William Thomson.

A tour in England and Scotland, in 1785 online

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exercifmg the young men who chufe to en-
gage in the fifhery, in the practical art of fea-

The young men who chufe thus to engage,
fliall make thefe their habitations fora certain
time of the year, and be fubjecl: to the orders
-of the mailers of the fhips.

A cer-

A certain number of boats and nets to be
found by the fociety, who are to fupport the

Four ikilful fifhermen, and four boys, to
be employed in each boat,

The boys to be bound apprentices to the
fociety for a certain number of years.

After the expiration of their apprentice-
fhip, the fociety, or Government, to provide
a boat with nets, for every fix young men.

And from this time the boat to be confi-
dcred as their own, for the benefit of them-
felves and families.

A bounty to be given in proportion to the
quantity of fifh which each boat takes.

Each (hip to have one hundred or more
apprentices, to be found in cloaths, bedding,
and provifions, by the fociety, until their time
of apprenticefhip expires.

The fiih to be falted on board the fliips, or
in any convenient fpot on the adjacent fhore,
and kept on board till veflels arrive to cany
them to the different markets.

An emulation between the fifhing vcflcls

would be heightened, if different fliips were

II 3 manned,

manned, and drew their apprentices from
different clans : and, that the whole might be
cheered and animated to induftry, and new
adventurers allured from land, each Ihip
might be allowed a fniall band of their na-
tional mufic.

To this plan there may be many objections 3
but I muft confefs I cannot fee any material
one : if the principle is admitted, the arrange-
ment will eafily follow, which I leave to the
wifdom of thofe noblemen and gentlemen who
have fo laudably and liberally fubfcribed large
fums for the purpofe of promoting the fim-.
cries in Scotland. The great object to be at-
tended to, is, the proper application of the
fund. Emulation is thefirfl fpring of activity,
and without fociety there can be no compe-
tition. If the rifing generation on the wef-
tern coafls of Scotland, are collected together,
according to the propofed plan, it is probable
that every benefit which can be expected,
will refult from it, Emulation, in th&
firft inftance, will give vigour to the un-
dertaking ; and a few years will convince
the inhabitants of that country, that they


( "9 )

have but juft difcovered the advantages which
nature has beftowed upon them. But, when
they have taftcd the benefits arifing from
their induftry, intereft will induce them to
purfue it. I mean not, by thefe obfervations,
to damp the martial ardour of the northern
inhabitants of this ifland : they have ever
been foremoft in the field ; but as the ex-
iftence of this ifland depends upon its mari-
time power, I wifh to turn their attention to
this object, and there can be no doubt but the
fame intrepid fpirit will incite them to defend
their native country on the fcas.

The Duke of Argylc's caftle ftands very
pleafantly, corifidering the mQuntainous
country in v.hich it is fituatcd. It forms a
fquare with four circular turrets. One fto-
ry is funk below the furface of the ground :
and, round this., there is a large area fur-
rounded by iron rails. The caftle has a ve-
ry monaftic appearance : tho.ugh lately built,
the windows of it arc all turned with a Gothic
arch; and it has a fuperftruclure intended
U give light to the central part of the l^oufe,
H 4 which

( 120 )

which has rather a heavy appearance on the
outfide, and is by no means pleafing within.
There are many good rooms in the houfe,
but none very large. Some of them are ele-
gantly furniihed, and the ceilings beautifully
painted and gilded. Several of them are not
yet rimmed. Though there are no hiftorical
pictures, we meet with fome excellent portraits
here, among which we contemplate the images
of thofe patriots and heroes, the fplendour of
whofe actions has raifed the family of Argyle,
even in an enlightened and warlike nation, to
diftinguifhed celebrity and eminence. The
woods around are very ex tenfive, and thofe nea r
the houfe planted with a good deal of tafte. The
trees, many of which bear marks of high an-
tiquity, are chiefly beech : there are alfo fome
oaks, chefnuts, am, with a few others. About
300 acres of land, clear of wood, is laid down
chiefly for hay and grazing land: very little of
it is applied to the purpofe of raifing corn ;
which, if wemayjudge from the Duke's hav-
ing a large flruclure in his park for the purpofe
of drying grain (the quantity of rain that falls



being fo great as to render this neceflary)
would be a very arduous attempt. Though
the land around Inverary rifes every way into
mountains, it has the advantage of flat
ground to the extent of about 1200 acres.

Two rivers difchargethemfelves into Loch-
Fine, the one near the Duke's houfe, the
other about a mile diftant, over each of
which there is an handfome bridge. On the


top of an hill called Dunacquaich, which is
870 feet high, there (lands a fquare building
by way of a fummer-houfe, with two
windows in it. From this lofty eminence
you have a very extenfive view of Loch-
Fine and all the neighbouring mountains,
and a bird's eye profpect of the cattle and all
the plantations. The hill is chiefly planted
with fir and birch. The trees, at the bot-
tom of the hill, are very large ; they gradu-
ally become lefs as you afcend ; and near the
top they are reduced to brufh-wood. There
is a tolerable road to the top of this hill, for
horfes, and, in different directions from the
ca.ftle, you may ride through beautiful plan-

( 128 )

tations for feveral miles. About half a mile
from the houfe is the garden, which com-
prehends near feven acres of ground. It has
a very large hot-houfe and fome hot walls.
Cherries, and other common fruits, feem to
thrive very well. Near this garden is a large
building, erected with fome tafte, for cattle in
"winter, cart-houfes, 6cc. and a number of
dweliing-houfes for the fervants employed in
hufbandry. About the diftance of a mile
from this is another building, on an emi-
nence, which has a very neat appearance,
called the Duke's Dairy.

The town or village of Inverary is about
half a , mile from the caftle, fituated on a
point of land that runs into the loch. It
confifts of about 200 houfes, many of which,
though fmall, are neatly built. The peo-
ple are chiefly employed in fifhing, which
fometimes employs near 1,000 people. Al-
though the herring be indeed a whimfica!,
as well as migrating animal, I muft here
contradict the report of the herrings


( 123 )

having, in a great mcafure, forfaken Loch-
Fine, and gone to other parts of the Scottifh
coaft. About three miles from Inverary, there
is a woollen manufactory for cloth and carpets.
The perfon who eftablifhed it failed ; but the
bufmefs is now conducted by another man, who
has met with fome fuccefs. Coals are nearly as
dear here as in London, on account of the ad-
ditional duty, which is a moil impolitic impo-
fition, and operates greatly againil all manu-
factures. The price of labour at Inverary is
from ten-pence to one (hilling a day. On the
whole, the general appearance of the caftle,
town, and environs of Inverary, isfuchasbe-
feems the head of a great clan in a flrong and
mountainous country, who, without lofmg
fight of the origin of his family in rude and
warlike times, adopts the improvements of
the prefent period.

Wednefday, July 6th. Leave Inverary. After
getting out of the Duke of Argyle's woods,
which extend three miles from hishoufeupthe
river, theroadis quite open and dreary, pafling
over a number of inferior hills, furrounded by


mountains, and unenlivened by the fight of a
fmgle tree or fhrub. In the intervening bot-
toms or flats, fome attempts are here and there
vifible at cultivation, of which they appear to
be abundantly capable. About eight miles
from Invcrary fall in at Clandifh with Loch-
Awe, of which we have a beautiful view. On
this part of the Loch there are eight iflands,
fome covered with verdure, fome with wood,
and others, which are rocky, with large fir-
trees. Here alfo the loch is finely indented by
promontories, advancing and fpreading into
it a great way, and joined to the main land only
by a narrow ifthmus. Thefe, with the iflands,
form a profpect highly variegated and pleafant.
On the earl fide of the loch there is a great deal
of land fit for corn, and fome of it is applied
to thatpurpofe : but what feems befl adapted
to the genius of the people, is grazing. A great
number of black cattle are reared here, and
a ftill greater number of fheep. On the fide
of the loch frauds a well-built modern houfe,
called Hay-field. This houfe formerly be-
longed to a Mr. Campbell, who had a caftle


( 125 )

upon one of theiflands, the ruins of which are
ftill perceptible. At the north end of the loch
there is a large caftle, belonging to the Earl of
Breadalbane, now falling to ruin. This, in
barbarous times, was the antient den or flrong-
hold of the family, from which they iilued
forth, at the head of their retainers, like the
princes and heroes of Homer, and like thofc
of all uncivilized times and countries, to com-
mit occafional depredations on their neigh-
bours . The prefent pofl effor has the happinefs
to live in a milder age, and one more fuited to
the natural benignity of his difpofition. The
fculking place of his remote anceftors is aban-
doned. The Earl of Breadalbane, following
the example of his noble predecefibr, while he
opens his eyes and his fortune to the general
good of every part of the country, exercifes aa
elegant hofpitality in his charming refidence
at Loch-Tay, which fhews how much the
beauty and magnificence of nature may {till
be improved by art and cultivated tafle.

In the vicinity of Loch- A we, the moft
antient patrimony of the family of Bread-

( '26 )

albanc, they now poliefs a country near
thirty miles in extent. The prefent Lord
Breadalbane has let out his land, at the upper
part of the lake, on long leafes, on which
the tenants are building comfortable houfes.
This moil be productive of much good to
the landlord, his tenants, and the country at
large : for, by making it. the intereft of
thofe people to cultivate and improve the .
land, they will be induflrious, the landlord
will be more certain of his rent, and the
country at large will be benefited by an in-
creafe of population. There are a great
many inhabitants about this loch now $ but
their numbers, by well directed induftry,
might eafily be trebled.

Dalmally, pleafantly fituated on a large
river, that has its fource in the Black Mount,
near the upper end of Loch- Awe, into which
it falls, is a large flraggling village. The
minuter has a tolerable houfe, and an income
of lool. befides a glebe of about forty acres,
of pretty good land. The inn here, which is
kept by one Hiilop, is a very good one.


( 1*7 )

Labour in this country is from ten-pence to
one fhilling a day. In a neighbouring
mountain, called Chruachan, there is a lead
mine, which they have juft begun to work,
and met with very good fuccefs.

Thurfday, July 7th. Leave Dalmally,
and go to Oban. From Dalmally to Bun-
Awe the road winds round the top of Loch-
Awe, on the fide of a mountain, covered for
the moft part with trees, From the road,
the defcent to the water, which is a thou-
fand feet, is, in moft places, nearly perpen-
dicular. Yet, there is not any parapet wall
on the fide towards the loch, to prevent your
falling over, which makes it exceedingly dan-
gerous for carriages, or even for horfes, if they
are not very quiet. This road extends near
eight miles, when a river runs out of the loch,
of moft aftonifhing rapidity, roaring through
rocks and loofe ftones, till it lofes itfelf in an
annofthefea, known by the name of Loch-
Etive, at the upper end of which Bun- Awe is
iituated. Here the Furnefs Company have


an houfe and place for making charcoal :
for which purpofe they have purchafed a
great quantity of the neighbouring woods.
Above this place, is the high mountain be-
fore-mentioned, called Chruachan. From
Taynuld and Bun- Awe, the road bends a little
inward into the country, from Loch-Etive,
palling over a number of fmall hills, which
have been covered with oak and birch,
though the wood is now moilly cut down for
the purpofe of making charcoal. Among
thefe hills, as in a great many other places
in Scotland, you frequently difcover the
flumps of large trees, which prove, that very
large timber has grown here formerly, and
are fo many incentives to the gentlemen of
Scotland to make plantations of foreft trees,
fince what has flourifhed in one period, may
alfo flourilh in another. The land here-about
belongs chiefly to Campbell of Lochniel, but
it is let on leafe to the Furnefs Company.

About two miles from Oban, there is an
old ruinous caftle, with a fmall modern
houfe built on the top of it.


In this old caftle, which is called Dun-
flaffnage, there lives a gentleman of the name
of Campbell. A little further, on the point
of a rock, are the ruins of Dunolly-Caftle,
faid to have heen the refidence of the firft
kings of Scotland. About a mile from this,
at the bottom of a fmall bay, lies the village
of Oban, which contains two or three to-
lerable houfes. Here there are a few fifhing-
boats, chiefly for the fifhing of herrings : a
bufmefs which is carried on with fome fuc-
cefs, and which would undoubtedly be at-
tended with more, if duly encouraged by the
gentlemen of the country, to whom it would
prove of great advantage. But, it would
feem, that there is, in the gentlemen of this
part of the country, as in the Highlands in
general, a difpofition to keep the lower clafs
of people in as abjec"l a ftate as pofliblc.
While this humour remains, neither com-
merce nor agriculture can poflibly flourim.
One Stevenfon, who keeps a public houfe
here, of the very woril fort, is the only man
of enterprize in the place : he has built four
I vefiels,

veflels, from 100 to 150 tons, which he em-
ploys in the coafting trade to Greenock, and
other places. Having no competitor, he is
makingmoney very faft.

Friday, July 8th. We went from Dal-
mally to Oban, with an intention of going to
the Ifle of Mull, and vifiting Staffa : and this
I was the more defirous of doing, that I had
feen fuch bafaltic appearances as are faid to
difiinguifri that ifland, on a large fcale, in the
Straits of Sunda : a circumftance that might
have fuggefted fome comparifons, and led to
fome obfervations. But, finding, that without
abundance of time, and proper introductions
to the people of Mull, this would be a difficult
and dangerous attempt, we relinquifli our de-
iign, leave Oban, and go to Appin, which is
about twelve miles diftant. In the courfe of this
ride we are obliged to crofs two ferries with
our horfes, which is not a very pleafant un-
dertaking, the currents being very rapid.
The road is, in general, tolerably good. We
have a fine view of Mull, Lifmore, and fe-
veral fmaller iflands. Lifmore is the moft


fertile of all the Hebrides. Though the foil
be, in genera], very thin, and in fome places
not more than an inch above the rocks, which
are all flate, it produces a great quantity of
corn of all kinds. Pafs by the Laird of
Lochniel's houfe, which feems to be a pretty
good one, and is furrounded by large plan-
tations. A little further onward, lives another
Campbell, called the Laird of Arde, who has
alfo a good houfe, and well flickered by wood.
To the north of this houfe is an inlet of the
fea, forming a fmall bay, with two or three
iflands, on one of which are the ruins of an.
old caftle belonging to the Laird of Arde.
This den is remarkable only for being nearly
as large as the ifland on which it {lands. It
ferves to (hew in what miferable holes the
people of former times were obliged to hide
themfelves. Oppofitc to this frnall iiland is
. the village of Appin : and, about a mile
again from this is Mr. Seaton's houfe, beau-
tifully fituated on an eminence, which com-
mands a view of Lifmore, with all the iflands
down to the Sound c f Mull, and the chain of
I 2 moun-

mountains which run up to Fort William".
On the north-weft fide of Loch-Lhynn,
great pains have been taken by Mr. Seaton
to lay out his grounds, and raife plantations,
which are very extensive. There is a great
deal of grafs-land about this place, and fome
oats and barley, which look ftrong and flou-
rifhing. The houfe is an exceedingly good
one, kept neat, and commodiouily furnifhed,
as we experienced, by having very comfort-
able lodging and beds in it. Between Oban
and Appin there is a great deal of low gra-
zing land, and more corn than I have yet
feen, in an equal fpace, in the Highlands.

Saturday, July 9th. Leave Appin, in the
morning, and ride fome diftance by the water
fide, through Mr. Seaton's land, where great
attention feems to be paid to agriculture, and
particularly to keep the land clear of weeds.
The manure applied, which is fhell-fand and
lime, feems to anfwer very well, as the crops
are ftrong and healthy. In fhort, this coun-
try, with the roads that open and lead
through it, bear evident marks of liberal


( '33 )

and patriotic proprietors ; for mifery and
wretchednefs are banifhed from hence, though
they are flill too vifible, almoft every where
elfe throughout the Highlands,

Ride by the water fide ten miles to Baljy-
hulifti Ferry, where there is a fmall houfe,
in which we were obliged to flay fome time,
being wet through when we came to it. The
road in general, for fuch a mountainous and
rocky country, is tolerably good. In the
afternoon, ride through Glencoe, on each
fide of which are the mofl tremendous pre-
cipices I ever beheld in any part of the world.
Torrents of water falling from thefe in all
ihapes and directions, form at the bottom a
iarge and rapid river. As we palled through
the glen, it blew a ftorm. Sometimes the
craggy mountains were hid in black clouds,
and, at others, vifible through the mift,
which ferved to aggravate the gloom of this
nweful place, and render it truly horrible.
This feemed a fit fcene for the mallacre of
1691, which leaves a flam either on the me-
mory of King William, or that of his mi-
I 3 nifters,

( '34 )

nifters, or on both. At the foot of thcfe
precipitous mountains, there is much ver-
dure, but the fides are fo perpendicular, that
fcarcely even a goat can feed upon them. In
the middle of the glen there are two or three
miferable huts. The flumps of great num-
bers of large trees remain in feveral parts of
the glen. At the upper part, the fide of one
mountain is flill covered with firs : and
where ever peat is dug, many large trees are
found, which fhews, that this has been for-
merly a foreft.

Sunday, loth July. After getting out of
Glencoe, which is ten miles long, you may
fee the King's Houfe, at the diftance of three
miles, fituated on the fide of a rapid river.
Around this lonely hut, for twenty miles in
each direction, there feems to be no habi-
tation, nor food for man or beafl. This
hOufe is fo ill attended to by the old rafcal
who lives in it, that there is not a bed fit to
fleep in, nor any thing to eat, notwithftand-
ing that he has it rent-free, and is allowed


( -35 )

nine pounds per annum by Government. In
the mr-ning leave this curfed place, and ride
to Fort-William, twenty-four miles of very
bad road, over two mountains j one at
Auchnafie, called the Devil's Stair-cafe ; the
other at Kinloch-Leven, at the head of the
lake of that name. About four miles fouth
of Fort-William is a very good grazing
farm, on the Lochiel eftate, called Loch-
Andrava, of confiderable extent, which pro-
duces the fineft grafs I have feen in the

Monday, nth July. Vifit Fort-William,
built in King William's reign. The prefent
fort, which is a triangle, has two baftions,
and is capable of admitting a garrifon of
800 men, but not to be defended againfl any
attack. Several hills near it command the
whole fort, and the north fide of it is quite
open, the wall having lately fallen down.
There are now two companies of infantry in
it. About a mile from Fort- William is In-
yerlochy, an old caftle, with large round tow-
1 4 ers,

( '36 )

ers, fuppofed to have been built by Edward I.
In 790 Inveiiochy was one of the feats of the
kings of Scotland. About a mile from this
caftle, on the river Lochy, which empties it-
felf into the fea at Fort- William, is a falmon
fifhery, the joint property of Lochiel and the
Duke of Gordon : 200 barrels, containing,
each, from twenty-five to twenty-feven fifli,
have been taken this year, which is reckoned a
very fuccefsful fifhing. Thefe barrels have
been fold as high as feven pounds, but pro-
duce now only five pounds, ten {hillings,
which will bear a profit of about forty {hil-
lings. This fifhery is farmed by four men,
who pay 150!. per annum for it, and for
this fum have land into the bargain, which
produces 50!. per annum to them. There-
fore, I fuppofe, the fifhery muft be very pro-
fitable, though they do not take the means
to fifh the river properly. The quality of
this falmon is equal to that of the Severn.
Tuefday, izth July. Ride by the fide of
Lochiel to Mr. Cameron of Faflifern's houfe.

A part

( '37 )

A part of the eftate of Lochiel, which lies on
each fide of this loch, has exceedingly good
zing land to the tops of the hills. The
lower ground is a light fandy foil, which
would produce very good corn, efpecially as
a great quantity of fea-weed is thrown on the
fhore, which, mixed with lime, makes good
manure. The lime, indeed, is not upon the
fpot, but is brought from the Ifland of Lif-
more in {tones, and landed at Lochiel for
three millings per ton. At prefent, the
weed which is thrown on the fliore is con-
verted to another ufe, which probably may
be more beneficial to the proprietor than put-
ting it on the land. It is cut once in three
years, and burnt into kelp, for making glafs.
Mr. Cameron makes about fixteen tons of
this triennially. It is fold, fometimes, for
fix pounds per ton on the fpot, which muft
produce a good profit, as the only drawback,
is the labour, which is one milling a day.
The eftate of Lochiel to the north-weft
reaches all the way to Loch-Arkek, wliere


( 138 )

there is an extent of wood near twelve miles
long, all firs : and, at the upper end of Loch-
iel is a very good oak wood, of near 200
acres. The eafy communication with the
water and the fea, muft make the timber of
confiderable value, if fuffered to grow to a
large fize ; but the growth of trees has been
much neglected. The whole country being
turned into pafture land, for the more im-
mediate profit arifing from grazing, has pre-
vented the wood from getting up, which it
would do naturally, if it were only protected
from the cattle, as clearly appears from feveral
fpots about FafTifern's houfe, where the caN
tie are not fuffered to go, being covered with
very fine oak and birch. Were this fimpleplan
adopted, either by inclofures or otherwife, in
the worft part of the eilate, where grazing is
not fo profitable, in the courfe of ten years
woods might be raifed which would be very
profitable. As climate here is fo much com-
plained of, and the ripening of the corn is
$ matter of great uncertainty, the grazing


( 139 )

ground might, at a fmall expence at firfl, be
made more productive than it is at prefent,
by adopting the method ufed in Derbyfhire,
of large enclofures, where grafs will always
grow better than when it is entirely open.
This would feed more black cattle, and em-
ploy more people to attend them, than fheep
do, the rearing of which, I clearly fee, if
continued to its prefent extent, will depo-
pulate the whole country j for one family
can attend as many fheep as fevcral miles will

Ill fares the land, tohaft'ning ills a prey,
While wealth accumulates, and men decay ;
Princes and lords may flouriih or may fade ;
A breath can make them, as a breath has made :
But a bold peafantry, their country's pride,
When once deftroy'd, can never be fupply'd.

Another plan is abfolutely neceflary for
the improvement of all this country, which
is, to grant long leafes to the tenants, and to
make it their intereft to live at home and cul-
tivate the land. By thefe means, the eftates


would, in time, be greatly benefited, the land-

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Online LibraryWilliam ThomsonA tour in England and Scotland, in 1785 → online text (page 6 of 16)