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CONTINENT OF ARGYLE.
GEOGRAPHICAL STATE AND CIRCUMSTANCES.
Sect. I.—Situation and Extent. The continental part of Argyleshire (exclusive of the islands belonging to that county) is situated between 55° 21' and 570 N. latitude, and between 1° 22' and 3° 25' of longitude, W. of Edinburgh *. Its general form approaches somewhat to that of a triangle; of which a line running from the point of Ardnamurchan, along the borders of Invernessshire, to the source of the water of Urchy, at Moni-ranoch, may be considered as the base; and another line running from thence to the head of Lochlong and along the Frith of Clyde, as forming one of the sides ; and the Atlantic Ocean the other. Its greatest length, from the Mull of Kintyre to the point of Ardnamur
* The county, including the islands, extends to 57° 15' N. latitude, and to 4° 0' W. longitude. But as the islands make no part of the province affigned · to the writer, any account he may give of them occafionally, as a part of the county, will of course be more general than that given of the continent.
chan (1° 39', at the rate of 691 statute miles to the degree of - lat.) is 115 miles; and its greatest breadth, reckoning 337
miles to the degree of longitude (which corresponds to the medium lat. of 56°) is above 68 miles.
On the two sides, which border on the sea, the land is everywhere indented with deep bays and creeks, winding in a variety of directions, so as to form the whole county into a number of peninsulas, and to afford a variety of safe harbours. Some of these bays run so far into the country, that only one of 27 parishes is altogether inland. The extent of sea shore which bounds the continent of Argyle, from the head of Lochlong round to the point of Ardnamurchan, is fupposed to exceed 600 miles. By this advantageous dispofition, the county has all the advantages of an insular fituation, without any of its inconveniencies.
As there is no particular map of the county, its dimenfions cannot be exactly ascertained. If we cut off the peninsula of Kintyre, which is 40 miles long, by 6 at a medium ... breadth (making 260 square miles), the remaining continent, which is 75 miles in length, may be taken, it is thought, at the average breadth of 33 miles, which, added to Kintyre, will make the whole continent 2735 square miles. The illands connected with the county, are supposed to make about 1063 miles more; so that the whole county, by this computation, will be 3800 square miles *.
By a calculation which lately appeared in the public papers (and which was afcribed to Sir John Sinclair), Scotland is made to contain 26,369,695 English acres, or 41,202 ftatute square miles; and England 46,915,953 acres, or 73,306
* See the Statistical Table, in C. XVII. A map of the county is expected foon from Mr. Langlands, land-surveyor to the Duke of Argyle; by which its exad dimensions will be better known. In the mean time, the writer thought it better to hazard the above conjecture, than to be altogether f. lent upon the subject.
square miles; so that, by the above computation, Argyleshire is about 1-1 Ith of Scotland, and about 1-30th of Great Britain *
This extensive county constituted nearly the whole of the Scottish kingdom, from the reign of Fergus, the son of Erc, till the Picts were fubdued by Kenneth MacAlpine ; i. l. from the year 503 to the year 843; and is the only part of the kingdom in which the Aboriginal Scots (or Albanich) always retained a footing, and preserved a feed to the nation.
1,213,500 acres may be heath, hill, and pasture;
* According to Templeman's Survey, Argyleshire is only 2492, Scotland 27,794, and England 49,450 geographical square miles. This calculation makes them all about a third less than the above, and nearly in the same proportion to each other. But as Dr. Grew (Philos. Trans. Abridg. IV. 449.) seems to have geometrically demonstrated, that England contains 46,080,000 statute acres, which nearly coincides with Sir John's account, there is reason to believe, that the statements in the text are not far from the truth; and that Templeman's calculation, after making the proper allowance for the difference between geographical and statute miles, is by far too low. † The Scotch acre contains 6150 square yards, the English acre 4840; fo that the proportion between them is nearly as 5 to 4. In a statute square mile there are 500 Scotch, or 640 English acres. The Scotch Gunter chain is 24 4-5th yards in Ingth, and confitts of 100 links, each 8.928 inches. Ten chains in length, and one in breadth make an acre.
The proportion of the arable to the other grounds, as stated above, is nearly as 1 to 12, being about a 13th of the whole. To an eye that takes but a superficial view of the face of the country, this proportion of arable will appear to be too great : But the eye is very apt to be deceived in judge ‘ing of the proportion between hills and plains. To make a just comparison in this case, one must form the idea of a plain extended through the base of the hill, and compare in his mind the extent of such a plain with that which he has in view. The surface of a mountain may measure many times the extent of such a horizontal plain as it stands upon, but cannot in fact contain more trees or piles of grass than would grow on such a plain, if indeed so many *.
The above proportion of arable to other lands cannot be suppoied too high, when it is considered that Kintyre, which, in point of extent, is little more to the rest of the continent than as i to 10, contains of itself above 29,000 acres of arable land, computing the smaller part, that has not been surveyed, at the same rate with that which was actually measured, The proportion of arable over all will not appear to be too highly rated, when it is considered that this is more than a fourth part of it. How much of our waste grounds may be capable of being improved by tillage, planting, and wateringa
* In measuring iteep or hanging grounds, so many links ihould be subtracted from every chain, according to the several degrees of declivity, in or der to convert the hypothenuse into a base, and come at the true measurement; at the following rates:
Deg. Links. Deg. Lks. Deg. Lks. Deg. Lks. Deg. Lks, 4.05 I-4th 1 8.11 11 16.26 4 | 21.565 7 1 25.84 10 5.73 1-half 11.48 21 18.195 5 1 23.074 8 27.13 II 7.02 3-4ths | 14.07 3 | 19.95 6 24.495 9 | 28.36 12
will fall to be considered, under these different heads, afterwards.
SECT. III.--Climate. The climate of the lower and more southern parts of this county differs greatly from that of the higher and more northern parts of it. The lower parts are everywhere so much surrounded and indented by the sea, that the atmosphere is mild and temperate * Frost feldom continues long, and snow lies rarely above two or three days at a time upon the sea-coast. But the upper and northern parts, elevated far above the level of the sea, and bordering on the Grampian Hills, are subject to a severer atmosphere. These lofty mountains are generally covered with snow for a great part of winter, by which the air is chilled to a considerable distance. The valleys, however, among these mountains are not, even in that inclement season, fo cold or uncomfortable as might be supposed from the general aspect of the country. Most of them are low and winding, and derive a great deal of shelter from the surrounding mountains. Most of them also look to the south or south-east; and as the wind blows for the greater part of the year from the west and northwest, these high mountains, which generally stand in that dis rection, serve as a screen to ward off its blasts.
The climate, in different parts of the county, is no less different in respect of wet and dry. The clouds wafted from the Atlantic Ocean, and breaking on the tops of the higher mountains, occasion much more frequent rains in the upper than in the lower parts along the sea-coast. Of these rains we are apt to complain, without considering that our moun
* In Kintyre the frost is feldom fo intense as to fink the thermometer 8 degrees below Fahrenheit's freezing point.