« PrejšnjaNaprej »
sufficiently extensive; and no manufactures were introduced. Had trades or manufactures been planted in the islands before the southern districts engrossed the field, a general and permanent amelioration might have been effected in the condition of the people. Though alien at first to their habits and predilections, they would gradually have assimilated to their lowland countrymen in industrial progress, and might have surmounted the disadvantages of soil and climate.
The next chapter in Hebridean history shows a complete reversal of the former policy, yet with results much the same. We have, since the date of Johnson's visit, made a circuit of near eighty years, and have returned to the same point. The proprietors at length ceased to check emigration. Sheep-hus
. bandry was rapidly extending, roads were made, a high class of tenants was obtained, and the large farms were managed with admirable skill and perseverance. The people, ont he other hand, when less required to stay, became less disposed to emigrate. The more active and enterprising part of the population was gone. The epidemic had ceased, the wars were over, and so long as herrings visited the lochs, or potatoes flourished on the soil, or the kelp manufacture gave a few weeks' profitable occupation in summer, contentment or listlessness prevailed. There was no stringent poor-law to force attention as to the population; small crofts, or patches of land, were easily obtained and subdivided at will; and hence the little turf-huts multiplied on the hill-side and moors, the standard of civilisation sunk lower, and the population, despite all military and emigrant drains, was doubled in amount. Thus, gradually but inevitably, as the people increased, thousands of families came to depend almosts wholly on one article of food. That failed, and the sequel is well known. A destitution crisis commenced in 1846 unequalled for intensity, and which involved both chief and clan, landlord and tenant, in irretrievable embarrassment and ruin. A second period of transition, more painful than that witnessed by Johnson in 1773,
was ir duced, and though the immediate distress was mitigated by the munificent generosity of the British nation, there seems to be only one remedy or palliative, for the chronic maladyemigration.
Many of the old families commemorated by Johnson and Boswell, have disappeared from the islands. Some have dropt off from natural and unavoidable causes; some through sheer folly and extravagance; and others have gone down while struggling to support and replace their dependents.
In Rasay, Ulva, and Inchkenneth, the ancient familiar names are no longer heard : “new people fill the land." In Skye, the “ Siol Tormod” of Dunvegan, and the descendant of Somerled of the Isles, still hold their possessions; and the Macleans of Coll retain their island patrimony, but all have been grievously shattered by the late storm. To a Scotsman, no more melancholy books were ever published than those “Blue Books," printed by authority of Parliament, in which is recorded the recent history of the Western Islands.
To note some of these changes and supply local information, has been the main object of the Editor of this new edition of Boswell's Journal. In order to verify facts and dates, he had to conqult various parties; and though it may appear ostentatious or ridiculous to parade a list of names before so small a literary performance, he cannot deny himself the gratification of stating that to the following gentlemen queries were addressed, and, in every instance, courteous and satisfactory answers returned: viz., Macleod, of Macleod ; Sheriff Fraser, of Portree; A. K. Mackinnon, Esq., Corry; D. Macleod, Esq., Kingsburgh ; Rev, J. Maciver, of Kilmuir; Rev. D. Ross, of Tobermory; Rev. H. Maclean, of Lochalsh; R. Sinclair, Esq., Borlumbeg; Niel Maclean, Esq., Inverness; W. A. Stables, Esq., Cawdor; and W. Forsyth, Esq., Aberdeen.
Inverness, March 29, 1852.
SEPTEMBER 22.-Subterraneous house and vast cave in Ulinish. Swift's Lord
Orrery. Defects as well as virtues the proper subject of biography, though the
the lives of literary men. Fingal denied to be genuine, and pleasantly ridiculed
by a new mode of public appearance. Garrick. Mrs. Montagu's Essay on
yard. Arrive at Talisker. Presbyterian clergy deficient in learning
Hailes. Historical impartiality. Whiggism unbecoming in a clergyman
Good-fellowship carried to excess
Jacobite song. Lady Margaret Macdonald adored in Sky. Different views of
the same subject at different times. Self-deception
gaiety with a Highland lady
thatching. Dangerous to increase the price of labour. Arrive at Ostig. Dr.
Macpherson's Latin poetry.