is, the value would not anything like cover the above difference. 5554 fleeces at 2s. come to £555, the skins of the 1200 annually sold come to £300 at 5s. each—a total of £855, from this deduct £th for sheep wintering away, £106, and £48 the value of the stirk skins (150), which should be credited to the present system, and we have a net result of £700, representing the loss caused by the abolition of the sheep. But to realise this £700 from wool, we have to sacrifice no less than £2245 in value of food as produced by the deer forest and cattle scheme, leaving the life of the crofters out of the question. There is no difficulty in supplying wool from our colonies and elsewhere, but how can we recall our Highlanders when banished? A sheep farmer carries all the wealth he can out of the country. His object is to get rich; he sponds as little as he can. It is the system, however, as applied to the locality that I blame, not the individuals. In our parish, for instance, a sheep farmer is one of our best and most intelligent School Board members; and the chairman of our Parochial Board, another sheep farmer, is one of the best chairmen in the north. But the system is bad, where among our hills there are crofters. Witness one of the few sheep farmers who gave evidence before the Game Committee of 1873, Mr David Mundell. He was asked (Q. 4190), "Did you make it a condition on taking the land that these people were to be cleared out ?" Answer —" Yes, I made the condition on taking the land, that I was to get peaceable possession of all the land, and these people were to be provided for elsewhere." Mr Mundell seems to have been too humane to insist on his conditions being carried out, although he took their lands from them; but what do you say to a system one of the most influential exponents of which actually stipulates for the depopulation of a Highland glen. On the other hand, a man who sets about forming a deer forest is bound to build a good house, whether he occupies or lets, and surround it with all modern improvements. Gardens, pleasure grounds, and
stables cause great outlay among the people, besides the wages paid to keepers, gillies, and domestic servants. Mr Purves, before the same Game Committee, pledged himself to the statement, that (Q. 2570), " Except in the matter of rent, they (the sportsman) do not spend a tenth part of what a sheep farmer spends." Mr Harry Browne, tenant of Kinlochewe forest, adjoining mine, has kindly given me a note of the sums paid by him. Besides his rent of £1730, he pays through the keeper no less than £1566 per annum; and in addition to this he has spent in improvements, rates, &c, over £5000 in his ten years lease—an average of £500 per annum, making a total of £2066 per annum, not counting small bills paid by himself, £3796, if rent is included. £2066 multiplied by ten makes £20,660, in the sum which according to Mr Purves would be spent by sheep farmers in the same place. Without reckoning the money that has gooe to foreign contractors, a large portion of which found its way into my people's hands, I have spent between £4000 and £5000 among a population of some one hundred families, about £40 or £50 per family, without which expenditure it would have been impossible for the people to have risen in wealth as they have done; and I pay in wages for home farm and garden about the same sum as I receive from them for rent. My inducement to spend this money was to improve a corner of the earth, to make a home for myself and my family in that glorious country among a thriving people, treble the rental by making a first class deer forest out of ground not so well adapted for sheep, and enjoy the sport I love so well, the noblest sport of all, deer-stalking. To this end I have spent large sums of money, not only on capital account, but living without interest at all these many years, and now am I to be told that deer forests are to be abolished, that I am to be deprived of the fruit of my expenditure? If so, why would any reasonable man wish, after what has been shown, to bring back the reign of the sheep, and deprive the people again of the low ground? Public opinion would hardly permit that; and it certainly would be strange, when farmers demand compensation for any capital they have laid out in accordance with their ideas of improving the land for agriculture, if the capital laid out in improving the land for the raising of human stock should be thought a fair subject for confiscation! Personal government works well in the north at present. By custom and tradition, the crofters rely on their proprietors to do everything for them. It is marvellous what a multitude of small matters crop up; complaints of poor inspector or parish doctor; neighbours keeping pet sheep or too many hens; disputes about seaware, peats, or heather-pulling; questions of family quarrels of slander,—all come before the proprietor, all he is expected to settle. An experienced factor gave me excellent advice when I began at Torridon. I asked him whether he thought I ought to have a factor. His reply was—" Certainly not, for you can do all the work yourself, and things will go on very much more smoothly." He was quite right, but such an arrangement could only apply to a small community such as the one I have to deal with. It is instructive to note how sheep farming and oonsequent non-residence affected the poor at Torridon with respect to medical attendance and poor inspector. In 1863, the Torridon factor wrote to the Parochial Board
—"The tenants (sheep farmers) on Torridon, being non-resident, object to pay any assessment over what is actually necessary for attendance on the paupers." So it was arranged that the doctor of a neighbouring parish should accept a sum from our parish for attending to our paupers : his place is about forty miles off by road, though there is a shorter way across the hill in good weather, and his charge for one visit to a poor crofter is £2, 3s. When I came to Torridon, I found that he never came to the district unless specially sent for, and that the poor inspector never came at all. And it has only been by my exertions that some improvement has been made, though I have not yet been able to get the doctor affair on a proper footing. Some have had the hardihood to assert that the want of recruits for the army in the Highland districts is due to deer forests. As far as Torridon is concerned this can easily be disproved, as from 1800 to 1873 only two men entered the army, that is one in every thirty-seven years. Since I forested Torridon, during a period of ten years, three have joined, that is one every three and a-half years, ten times as many as before. The amelioration is trifling, but it shows how hollow the assertion is. Another point I see often made against deer forests is that vermin, meaning foxes, wild cats, &c, are encouraged. As to this I can only speak of what I know. At Torridon, for at least six years before 1873, hardly a fox had been taken, and the fox hunter was not allowed into the district. Hares there were hardly any, grouse were almost extinct. We set about trapping at once, and in the ten years now passed we have killed seventy-two foxes and fifty-eight wild cats. On the north side, where I did not see above one hare in a day's walk, we can now shoot eighty in a couple of hours, and not a single fox's track is to be seen; while seventy brace of grouse were shot during three days in December. It may be said by people who do not know the country, that the conditions at Torridon must be unusual, as it is against all reason that deer foresting should really benefit the people. To show that Torridon does not stand alone, look at the large estate of Applecross in the same parish. Lord Middleton's people having had the advantage of a deer foresting regime for many years, under kind personal rule, have been singularly well off in medical attendance and schools; the population, which was about 800 souls in 1792, is now 958; and his people who were mentioned by Sir John M'Neill as being well off thirty years ago, are still comfortable and well-cared for: they did not come forward with any complaints before your Commission; they had no old oppressions to rake up, no new grievances to complain of. The cry of destitution heard from so many other parts did not come from Applecross, and the same was the case at Torridon, although an unfounded appeal for aid was presented to the Mansion House Committee by Dr Cameron, an appeal which I will not deal with here, but with reference to which I have full documentary proof to produce if necessary. I am bound to say, however, that there is one grievance touching deer forests, as well as shootings, which in my opinion is well founded, and should be redressed. I refer to the rating, or rather nonrating of them. A deer forest or grouse shooting is only rated as such when let; when unlet, a forest is rated merely as grazing land, so that a man holding a deer forest worth £1000 a year for his own pleasure, is only rated on the grazing rent, probably not the half; while the poor crofter pays rates on his full rental. This is the survival of a privilege, harmless under old social conditions, when shootings were not conimercially valuable, but under the circumstances of the day indefensible.
For the rest, my land being deer forest, all the arable is given to the use of the people, except the ground reserved for the home farm. Out of the 30,000 acres in my possession, I suppose there are not more than 400 altogether that could possibly be cultivated, and, if as proposed by some amiable enthusiasts, the remaining 29,600 acres fell to be divided in 5½ acre lots for indigent dwellers in towns, then heaven help the poor creatures who had to try and make a livelihood out of the rock, gravel, and heather on which his kind friends would place him. Why, it has been asked, should not an Act like the Irish Land Act be passed, so as to secure these good people from capricious eviction. I think that a great deal of the Highland crofters' miseries have been caused by over-subdivision of lands and over-population. On this there is a check at present on well-managed estates. In my own case, every house is marked on the Ordnance map, and no change whatever can be made without leave. This is cheerfully acquiesced in by the people, who know well that it is for the benefit of all, though naturally each family is inclined to wish for an exception in its own case. Should the people get an indefeasible right to their holdings by law, there would be nothing to check this process, and twenty or thirty years would see Torridon so overcrowded, that existence would be hardly possible for any one, and the old cry of destitution would again be heard. I myself believe that public opinion is quite sufficient check on any flagrant injustice; under any system there must be some inequalities, some hardships, but there has, I believe, been no real case of cruel eviction for many years; some have been attempted, but by publicity, the wrong I think has always been prevented. As far as I am personally concerned, the application of such an Act to the north would make no appreciable difference, but I think that it would be against the public interest to throw away wantonly such a powerful instrument for good as the proprietor's rule can be made. Leases also have been talked of; but the people do not like leases; a crofter who accepts a lease thereby admits that he has no right to be on the land, and that the termination of his lease is the termination of his interest in the soil. To talk of leases in connection with improved agriculture in such cases is idle—where only the hand plough can be used, no scientific methods of agriculture can be employed; they can and do improve in the way of clearing ground of stones, and building dykes to keep the cattle out, but the only real hardship I have seen is with regard to houses. Good people often wonder how human beings can live in such hovels as are seen on the west coast, but what could you expect a very poor man to lay out on a house, when he was liable to be turned out summarily, without any compensation? Often men wishing to improve have asked for some sort of guarantee that they would not lose their all; this being denied them, as a natural consequence houses were not improved. One of my first acts was to introduce a system of ameliorations, whereby I agree with any crofter who will build a house with two gables, chimneys, and practicable windows, that in case of disturbance he shall be paid a sum to be fixed by arbitration. This I think is all that is wanted in this direction, and it is cheering to see how they are gradually improving, one following another. Nine improved houses have already been built on my conditions, and many more are in course of erection. Had time permitted I should have liked to have said something as to the revival of illicit distillation, and the the evils consequent thereon, caused by the repeal of the malt tax; the beneficial effect of the proprietor's power in restricting the number of 'whisky shops; and the injustice of cheapening telegrams for rich business men in the south out of the consolidated fund, while the Highlands are left practically without telegraphs. To sum up, by the change from sheep farm to deer forest on the Torridon estate, the grazings have been improved, quantity of land cultivated has increased 63 per cent., the population has increased 14 per cent.; and while their rent has been increased 54 per cent, arrears have disappeared, and pauperism has diminished 27 per cent. Their wealth in cattle is enormously greater, and 8 per cent, of their houses are of an improved class; while their contributions to the Free Church sustentation fund are increased from about £8 in 1872 to £22 even in this present year of scarcity. Corn has again been sent to the mill, a circumstance unknown for some forty years; and finally a poor despairing population has been raised to a state nearly independent of the seasons. 1 have only, in conclusion, to submit the following comparative statement for the years 1873 and 1883 :

Torridon Estate—Crofters and Cottars—Comparative State 1873 to 1883, ten years of Deer Foresting.
1873: sheepfarm – 118 families, 458 persons, 87 acres arable, 64 cattle, £224 rental, £292 arrears, 22 paupers

1883: deerforest – 121 families, 519 persons, 145 acres arable, 225 cattle, £337 rental, no arrears, 16 paupers

Increase in 10 years: +3 families, 61 people, 58 acres, 161 cattle, £113 rental, minus £292 arrears, 6 paupers

Value of 161 cattle at £8, 10s. =£1360, 10s. increase of wealth of people.

42733. You have described to us a case in which, according to your contention, the abolition of a sheep stock followed by the creation of a deer stock has been attended with advantage. But the change has also been attended with the introduction into the lower part of the ground of a large number of resident small tenants?
—There are no more small tenants than there were before, except two or three families. There is no appreciable difference in the families.

42734. At any rate, there is on the skirts, as it were, of the deer forest a considerable resident small tenant population?
—That is so.

42735. And those are living down at a low elevation near the border of the sea?
—That is true.

42736. and consequently you have had, in this case, the advantage of low ground and ground susceptible of arable cultivation?
—Quite true.

42737. But the contention to-day before us was that in many cases the advantages which belong to your property do not exist; that is to say, that the whole area of the deer forest is at a high elevation, that it is precipitous and rocky, and that for one reason or another you could not establish a colony of labourers upon arable soil. In that case the same advantages would not exist?
—Clearly not.

42738. Do you believe there are many forests in the Highlands in which a margin of arable cultivation in the hands of small tenants could not be established?
—I am not sufficiently acquainted with the country generally to be able to say. I don't feel safe where I travel beyond the thing I actually know.

42739. Your forest goes down to the sea-level?
—Quite to the sealevel.

42740. Are there many other forests in which there are the same advantages as there are on your own, and on which the small tenantry could either be re-established, or, if they existed, improved?
—I don't know sufficiently about the other forests to say. It is impossible to give an opinion with accuracy about ground one does not know well.

42741. Then may it not be possible that your forest is in a very exceptionally favourable position?
—That is very likely. But all I came here to do was to give you the actual facts of my actual experience, and if everybody did that you would be able to form your own conclusions.

42742. So far as I remember, I think I only saw, and that a little distance from the sea, one township or one settlement of your crofters. They lived on cultivated ground between the sea and the margin of the forest with, I understand, the liberty of outrun to a certain extent on the forest for their cattle?
—That is so.

42743. I would like to understand something about the cultivation and the rent. You say there were nearly the same number of families before, but the area of cultivation was smaller?
—Very much smaller.

42744. What was the nature of the soil, which the people are now taking in, on the additional area of cultivated ground; was it reclaimed from the heather?
—It was old cultivated arable ground that had been cultivated from time immemorial, and which they had been put out of for the sake of sheep,

42745. Did you hear the evidence given by Lord Lovat's factor?
—Partially; I could not catch it all.

42746. But such a scheme as he described would not have been at all necessary where you are?
—Not at all Small bits were taken in by individual crofters, but as a rule it was all ground that had been originally cultivated.

42747. All ground previously cultivated and now improved ; well, the lots of what you term crofters included what area?
—An acre and a half.

42748. And, of course, a cottage and some small outbuildings'!
—They put up the buildings themselves. They get the wood from the estate.

42749. The cottages are put up by themselves entirely, except that rough wood is given them?
—The rough wood and the thatching —heather and divots for thatching.

42750. They gather it?

42751. Then your contribution to their dwelling is rough wood and liberty to gather the raw material of the roof?
—That is true.

42752. Then what do you think is the value of their houses; how much did they expend upon their houses?
—It is very difficult to get at that. The lowest estimate I have had put upon it was £8. I don't think a man could do it for that. What they generally do is to get one of the local masons to do the mason work for them. It is difficult to get the actual cost.

42753. £ 10?
—I don't think it would cost much more than that.

42754. The crofter lays out about £10?
—Something like that.

42755. And you contribute what you have stated j what do you value that at?
—I have never tried to estimate what it is —a very few shillings.

42756. £1?
—I think it would hardly be that.

42757. That is not the class of house for which you engage to pay meliorations?
—No, that costs a good deal more. They have to get a skilled mason to put up gables and chimneys, and there is a certain kind of carpentry work.

42758. What is the contribution to that class?
—No more than to the other class.

42759. What do you think the crofter in that case pays for the better house, £ 30?
—I don't think it is so much as that. It would be really speaking at random, for I don't know what they pay.

42760. Then, at any rate, taking the first class of habitations that were erected there were houses which cost the people £10, and which cost you £1, in connection with half an acre of arable ground?

42761. We need not count the house at all as responsible for any portion of the rent. What is the rent for 1£ acres of ground?
—That goes with the grazing.

42762. I want to analyse that. The rent is £4. How much of that do you credit to the arable and how much to the grazing right?
—I am not able to apportion it now at all. We attempted to do it at first. We put down 30s. an acre for the land at first, but now they have got a good deal more stock. Therefore the rent comes to be a great deal less; but I got into thorough confusion about the apportionment between the cattle and the land.

42763. At any rate, in connection with 1½ acre of arable land, how many cows do you aim at?
—For that he keeps one cow and a two-year old, if he likes, and a stirk.

42764. It is equivalent to two cows?
—I suppose it is something of the sort, but I aim at their having more cows than that. There is a
payment for extra cows by work.

42765. But in the case of their keeping two cows in connection with the 1½ acre of ground, they would be paying £4?
—If they wish to keep an extra cow they would do so much work on the estate—ten days' work on the estate for the cow.

42766. Then they would be paying £5 if they kept two cows?

42767. An acre and a half and two cows' outrun for £5?

42768. How do they feed the two cows? Are they able to raise enough on the 1½ acre to feed the cows entirely, or do you allow them to get hay or some sort of fodder?
—In some of the villages there is a great deal of hay cut. At the west end there is so much cut that they are able to sell and exchange with those at the eastern end who have not so much. But it was so equalised that there was not a bit of wintering bought off the estate last winter.

42769. And none bought from you?
—None bought from me.

42770. I mean nothing paid for?

42771. They wintered all their stock one way or another without reference to you or anybody else?
—Yes, entirely self-supporting.

42772. It seems a full rent compared with the terms we found in other parts of the west coast and the islands, but, according to your account, they are grateful for it?
—They are.

42773. And there is no difficulty in getting the rent?
—Not the very slightest.

42774. And in case of any vacant crofts, you would have no difficulty in getting people to fill them ?
—There never has been the slightest difficulty. The difficulty up to this point has been for the people always to get their cows. A great many of them have not cows at all. I am only just getting them settled. There has been hardly time to turn one's self round.

42775. Is the full rent exacted before the full stock is obtained, or do you make an abatement till the man buys his cow?
—An abatement is made. I deal with each case as I think the justice of the case demands.

42776. You consult the interest of each case separately?
—Yes. If there had been any injustice in that way you would probably have heard of it at Shieldaig.

42777. You expressed an opinion decidedly hostile to leases in favour of the crofting class. I suppose you do not extend that to all classes?
—No, merely to crofters in the same condition as ours on the west coast.

42778. Did you hear what the factor for Lord Lovat said about improving leases?
—I did

42779. Do you think something of that sort in some other part of the west might not be advantageously applied?
—In most parts of the west there is so much land that has been under cultivation that you don't want 'so much trenching. There is not much land in the west, so far as I know, that could be trenched. There are sheep farms occupying the places where people were, and the arable land merely requires to have a spade put into it again.

42780. Do your people fish?
—Yes, that is one of their chief industries. They go off to the east coast fishing, and a man in a good year will make £22 to £28 off it.

42781. Well, I suppose, as they commonly say, the rent is in some measure got out of the sea?
—Very much so.

42782. They pay this rent for the advantage of home and the favour and kindness bestowed on them?
—Yes; they like their home, and would not go away on any consideration.

42783. Supposing you were no longer there, and that the amount of employment you personally give
—partially because you are able to afford it and love the place—were withdrawn from them, do you think they would still be able to live and pay their rent in connection with the land plus the fishing?
—Well, it would not be so easy; but so long as anybody lives on the estate he is bound to spend money, —so long as it does not get into a case of sheep farming again. Any man occupying a house in
these West Highlands is bound to spend a good deal of money. He cannot keep up the place without it.

42784. So you think the expenditure is a necessity of the place?
—Quite a necessity, unless the mansion house were burnt and the deer forest given up.

42785. There seems to me hardly any opportunity for these people rising out of their condition. They are all alike, or nearly alike?
—All but one. I was able to give one a rather larger croft than the rest, at a rent of £12, and there were three applicants after that; but the land is limited, and is peopled to its full extent just now, so there is no gradation at present possible.

42786. But if there were, are you in favour of gradation?

42787. So your system, as developed and described by you, would not apply to other places?
—Not at all. It is merely showing how I made the best of the materials I have.

42788. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—You mentioned that you found it desirable to adopt the old and much-condemned system of accepting service in lieu of rent?

42789. Can you explain why the people prefer to give service rather than pay rent?
—It is so excessively difficult to get any ready money. It is quite easy for a man at home in the winter to work on the roads, and so on. I give them work in the winter on the shore. It is near their own homes and near their township, and it is a comfort to them to do these things.

42790. You might offer wages for their work and allow them to pay their rent?
—I might do that, but it was most extraordinary the way they jumped at that proposal

42791. There is no complaint of it?
—They all jumped at it.

42792. I think, in the concluding passage of your paper, you mentioned that the grazings under the foresting system have improved?
—That is true; most enormously improved. I have been talking a good deal to my ground officer and keeper. My stalker was going about the hills the other day, and the grass is something magnificent. You see, in the old time, to winter the few sheep that were kept there they would hardly allow an inch of the old heather to be burned. All the green hill above Alligin was just a waste of brown heather. Now we burn a good deal of it for the grouse. So the place would carry double the stock of sheep now that it would when I got the place.

42793. The grass is ranker and closer, is it not?
—In some places; but it is splendid grass.

42791. More plentiful?
—Very plentiful, and beautiful grass too.

42795. You heard a contrary opinion stated here to-day?
—I did, and was very much surprised. He was evidently a man who had never been over a place changed from sheep to deer.

42796. Have you had experience in any other place besides Torridon of this change?
—No; it has surprised me all the more, because I never expected it.

42797. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Your elaborate paper is devoted more to contrasting sheep farming with deer foresting than to the crofting question?
—Perhaps it is.

42798. Now, our inquiry is principally connected with the crofters. Are the arable lands of the crofters fenced in any way with you?
—No. One of the townships has its land fenced, because I gave them a part which happened to be fenced, quite accidentally.

42799. Have you heard any complaint from them that the deer come down in winter or at any other time to their arable land?
—None at all. There have been two complaints. One man had a small bit of ground, and I gave him some wire to put up a fence and he put it up. In the case of my old ground officer I offered to fence it for him, and he said he did not much mind; and he sits up at night blowing a horn, but he could get rid of them if he liked. As to the crofters, there has never been anything of the sort.

42800. Don't you think there will be some danger of that when your forest is fully stocked?
—I don't think so, because the deer don't come down till all the crops are off the ground.

42801. You have been rather surprised at what the delegate Macdonald said about the falling off of pastures?
—I have been very much surprised.

42802. You say that, from your experience, they have improved very much?
—Very much.

42803. Will you undertake to say that ten years after this your pastures will be as good as they are now?
—I don't see what should keep them back. The same system of burning will go on under my management that goes on now.

42804. Have you not heard that in some of the older forests that have existed for forty years and upwards they were obliged to put black cattle into them for the purpose of trying to restore the ground?
—I have not heard of that.

42805. Supposing that were the case, would it convince you that in course of time pastures in forests would deteriorate?
—If I knew it I should certainly believe it, but I have not heard it.

42806. I suppose that before you gave these privileges to your crofters they were very ill off for milk?
—Miserable. As the minister said in the letter I read, the want of milk made the children look

42807. Was that a matter which you took into consideration in making your plans?
—Certainly it was one of the first things I wanted to do to give the cows on account of the milk; and that necessitated the sweeping away of the sheep, and that was the reason of my hesitation.

42808. You stated, but I don't think you were quite accurate, that there were no complaints from Applecross, in connection with the forest; but I think one man stated there, that he was obliged to sit up every night to frighten the deer ?
—I said Applecross proper. You got a man from the extreme point, living nearly sixteen miles from anywhere, but from Applecross proper there was nobody came over. This man was a long way from Applecross proper.

42809. Do you think there is a deal of land in the Highlands that might be again put under cultivation which is now occupied by sheep farms and otherwise?
—I have not a doubt of it.

42810. I heard you use the word Strath Bran. You see that often when passing by the rail?

42811. Does that place not look very much adapted for crofters?
—I think so, certainly.

42812. It lies comparatively low, and is within reach of the railway?
—Yes, I quite agree with you.

42813. Then you don't agree with the factor for the proprietor, who scouted the idea of Strath Bran being populated?
—I don't know where you will get the people from, but I think it is a place that would support people, undoubtedly.

42814. Are yon in favour, so far as that could be done, of keeping the people at home and migrating them, rather than emigrating them, if there be land suitable for them?
—Well, I have not given my attention to that question at all.

42815. But surely the general question of migration and emigration must have come across your thoughts?
—There are a great many difficulties in the way of migration. The people hate leaving their own villages. I cannot get them to migrate from one township to another on my ground.

42816. Even if you give them a better place'?
—Even if I give them better places. I have had men nearly starving at Alligin, who refused to
go and take a good croft at Annat, only four miles away, and the Annat people would not receive them because they were Alligin people. I believe many of them would rather go off to Manitoba than go five miles off to another township.

42817. You have not found the population upon your estate then to be superabundant?
—No. There is a curious thing about the population that I should like to mention. I gave you the increase during the ten years, but the increase all took place during the first year. Then, on looking through the details, I found as the reason that the younger, and better, and more able-bodied class had all been driven out of the country, because they had nothing to do. They came back to help their parents in working the farm and looking after the cattle, and now the population has kept at that during the last ten years.

42818. You found the population of Torridon very poor; was that a good deal owing to there being a non-resident proprietor, and no labour going of any kind?
—No doubt. There was no labour, and that was one thing very much against them.

42819. And that is, unfortunately, a position which may again occur?
—It may, but still they could not get into such bad straits again, unless the land were taken from them, because they can go and get work elsewhere.

42820. Sheriff Nicolson.
—What is the number of crofters on your estate?
—About one hundred families, roughly.

42821. There are cottars also?

42822. What is the number of them?
—You have got the families all together there, crofters and cottars.

42823. Can't you tell how many of them are cottars?
—There are very few.

42824. And none of these crofters, except one, has arable land beyond 1½ acre?
—That one I think has only two acres, but he is in a position where he is able to keep more cattle. I forget what was the number he kept, but he offered a certain rent for it.

42825. That is very much below the average of the size of crofts on other Highland estates?
—It is perfectly true, and it is a thing that astonished me very much, to find the smallness of the crofts.

42826. And the rent for that is about 30s. an acre?
—It does not come to that when you consider the cows and their followers.

42827. But that also is considerably above the average rental of Highland crofts; so that, prima facie, one would say the people are highly rented?

42828 But they are contented?
—Quite contented.

42829. And prosperous compared with what they were before?
—There is no comparison at all.

42830. Then the way in which they make their living must be outside of the land on which they live?
—A great many of them go off as gillies and shepherds —for the smearing; and fishing is a great industry with them.

42831. You don't give them all constant employment on the estate?
—No, nothing like it.

42832. How do the cottars live?
—They live very much in the same way. They have their half-acre, and most of them are in fenced land. They have so much potatoes on the half-acre, and they actually grow corn which they sell to the crofters.

42833. I suppose it is not possible for you, if you desired it, to increase their holdiugs so far as the arable is concerned?
—Quite impossible, because it does not exist. They can take in anything they like.

42834. In your calculation of the amount of food produced for the nation by Torridon, you don't mean that it is contributed in the shape of money?
—No, not at all.

42835. All that milk, cream, and butter is consumed upon the premises?
—By the people, and they are part of the nation.

42836. And they were not able to produce so much when it was a sheep farm?

42837. Then does the venison go to the market, or did you only calculate the value?
—I only calculated the value. Last year I calculated the amount of mutton it saved me, and it saved me thirty-five lbs. Of course, that liberated so much mutton for the rest of the nation. If a man eats venison he does not eat so much mutton.

42838. So your contribution to the food of the nation is in the shape of a contribution to the maintaince of your own family and yourself?
—Yes, and people we give it to.

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