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wegian conquest of Orkney about forty years: an event, which, whether accomplished by the destruction of the Pictish kingdom, or by its pacific union with that of Dalriada, could not but affect the inhabitants of the islands. The history of these, as here stated, accords better with the former, than with the latter view, of that very obscure epoch of Scottish history.
To the extent of public governments, as well as of private estates, may be applied the Horatian maxim,
sunt certi denique fines,
Quos ultra citraque nequit consistere rectum :"" and we deem it one of those felicities, for which, as Britons, we ought to be peculiarly thankful, that the natural bounds of our territory are clearly and strongly defined. We need not wish for a foot of ground on the continent of Europe; nor can possessions in any other part of the world be of real advantage to us, farther than they tend to the security and extention of our commerce, or to the support and perfection of our Marine. That all the British Islands should be firmly united under one government, is, we apprehend, indispensable to the welfare of the whole : but it is equally certain, if not equally obvious, that the benefit which the inferior states, thus melted into a common mass, can derive from that union, must depend on the fostering care of the central government. The cession of independency is not merely a nominal, or a notional sacrifice : it involves a loss of influence, and a diminution of public spirit, in proportion to the disparity of the states thus united. These observations, which are applicable to subjects of much greater consequence, enable us to account for a fact which Dr. B. has fully established ; that the Orkneys, which are naturally connected with our country, were losers by their dependence on Scotland, previous to its union with England; and that even since this desirable event was accomplished, they have by no means enjoyed an adequate share in the prosperity which it has aided to diffuse throughout Great Britain. To illustrate this statement, we quote the summary view which our author has annexed to his detail of the present state of these islands. Speaking of Norway, he says,
- The sovereigns of that country, by means of noblemen of very high rank, governed them, (the inhabitants of the Orkneys) as subjects, but not as slaves; insomuch that, during the continuance of their sovereignty, which lasted till after the middle of the fifteenth century, the people seem to bave enjoyed a degree of liberty, which, in many parts of Europe, was at that time unknown. Still they laboured under the inconveniences inherent in the condition of a remote province, far from the seat of power, and beyond the reach of riches and commerce. With few incentives to industry, they languished in indolence and obscurity, unless when they rushed into the field, to signalize their courage against their foes, who never attacked their persons or inyaded their territory with impunity,
But But though this temporary exertion might secure them from dangerous enemies, by keeping alive their martial spirit, it could have little or no influence in creating or cherishing an useful and permanent activity. After they became subject, and were annexed to the crown of Scotland, it might have been supposed that they would have improved in this respect. This, however, was not the case ; for as they' (the islands)' were sometimes farmed on short leases, or managed by factors, or stewards for the crown (who are frequcntiy changed); and at other times given to needy court favourites for a short period ; these men were all of them so destitute of any fixed or lasting interest in their welfare, as to prevent their engaging in any plans for their improvement.
If those who held the first rank discovered no inclination to improve the place, of which they had the management; neither the lesser proprietors of land, nor the little traders, who were all of them burdened with a heavy load of taxes, could be supposed to have the disposition, or the ability, to undertake such an arduous task. Hence, notwithstanding the excellence of the soil of this country, and the very favourable situation for several kinds of industry in which it is placed, the lands are many of them yet lying in a state of nature, and almost all of them are but very imperfectly cultivated, Manufactures, with only one exception, have scarcely at this moment been entered upon; the fisheries are almost entirely neglected ; and any little commerce that has hitherto been an object of attention, can hardly be considered as deserving the name.
"But would his Majesty, who is in possession of the church lands, and who has an interest in their improvement, take the lead in their amelioration ; were the Royal example followed by the noble person, who has a right to the feudal duties of the earldom, and has joined to that privilege an extensive private estate ; and were the gentlemen and merchants to co-operate in such a business, we should very soon behold with pleasure, a new and more interesting order of things take place.
By such means as these, the lakes and marshes would in a short time be drained; the common lands and runrig lands would be divided; and all of them would be so improved, as to produce subsistence for the people, and materials for manufactures of different kinds. Manufactures and commerce and fisheries would spring up and rival one another ; the inhabitants would become four times as numerous, more industrious, and consequently more happy: and the Orkney Islands, instead of being a neglected and comparatively useless province, would soon be made a valuable part of the British empire.' pp. 391, 392.
The nobleman alluded to in this quotation, is Lord Dundas. We cannot but think, that it would tend greatly to the improvement of cultivation, if feudal and manerial duties, throughout
the United Kingdom, were made redeemable at a fair appraisement of their value. In many cases, they serve merely as an occasion to country attornies, of exacting burdensome and ille , gal charges from tenants, with scarcely any real emolument to the lord of the manor; and are thus felt as a grievance by multitudes, without prorlucing adequate private benefit. It is only on a few of the yarious heads, under which Dr. B.
treats of the present state of these islands, that we can offer remarks: we shall therefore restrict our attention to those, which appear to be of most general importance. Their population is reported to have been, within the two last centuries, incomparably greater than it is at present. It has been calculated five times, with some accuracy, during the last fifty years; and the result each time has been found to be about 24,000; whercas 10,000 of the inhabitants are said to have borne arms in the civil wars of the seventeenth century, which would require the whole population to have been nearly 100,000. Dr. B. questions, we think with justice, the probability that it ever amounted nearly to that number: but bis arguments to prove that it never much exceeded its present rate, do not appear to us decisive., It is obvious, that the population, instead of increasing, as it might have been expected to do rapidly, considering the robustness, sobriety, and longevity of the natives, has been at a stand for fifty years past: and Dr. B. assigns sufficient causes for this, all of which tended to promote emigration. But if this has been the case, during a period in which the inhabitants have enjoyed many advantages to which they were formerly strangers; how much more powerfully may similar causes be supposed to have previously operated ?
We do not apprehend, that, if all the means which Dr. B. patriotically wishes to be used for the advantage of the inhabitants, were carried into effect, they would produce that increase of permanent population which he predicts. The enlargement and enclosure of farms, have a tendency to depopulate a country, although they increase the supports of life. The want of coal seeins to us an insuperable bar to the establishment of manufactures sufficiently extensive to counteract that tendency. In short, the situation of the Orkneys points out maritime occupations, as best adapted to the inhabitants: and it is only from the improvement of the valuable fisheries in that vicinity, that we can hope for any great melioration of their condition, or of their general utility to the empire. With this object should evidently be connected, such manufactures as are requisite for its advancement. We are glad to see, that one kind of fishery has lately excited some attention : and we quote a paragraph relative to it, which may interest the inhabitants of the inetropolis for the pros
perity of these distant islands. i ' For some years past, the lobster fishing has been carried on to a considerable extent. It seems to be increasing, and has already been a profitable concern to the company, and of much benefit to many of the people in several of the islands. These fish, which are excellent and numerous, are caught in nets, and confined in chests*, till such time
* With apertures, to admit the sea-water, in which they are anchored.
as the ships arrive, that are to carry them away. An opulent English company has undertaken and conducts this business, who employ a number of smacks that have large wells in their holds, for the purpose of contain. ing the fish, and carrying them alive weekly to the London market. About a hundred boats are employed, with ten men in each ; and though the lobsters are sold for two-pence Sterling a piece, a good fisherman will gain, even at this low rate, ten pounds in the summer. The whole sum that this branch of business is calculated to produce to the inhabitants at present, amounts annually to a thousand pounds Sterling. And, as there are many places where this species of fish abound, that have not yet been visited by the fishermen, it is believed, on good grounds, that twice that sum might easily be drawn from that fishery pp. 386, 387,
We hope for the thanks of our fellow citizens, in return for this good news; and that the patriotism with which they are well known to abound, will prompt some of them to visit a place, where we can assure them of meeting with other good things, besides lobsters at two-pence a-piece. Cod, ling, and herrings, for instance, are innumerable.
The following comparative statement, demonstrates a progressive advancement in that kind of prosperity which is congenial to the situation. That the shipping had diininished at the close of the last century, is reasonably attributed by our author, to the unavoidable consequences of war. A.D. 1770 1780 1790
p. 384. In several other respects, during the same period, considerable progress was made; but in none of so much advantage to the inhabitants, as that of the kelp manufacture. On this, therefore, we subjoin some extracts.
Kelp is a substance composed of different materials, of which the fossil or mineral alkali, or as it is commonly called, soda, is the chief. This ingredient renders it useful in the composition of soap ; in the mapufacture of allum, and in the formation of crown and bottle-glass; and in these manufactures, kelp answers all the purposes of the very best potash, which cannot be procured but at great expence from abroad; while the former can be obtained by the industry of our own people, on our : own shores. It is formed of the ashes of marine plants, which are cut from the rocks with a hook, or collected on the shore for that pur. pose, and dried on the beach to a certain extent: they are afterwards burnt on a kiln in a considerable quantity, in which they are strongly stirred with an iron rake into a fluid state; and when they cool, the ashes condense into a dark blue or whitish coloured mass, nearly of the hard
ness and solidity of a fragment of rock. The kilns employed in this operation are rudely constructed of stones, in the form of a circle, four or five feet in diameter, and about one in depth ; and in each of them at a time are commonly burnt from two to six hundred weight of kelp, which would perhaps be improved in quality as well as quantity ; were they of still larger dimensions. pp. 371,372.
• The kelp is suffered to remain some time in the kilns, in order to cool, (if the mass be large, it will require two or three days,) when it is raised in large pieces, and immediately placed in some sheltered situation. This precaution is used, from an idea, that, if exposed to the atmosphere, from which it evidently draws moisture, it crumbles down into small pieces, and thus loses much of its value. Storehouses have therefore been built everywhere for its reception. Not only in this, but in other respects, and indeed in all the steps of the process, such as collecting, drying, and burning the weeds, and raking the ashes into fluidity, much care is taken to preserve it from impurities of every sort. p. 375.
- The months of April and May are supposed to be the most produce tive season, though the people bere seldom or never begin so early, as they are in general connected with farms, which occupy their attention till the beginning of June. From that time to the first or middle of August, nearly three thousand people of both sexes, most of them young, are einployed in this manufacture; each of them during that period. makes a ton, consisting of twenty-four hundred weight of kelp, for which they receive in some cases, thirty or forty shillings, and in others fifty shillings, or even sometimes three pounds sterling.' p. 373.
This very useful manufacture was introduced by some gentle. men resident in the islands, about the year 1720; and at first, like all innovations, it had to surmount opposition from common prejudices; but it has gradually increased, till on an average, 2,500 tons, at gl. sterling per ton, are annually sold at the principal ports of our eastern and western coasts. Articles of food, and of coarse linen manufacture, constitute their other principal exports.
In recommending mayitime occupations, as appropriate to the jnhabitants of Orkney, we are far from wishing to discourage Dr. B.'s patriotic eoncern for their agricultural advancement. There is evidently room and need for it; and we hope that his remonstrances on the subject will gain due attention from those whom they principally concern. That Royal patronage would, on suitable application, be obtained for an object of so great utility, we cannot doubt: nor can we suppose that the benevolent President of the Royal Society would be indifferent to its success.
Our author had evidently a delicate task to execute, in describing the general character and prevailing manners of his neighbours. The delineation, on the whole, is creditable, both to them and to himself. That they are not defective in talents, will be allowed; when it is understood, that Sir Robert Strange, the first of British engravers, and Murdoch Mackenzie, hardly