Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)
Dear Mr. Hyder,--
I will take this opportunity to call the Society's attention to a question which will now very soon come again before Parliament--the continued depopulation of the Highlands. Nearly thirty years ago I did my best to call attention to the disastrous effects of Landlordism, which had then been going on for two-thirds of the century unchecked, thousands of families having been driven from their ancestral homes, in order to give place, first to sheep and later to deer, and thus increase the rentals or profits of their legal owners.
But notwithstanding many inquiries by Royal Commissions or Parliamentary Committees, and endless discussions in books and periodicals, absolutely nothing was done to diminish this great evil which has continued to increase to this very time. The latest returns of the Board of Agriculture show that arable land is still diminishing, while deer forests are increasing; that the population of the cities and towns is becoming greater, and that of the rural districts less; while, more serious still, the emigration from Scotland, in proportion to its population, has steadily increased, till during the last decade it has exceeded that of Ireland, which up to that time had taken the lead in that terrible indication of misgovernment and decay.
As a matter of public policy--even of civilisation itself--cultivators of the soil must be preferred to mere sportsmen, who have not even the excuse that they are in want of food. As a matter of bare justice to those who are willing to produce necessaries for their own consumption by their own labour, all cultivable land must be thrown open to them.
Yours very truly,