« EelmineJätka »
making the same use of it, and giving it the value it really possesses, by the all but universal restriction imposed upon us of suppressing names.
In answer to our question, How has the value of property in the Highlands been affected by the letting the ground in shootings?' we will collate the answers received from different districts :
1. “With regard to the grouse shootings, the rental of these may, in a good district, be equal to that of the grazings, and consequently it follows that in those parts the proprietors' incomes have been nearly doubled.' (Invernessshire.)
2. “The landlords, who in former times used the grouse for the amusement of themselves, their friends, and tenants, now very generally let the shootings separately, from which they may be said to obtain an average rate of something like 3d. an acre. (West Rossshire.)
3. • As a general answer to your question, which it is not easy to enter into easily, I think I am safe in saying that within the last forty years Highland properties have doubled in value, the increased rentals being the proper test of this. (Rossshire.)
4. I will tell you one case I can vouch for, but it is only one of many like instances *** now derives 13501. a year from his property, which in 1838 produced him only a bare 5001. This is owing to the shootings principally, though I fancy it to be admitted that the grazings in the Highlands generally have increased in the last few years to the amount of 25 per cent.' (Perthshire.)
5. “The shootings of Glen Urquhart were in 1836 let for 1001., they now produce a rental of about 20001.
6. "The Glenmoriston ground was rented for 1001. in 1835. The moors now bring in to the proprietor between two and three thousand a year.'
7. The shootings attached to Erchless Castle as well as those of Fasnakyle may be taken as fair examples of the rise of shooting-rents. These have increased, at the least, twenty times in value in the course of the last twenty years.' (Invernessshire.)
8. • One of the first shootings let was Monaghlia or Coignafern, on which moors the river Findhorn has its source. They are the property of the Macintosh, and were first let to a Mr. Windsor at a rent of 301. with 51. given back as a luckpenny. ... Some fifteen years ago these shootings were let at variable rents from 31. to 5001.
9. “The Aberarder Moors were on lease some thirty years ago at 701., the rent has been for years back on an average 4001.'
10. “Stratherrick for years let without a bouse at 701., now let on a long lease at 6001. with a house.'
These facts may be taken as a sample of the effects resulting generally in the north from the growing taste for Highland life and Highland sports. A glance at Mr. Snowie's first list of
shooting shooting quarters'* to be let this year, will give some idea of the scale of prices demanded for shooting-ground. We find there Cpper Killin (17,000 actes) advertised at 5001; Glenquoich, 17001.; the J Donald estates in Skre an aggregate of 12501.; Auchonachie and Cabaan, TOOL; kinloculuichart, 20001.; Kinlochewe, 12001.; Upper Stra:hmore and other ranges belonging to the same proprietor, 10471.; and in another list, published by the same authority, we count more than two hundred names of northern shooting-quarters actually in occupation. It is to be remembered that these consist onls of such as have come under the immediate notice or agency of Jir. Snowie himself.
Forty years ago the very names of the greater part of these places were unheard of besond their own immediate neighbourhood, and the game made no return whaterer to the proprietor of the land.
The rents have gone on steadily increasing up to this time; "for,' says a valued correspondent of ours, “as in all marketable commodities, the prices are regulated by the law of demand and supply, so it has been from the first, and will continue to be so, with regard to Highland shootings. It is the Englishman himself that has raised the rent of shootings; and as long as there exists a class of rich men, who, doomed to the desk or sedentary occupations for three-fourths of the rear, find mountain air and exercise for the remaining three months necessary to enable them to continue their labours, and who, many of them-I do not say all-are careless of the sport they get, and are probably very indifferent sportsmen, but to whom the walk on the hill is new life—so long, I say, as this class of men exists, so long will the rentals of shootings rise, and the Highland proprietor be perfectly justified in making the best of his market.'
We have only space to advert briefly to another source of revenue to the Highland proprietor- the rod salmon-fishings.
* Mr, Snowie, of Inverness, whose name is so well known in connexion with Highland shootings, has been in the habit for years of publishing an advertisement sheet of places to be let. His first list was printed in 1836. I find,' he says, 'that it contains only eight advertisements; since then the demand for moors has increased so steadily that for nearly twenty years I have printed three, sometimes four lists every year, and circulated them to the extent of fifteen hundred copies yearly. The first notice I find of shootings being rented before my time, is a story about a Black Captain who had a moor Dear Kinrara, and being there during a heavy snow-storm, an avalanche came down from the hills and hurled his cottage, with all in it, a great distance. The superstition of the Highlands has it, that he was in league with evil spirits, and that it required the united strength of twelve men to keep down the lid of his coffin while it was nailed. Another party, he goes on to relate, rented shootings about the same time in the same quarter, and he wrote a work on sport. We have no clue to the identity of the Black Captain,' but recognise in the other party' the Colonel Thornton, of whom mention has been made.
TwentyTwenty-five or thirty years ago these were little thought of, and liberty was easily got to fish in any river where the net and coble were not in use. Rod-fishings were let, however, at that time, since a gentleman, well known at this day as a keen salmonfisher, rented about nine miles of the river Dee, on the Marquis of Huntley's estate, for five pounds a year—the same water is now let for about five hundred. Extravagant rents are fearlessly demanded, and cheerfully paid for good rivers, or rather for certain portions of rivers affording perhaps only four or five good casts.
Several of the best salmon rivers are farmed; that is to say, let at so much per day, or week, or month. About fifty pounds is the average sum per rod for the season, and ten shillings per day is usually demanded. In neither case has the successful captor any interest in his fish after it is fairly landed—it becomes the property of the tacksman or entrepreneur of the fishery. Not unfrequently a few pools on a salmon river are let to the landlords of inns, or made over to them by the owners, as a tempta® tion to travellers to prolong their sojourn, increasing thus the rental of the house to the ultimate profit of the laird. In like manner the lake fishings, which are for the most part free, indirectly benefit the owners by the inducement held out to anglers to visit the locality.
All that has, however, hitherto been advanced in support of our first proposition, goes no further than the showing how the proprietors have been enriched by the invasion of the southern sportsman; but it is not here the advantage ends. We would prove how it affects, more or less, all those who come within his influence.
The tenant must and does spend at least another rentoften much more--in the district. The expenses of his household are great, and his supplies of the ordinary necessaries of life are obtained usually at the farms on the ground, or from the nearest market-town or village. The employment he affords to so many about him as keepers, * watchers,
* There can be no greater mistake than the taking an English gamekeeper down to a Scotch moor. He has uphill work in his principal charge, that of preserving the game, however skilled he may be in breaking and working his dogs, and in trapping vermin. He has to contend with all the prejudices of the people, who look upon him as an interloper and a natural enemy-his ignorance of the language alone stands in the way of his making friends. It is far better to take a Highlander from a distant quarter. A keeper is not worth his salt, who, after walking once or twice over the ground, cannot predict with tolerable certainty what part of the hill will be the most likely beat according to the weather, &c. Not so a forester, on whom the deerstalker must be dependent for being brought up
gillies,* and the numerous hangers-on of a shooting establishment, is a great boon to the neighbourhood. The shooting-lodge, in all likelihood erected at his own or at a former tenant's expense, with all its accessories of stables, kennels, &c., must be kept in repair. The private roads, bringing the lodge into communication with the highway, must be maintained in travellable order. In short, there is perhaps hardly a farmer, a tradesman, an artificer, or a labouring man in the district, who does not find his profit in the residence of the stranger in the country.
It is seldom, too, that the poor cotters on the moor—the aged, the infirm, the sick—do not owe something to the bounty of their rich neighbour. We could cite instances of the most extensive benevolence being exercised, not by the mere money gift, but by the timely administration of good diet to the invalid, the procuring of medical aid from a distance, and, better than all, by the kindly visit and the cheering word of comfort to the sufferer.
More important, however, than these material benefits is the moral advantage accruing to the people from their intercourse with strangers more advanced than themselves in civilisation. We do not use the word in its extreme sense: we would say, with those whose opportunities have been greater, whose experiences are more extended, whose manners and habits of life are more refined. Whatever tends to the more complete fusion of the two nations we hold to be a national gain.
One of the objects proposed to be attained by the Highland Society was the preservation of the language, the poetry, and the music of the Highlands. If the wish be to preserve the dying evidences of indigenous civilisation, and to put on record a language of considerable philological value, that is a legitimate object. Again, if it is said that the best way of preparing the Highlander to learn English is to teach him to read Gaelic in the first place, and not to begin by teaching him mere sounds, which he will forget more rapidly than he has acquired
to his stag. He must be born and bred in the forest, and even if the suspicion should hang about him of having in bygone days killed a deer or two on his own account, so much the better-he is safe to be heart and soul in the stalk. It is no superficial knowledge of the corrie and the hill that will serve him in his vocation ; he ought to be familiar with every rise and depression of the ground, every boulder and rock, every tuft of heather almost.And more than this, he should be able to tell for certain how the currents of air vary in different localities, how they eddy and veer about from point to point, baffling the most reasonable calculations. Nothing but long experience and careful observation can give him this invaluable qualification.
* It is generally admitted that the wages paid to this class of persons have doubled within the last five-and-twenty years; which necessarily renders the price of farm-labour higher in the same proportion.
them; them;* there is reason also in that. But we should be opposed to teaching Gaelic if we thought that it could really, as the Highland Society at one time supposed, tend to perpetuate the nationality of the Highlander, and to prevent his ever amalgamating with the natives of a country which is become one with his own, for a more effectual barrier could not be raised to the introduction of improvement and progress into the land. To ensure the entire success of such a project it had been well to have opposed the formation of roads, the construction of bridges, throwing thus another impediment in the way of communication with those from whom it was deemed desirable that the people should be cut off.
As to music, that will take care of itself. National melodies require no fostering care to preserve them. The peculiar character, the wild cadence, or the soft accent of a song, which carries with it the impress of nationality, ever produces a powerful effect on the ear and heart of any one that has a soul for music. But a difference in language presents the most unsurmountable bar to the introduction of new opinions and new ideas. It is only by a free intercourse with strangers that prejudices can be rubbed off, the habits improved, the mind expanded ; and as long as there exists no community of language this can never come to pass.
The value of a knowledge of the English language of having English,' as the Highlander calls it is made more apparent to him, now that he finds his usefulness as an aid to the Sassenach to be so dependent upon it. And this is not the least of the advantages resulting from the increased communication with the people of the South.
One of the natural consequences of this inclination for Highland life on the part of the stranger has been the alienation of many large estates from the old feudal or rather patriarchal possessors. The latter, succeeding in many cases to properties hopelessly involved, and encumbered with endless charges and annuities entailed upon them by their predecessors, were not slow to avail themselves of the opportunity, presented by the enormously increased value of their inheritance, of bettering their position. The ties of clanship had become gradually loosened by the amalgamation of the two countries, and the more free intercourse between them; the admission of the stranger as tenant of the old feudal forest rights
* Before all things we would abolish Sunday-school teaching in English among 2 Gaelic-speaking population. No doubt it acts as a temptation to parents to send children to school; but what is the use of their reading or repeating long passages of the Bible in English while they have no conception of its meaning, and cannot read it off into Gaelic ? i