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IV. Situation and circumstances of the old tenantry: choice of resources when dispossessed of their farms: Emigration preferred; for what reasons; limited in


THIS great change in the


system of management throughout the Highlands branches into various and complicated effects. order to give a clear view of its unavoidable consequences, it will be proper first to enter into some details as to the situation and mode of life of the people, such as we actually find them, where the old system still remains. From this it will be easy to deduce the immediate effects which the change must produce on their circumstances; and it will thus appear that emigration is the line of conduct which the occasion leads them most natu

rally to pursue. After considering this consequence, as it affects the interest of the public, the same details will enable us to appreciate how far it may be obviated or modified by legislative wisdom ; and this will lead to a discussion of all the resources which have been proposed as remedies for preventing emigration.

In consequence of the extensive distribution of landed possessions arising from the feudal manners, combined with the small progress that has been made in the arts of life and division of labour, the people of the Highlands are not separated into distinct classes of farmers, labourers, and mechanics: they are all more or less engaged in agriculture. There are no markets where provisions can be purchased, so that every man must be a farmer, at least so far as to raise provisions for his own family. Whatever additional employment a man may follow, he must occupy a small spot of land; and any one who cannot procure such a possession, cannot live in the country.

The farms occupied by the common tenantry, are hamlets or petty townships*, held by six or eight partners, sometimes by many more. The shares appear to have been originally equal; but by the subdivision of some, and the accumula

* Called in the Gaelic language bailé; in the Low Country dialect louns.

tion, in other cases, of several in the same hand, it is now frequently found that one man has a third or a fourth part of a farm, while his neighbour has but a fifteenth or a twentieth part.

These farms consist, in general, of a portion of a valley, to which is annexed a tract of mountain pasture, often stretching to the distance of many miles. The habitations are collected in a little village, in the midst of the richest and best of the arable lands, which are used as crofts in constant tillage. The less fertile of the arable lands on the outskirts, termed outfield, are only occasionally cultivated, and every part of them is in its turn left in grass. The lands in tillage, are sometimes cultivated in common, but are more usually distributed among the tenants in proportion to their shares; seldom, however, in a permanent manner, but from but from year to year. The produce of the tillage land rarely affords a superfluity beyond the maintenance of the tenants and their families. Their riches consist of cattle, chiefly breeding cows, and

the young stock produced from them, which are maintained on the farm till of a proper age for the market; and by the sale of these the tenants are enabled to pay their rent. The number which each farm or toun is capable of maintaining, is ascertained by antient usage, and may be, in general, from thirty to eighty cows, besides other cattle. The total amount is divided among the occupiers according to their respective shares, no one being allowed to keep more than his regulated proportion.

The joint occupiers of such farms are termed small tenants, to distinguish them. from the tacksmen, who hold entire farms, and who are in general of the rank of gentry, each of them tracing himself to some antient proprietor of the estate, who has allotted the farm as a provision for a cadet of his family.

Upon the farms of the tacksmen, are a number of subtenants or cotters, under which general term may be included various local denominations of crofters, mailers,

&c. &c. These people hold their possessions under various conditions: sometimes they differ from the tenants in little else than the diminutive scale of their possessions; but in general they have a greater or less amount of labour to perform as a part of their rent. Frequently they are absolute servants to their immediate superior, having the command only of a small share of their own time to cultivate the land allowed them for maintaining their families. Sometimes the tacksman allows a portion of his own tillage field for his cotter; sometimes a small separate croft is laid off for him; and he is likewise allowed, in general, to pasture a cow, or perhaps two, along with the cattle of the farm*.

Cotters are not confined to the farms of the tacksmen—they are also intermixed with the small tenants. Two or three are generally employed on every farm, as servants of the whole partnership, for herding their cattle, or preventing the trespasses of others. There are also a few people who exercise the trades of black-smiths, weavers, taylors, *Sce Appendix [D.]

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