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Sketches of The Character, Manners, and Present State of the Highlanders of Scotland


Part II

Present State, and Change of Character and Manners

SECTION I.

Influence of Political and Economical Arrangements—Change in the Character of the Clans—Introduction of Fanaticism in Religion.

It will be perceived that the preceding Sketch of the customs, manners, and character of the inhabitants of the Highlands of Scotland refers rather to past than present times. A great, and, in some respects, a lamentable change, has been produced; and the original of the picture which I have attempted to draw is suffering daily obliterations, and is, in fact, rapidly disappearing. Much of the romance and chivalry of the Highland character is gone. The voice of the bard has long been silent; poetry, tradition, and song, are vanishing away. To adopt the words of Mrs Grant, "The generous and characteristic spirit, the warm affection to his family, the fond attachment to his clan, the love of story and song, the contempt of danger and luxury, the mystic superstition equally awful and tender, the inviolable fidelity to every engagement, the ardent love of his native heaths and mountains," will soon be no longer found to exist among the Highlanders, unless the change of character which is now in rapid progress be checked.

Of this change there was no symptom previous to the year 1745, and scarcely a faint indication till towards the year 1770. The Union, which has had the happiest effect in contributing to the prosperity of both kingdoms, seemed at first, and indeed for many years afterwards, to paralyze the energies, and break the spirit of Scotchmen. The people in general imagined, that, by the removal of their court and parliament, they had lost their independence. The subsequent decrease of trade contributed to exasperate and to increase their aversion to the measure; and from this period, the country seems to have remained stationary, if not to have retrograded, till about the commencement of the late reign, when a spirit of improvement, both in agriculture and commerce, and a more extensive intercourse with the world, infused new life and vigour into the general mass of the population.

While this was the effect of the Union in the southern and lowland parts of Scotland, its operation upon the north was much slower and more imperceptible. There the inhabitants retained their ancient pursuits, prejudices, language, and dress; with all the peculiarities of their original character. But a new era was soon to commence. The primary cause, both in time and importance, which contributed to produce a remarkable change in the Highlands, was the legislative measures adopted subsequent to the year 1745. This cause, however, had so little influence, that, as I have already noticed, its operation was for many years imperceptible; yet an impulse was given which, in the progress of events, and through the co-operation of many collateral and subordinate causes, has effected a revolution, which could not have been fully anticipated, or indeed thought possible in so short a period of time. This change appears in the character and condition of the Highlanders, and is indicated, not only in their manners and persons, but in the very aspect of their country. It has reduced to a state of nature, lands that had long been subjected to the plough, and which had afforded the means of support to a moral, happy, and contented population; it has converted whole glens and districts, once the abode of a brave, vigorous, and independent race of men, into scenes of desolation; it has torn up families which seemed rooted, like Alpine plants, in the soil of their elevated region, and which, from their habits and principles, appeared to be its original possessors, as well as its natural occupiers,—and forced them thence, pennyless and unskilful, to seek a refuge in manufacturing towns, or, in a state of helpless despair, to betake themselves to the wilds of a far distant land. The spirit of speculation has invaded those mountains which no foreign enemy could penetrate, and expelled a brave people whom no warlike intruder could subdue.

I shall now briefly advert to the circumstances which have led to the system of managing Highland estates, recently adopted by many proprietors, adding a few observations on the manner in which it has been carried into effect, and on its certain or probable consequences, as these affect the permanent prosperity of the landlord, improve or deteriorate the character and condition of the people, and influence their loyalty to the king, respect for the laws, and attachment to the higher orders.

A striking feature in the revolutionized Highland character is, the comparative indifference of the people towards chiefs and landlords. Formerly, their respect and attachment to their chiefs formed one of the most remarkable traits in their character; and such, indeed, were their reverence and affection for their patriarchal superiors, that, to swear by the hand of their chief, was a confirmation of an averment; and "May my chief have the ascendant," was a common expression of surprise.

[Martin says, "The islanders have a great respect for their chiefs and heads of tribes, and they conclude grace after every meal, with a petition to God for their welfare and prosperity. Neither will they, as far as in them lies, suffer them to sink under any misfortune, but, in case of decay of estate, make a voluntary contribution in their behalf, as a common duty to support the credit of their families."]

It is remarkable how little this kindly disposition of the people was, for many years after the abolition of the hereditary jurisdictions, influenced or impaired by an act which deprived the chiefs of their power, and released the clans from all compulsive obedience to these patriarchal rulers. Notwithstanding this, they still performed their services as before, and admitted the arbitration of their chiefs, when they had no more power or authority over them, than gentlemen of landed property in England or Ireland possess over their tenants.

When a chief, his son, or friends, wished to raise a regiment, company, or smaller number of men, to entitle him to the notice of government, the appeal was seldom made in vain. The same attachment was even displayed towards those whose estates were confiscated to government, and who, as outlaws from their country, became the objects of that mixture of compassion and respect which generous minds accord to the victims of principle. The rights of their chiefs and landlords, in these unhappy circumstances, they regarded as unalienable, unless forfeited by some vice or folly. The victims of law were not merely respected as chiefs, but revered as martyrs, and those to whom self-denial was at all times familiar, became more rigidly abstemious in their habits, that they might, with one hand, pay the rent of the forfeited land to the Crown, [See Appendix, W.] and with the other supply the necessities of their exiled chiefs; while the young men, the sons of their faithful and generous tenantry, were ready with their personal services to forward the welfare, and procure military rank and commissions for the sons of the unfortunate individuals who had lost their estates. [It will be seen in the Appendix, that, in many cases, the tenants on the forfeited estates remitted to their attainted landlords, when in exile, the rents which they formerly paid them, government, at the same time, receiving the full rents of the new leases. This generosity was exhibited on many other occasions, when the objects of their affection and respect required assistance. In the year 1757, Colonel Fraser, the son of Lord Lovat, without an acre of land, found himself, in a few weeks, at the head of nearly 800 men from his father's estate, (then forfeited,) and the estates of the gentlemen of the clan. About the same period, and previously, numerous detachments of young men were sent to the Scotch Brigade in Holland, to procure commissions for the gentlemen who had lost their fortunes. In the year 1777, Lord Macleod, eldest son of the Earl of Cromarty, (attainted in 1746), found his influence as effective as when his family were in full possession of their estate and honours. By the support of the Mackenzies, and other gentlemen of his clan, 900 Highlanders were embodied under his command, although he was personally unknown to the greater part of them, having been thirty years in exile. Besides these 900, there were 870 Highlanders raised for his regiment in different parts of the North. (The following is one of many existing proofs of permanent respect and attachment, testified by the Highlanders to their landlords. A gentleman possessing a considerable Highland property, and descended from a warlike and honourable line of ancestors, long held in respect by the Highlanders, fell into difficulties some years ago. In this state, he was the more sensible of his misfortune as his estate was very improvable. In fact, he attempted some improvements, but employed more labourers than he could easily afford to pay. But, notwithstanding the prospect of irregular payments, such was the attachment of the people to the representative of a respectable house, that they were ready at his call, and often left the employment of others, who paid regularly, to carry on his operations. To this may be added a circumstance, which will appear the more marked, to such as understand the character of the Highlanders, and know how deeply they feel any neglect in returning civility on the part of their superiors. If a gentleman pass a countryman without returning his salute, it furnishes matter of observation to a whole district. The gentleman now in question, educated in the South, and ignorant of the language and character of the people, and of their peculiar way of thinking, paid so little regard to their feelings, that although a countryman pulled off his bonnet almost as soon as he appeared in sight, the respectful salute generally passed unnoticed: yet this was overlooked in remembrance of his family, in the same manner that generous minds extend to the children the gratitude due to the parents.) In the year 1776, the late Lochiel was a lieutenant in the 30th regiment, having returned from France after his father's death, and obtained a commission. This lieutenancy was his only fortune after the forfeiture of his estate. The followers of his father's family raised 120 men to obtain for him a company in the 71st regiment. Macpherson of Cluny, also without a shilling, raised 140 men, for which he was appointed major to the 71st, and thus secured an independency till his family estate was restored in 1783. It is unnecessary to give more instances of this disposition, which formed so distinguished a trait in the character of the Highlanders of the last generation.]

It cannot be doubted, that, by condescension and kindness, this feeling might have been perpetuated, and that the Highland proprietors, without sacrificing any real advantage, would have found in the voluntary attachment of their tenants, a grateful substitute for the loyal obedience of their clans. [See Article Macleod's Highlanders, Second Volume.] Amid the gradual changes and improvements of the age, might not the recollections and most approved virtues and traits of chivalrous times have been retained, along with something of the poetry of the Highland character in the country of Ossian? And if unable to vie with their Southern neighbours in luxury or splendour, might not gentlemen have possessed in their mountains a more honourable distinction,—that of commanding respect without the aid of wealth, by making a grateful people happy, and thus uniting true dignity with humanity? This many gentlemen have accomplished, and in the full enjoyment of the confidence, fidelity, and gratitude of a happy and prosperous' tenantry, are now supporting a manly and honourable independence, while others have descended from their enviable eminence for an immediate or prospective addition to their rent-rolls,—an addition which the short respite or delay, so necessary in all improvements and considerable changes, would have enabled their ancient adherents to have contributed. [Most of the evils which press upon the present age, and which lately desolated Europe, have arisen from the very cause, which has produced such' violent changes among the mountains of Scotland; namely, an impatience to obtain too soon, and without due preparation, the advantages that were contemplated, and, from an attempt to accomplish at once, what no human power can effect without the slow but certain aid of time. As an instance of the result of the modern method of management, in hurrying on improvements, without regard to the sacrifice of the happiness of others, contrasted with the effects of improving with moderation and as time and circumstances admitted, I shall state the results of the opposite lines of conduct followed by two Highland proprietors.

One of these gentlemen obtained possession of his father's estate, and employed an agent to arrange the farms on a new plan. The first principle was to consider his lands as an article of commerce, to be disposed of to the highest bidder. The old tenants were accordingly removed. New ones offered, and rents, great beyond all precedent, were promised. Two rents were paid; the third was deficient nearly one half, and the fourth failed entirely, or was paid by the sale of the tenant's stock. Fresh tenants were then to be procured. This was not so easy, as no abatement was to be given: hence, a considerable proportion of the estate remained in the proprietor's hands. After the second year, however, the whole farms were again let, but another failure succeeded. The same process was again gone through, and with similar results, to the great discredit of the farms, as few would again attempt to settle, without a great reduction of rent, where so many had failed. But, in all those difficulties, there was no diminution in the landlord's expenses. Indeed, they were greatly extended by fresh speculations and dreams of increased income. Without detailing the whole process, I shall only add, that his creditors have done with the estate what he did with the farms—offered it to the highest bidder.

The other gentleman acted differently. When he succeeded his father, he raised his rents according to the increased value of produce. This continuing to rise, he showed his people, that as a boll of grain, a cow or sheep, obtained one or two hundred per cent. higher price than formerly, it was but just that they should pay rent in proportion. In this they cheerfully acquiesced, while they followed his directions and example in improving their land. He has not removed a tenant. In cases where he thought them too crowded, he, on the decease of a tenant, made a division of his land amongst the others. This was the only alteration as far as regarded the removal of the ancient inhabitants, who are contented and prosperous, paying adequate rents so regularly to their landlord, that he has now saved money sufficient to purchase a lot of his neighbour's estate; and he has also the happiness of believing, that no emissary sowing the seeds of sedition against the king and government, or of disaffection to the established church, will find countenance, or meet with hearers or converts among his tenantry, whose easy circumstances render them loyal, and proof against all the arts of the turbulent and factious, whether directed against the king, the church, or their immediate superiors.]

By many proprietors, no more attention has been shown to the feelings of the descendants of their fathers' clansmen, than if the connection between the families of the superiors and the tenantry had commenced but yesterday. By others, again, the people have been preserved entire, the consequence of which has been, that they have lost nothing of their moral habits, retain much of the honourable feelings of former times, and are improving in industry and agricultural knowledge; these kind and considerate landlords, having commenced with the improvement of the people as the best and most permanent foundation for the improvement of their lands, instead of following the new system, which seems to consider the population of a glen or district in the same light as the flocks that range the hills, to be kept in their habitations so long as they are thought profitable, and when it is believed that they have ceased to be so, to be ejected to make room for strangers. [See Appendix, X.] But those whose families and predecessors had remained for ages, on a particular spot, considered themselves entitled to be preferred to strangers, when they offered equally high rents for their lands. Men of supposed skill and capital were, however, invited to bid against them; and these, by flattering representations of their own ability to improve the property, and by holding out the prejudices, indolence, and poverty of the old tenantry, as rendering them incapable of carrying on improvements, or paying adequate rents, frequently obtained the preference. In many cases even secret offers have been called for, and received, the highest constituting the best claim; [Nothing, in the policy pursued in the management of Highland estates, has been more productive of evil than this custom, introduced along with the new improvements, of letting farms by secret offers. It has generated jealousy, hatred, and distrust, setting brother against brother, friend against friend ; and, wherever it has prevailed on large estates, has raised such a ferment in the country as will require years to allay. Sir George Mackenzie, in his Report of the County of Ross, with reference to this manner of letting farms, thus feelingly expresses himself: "No exaggerated picture of distress can be drawn to convey to the feeling mind the horrible consequences of such conduct as has been mentioned, towards a numerous tenantry. Whatever difference of opinion may exist respecting the necessity of reducing the numbers of occupiers of land in the Highlands, there can exist but one on conduct such as has been described,—that it is cruelly unjust and dishonourable, especially if, as too often happens, the old tenants are falsely informed of offers having been made. Such a deception is so mean, that its having been ever practised, is enough to bring indelible disgrace on us all." Certainly such proceedings must be repugnant to every honourable and enlightened mind. But the disgrace attaches only to those who practise such infamous deceptions. There are many honourable men in the Highlands, who wish for nothing but a fair and honest value for their lands, and would as soon take the money out of their tenants' pockets as act in this manner.] and notwithstanding the examples exhibited by those true patriots, who, by giving time and encouragement, showed at once the capability of their lands and of their tenants, yet, to one of these strangers, or to one of their own richer or more speculating countrymen, were surrendered the lands of a whole valley, peopled, perhaps, by a hundred families. An indifference, if not an aversion, to the families of the landlords who acted in this manner, has too frequently been the natural result; and, in many places, the Highland proprietors, from being the objects of greater veneration with the people than those of any other part of the kingdom, perhaps of Europe, have entirely lost their affections and fidelity. But while many have thus forfeited that honourable influence, (and what influence can be more honourable than that which springs from gratitude and a voluntary affectionate obedience?) which their predecessors enjoyed to such a degree, that to this day the most affectionate blessings are poured out on their memory, as often as their names are mentioned; the system which has so materially contributed to this change, has not been followed by advantages in any way proportionate to the loss. On the contrary, the result has, in too many cases been, bankruptcy among tenants, diminution of honourable principles, and irregularity in the payment of rents, which, instead of improving, have embarrassed the condition of the landlord.

In some cases, these proceedings have been met by resistance on the part of the tenants, and occasioned serious tumults. [The leading circumstances of one of these tumults will be seen in the account of the military services of the 42d regiment. In the year 1792, a numerous body of tenantry, in the county of Ross, were removed on account of what was called an improved plan, in the advantages of which the people were to have no share. Their welfare, as in too many cases in the Highlands, formed no part of this plan. They were all ejected from their farms. It was some years before the result could be fully estimated, so far as regarded the welfare of the landlords. The ruin of the old occupiers was immediate. To the proprietors the same result, though more slowly produced, seems equally certain. In one district, improved in this merciless manner, the estates of five ancient families, who, for several centuries, had supported an honourable and respected name, are all ill possession of one individual, who, early in the late war, amassed a large fortune in a public department abroad. The original tenants were first dispossessed, and the lairds soon followed. May I not hazard a supposition, that, if these gentlemen had permitted their people to remain, and if they had followed the example of their ancestors, who preserved their estates for two, three, and four hundred years, they too might have kept possession, and bequeathed them to their posterity? The new proprietor has made great and extensive improvements. It is said, that he has laid out thirty thousand pounds on two of these estates. Some very judicious men think, that if the numerous old hardy and vigorous occupiers had been retained, and encouraged by the application of one-third of this sum, such effectual assistance, with their abstemious habits and personal labour, would have enabled them to execute the same improvements, and to pay as high rents as the present occupiers. To be sure their houses would have been small, and their establishments mean in comparison of those of the present tenants; but, to balance the mean appearance of their houses, they would have cost the landlord little beyond a small supply of wood. We should then have seen these districts peopled by a high-spirited independent peasantry, instead of miserable day-labourers and cottars, who are now dependent on the great farmer for their employment and daily bread, and who, sensible of their dependence, must cringe to those by offending whom, they would deprive themselves of the means of subsistence. When no tie of mutual attachment exists, as in former days, the modern one is easily broken. A look that may be construed into insolence is a sufficient cause of dismissal. Can we expect high-spirited chivalrous soldiers, preferring death to defeat and disgrace, from such a population, and such habits as these?]

In most instances, however, the latter have submitted with patient resignation to their lot; and, by their manner of bearing this treatment, showed how little they deserved it. But their character has changed with their situations. The evil is extending, and the tenants of kind and patriotic landlords seem to be, in no small degree, affected by the gloom and despondency of those who complain of harsh treatment, and who, neglected and repulsed by their natural protectors, while their feelings and attachment were still strong, have, in too many instances, sought consolation in the doctrines of ignorant and fanatical spiritual guides, capable of producing no solid or beneficial impression on the ardent minds of those to whom their harangues and exhortations are generally addressed. The natural enthusiasm of the Highland character has, in many instances, been converted into a gloomy and morose fanaticism. Traditional history and native poetry, which reminded them of other times, are neglected. Theological disputes, of interminable duration, now occupy much of the time formerly devoted to poetical recitals, and social meetings. These circumstances have blunted their romantic feelings, and lessened their taste for the works of imagination. "Among the causes," says Dr Smith, "which make our ancient poems vanish so rapidly, poverty and the iron rod should in most places have a large share. From the baneful shades of these murderers of the Muse, the light of the song must fast retire. No other reason need be asked why the present Highlanders neglect so much the songs of their fathers. Once the humble but happy vassal sat at his ease at the foot of his gray rock, or green tree. Few were his wants, and fewer still his cares, for he beheld his herds sporting round him on his then unmeasured mountains. He hummed the careless song, and tuned the harp of joy, while his soul in silence blessed his chieftain. Now I was going to draw the comparison,—Sed Cynthius aurem vellit, et admonuit." [See Report of the County of Argyle, drawn up for the Board of Agriculture.]

In the same manner, and from the same cause, their taste for music, dancing, and all kinds of social amusement, has been chilled. Their evening meetings are now seldom held, and when they do occur, instead of being enlivened with the tale, the poem, or the song, they are too frequently exasperated with political or religious discussions, or with complaints against their superiors, and the established clergy, which have altogether exerted a baneful instead of a salutary influence on their general manners, as well as on that natural civility, which, in the last age, never permitted a Highlander to pass any person of respectable appearance without a salute, or some civil observation, whereas at present, so great is the change of manners, that instead of the cordial greetings of former times, a Highlander will frequently pass his immediate superior without the slightest notice. Even the aspect of the Highlander, his air, and his carriage, have undergone a marked change. [The difference in the personal appearance of the people is remarkable, and forms an interesting subject for a philosophic inquiry. The causes of the change in character and manners are evident, but those which have affected personal appearance are not equally clear. Persons who remember the remains of the chivalrous race, whose character I have attempted to delineate, will not now discover any of those martial patriarchal figures, remarkable for an erect independent air, an ease of manners, and fluency of language and expression, rarely to be found among any peasantry. Even in my own time I remember many, such as I now describe, who, with kindly dispositions and warm attachment to my family and forefathers, never failed, when I met them, to remind me of their honourable character and name. In the districts where these persons lived, we now see only plain homespun folks. To what can this change be attributed? .Not surely to the "progress of improvement"-— seeing that their personal appearance is as much deteriorated as their condition. Many observe, and with great reason, that the tacksmen and second order of gentry are more changed than the lower orders, and are every way different from the gentlemen tacksmen of former times.] Formerly the bonnet was worn with a gentle inclination over the left or right eyebrow, and the plaid was thrown over the left shoulder (the right arm being exposed, and at full liberty) with a careless air, giving an appearance of ease not distant from grace, while the philibeg gave a freedom to the limbs, and showed them to advantage. At present, as the Highland dress is almost exclusively confined to the lower orders, a degree of vulgarity is attached to it, which makes it unfashionable in the eyes of young men, who awkwardly imitate the gentry, and their Southern neighbours, and in their slouched hats and misshapen pantaloons offer a most unseemly contrast to the airy garb and martial appearance of their forefathers.

Along the line of the Grampians, the Gaelic has nearly kept its ground, and is, to this day, spoken in the same districts to which it was limited, after it had ceased to be the prevailing language of Scotland seven hundred years ago. But, although it is universally spoken in common discourse, the Gaelic of the counties of Dumbarton, Stirling, and Perth, and, in short, of all the Highlands bordering on the Lowlands, is corrupted by a considerable admixture of English words, ill chosen and ill applied. The chief causes of this corruption are the practice, universal in schools, of teaching children to read English, the more general intercourse with the South, which has lately prevailed, and the introduction of many articles of refinement and luxury, unknown when the Gaelic was in its original purity. Successful attempts have recently been made to methodize the structure of the language, to digest the rules of its composition, and, alongst with the collection of ancient works, to give the means of reading and understanding them by a grammar and dictionary. But if the process continues, which has for some time been going forward, the Gaelic, it is to be feared, will gradually become a dead language. In the remote glens and mountains it might have been preserved for ages, as an interesting monument of a most ancient and original language, retaining its peculiar modes and forms of expression unaffected by the progress of time, the great innovator in other spoken languages: but the system of modern Highland improvement, marked by an aversion, inveterate as it seems unaccountable and causeless, to the ancient inhabitants, their customs, language, and garb, is now extending to the most distant corri and glen, and will probably root out the language of the country, together with a great proportion of the people who speak it. [Many of the common people begin to despise their native language, as they see gentlemen endeavouring to prevent their children from acquiring the knowledge of the Gaelic, which has been spoken in their native country for a time beyond the reach of record and even tradition. In order that their children may not hear spoken the language of their forefathers, from a dread of their acquiring the accent, they employ Lowland servants, forgetting that people who know not a word of the Gaelic, invariably catch the accent, merely from the ear being accustomed to the sound. Landlords are thus deprived of the power of holding that free and confidential communication with their tenants, which is necessary to acquire a knowledge of their character, dispositions, and talents; and being compelled to trust to interpreters, they are led into much misconception in regard to their tenants, and these again into frequent misapprehension and prejudiced notions of the character and turn of thinking of their landlord.]

I have already mentioned, that the Highlanders, though Presbyterians, did not, in former times, rigidly adhere to the tenets of that church. For several ages after the Re-formation, they evinced a strong predilection to the Episcopalian form of worship. In many parishes, the Presbyterian clergy were not established till the reigns of George I and II.; but whether of the Church of England or of Scotland, the people retained a portion of their ancient superstitions. With these superstitions was blended a strong sentiment of piety, which made them regular attendants on divine worship and the ordinances of religion, at the expense of much bodily fatigue and personal inconvenience. [In the parish where I passed my early years, the people travelled six, seven, and twelve miles to church, and returned the same evening every Sunday in summer, and frequently in winter. A chapel of ease and an assistant clergyman are now established, and the people have not to travel so far. I do not give this as a singular instance; the case was the same in all extensive parishes, and continues to be so where no chapel of ease is established.] Guided by the sublime and simple truths of Christianity, they were strangers to the very existence of the sects that have branched off from the national church. In this respect, their character and habits have undergone a considerable alteration since they began to be visited by itinerant missionaries, and since the gloom spread over their minds has tended to depress their spirit. The missionaries, indeed, after having ventured within the barrier of the Grampians, found a harvest which they little expected, and amongst the ignorant and unhappy, made numerous proselytes to their opinions. These converts losing, by their recent civilization—as the changes which have taken place in their opinions are called— a great portion of their belief in fairies, ghosts, and the second sight, though retaining their appetite for strong impressions, have readily supplied the void with the visions and inspirations of the "new light," [Thus have been extirpated the innocent, attractive, and often sublime superstitions of the Highlanders—superstitions which inculcated no relentless intolerance, nor impiously dealt out perdition and Divine wrath against rival sects—superstitions which taught men to believe, that a dishonourable act attached disgrace to a whole kindred and district, and that murder, treachery, oppression. and all kinds of wickedness, would not only be punished in the person of the transgressor himself, but would be visited on future generations. When the Highlander imagined that he saw the ghost of his father frowning upon him from the skirts of the passing clouds, or that he heard his voice in the howlings of the midnight tempest, or when he found his imagination awed by the recital of fairy tales of ghosts, and visions of the second sight, his heart was subdued; and when he believed that his misdeeds would be visited on his succeeding generations, who would also be rewarded and prosper in consequence of his good actions, he would either be powerfully restrained or encouraged. When so much—perhaps too much—has been done to destroy these feelings, it were well that some pains were taken to substitute good principles in their room. But I fear that many of the new teachers think more of implicit faith in their own particular doctrines, than of good works in their disciples ; and that morals are in general left to the teaching and control of the laws. I trust I shall not be thought too partial to the ancient and innocent superstitions of my countrymen, if I wish that the restraints on vice were more numerous than the laws afford; and confess my belief, that the fear of a ghost is as honourable and legitimate a check as the fear of the gallows, and the thoughts of bringing dishonour on a man's country, name and kindred, fully as respectable as the fear of Bridewell, Botany Bay, or the executioner's whip.] and, in this mystic lore, have shown themselves such adepts, as even to astonish their new instructors. Indeed, the latter have, in many cases, been far outdone by the wild enthusiasm and romantic fancy of those disciples whose minds they had first agitated. The ardour of the Highland character remains; it has only taken another and more dangerous direction, and, when driven from poetical recitals, superstitious traditions, and chivalrous adventures, has found a vent in religious ravings, and in contests with rival sects. These enthusiastic notions are observed to be most fervent amongst young women. A few years ago, an unfortunate girl in Breadalbane became so bewildered in her imagination by the picture drawn of the punishment of unbelievers, that she destroyed herself in a fit of desperation; a rare, and, till lately, the only instance of this crime in the Highlands.

The powerful and gloomy impressions which the doctrines of some of these teachers have made, are evidently owing to an alteration in the state of their proselytes, whose strong feelings, irritated by many causes, seek refuge and consolation in powerful emotions. It is well known, that no itinerant preacher ever gained a footing among the Highlanders, till recent changes in their situation and circumstance paved the way for fanaticism. Some of these new teachers are no doubt, zealous and conscientious men, but others again are rash, illiterate, ignorant of human nature, and vulgar very incapable of filling the situation they have assumed and peculiarly unqualified for the instruction of a people, sensitive and imaginative, devout in their habits of thinking, and blameless in their general conduct. The same force o language and terrors of denunciation, which are barely adequate to produce compunction in the mind of the reckless and godless reprobate, are sufficient to plunge in utter despondency, a tender conscience, and a mind accustomed to regard the doctrines of religion with deep and mysterious awe. Some of these religious reformers, as they wish to be considered, intermix their spiritual instructions with reflections on the incapacity and negligence of the clergymen of the established church, and on the conduct of landlords, whom they compare to the taskmasters of Egypt: And it is an important fact, that, wherever the people are rendered contented and happy in their external circumstances, by the judicious and humane treatment of their landlords, and wherever they are satisfied with the parish minister in the discharge of his pastoral duties, no itinerant preacher has ever been able to obtain a footing, and the people retain much of their original manners, devoutly and regularly attending the parish church. [The inhabitants of a border strath (Strathbrane in the parish of Little Dunkeld, the property of Sir George Stewart of Grandtully, Bart.), in the Highlands of Perthshire were, about thirty years ago, considered the most degenerate and worst principled race in the country. Less regular in their attendance on church, litigious, almost the only smugglers in the country, horse-dealers (or horse-coupers, as they are called in Scotland), and, as was said, giving employment to more than one lawyer in the neighbouring town of Dunkeld; these people have, for many years, been blessed with a humane and indulgent landlord, and a conscientious, able, and zealous clergyman, (the late Dr Irvine.) The consequences have been striking and instructive. While the population in many other parts of the country are deteriorated in character, these are improving in morals, industry, and prosperity. Regular in their attendance on church, they have lost their litigious disposition, the minister having ever been zealous and successful in deciding and composing their differences. They are clearing and improving their lands, paying their rents regularly, and are little addicted to smuggling. Itinerant preachers have in vain attempted to show themselves in this populous thriving district, which contains 875 inhabitants, who support themselves in this exemplary manner; on farms, too, the smallness of which might seem incredible to those statistical economists who reason on theory and are ignorant of the country, the capability of the natives, or their exertions when thus kindly treated by a patriotic landlord.]

While these seem to be the effects of religion and external circumstances combined, the differences and mutual recriminations which have taken place between the established church and the sects which have branched off from it, are apparently tending to the most deplorable results in the Highlands, where the gospel, as explained by their clergy, was formerly believed with the most implicit faith; but now, that they see new preachers come among them, and hear the doctrines and lessons of the regular clergy derided, and described as unchristian and unsound, and that, as sometimes happens, the parish minister retorts on the intruders, they know not what or whom to believe, and there are many instances of the doubt thus thrown on religious doctrines, ending in loss of all respect for, or belief in, any religion whatever. [Of these lamentable consequences of ignorant zeal, and unchristian disputations, there are many instances; and many persons whom I knew to have been once of religious habits, regular and exemplary in their attendance at church, were some years ago induced to quit the established clergyman, and to follow the dissenters; but soon leaving them also, and apparently dissatisfied with both churches, they have given up all attendance on Divine Service, and renounced even the semblance of religion.]

Yet though many Highlanders are thus changed, and have lost much of their taste for the poetry and romantic amusements of their ancestors, though their attachment to superiors has decayed, and the kindness, urbanity, and respect with which all strangers were treated, have considerably abated,—notwithstanding all these, and several other changes for the worse, they still retain the inestimable virtues of integrity and charity; [It is a principle among the Highlanders never to allow poor and distressed persons to apply in vain, or to pass their door without affording them some charitable assistance. This disposition is so well known, that the country bordering on the Lowlands is overwhelmed with shoals of beggars; an evil which has increased since the societies for the suppression of mendicity were established in the South. This is a heavy charge on the benevolence of the people, and calls for the prompt interference of the landlords. If they would establish checks in the great passes and entrances into the country, to stop those sturdy beggars and strangers, who are so numerous, while the native beggars are so few, the people would easily support their own poor without any assistance whatever.

Travelling some years ago through a high and distant glen, I saw a poor man, with a wife and four children, resting themselves by the road-side. Perceiving, by their appearance, that they were not of the country, I inquired whence they came. The man answered, from West Lothian. I expressed my surprise how he would leave so fine and fertile a country, and come to these wild glens. "In that fine country," answered the man, "they give me the cheek of the door, and hound the constables after me; in this poor country, as you, Sir, call it, they give me and my little ones the fire-side, with a share of what they have."] their morality is sufficiently proved by the records of the courts of justice; [See Appendix.] their liberality to the poor, and the independent spirit of the poor themselves, are likewise sufficiently evinced by the trifling and almost nominal amount of the public funds for their relief; and their conduct in the field, and their general qualities of firmness, spirit, and courage, will appear in the subsequent annals.


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