LACHLAN CAMPBELL, Crofter, Scadabay (43)—examined.
18129. The Chairman.
—How many families are there at Scadabay?
18130. How many paying rent?
—Six are in the rent-roll.
18131. Are you sent here on behalf of the whole eighteen ?
18132. What have you got to say for them?
—The same story which they all have, and the same complaint. My father came to Scadabay forty years ago, and then there were six in the place. They were quite well off, and quite independent, when these six had the place. Then the families increased, and they must needs marry, and they married ; and when a man married he required to get a house, and there was no place for him to build it except upon his father's lot. And so the town is now swelled up to eighteen families. The eighteen are making their living on the place; that is to say, each of them has a bit of the land that there is. They are each taking a share in the cultivation of the place, and so far taking a living out of it. Now this has reduced the whole of them to the same impoverished condition, and if they fall back during the next fifteen years to the same extent that they have done during the last forty, they will all be on the poor roll. Some whose names are upon the rent roll have only two sheep and two cows.
18133. Has the rent of the township been changed in the last forty years ?
—I am not aware that it has.
18134. Has the extent of land been diminished ?
18135. Have any families been brought into the township ?
18136. And forty years ago they were comfortable?
18137. What rent are you paying?
—£4, 12s., without taxes.
18138. What stock do you keep ?
—Three milk cows, three young ones, and twenty-five head of sheep, excluding lambs.
18139. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Whose estate are you on?
18140. Is there any land near you that you could get?
—No, we are tacked on together—a crofter population. It is crofters that adjoin us.
18141. What is the nearest place in the proprietor's lands, or in the hands of the big tacksmen?
—Cuidinish, Deirecleit, and Ceandevig.
18142. Sheriff Nicolson.
—There is no cause, then, for the crowding of the people of Scadabay in the place, except that they insisted on marrying when they were young ?
—No other reason ; but what else could they do, if they could get no additional place to occupy?
18143. Were they not getting work in the south?
—Yes, they need that, but cannot take much out of it. Every person cannot bring home money from the south by his earnings.
18144. Would it not be better for a young man to go and try his fortune away from home, than to sit, and marry, and beget children, on a miserable bit of land here ?
—It would be better to have a good comfortable living at home, than to risk the chance of straying abroad. It is not every man who could make a comfortable living by shifting about in that way.
18145. Then, I suppose, no young man ever leaves Harris with any intention of staying out of it?
—Not of their own will, if they have a place to which to return.
18146. Do you not know that noblemen and gentlemen are obliged to send away their sons wherever they can make a living for them ?
—Yes, but they send them away with plenty of money to get homes and lands for them elsewhere; and sometimes lucrative appointments, when they become gentlemen.
18147. But do you not know that many gentlemen's sons have been sent abroad without a penny in their pocket except what paid their passage?
—If such a case occurred, money would be sent after him.
18148. Then do you think the crofters are the only people who are entitled to keep their sons at home ?
—Well, we poor people sending our family away without perhaps as much money as will pay their passage, with insufficient clothing, and no education, often fear they may fare badly, and that worse may befall them. They must buy clothes with the first wages they earn, and the first £1 they can spare must be sent home to keep their father and mother alive.
18149. Is that any hardship ?
—It is only those that try it that feel the hardship of it.
18150. Do you not know that a great many of the officers in Her Majesty's army and navy, sons of noblemen and gentlemen, are barely able to keep themselves in clothes, and are not able to marry, perhaps all their lives?
—They will not have to support their fathers and mothers though, and they will not have to pay the rent of the small patch of land their father possesses.
18151. But that only applies to the case of a man with one son. Where there are several sons, do they all need to support their father and mother ?
—Where there is only one son, he must needs remain at home to till the ground.
18152. Quite right; but should not the rest go away, and should not they be content to be bachelors for a time, like other people ?
—No, a bachelor is an object of charity all the world over, and such a condition was not appointed to the children of men.
18153. Then it is the first duty of a man,—especially a Harris man,—to get married and increase the number of the inhabitants ?
—Yes, that is his first duty, and to get land to occupy it. These were the first commands he received.
18154. But that was only when there were two inhabitants in the world ?
—I do not know ; what is written is that ' He gave the land to the children of men.'
18155. Was not the command to 'increase and multiply' given only to the first pair ?
—That was quite the case, but it was added —' replenish the earth.'
18156. And have they not done so in Scadabay at any rate?
18157. Is it not time to stop now?
—I do not know that it is.