Monday, 19 March 2012

An uncleanly and half-civilised existence

At the Napier Commission's session at Lanark, in October 1883, the Commission Agent for the Dominion Government of Canada highlighted the benefits of emigration of crofters. In pointing out the disadvantages of not emigrating, Mr Thomas Grahame did not mince his words. 
Another point which has struck me as of importance is this, that whatever may be accomplished in the way of emigration, it would be a great mistake in the existence of those who remain to have so many of them continue in the state of life in which they are at present; neither one thing nor another, dragging out a miserable, lazy, and uncleanly existence; and this is to a very great extent, doubtless, from having no certain fixed mode of occupation. They are fishermen at some times, crofters at others, gillies on some occasions, but without sufficient continuous occupation to steady them in life. What I would suggest in this respect is, that if they are fishermen they should have nothing to do with the land. Let them have their houses for their families, their cow's grass, and a little garden each, and attend to the prosecution of their duties as fishermen. If they are crofters, let them have a sufficient amount of ground for themselves and their families to live upon in a satisfactory way, say three or four times the general amount as at present held in a croft, and then let those who are superfluous in numbers emigrate to the colonies, where they will be the best off of the whole lot. At the same time, by this process being adopted, it gives a chance for those who are left behind to obtain a decent livelihood, and not exist as at present in a worse shape in many cases than the people of semi-civilised tribes.

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