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lated allowance per ton. Many gentlemen feel on this account an immediate interest in keeping down the wages of labour, and therefore imagine the crowded state of population to be an advantage. Some go so far as to assert that if they had fewer hands, the making of kelp must be given up altogether, or at least that the increased expense of the work would reduce its nett value to a trifle. This may be; but the difference of expense is not all clear gain to the landlord: the season of kelp-making is but a few weeks in the year; and in so far as any gentleman ́retains a greater number of people on his estate than full employment can be found for, he must do it by letting land to them below its value. In all the great kelp stations, the land is, in fact, made an object totally subordinate, and let at rents more inadequate to its real value than in any other parts of
Were an accurate comparison to be made, it is probable that the proprietor would find it more for his advantage, on the whole, to pay the fullest price for the manufacture of
his kelp, and to let his land at an adequate rent. But it is not in this light that the subject will appear to some other persons who are engaged in the business. They feel all the benefit of the low price of labour, while the sacrifice that is made to maintain that low price comes out of the pocket of another. We may add, that a great proprietor, of a liberal mind, would not allow his judgment to be warped by a difference of 10 or 15s. per ton on his kelp; but to the tacksmen and other inferior people that difference forms a great proportion of their profit. Among them, therefore, we find a zeal approaching to fury, when any thing threatens to interfere with this interest *.
To men of this class the depression of the price of labour appears an object of importance in other respects. If they have not kelp to make, they feel the same interest in keeping down the wages of their agricultural servants, or of those they employ to execute fences and various works of that kind. From these causes a considerable
* See Appendix [R.]
body of men feel a direct interest in repressing emigration; and it is not to be wondered at that their clamours should impose on the greater proprietors.
These gentlemen are only occasionally resident on their estates; and, feeling that their own personal acquaintance with the internal state of the country is imperfect, are disposed to place too great a reliance on the opinions of others, whose practical information they believe to be complete, and whom they do not suspect to have interests so directly at variance with their own. This evil is much increased, by the practice (unfortunately too common with the proprietors of
great Highland estates) of letting farms to their factors or land-stewards, and allowing them to engage in various petty branches of business, by which their interest is identified with that of the very people on whom they ought to be a check, and is set in opposition to that of their employers *.
* See the latter part of Appendix [T.]
X. Conduct of the Highland Society. Emigrant Regulation Bill.
IF, from all these circumstances, individual proprietors so far mistake their own interest, it will not be surprising that the same mistakes should pervade and influence a public body. The respectable names which appear on the list of the Highland Society, and the benevolence which marks their proceedings in general, leave no reason to doubt of their conduct respecting emigration having been founded on the purest motives. Nevertheless they have lent the sanction of their name to representations of the most partial nature, and have recommended measures inconsistent with every principle of justice.
As this Society claim (and I believe without any competition) the merit of the bill passed in 1803, for regulating the transportation of emigrants, the consideration of that bill cannot easily be separated from a discussion of the arguments and statements upon
which they recommended the measure. They transmitted for the consideration of Government, and of several members of the Legislature, three Reports, on the emigrations from the Highlands, in which many topics connected with the improvement of that district are treated with great judgment, and on the most liberal principles of political œconomy. Intermixed, however, with these discussions, we find some of a very different description*.
The first Report commences with a statement of the causes of emigration, among which are enumerated,
*These Reports have never been published, but are noticed in the Introduction to Vol. ii. Prize Essays and Transactions of the Highland Society. The first was presented to the Society in January, 1802-the second in June following-the third in March, 1803.-Some extracts have been printed as an Appendix to a " Report "of a Committee of the House of Commons on the "Survey of the Coasts &c. of Scotland, relating to “Emigration”—ordered to be printed June 9th, 1803. The quotations I have occasion to make, refer to the copies engrossed in the Records of the Society, with which they have been collated.