This chapter discusses John Walker's first journey through the Hebrides in 1764, with Walker believing that every island contained hidden riches planted there by providence. The discovery of the “great abundance” of Linnaeus's Aira coerulea in the mountains of the Isle of Rum led to Walker's natural history of local advantages. He proposed a mixed economy in the Highlands and Western Isles centered on potato cultivation, flax raising, kelping, and livestock farming, earning him a seat within the circle of Scottish learning. Walker's conservative natural theology competed with a radically different model of economic development proposed by a tenant farmer in Aberdeenshire who began experimenting with a plantation of larch trees on his estate in the same decade of Walker's exploration of the Western Isles. This was the first project of James Anderson, a brilliant liberal polymath with interests in chemistry, political economy, and agriculture.
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