Sheriff Fraser and Mr. McNeill, the Commissioners appointed by Parliament
to inquire into the condition of the crofters of Lewis, have presented their report, which is full of grave appre- hension. The number of the people has increased from seven- teen thousand in 1841 to twenty-five thousand in 1881, and is now greater than the island can support. The profits from kelp ceased in 1844, and those from the herring-fishery in 1886, so that agriculture and stock-breeding are now the only means of subsistence. The latter has become unprofitable, and the people are living on the relics of last year's crop and oatmeal given in charity. Before the next crop is ready, they will be entirely with- out means, and after they have eaten their beasts, must die. It is necessary, therefore, that provision should be made for them, and it is proposed to augment the resources of the parochial authorities by a considerable loan. We have said enough upon this subject elsewhere, but we wish to add here our regret that it is not possible to raise at once two regiments of infantry in Lewis. The people are finely built, very brave, and addicted to soldiering, which exactly suits their dislike of regular and monotonous labour. The island could supply fifteen hundred men with ease, and their withdrawal would enable the remainder to live in comparative safety. It seems a pity, with war approaching, to neglect such a store of material ; but we suppose that the Irish, who wish for a revolt against rent in the Hebrides, would oppose, and that there would be the usual difficulty about the Estimates.