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falt may be damaged or embezzled, and all the penalties of the law incurred innocently. At any rate, he must go back to the customhouse with his little fish or little falt, though perhaps not altogether worth half the expence and time and trouble which the two voyages must cost him. In short, it is almost impossible for human ingenuity to devise any law more oppressive to the industrious poor of these parts, than that, by which the falt for curing fish is at present regulated ; and it is impossible to think that a wise and kind government, such as we are under, will continue to shackle the hands of the industrious poor in these iron fetters *.
Salt, like meal, a necessary of life, and almost the only lux, ury of the poor, should be free of duty. Until it is, the poor must continue to groan, and the fishings in the Highlands to Janguish. All the benevolent schemes of building fifhing villages, and other plans for improving these coasts, must for ever be defeated, while the present falt laws are in force. Let government abolish these, and landlords give moderate encouragement, and towns and villages, in proper situations, will rise almost of themselves. Riches will be got from the
* The multiplicity of oaths required by the customhouse regulations respecting falt, &c. must be considered as highly injurious to the morals of a people. Oaths should be administered as seldom as possible, and then with all possible folemnity. When they are administered too frequently, and on frivolous occafions, instead of being confidered with awe, they are lightly thought of, and the consequence is dangerous to society. The same observation is applicable to to those baron-bailie courts which used to be held, and are not yet entirely given up. To these a whole parish or district was frequently called, and, contrary to law, and to the natural right which every man has not to condemn himself, every man was required to swear whether he killed any black fish, or felled any timber. As the punishment was arbitrary, and frequently no less than being seized as a recruit, the temptation to perjury was strong. How came you to swear that you cut no timber (said a man, on one of these occasions, to his neighbour), when I myself saw you cut a beam for your plough? God help me! (answered the poor man), I did fo; but I thought it better to put myself in the mercy of God, than in the mercy of
deep, lands will be improved, population increase, and emigration cease. The trifling loss to government will be more than made up by the consequent increase of taxes upon other articles of consumpt. The British government has not in all its dominions a more loyal set of people than the Highlanders, ever ready to conquer or perish in its cause; and had they as much attention paid to them as some of its distant colonies, they would have proved of more value to the empire than perhaps any one of them ; and the more fo, as they are nearer home.
Sect. VII. Poor.
In this county, as in most parts of Scotland, the poor arc supported partly by what they get by begging, and partly by the weekly collections of the church. The number supported in either way is, in general, very inconsiderable ; as they have a modesty and spirit'that makes them endure almost aba solute want, before they can bring themselves to the mortification of receiving any public aid. This innate disposition keeps them from being almost any where a burden. What they get by begging, cannot be computed with precision; but all that is bestowed on them otherwise, amounts to very little ; as will appear by viewing the Statistical Table.
No fund can be more faithfully and economically managed than that under the care of the kirk-sessions ; but, in most päFishes, it affords but a very inadequate relief to the exigencies, of the poor. Charity and justice both require that fomething should be done to make their fituation more comfortable; as is now done in many other parts of the kingdom. Voluntary allefsments would tend to equalize the burden, and could not be grievous, while laid on by those who are themselves to pay them. It will perhaps be said, that the poor, by this meanse will become a greater burden than they are at present. So they ought, at leaft to fome, by whom at present they are
greatly neglected. When the poor have a legal title to more aid, why should they not have it ? The small pittance that would then fall to their share, would make them happy, and be little missed by those who would fall to give it ; nor can it ever enrich those who unjustly withhold it. Instead of this, it muft, like a canker-worm, eat up their inheritance. It is the glory of our constitution, that it makes a legal provifion for the poor, .
the infirm, and the helpless. Let this be given, and the poor, as well as the rich, will feel their interest in supporting the constitution. Policy, as well as justice and charity, point out the necessity of this measure. No subject more loudly calls for the attention of the rich, the just, the huinane, and the wife, than the state of the poor does at prefent. When the Sundays collections are sufficient, nothing can be added to the care, frugality, and disinterestedness of the managers, but a little more attention and encouragement than is usual on the part of the heritors. Where they are not fufficient, the little additional aid which is necessary, and juftly due, ought to be cheerfully and immediately bestowed *.
The establifhment of friendly focieties is not yet much known in this county. The sailors of Campbelton formed one many years ago, to which every man contributed 2d. per month of his wages ; which, for the more effectual payment, was retained and paid by the master or owner of the vessel. But owing to some inattention to the management, the fund has not answered the end which it was certainly well calculated to serve.. Such focieties ought to be formed and encouraged among the labouring poor and servants in every parish. This would strengthen their habits of industry and frugality, cheer the prospect of old age, and help to relieve the parish of their burden, when sickness or infirmity would seize them. A trifle which they could easily spare out of their wages when
* See Char. IV. Sect. 4..
young, would help to make their old age fomewhat comfortable, and contribute to ferenity of mind and cheerfulness of spirit. A dignity of anind, and a regard to character, would also be infpired by independence.
An act of parliament passed in July 1793, and extending to Scotland, puts all the charitable societies who choose to accept of it under legal protection, and gives them particular privileges, which is a great encouragement to such as may be wise enough to form them *.
Sect. VIII.- Population. The state of population in this county, as it stood in 1755, and as it stands at present, may be seen in the Statistical Table in the following chapter. Although many parishes have greatly decreased in their number of inhabitants, owing to the prevalence of the sheep fyftem, yet, upon the whole, the number is greater now than it was 40 years ago. This is owing to the greater population of the town of Campbelton, and village of Oban, which have more than doubled their joint numbers in that period; fo that, if these are left out of the reckoning, the population in the county will be found to have decreased considerably.
If landlords would encourage population, by giving moderate pofleffions, by cherishing cottagers, and adopting such plans as would tend to the cultivation of the ground, there is no doubt that the county could easily maintain double its present numbers. There is every reason to believe, that in very remote times it maintained more. Of this the whole face of the country seems to give fufficient indication. Fields, now covered with heath, and at a great height in the mountains, retain still the traces of ancient cultivation. The remains of castles and forts, mouldered into dust, and at short distances from each other, are undoubted proofs both of opulence and numbers. The unaccountable mode of vitrifying the walls of some of these buildings, before lime was used as a cement, is a further proof not only of the opulence and numbers of the inhabitants, but also of their civilization, and knowledge of some of the arts and sciences.
* See Ofervations on the Ait for the Relief and Encouragement of Friendly Sosieltys, by the Gentleman who framed the Act,
The vast number of churches, of which the names or veftiges still remain, and their vicinity to each other, is a further proof of more than modern population. The very, monuments of the dead, whose ashes are found under such valt heaps of ftones, in many parts of the county, as would require many thousands to collect, and to carry to the distance at which they muft have been brought, are another proof of the power and population of this county in ancient times.
The superior population of this county, in ancierft times, might be further illustrated by a detail of historical facts, if this were a proper place to enter on such a disquisition. The accounts transmitted to us of the armies, navies, and conquests of some of the Scottish kings, whose territories hardly extended beyond the limits of this county, till the year 843, and the power of the family of Somerled of Kintyre, for some time after that period, furnish undoubted evidence of a population vastly greater than the present. In a period still more remote, we find the Attacotti (who inhabited less than what is now called Argyllshire) making such a figure in the Notitia Imperii, and in the Roman armies, that Mr. Pinkerton infers no less than 10,000 effective men could be supposed to have attracted so much notice in those accounts as we find they do *
About the end of the 4th century there was one body of them in Illyricum, another at Rome, and the Aitacotti Honoriani in Italy. Ammianus Marcellinus calls the Attacotti “ a warlike race of men, formidable to all Britain.”