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Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland
The Physiological Distinctions in the Conditions of the Scottish Peasantry


By James Tait, Edinburgh
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In Scotland, till a comparatively recent period, there were three distinct races of men inhabiting different parts of the country, which could be clearly defined. The Lowlands, except Caithness, were inhabited by that mixed race to which the name of Anglo-Saxon is generally applied. This is an energetic race, sprung from a mixture of the bold and hardy natives which have at different times invaded the country, and settled among its original inhabitants. These were the Goths, the Romans, the Gauls or Celts, the Saxons, the Danes, the Normans, and the Norsemen. In Galloway in the south, and in the north-east from Forfar to Banff, there was probably a larger admixture than elsewhere of the old Pictish element. The Highlands were occupied by a purely Celtic race, retaining their ancient language, and showing in their configuration and general character the peculiarities of the Celt. In the islands of the north, in Caithness, and in the fishing villages as far south as Newhaven, the majority of the inhabitants are of purely Norse descent, but they have adopted the language and generally the customs of the country in which they live. Till the year 1820 these were the three races of men in Scotland, but during that year began an invasion or immigration of Irish, which slowly increased, till it attained large dimensions about 1840, when the making of railways began, and now in many towns the Irish are from five to fifteen per cent. of the whole population. If we include children born to Irish parents in this country, there is probably thirty per cent. in some towns of Irish extraction. The immigration of such a body of labourers of the lowest class, with untidy habits, and with scarcely any education, has exerted a prejudicial influence especially in the west. The great bulk of the Irish have not improved by contiguity with the native Scots, but the earlier inhabitants have become deteriorated by associating with their new neighbours.

Understanding the term peasant as denoting a countryman, a rustic, or one whose occupation is rural labour, the class, in many parts of Scotland, differs materially in physiological condition, as well as in other respects, from its state in past times. Three hundred years ago the peasantry in the south of Scotland, especially on the great estates of the church, consisted of several distinct grades. One class, known as bondsmen or serfs, occupied a position little superior to the oxen of which they had charge, and were often transferred, along with other stock on the land, from one proprietor to another. Besides the hereditary bondsmen, over whom the feudal lords of the manor exercised large powers of compulsory servitude, there were other classes who might properly be designated peasants. In particular, there were the cottars, usually collected in hamlets, and corresponding in position to the crofters of modern times. Each cottar occupied from one to nine acres of land, the rent of which varied from one to six shillings yearly, with services not exceeding nine days' labour. There was another grade called husbandmen, of whom there were many on the lands of Kelso Abbey, and who held from the Abbey, by a yearly tenure, a definite quantity of land called a husbandland, estimated at 26 Scotch or 32 English acres, "where scythe and plough may gang." Every tenant of a husbandland kept two oxen, and six of them united to work the common plough, a ponderous machine drawn by a team of twelve oxen. The husbandmen were bound to keep good neighbourhood, and were specially compelled to furnish the requisite pair of oxen to work the common plough. In the barony of Bowden the monks of Kelso had twenty-eight husbandmen, each of whom paid 6s. 8d. of money rent, besides considerable services in harvest and sheep-shearing, in carrying peats and carting wool, and fetching the abbot's commodities from Berwick. Still another class who might be included among the peasantry, were the yeomen or "bonnet-lairds," who held their land in perpetuity, paying only a moderate quit-rent, besides giving certain services in ploughing and harvest.

Till the beginning of the eighteenth century these classes of peasantry continued practically unchanged; and their disappearance was so gradual that many of them continued during part of the present century. Distinguished by their frugal habits and simple manners, but great sincerity and earnestness in the discharge of life's duties, their departure is viewed by many with regret:—

"That grey-haired race is gone of look sublime,
Calm in demeanour, courteous and sincere;
Yet stern when duty called them, as their clime,
When it flings off the autumnal foliage sere,
And shakes the shuddering woods with solemn voice severe."

About the Scottish rural life of the last century there was a certain patriarchal simplicity which still throws around it a degree of fascination. The farm-house was usually a plain, substantial edifice, which occupied one side of a quadrangle, in which the young cattle were folded, the other three sides being enclosed and sheltered by the barns, stables, and other offices. A kitchen garden, stocked with the common pot herbs then in use, and sometimes with a few fruit trees, extended on one side, sheltered perhaps by a hedge of bourtree or alder, and often skirted by a few aged forest trees, while the low thatched dwellings of the hinds and cottars stood at a little distance, each with its small cabbage garden or kail-yard, and its stack of peat or turf fuel in front. The master's household, exclusive of his own family, would consist of six or seven unmarried male and female servants. Besides the married farm-servants there were cottars, who were rather a sort of farm-retainers than cottars, and in lieu of rent gave their service to the master in hay time and harvest, and at other stated periods. In remote districts, the farmer with his work-people formed a little independent community, deriving their subsistence almost exclusively from the farm, maintaining themselves with much frugality, and always industriously occupied, but never oppressed with work. The connection between master and servant had more of a patriarchal and less of a commercial character than it has now. Masters took a parental charge of servants, and the feeling was reciprocated. The master was up first in the morning, consulting on the business of the day, and he was seldom from home. They sat together, ate together, worked together; and when the labours of the day were over, they conversed familiarly together. The busy seasons were spring and autumn; and then there was an air of hearty joyousness which made the work easy. Field sports and athletic exercises were common in winter; and in the long evenings there were light occupations which gave occasion for innocent hilarity. There were two special occasions of joyous festivity— the kirn at the close of the harvest, and the new year—in both of which all the little community heartily joined.

With much that is admirable in the social arrangements thus described, there was general ignorance and disregard of the physiological laws relating to health and longevity. The situation of the farm-house contiguous to the cattle courts was about the worst possible, while the rooms both in the farm-house and the cottages, were small, dark, and badly ventilated. Land was undrained, stagnant marshes were abundant, garbage of all kinds was allowed to accumulate in front of the house; and, in adverse seasons, which were not few, there was scarcity which at times developed into famine. Ague and fever prevailed extensively, and small-pox periodically carried off thousands of victims. Instead of seeking to ascertain and remove the physical causes of these evils, our worthy ancestors regarded them as inevitable inflictions to which patient submission was a duty. It has been pointed out, for example, that the Rev. Ebenezer Erskine of Portmoak lamented that his wife bore several children while in precarious health, that in the year 1713 three of his children died, that a fourth died in 1720, and that in 1723 a fifth was at the point of death but recovered. He regarded these bereavements as "severe trials" and "sore afflictions," to be endured with submission; but incidentally he remarks that the situation of the manse was "unwholesome." In our day prompt measures would have been taken to remove whatever was unwholesome about the manse, and to change its site altogether if necessary. As regards attention to physiological laws, great progress has been made, in which the peasantry have their full share. The drainage and better cultivation of land has been conducive to health ; and diseases once common are now rarely witnessed. Small-pox is rare, agues have ceased, fevers occur occasionally, but the causes and cures are so well known that their virulence is much abated. Even the climate has been improved by the better cultivation of land. It is known that one cubic foot of water, in the process of evaporation, deprives three millions of cubic feet of air of one degree of temperature; and an undrained field growing rushes has a permanent temperature from four to six degrees lower than an adjoining field drained and growing wheat. Besides these general improvements, much more attention is paid to the construction of healthy dwellings, by which many premature deaths are averted. In regard to food, it has been ascertained precisely what is wanted to maintain a healthy human frame. Carbon must be supplied to the lungs, and this is done by taking a certain quantity of starch or sugar into the stomach. The fat of the body must be maintained, and a certain proportion of fat must therefore mingle with the food. The muscles must be sustained, and this is done by introducing a certain proportion of glutinous or albuminous matter into the system. A quantity of mineral matter must be added so as to keep up the supply of flesh, blood, and bones. The necessary ingredients are included in the oatmeal and milk, which have always formed the staple food of the Scottish peasant; but it is all the better if to these can be added potatoes, eggs, and some proportion of animal food. In looking at the physiological distinctions in the condition of the Scottish peasantry, it will be necessary to describe their condition in relation to the processes necessary to build up and maintain in strength the physical frames of working men and women, and to the production and development of strong and healthy children. Nor will it be right to ignore the higher part of man's nature, for intellectual and moral excellence, as well as physical strength, conduce to superiority in the humbler as well as in the higher ranks of society. It will not be necessary to give any precise statement of physiological laws; it will be more useful to look at the condition of the Scottish peasantry in different districts, as regards their homes, their food, their general mode of living, pointing out what improvements have been made in their condition tending to the maintenance of strength and the prolongation of life, and then make any suggestions that may be useful, with a view to promote still farther progress.

In the south-east of Scotland, including the counties of Roxburgh, Berwick, and the Lothians, the small farmer and the bonnet-laird have disappeared, and the cottar, together with the tradesmen in villages, have become practically extinct; and there remain to represent the peasantry only the shepherds, the stewards, and the requisite number of ploughmen with their families. The best class consists of the shepherds, who are found among the Cheviots, the Lammermuirs, and the uplands of Selkirkshire, Dumfriesshire, Kirkcudbright, Wigtown, and Ayr. Morally, intellectually, and physically they are a superior race of men. In 1867, Mr. George Culley, one of the assistant commissioners on the employment of women and young persons in agriculture, wrote regarding the shepherds of the Cheviots:— "They are the finest set of men I ever came in contact with." The manner in which they are paid is chiefly in stock, that is, they have a flock of sheep called the shepherd's pack, numbering from 45 to 50, a cow's keep, 65 stones of oatmeal, a quantity of potatoes planted, and a free house. The value of these wages depends greatly on the price of wool and mutton, but cannot be taken at less on an average than 50 a-year. Often they have more than one cow, and the butter made by the careful housewives in these shepherds' houses on the Cheviots, redolent of green pastures and clear cold spring water, brings the highest price in the market. The shepherds have the sole charge of flocks pastured on stormy hills, and thus occupy a position of great trust and responsibility. They have a high repute for honesty and sagacity, and are often more careful than the master himself. The same family retains the herding from one generation to another. Probably nothing can be done to improve the physiological condition of these shepherds and their families. They have pure air, fairly commodious cottages, and abundance of meal, potatoes, milk, and eggs, with a proportion of animal food. At certain times of the year they have hard work, anxiety, and exposure, and at all times they are liable to get wet, though their strong boots and thick plaids offer a good defence against both wet and cold. At other times they have light work and a good deal of leisure, which is partly devoted to mental culture. They are a long lived race, and it has been observed that the parish of Kirknewton, at the east end of the Cheviots, has the lowest death-rate of any parish in England, but in old age they sometimes suffer from rheumatism. The self-reliance and ability of the shepherds are manifested in various ways, one of which is the maintenance and management of shows for the stock of shepherds and ploughmen.

The ploughmen of the eastern border counties resemble the shepherds, so far as regards house accommodation and payment in kind; but they have less responsibility and discretionary power, and life with them is monotonous and mechanical. In this district, as observed by Mr. George Culley, "the system of payment in kind receives its widest development." A married farm-servant receives only 5 in money, the rest of the wages consisting of a cottage rent free, the keep of a cow, carriage of fuel, potato ground, and certain allowances of oats or oatmeal, barley, and peas, In Perthshire the grain payments are reduced to an allowance of oatmeal, and, instead of a cow's keep, a Scotch pint of new milk is given daily, the money wage being increased to about 20. In Fife the same system prevails, and the change to the cow and the grain payments of the border counties takes place gradually from about the line of the Forth. Formerly cows, as part payment of ploughmen's wages, were common in West and Mid-Lothian, but now they are rare, if not quite extinct, in the former county, and in the northern or more populous part of the latter. It is not till we enter Haddingtonshire that we find the cow regularly established as part of the ploughman's wages.

Objections are raised against the whole system of payments in kind. On the one hand it is said that the ploughman is thereby placed at the mercy of a hard master, or an unscrupulous steward, that if the harvest be unpropitious he is paid with inferior grain, and that, having little money, the householder is compelled to barter his corn or meal for other commodities, and is not always able to sell it to the best advantage. Masters, on the other hand, complain that men are less easily pleased than formerly in respect of gains, and that both trouble and ill-feeling would be saved if the payments were made in money. It seems obvious, however, that payment in kind is best for the ploughman, but in the case of those with small households it might be so modified that less meal and more money could be given, and so the necessity for selling meal would be avoided. The advantages of the system are certainty of payment for the whole year both in health and in sickness, the absence of temptation to spend money, or to work overtime, as in piecework; a constant supply of good wholesome food at prime cost, including abundance of meal and milk, butter, cheese, vegetables, home-fed bacon, and fuel brought to the door free of charge. There are exceptions, doubtless, but as a rule those who are paid in kind are best off. The opinion of Mr. George Culley on this point is emphatic:—"The most comfortable houses, and the most contented labourers, are to be found in that part of my district in which the kind payment is most developed. No small part of these advantages I would assign to the cow. There is an absolute gain between the cost of the cow's keep to the farmer, and its value to the labourer, arising from the industry and attention of his wife. To attend to her household duties and her cow is sufficient employment for the farm-labourer's wife in the cow counties, and both are well attended to." Besides furnishing good food for the children and congenial occupation to the wife, the possession of a cow adds to a ploughman's sense of self-respect. There is pleasure in being the absolute owner of live stock, even though it be only a cow and a pig. Every member of a working man's family takes an interest in "our cow;" and there is always more or less hopefulness in the idea that the family gains may be increased by the produce of the cow. There is also a spirit of friendly emulation among working men who shall have the best cow, and make the most of her produce. It is also a direct inducement to economy and good management, so as to make out a good balance of profit. Agricultural societies recognise these principles, by including in the list of premiums a set of prizes for working men's cows and their produce. Another advantage consists in the business training and the mental occupation which some working men derive from the management of Cow Insurance Clubs. A good many of these exist in the counties of Haddington, Berwick, and Roxburgh, and the general arrangement is that by a payment of 8s. or 10s. a-year, 12 or thereby shall be obtained from the club on the death of a cow. In connection with the garden and potatoes in the field, also, there is pleasant occupation; and it is a source of honest pride to look on a tidy garden with a good crop of potatoes. It is to be regretted that fruit, even of the small and common kind, seldom forms any portion of a working man's crop. This may be owing in part to frequent flittings, which make it impossible for anyone to be sure that he will eat the gooseberries even though he plant the bushes; but the want of some gooseberry and currant bushes is a palpable defect. With the warm summer weather comes a desire for fruit, and if a corner of a working man's garden could be reserved for such a crop, there would be less likelihood of those garden depredations in which young people are prone to indulge. It is desirable that bees should be added to the live stock of working men. They would be a source of interesting occupation, and might yield a profit, while they would furnish many a lesson of diligent perseverance. The system as now existing includes many advantages of the croft system, without the disadvantages of squalid huts, insufficient occupation, and uncertain returns. Nor can it be said with truth that even female workers are over-taxed. In summer they must be early at work in the morning, but they are physically a splendid race, and their healthful and cheerful looks in the turnip or harvest field, with their substantial and suitable dress, present a favourable comparison with those of any other operatives in the kingdom. Medical evidence is overwhelming as to the absence of disease, and the usual complaints attendant on debility. Many of them are equally conspicuous as good wives and mothers.

House accommodation in the south and east of Scotland is generally good; on some estates it is excellent. The cottages are provided by land-owners, and are held by the farmer on the same terms as his own dwelling and other farm-buildings. In cottage building great progress has been made during the past fifty years, and in promoting this movement the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland has done its part. Impressed with a desire to improve the condition of the working classes, and anxious to remove the reproach which our southern neighbours had cast on the Scottish peasantry, of being deficient in habits of order and cleanliness, the Society proposed to give premiums, under certain regulations, to a limited number of parishes, for the best kept cottages and gardens. It soon appeared that the root of the matter had not been reached, and that, instead of offering premiums to cottagers for the best kept dwelling, the first step in the process should be to offer premiums to the proprietors who should build on their estates the most approved specimens of cottages, and afterwards to those who should improve existing houses. In the premium list of 1847, the Society offered its gold medal to " the proprietor in Scotland who shall have erected on his estate in 1847, 1848, and 1849 the most approved farm-steading, having reference to the accommodation of farm-servants." Gradually the efforts of the Society bore fruit, and in 1867 Mr. George Culley wrote:— "There is probably no district in Scotland where the improvements in cottage accommodation has made so much progress as in the south-eastern counties. I know no county in England where the average cottage accommodation is as good as in Berwickshire, a remark which would also apply to part of Roxburghshire and East Lothian."

In the south-west of Scotland the condition of the peasantry differs materially from that which has been described above. Shepherds, indeed, in the pastoral districts of Dumfriesshire are unsurpassed by rural labourers anywhere. They are possessed of great intelligence and integrity and self-reliance. Living retired among the hills, they have no opportunity of spending money, and the strictest economy is practised as a matter of necessity, though it becomes also a habit. They are generally paid in kind, having a pack of forty-five sheep, pasture and hay for a cow, an acre of land rent free, sixty stones of oatmeal, and a free house. The practice of paying in kind, however, is falling into disuse, which is matter for regret, as it will destroy that community of interest between employer and employed, which, apart from fidelity, is one of the best securities for faithful service; and it will reduce a most worthy class of men to the level of a married ploughman in the district, whose one object is to live from day to day, leaving to his children the same prospect of hopeless toil which has marked his own career. In Ayrshire, the shepherds have no pack of sheep, but have pasture and hay for two cows, ten bolls of meal, a cart-load of potatoes, fuel carted, a cottage and garden free, and from 16 to 18 in money. Farms are smaller than in the eastern counties, and not a few are worked with one pair of horses, in which case the labour is done by the farmer and his family, with occasional help from cottars. Agricultural labourers are paid partly in money, partly in kind, including ten bolls of oatmeal, a ton of potatoes, or the use of land to grow them, coal or peat, food in harvest, and a cottage with a small garden rent free; but there is rarely allowed the privilege of keeping a cow or even a pig, on the ground that this affords inducements to little acts of peculation. On some farms the servants, male and female, are boarded in the kitchen, in which case they have for dinner butcher meat or bacon with vegetables. Day labourers rarely taste animal food. Their dinner consists generally of bread and cheese and tea; their supper of porridge or potatoes, with such milk as they can obtain. On some estates good houses have been provided, which are not in all cases appreciated, and it is a common practice to put as many beds as possible into the kitchen, because it is alleged to be unsafe in such a moist climate to sleep in a room without a fire. In Dumfriesshire, and in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, the wives of cottars often work in the fields, and, in general, make bad housekeepers. Food is wasted, because it is badly cooked; and even when the family earnings are considerable, there is little comfort owing to defective arrangements. In Wigtownshire payments are generally made in kind, but wages are lower than in counties further east, because of the influx of Irish labourers, and the consequent superabundance of workers.

In the counties of Ayr, Renfrew, and Lanark the condition of the peasantry is anything but satisfactory. Part of the work is done by gangs, locally called "squads," consisting chiefly of the wives and daughters of Irishmen, who in large numbers have settled in the district. A good deal of work is done also by the wives of miners, who, though earning high wages, find it necessary to supplement them, as their style of living is extravagant. House accommodation is poor, few cottages having more than one room, into which are crowded husband, wife, and perhaps seven or eight children. Morally and intellectually, the farm labourers of Ayrshire have deteriorated. An adverse influence has been exerted by the intermixture of Irish immigrants, who have gradually overspread the county. The mode of living has also changed. Formerly the agricultural labourer was contented with oatmeal porridge and potatoes, with milk, for his daily food, but now tea and wheaten bread form a large part of his diet, which increase expenditure, while really less conducive to vigour. Tea, tobacco, and whisky consume a large portion of the wages; and generally the labourer spends all his earnings, looking to the poor-rate as a last resource. Nor do the wives as a rule make the most of the household income; and farmers have been known to part with good servants because they had got into difficulties through the wife's extravagance. In the counties of Renfrew and Lanark the population is very mixed, both Highlanders and Irish having largely intermingled with the original inhabitants. The farms are generally small, and the tenant is little higher in the social scale than the labourer. Often the farmer or his son will hold the plough, while the wife and daughters, with the aid of perhaps one servant, will do the housework, and take charge of perhaps twenty cows. The servants, male and female, are boarded in the farm-kitchen, and the whole household eats at the same table. Married men and their families have porridge and milk for breakfast; oat-cake or other bread, with butter and cheese, for dinner; and potatoes with salt for supper. It is not uncommon for a farmer's son to become a ploughman, or for a ploughman to get a farm, but often the farmer has less ready money than his servant. The farmer and his household are compelled to work hard, with little leisure, and not much comfort beyond the . sense of comparative independence.

The "kitchen system," as it is called, which exists largely in the counties of Lanark and Renfrew, is found also in the counties of Aberdeen and Banff. It is undoubtedly preferable to the bothy system, which prevails in the counties of Perth, Fife, Forfar, and Kincardine. Admitting that in some instances men are well cared for in bothies, this is not always the case; and, in any circumstances, it is a state of matters only to be tolerated because it is necessary. Without discussing the question whether or not it tends to immorality, we may say it is an unnatural way of living, and the only right plan is for men and women to have facilities for marriage at a proper age. In this respect the kitchen system is also defective, and the cottage system alone is defensible. The kitchen system can exist only where a farmer is willing to associate with his work-people, and dine at the same table. But when farms increase in size, and the tenant rises in the social scale, he objects to mingle with his servants, and the ladies of the household will not endure the inconvenience caused by a troop of dirty field-workers invading the kitchen three times a-day. It is said, also, to have become unworkable, for the additional reasons that the men are less easily pleased about food, and that immorality results from associating with the female servants in the kitchen. If this be true, it seems to indicate a deterioration in moral character among the peasantry, but it confirms the opinion that the natural way of living is the cottage system, where men and women can live in families.

In the West and North Highlands and the Hebrides the physiological condition of the people is peculiar. There is a mixture of the Celtic and the Scandinavian races, the latter distinguished by fair hair and skin, blue eyes, greater stature, and a less impulsive temperament than the Celt, of whom the distinctive features are angular lines about the cheeks and chin, darker skin and hair, smaller stature, and a more fiery and impulsive nature than either the Saxon Lowlander, or the Scandinavian. In parts of Argyleshire, including some of the more southerly islands of the Hebrides, the physiological condition of the peasantry is not satisfactory. They are deficient in thrift, and are far behind in the knowledge and practice of good economical cookery. Instead of getting oatmeal, or even wheatmeal, and baking bread, they make housekeeping expensive by the constant use of the less nourishing fine loaves, biscuits, tea, and sugar. Much money is spent on strong drink, tea, and tobacco. Employers of labour neglect to provide for their workmen an abundant supply of milk, and so they are driven to the less wholesome and more expensive commodities of tea and beer. Nor do employers furnish their work-people with a plot of garden ground, the keeping of which would provide food for mind and body. Even the keeping of fowls is prohibited; and there are no pigs. Lethargy is a prevailing characteristic; and we have witnessed, in Argyleshire, manse gardens overgrown with weeds, with trees and bushes unpruned; and so the little spots which should have been specimens of rich cultivation, were fair illustrations of the sluggard's garden. We might hope that the spread of education would tend to improve the condition of the peasantry; but this expectation is discouraged when we see that parish ministers, who should be educated men, are no better than their neighbours. Better wages would not, meanwhile, produce greater comfort; the great want is such a change in the habits of the people as shall promote intelligence, thrift, industry, economy, cleanliness, and self-respect among the community.

The croft system, once common in Scotland, has gradually receded northward, till little of it is found in Argyleshire, almost none in the islands of Islay and Mull, but a larger amount in the counties of Inverness and Ross, and a great deal in the islands of Skye and Lewis. It is generally characterised by poor industry, meagre returns, and a state of poverty bordering on starvation ; but under certain conditions and regulations the system is not without some good features. As a specimen of its working under fair auspices, we submit a picture, of which the materials were gathered from personal observation in the island of Skye during the summer of 1881. The crofts referred to are on the estate of Grishornish, owned by Kenneth Macleod Robertson, Esq., to whom it was bequeathed by an uncle ; and it is managed during his son's minority by John Robertson, Esq. About thirty-nine families are united into what is locally called a township, which, in this instance, includes a "club farm." Each member of the little community has a house, together with a lot or a half lot of arable land. The occupier of a lot pays 8 a-year; the occupier of half a lot pays 4. On a lot may be sown four bolls of oats, on half a lot two bolls, and the space occupied with potatoes will be about a quarter of the space occupied by oats. Every householder builds his own house, and keeps it in repair. The houses are constructed of loose stones, without cement, built into a wall six feet high, and the roof is thatched. Those we entered were capacious enough, having a kitchen, generally with a fire in the middle of the floor, and a wide chimney right over it, and in a corner at the further end, a door opening into an inner apartment, where were a bed or two, and the best furniture. In these ben ends, the fireplace was usually at the side, with, in most cases, some kind of grate. In one kitchen was a neat little range, with the oven on one side, and hot water on the other. In some instances the cows entered at the same door with the family, and occupied an open space, which was separated only by a thin partition from the kitchen, and it was thickly bedded with short heather, but in most cases there were out-houses for the cattle. If any family leave the place, valuators are appointed, and the house is handed over to his successor, who is bound to pay the outgoing tenant whatever the valuators may determine. Each tenant of a lot can keep four cows with their followers for one year; the occupier of half a lot can keep two cows with their followers. In summer, the cows pasture on the hills; after the crops are removed, they graze over the lots; and in winter each crofter maintains his own stock with the help of what has been produced on his croft. If anyone is unable to acquire the requisite number of cattle, he can sub-let part of his right to a neighbour; but any accumulation of strength by a member of the little fraternity is discouraged; and the man who acquires more than his proper share has to pay a small premium for his success. There are six horses in the township, and anyone who gets the use of them pays for it; but most of the work is done with the crooked spade. In addition to their arable crofts, the thirty-nine families own a flock of sheep, over 750 in number, which are pastured on the hill. No individual owns any particular sheep—the whole flock is the property of the corporation, and is tended by a shepherd, under the superintendence of two managers elected by the tenants. The managers are responsible for all sales and expenses, the shepherd has sole charge of the sheep, and the accounts are settled once a-year. In the beginning of 1881 the result of a division gave to each occupier of a lot 5, 8s. 2d., which, set against his rent of 8, left 2, 11s. 10d.. to be made up from his croft or otherwise for rent, besides the maintenance of his family. The occupier of a lot will obtain from 12 to 16 a-year for stirks. The food in winter consists largely of potatoes and fish. If need be, they can make an economical dinner from shell-fish gathered on the shore. In summer they have oatmeal, milk, and eggs. Butcher meat they never taste. Eggs are abundant. The hens, inhabiting the same house with the human beings, are kept warm in winter, and, as a consequence, begin early in spring to produce eggs. Able-bodied men go to the east coast herring fishing early in July, after their crops are planted, returning home in September, in time for harvest, with 10 or 12 in their pockets. Wool is spun by the women, and made into garments by weavers living in the neighbourhood, and generally the people are well and warmly clothed. Thus they have abundance of fresh air, good clothing, potatoes, fish, oatmeal, milk, and eggs; they have abundance of peats, and the fish supply oil for their lamps, as well as good wholesome food.

Longevity of the Peasantry.

It seems to be established as a fact that in no country of Europe are the inhabitants more distinguished for healthiness longevity, and freedom from disease than they are in Scotland. The mountainous districts of that country were placed by Buffon at the top of a list containing those parts of Europe most noted for longevity, and Sir John Sinclair, after a careful collation of facts, wrote, that "there is no country where, in proportion to its population, a greater number reach sixty, eighty, or even ninety years of age and upwards, in full possession of all their faculties, both intellectual and mental, than in this part of Great Britain." This is the more remarkable, as the great body of the people had not, a hundred years ago, and have not now, those conveniences of life which are necessary to nurse old age; and it seems to indicate how much depends on a good climate, conjoined with active exercise and moderate living, on the natural products of the country. In all Scotland, about the year 1798, there were 37 persons who were said to be upwards of a hundred years old; and in the Statistical Account there were 137 others mentioned who had lived, according to good evidence, upwards of a century. In a book published eighty years ago, Easton on Longevity, 1712 cases are recorded of persons, in all parts of the world, who had attained the age of a hundred years and upwards between the years 1066 and 1799; and of these 170 were natives of Scotland. Two of the most remarkable were Kentigern, or St. Mungo, who founded the bishopric of Glasgow, a native of Scotland, and Peter Tortan or Yortan, born at Temesvar, in Hungary, both of whom attained the age of 185. Admitting the possibility of some mistake about Kentigern, who lived in an age when historical records were not accurately kept, it is interesting to note that in the seven centuries preceding 1799 one-tenth of all known centenarians had lived in Scotland ; and it is not less important that thirty-seven such persons were then alive. These were exceptional cases, but materials exist which show that during the eighteenth century Scotland contained many old people. Tables were constructed by the Rev. Mr. Wilkie, minister of Cults, in Fife, showing the mortality of that and the adjoining parish of Kettle, and also that of Torthorwald in Dumfriesshire, from which it appeared that, in Fife, the expectation of life in infancy was 40.6 years; and in Dumfriesshire the expectation of life at five years was 54.69 years. From this it appears that a great proportion of deaths occurred in infancy. Taking thirty-six parishes noticed in the first volume of the Statistical Account, it appears that 40.3 was the expectation of life in infancy, which accords very closely with Mr. Wilkie's tables. Looking at the parishes in detail, it is found that, apart from diseases incidental to infancy, accidents, and epidemics, the people were healthy and long lived. From the upland parish of Cabrach, as well as from the East Lothian parish of Athelstaneford, it was reported that "the most common disease of which they die is that incurable one, old age." In Marykirk, Forfarshire, most of the people died after being "worn out by age and infirmities." In Canisbay, Caithness, "many die at an advanced age, without the recollection of a day's illness during the whole course of their lives." In Glenelg, notwithstanding its moist climate, there were sixty-three persons from the age of seventy to eighty and upwards. In the parish of Urr, Kirkcudbright, "it is not unusual to see a labourer earn his own subsistence at the age of seventy and upwards." In Kirkmichael parish, "it is not uncommon to see men pursuing their ordinary occupations at eighty or ninety years of age; and men of that age continued to be strong and active, and in the possession of every faculty." Other reports might be quoted to the same effect; but we conclude with the parish of Symington:— "There are always many aged people in this parish, and what is of more importance, they preserve their vigour and their faculties to the last. There are and have been many women past fourscore, who travel to Edinburgh with their creels, and return by midday; men of the same age are, many of them, not past labour; and there are a few persons at present living in this parish, who, though approaching ninety, are as stout and lively as some others at threescore."

During this century the length of life has increased, but not uniformly. In 1842 Dr. Charles Wilson of Kelso made a comparison between the ten years ending 1787 and the ten years ending 1839, from which it appeared that the average had considerably increased; but, of the total deaths, the proportion of persons who died under twenty years of age was greater in the second period than in the first. It does not appear, however, that the proportion of persons who live to an advanced age is increasing. In 1821 there were six persons in Glasgow who were a hundred years old or upwards. In 1851 there were 103 persons returned in the census papers as above a hundred years of age; but only 87 in 1861, and 79 in 1871. Even the total number of persons above ninety years of age sensibly decreased in the twenty years previous to 1871. Thus in 1851 there were 1950 returned as being over ninety years of age, but in 1861 they numbered 1882 ; and in 1871 only 1870. The greater proportion of long lives seems to be in the north. Thus in 1851 there were 319 centenarians in Britain, of whom 103 were in Scotland. These were distributed as follows:—In Buteshire, 2; Renfrew, 2; Lanark, 7; Linlithgow, 1; Edinburgh, 1; Perth, 2; Forfar, 2; Aberdeen, 9; Inverness, 26; Argyle, 4; Ross and Cromarty, 13; Sutherland, 2; Caithness, 9; Orkney and Shetland, 4; Dumfries, 1; Kirkcudbright, 2; Wigtown, 1; Ayr, 3; Stirling, 1; Roxburgh, 1; Fife, 1; Kincardine, 1; Banff, 2; Elgin, 2. As matter of fact it is found that the insular parts of Scotland are most noted for longevity, and the rural districts of the mainland are next in degree. In these districts there is a lower mortality at all ages compared with the towns. Thus, in 1871, of every 1000 females under one year of age 101 died in the rural districts of the mainland, but 167 in the towns; of 1000 from one to five years, 42 in the rural, 82 in the towns; from five to ten years, 7 in the country, 12 in the towns; from twenty to twenty-five years, 7 in the country, but 9 in the towns; from forty to forty-five years, 9 in the country, 16 in the towns; from sixty to sixty-five years, 24 in the country, and 38 in the towns. The greater salubrity of the country and rural pursuits is proved by repeated returns issued by the Registrar-General. Thus, in the ten years ending with 1867, for every 10,000 persons in each group of districts there occurred 286 deaths in the principal towns, 250 in the large towns, 217 in the small towns, but only 173 in the rural districts. For results like these anyone conversant with country life was, in a manner, prepared by personal observation. Thirty or forty years ago it was common for shoemakers, tailors, and weavers, with their wives, to spend three or four weeks in the country, helping with the harvest each year; and though their usual occupation was sedentary, and shearing corn was hard work, and the fare consisted of porridge and milk twice a-day, with bread and mild beer for dinner, they uniformly gained in health and strength. Indeed, we question if the harvest work was not much more beneficial than the more modern system of going a fortnight to the sea-side, and loitering aimlessly about the sands. The gang system which prevails in some districts is reprobated, and perhaps deservedly so; but, composed of right materials, a "gang" may have benefits both direct and indirect. Ten years ago reference was made to an industrial school in Stranraer which contained seventy-five boys from eleven to sixteen years of age, and, in addition to the trades usually taught in such establishments, agricultural labour formed an important part of the employment. For about two months in the year, but chiefly during the period of turnip thinning, the school was formed into three squads or gangs, each under the direction of a boy chosen for his steadiness and good conduct, and the whole were under the supervision of an under master. The squads were taken at the expense of the person requiring their services to the farm on which they were to work. The rate of payment for each boy was 1d. per day, which was added to the school fund. The boys took with them their blankets and pillows; and dormitories with fresh hay were fitted up for them in barns or out-houses, and they had three substantial meals a-day. They acquired so good a character for expertness in work and steadiness of conduct, that the desire to obtain their services was general, and they were not unfrequently conveyed by rail at the farmer's expense a distance of forty miles. The effect on the health of the boys was very marked, and after an absence of two months, they returned to the establishment improved both in body and mind.

From the statements already made it will be obvious that the causes which injuriously affect the peasantry have been greatly ameliorated. By means of agricultural improvements, conjoined with attention to physiological laws, such diseases as ague and small-pox have practically disappeared, and fatal epidemics of every kind are comparatively rare. Should fever break out in any district the causes are immediately investigated, and, if possible, removed. In many districts the house accommodation could hardly be better; but good houses are still the exception, as it appeared from the census of 1871 that very nearly one-third of the whole population live in houses with only one room. It remains uncertain, however, whether or not a house with several rooms is essential to either health or morality. Facts seem to point in a different direction. In a supplement to the census returns for 1861 attention was directed to the idea that houses or even cabins of one room, without a window, but with an aperture in the roof or side wall for egress of the smoke, are not necessarily unhealthy. Whatever else a cottage of that kind may want, "it has, in full perfection, that which most conduces to full health and freedom from disease, viz., free ventilation; and though not blessed with the cheering rays of the sun inside its walls, it is a room more conducive to health and vigour than thousands of the cottages with windows, where such means of free ventilation do not exist, or than those close un-aired rooms in towns, which, though blessed with windows of fair dimensions, never experience the benefit of a breath of fresh air." In 1871 it was shown that the Shetland Isles, while conspicuous over all other districts for healthiness and morality, were far the worst as regards house accommodation, as 8.35 per cent. of the people were living in huts without windows, and 90.24 in houses of only one room. While improved houses, therefore, are for many reasons desirable, it is uncertain whether that kind of house gives more breathing space to those who live in it, or whether the sexes are thereby kept more apart, than when the same class lived in one or two rooms. In the Hebrides, as well as in Shetland, the people living in poor houses are healthy, long-lived, and well-conducted. In Skye the peasantry, with few advantages, are a superior class of people. In bodily appearance they are from 5 feet 8 inches to 6 feet in height, and well-proportioned. The women are 5 feet 2 inches to 5 feet 6 inches, handsome, with good complexions, and of active habits. The men are distinguished for patience and ability to endure fatigue. Both men and women are possessed of vivacity and penetration, strength of mind, and sprightliness of disposition. Except as regards fish they are all vegetarians; but they have warm, though far from handsome, cottages, generally with capacious outlets for the smoke. They have abundance of fresh air all around; they have also potatoes, oatmeal, milk, eggs, and fish, which supply food for themselves and oil for their lamps, and they have abundance of peat. In Islay the same healthy condition prevails. Of 69 paupers on the poor-roll of Kildalton parish in 1881 there were 33 whose ages amounted to 2576 years, giving an average of 78 years to each. There is still a great measure of uncertainty as to the causes which hasten death. In 1861 there was a great increase in the mortality of Scotland, for which no reason could be assigned; and it continued to get worse for three years, after which it abated : but the rate did not fall to its former leyel. The increased rate was probably due to certain laws of which we are ignorant, but which operate through secondary causes, probably atmospheric, over which man has no control, and which all sanitary precautions are powerless to avert. In that period, as in ordinary seasons, the proportion of deaths was lowest in the rural districts. Tor every thousand persons in the principal towns the deaths were 28.186, in the large towns 24.584, in the small towns 22.085, but in the rural districts only 17.306.

The peasantry of Scotland generally have houses which do not seem injurious to health; they have generally fresh air, a sufficient supply of wholesome and nutritious food, comfortable clothing, occupation without great exposure or oppression, and comparative freedom from depressing anxiety. Doubtless, some care and thoughtful consideration are needful, so as to make the most of the family income, and some self-restraint is necessary as regards expensive luxuries. In this direction principally we must look for the removal of any causes which affect them injuriously. Habits of industry, carefulness, and economy, should be encouraged in both men and women, and any guidance which masters or mistresses can give in this direction will bring its own reward. Facilities for investing even small amounts are now abundant, and in one way or another the aggregate of savings among the peasantry is large. The effect of this is wholly beneficial, and the habit of making little investments should be extended. Much money is thoughtlessly spent in the first years of wage earning; and it would be a great benefit to themselves, as well as to the community, if young people could be induced to think of the future. A life insurance begun in early life by a working man might be a source of great comfort, and save a world of misery. The premiums would be small, and could be so arranged as to be comparatively trifling after a family became burdensome. In case of early death, the money would be a great boon to the widow and family. One great desideratum is a thoroughly good training, religiously, morally, intellectually, and physiologically, including a practical acquaintance with such industrial arts as are useful to working men and women. As regards alleged immorality there is no cure except the building up of robust moral characters, to which any dishonourable act would be repulsive. Hours of idleness at present lead only to mischief; and some kinds of domestic industry in former days were largely mixed with good. It was not unmixed with good that the matron should have to occupy the long winter evenings in mending the family clothes, while the husband and father, with his "elshin box," containing bits of leather, a shoemaker's "last," bristles, and roset, took charge of the understandings, at the same time assisting in the preparation of school lessons for next day, and closing the evening with family worship. Nor was it without benefit that the young women were expected to spend the evenings in spinning, while the men were employed in making whips, mending broken harness, and even improving the single-soled shoes of themselves and their neighbour lasses. Instead of the old system of mutual confidence and common interest, there is now so much of the commercial spirit, that every little point is disputed, and every effort made to keep all the work strictly within working hours. A little more friendly feeling and elasticity in this system of working is desirable, and it might possibly be found in a limited introduction of the cooperative system. But one great want of the times is such a training as shall build up not only robust frames, but rich and genuine moral characters. With the increased facilities now afforded for comfortable subsistence, and with more general knowledge and observance of physiological laws, we may confidently hope for some such consummation as that anticipated by Dr. Wilson, in an essay written for the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland in 1842:—"When man shall be brought to acknowledge, as truth must finally constrain him to acknowledge, that it is by his own hand, through his neglect of a few obvious rules, that the seeds of disease are most lavishly sown within his frame, and diffused over communities; when he shall have required of medical science to occupy itself rather with the prevention of diseases than with their cure; when governments shall be induced to consider the preservation of a nation's health an object as important as the promotion of its commerce or the maintenance of its conquests, we may hope then to see the approach of those times when, after a life spent almost without sickness, we shall close the term of an unharassed existence by a peaceful euthanasia."


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