‘General View of the Natural Circumstances of those Isles,
adjacent to the North-West coast of Scotland,
which are distinguished by the common name of Hebudae or Hebrides:-
of the various means which have been employed to cultivate and improve them:-
and of some other means, which are humbly proposed, as likely to contribute to their farther improvement’
Drawn up for the consideration of the Board of Agriculture and Internal Improvement.
By Robert Heron 1794
I don’t know for sure that this is the longest-ever title of a book on the Western Isles, but it certainly must rank amongst their number!
I have only just begun perusing these 99 pages but the tone appears to be the all too familiar one of ‘Improvement’ to be imposed by incomers, albeit with a greater degree of appreciation of the indigenous inhabitants plight than is often the case.
He make an interesting observation that the social organisation of the islands provided an insight into the circumstances prevailing under medieval feudalism or, ‘a person may acquire a very clear notion of what the feudal establishments of Europe were in their origin’.
125 years later, those returning from the ‘Great War’ faced further, ongoing, battles to remove that same yoke.
In introducing his ideas for ‘Improvement’, Robert Heron writes the following:
‘The true perfection of the cultivation of any territory is, when it affords the means of subsistence, of social intercourse, of moral and intellectual improvement to the greatest possible number of rational beings, at the same time, and those of the highest possible corporeal and mental excellence.’
A rather fine sentence in my humble opinion!
Note: A brief biography of Robert Heron can be found here: