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Scottish Villages and Country Life
By H. M. Cadell (1914)


During the past half-century a notable change has taken place in Scottish rural life and habits. In former times, before the days of railways, and the advance of machinery and the introduction of the new system of free education and local government, there were many sources of rural occupation, and, in spite of bad sanitation, and in education nothing but the three R’s, more contentment and simplicity were common than is general among the present well-instructed generation. The old Scots tongue is becoming obsolete in the lowlands, and it is even beginning to be considered a mark of vulgarity to use the broad Doric accent and the expressive old words and phrases so dear to a former generation. Music-hall doggerel often takes the place of the beautiful old Scottish melodies at popular entertainments, and the good and once paramount influence of the Kirk has considerably declined. The tendency of recent legislation has been to undermine the old Scottish aspiration to thrift and manly independence, and in some of the lower strata of society it is becoming commoner every year for the individual to follow the Irish method and look to the Government for some kind of support all the way from the cradle to the grave, instead of struggling resolutely onwards and relying on strenuous personal effort to build up a solid character and a useful career in life. The more strenuous or independent-minded young men, of whom happily there are many, often prefer to emigrate to Canada to push their fortunes in a land where there is felt to be less State interference and where, if- there is perhaps more risk to life and limb, there is also more personal liberty for the subject.

While this is so, it is also equally certain that the public health has improved, and the level of social life has greatly risen, and if taxation is heavier, there is also more ability to bear it. The general well-being of the people has steadily advanced during the last quarter of a century. While the rich have grown richer, pauperism has diminished enormously, independently of old-age pensions, which only affect a comparatively small proportion of all the recipients of public relief. The proportion of persons in receipt of parochial relief reached its maximum in 1868, when there were in Scotland (excluding lunatics) 40 paupers per 1,000 of the whole population. In 1912 this figure dwindled down to 19, or less than half. In some rural parishes the diminution in pauperism has been twice as great as this, and, indeed, cases of extreme poverty and social misery exist mainly in the slums of Glasgow and other congested cities and not in the country villages and towns, and these, when considered along with the rest, materially raise the general average.

Social ameliorations: diminution of poverty.

While the general well-being of the community is thus improving, the amount of crime of various sorts has at the same time greatly diminished, particularly since 1907.

Diminution in crime.

In 1912, although there was more-crime and drunkenness than in 1911, there were fewer sentences to penal servitude than in any year since 1906, and there was no capital sentence at all. This general diminution in crime is ascribed mainly to the growth of temperance, the gradual substitution of tea for whisky and beer as a beverage, and to the influence of counter, attractions to the public-house. Among these must be counted kinematograph exhibitions established in most towns, to the great advantage of their owners in the first place, no doubt, but also to that of the general public in the second.

In the county of West Lothian, for example, where the population is of a mixed character, partly engaged in agriculture and partly in mining and other industries, the number of convictions for crime for the year 1907 was 2,032, while in 1912 it had fallen to 1,258. In 1913 the number 'of convictions rose to 1,419, and the police authorities attribute the increase in crime to the exceptionally high wages that prevailed throughout the year.

During this period there was a steady increase in the industrial population, which at the census of 1911 was 80,155.

Scots country-folk are peaceable and law-abiding, and most of the local crime consists of trivial offences.

During the great coal strike in 1894, which lasted for seventeen weeks, and the national five weeks’ strike in 1912, there was little or no rioting or disorder such as was common in Wales and some parts of England during the labour disputes. The drunken and disorderly element largely consists of casual and Irish immigrants and habitual tramps, who form a bad, if small, social ingredient in some rural and all industrial communities.

Two-thirds of the population of Scotland inhabit the Distribu-industrial belt between the Forth and the Clyde, where p°pul°af_ all the more important coal-fields are situated. Outside tion. this carboniferous area the main industry is agriculture, with fishing along the coasts and shipping at a few large seaports. Besides its shipping, Dundee has for long been the centre of a large jute industry, independent of the natural resources of the ground. In recent years another new source of occupation, also independent of coal, has been opened up at Foyers and Kinlochleven in Inverness-shire. The abundant rainfall in that moist region has been impounded in an immense reservoir high up among the mountains of Lochaber, and the energy of the water in its descent to sea-level has been transformed into electricity, and thus used in the manufacture of large quantities of aluminium. This is perhaps but the beginning of a future source of rural occupation of great importance to parts of Scotland where there are no other natural resources to maintain a considerable population. A large seam of ironstone has lately been discovered and is being mined in the remote island of Raasay off Skye, and this, too, will give fresh employment to a poor local population.

While there are thus prospects of better employment in some places where the climate is bad and the natural resources are small, there are large districts of declining population where the old cottage industries have been destroyed, and almost nothing but agriculture is left as a source of rural livelihood. Li the earlier part of the nineteenth century, there were multitudes of meal and flour mills along all the lowland rivers, there were watermills for linen, forges worked by water-power, spinning, weaving, and nail-making at home, and now nearly all these home industries are gone, and most of the mills are marked by heaps of ruins covered with moss and overgrown with docks and nettles. Coopering, candle-making, basket-making, tambouring, and thatching were likewise old village industries that have disappeared, leaving little or nothing to take their place. No doubt there are large hotels for tourists, and golf-links requiring some caddies and keepers, but these are not producers of anything really useful, nor do they maintain a large and steadily industrious population.

Decline in rural industry.

The mainstay of the lowland districts outside the more exclusively mineral areas is agriculture, and in recent years this industry has been quite prosperous. While politicians are in the habit of citing the miserable existence and the low wages of agricultural labourers in England and Ireland, very little is heard about the condition of farmers and their workpeople in central Scotland, where, in spite of good rents, there is neither poverty nor discontent. The case of Scotland, and especially the Lothian district, deserves to be stated by an unprejudiced observer unaffected by the din of party politics, as it exemplifies the need and the result of individual character, energy, and brains in developing any cultivable bit of land, whether it be in Midlothian or Manitoba. It is these personal qualities steadily applied for the last 150 years that have reclaimed vast quaking bogs and stony wildernesses, covered them with farms and made the desert places to blossom like the rose, without the help of legislation or any special virtue in the soil, and have placed Scottish agriculture far ahead of that of Ireland and many parts of England, where the soil is equally good and the climate better. It is not Acts of Parliament, but the application of sound brains and dogged energy that is really wanted to make the land yield its best fruits for the use of man.

The extreme depression that began in the early seventies Prosperity and continued for over thirty years has gradually disappeared, and the prospects of British farming are now quite favourable. The rise in prices of fat stock and cereals, and the growing efficiency of modern agricultural methods and labour-saving appliances, have made good farms much sought after. Whenever a farm becomes vacant, there are perhaps a dozen or a score of applicants for it from every quarter, sometimes even from Canada.

Farm labourers’ wages have automatically increased Farm wages as skilled men are becoming scarce, and, indeed, capable sociai men can hardly be obtained at some places owing to condition, emigration, small families, and not enough apprentice boys learning to plough and handle horses. Good horsemen and cattlemen in the Lothians get 22.s. a week, plus free house and other perquisites; they have no rates to pay, and their whole earnings may be taken at a week, about double the pay of less efficient men in some parts of England and Ireland. They work, as a rule, six days a week and have to attend to the milking of cows and feeding of cattle and horses and other necessary light work on Sim days. There is thus no regular weekly half-holiday and but little time to spend money 011 amusements. On this modest income the married men manage to bring up good families in decency and comfort, and there is not any poverty or discontent among them. When there is illness, the farmers’ habit has been to allow them six weeks’ full pay, and in nine cases out of ten the recovery takes place long before that interval has elapsed. But when the Insurance Act came into force this kindly relationship was in some cases strained. It appeared, as the farmers had in many cases anticipated, that there was no need of including this very healthy class among the insured at all, as by the kindly old system the rare cases of sickness were met in a far better way than by the Act.

While there is no regular weekly half-holiday, farmers often let their men off half a day or a whole day when work is not pressing. But when in one field on a Saturday afternoon a football match is perhaps going on in a mining district, and in the next a ploughman is drawing his lone furrow, it is natural for one of the players or more likely for one of the onlookers, who, by the way, never works more than eleven days a fortnight, to shout over the fence an invitation to the man of industry to leave off his monotonous job and join the crowd of pleasure-seekers. It. is natural that he should sometimes wish to accept the rough invitation, and, indeed, in some districts an agitation for a weekly half-holiday for farm labourers has lately begun, especially in the northern counties and in districts where the old bothy system prevails. J11 these localities, instead of married men with cottages, single men are largely employed and lodged in 4 bothies ’ where the social conditions are unfavourable, and existence is dull and depressing. In such districts farm servants are often migratory, and largely outside religious influences, and there is much room for improvement in their social condition. So far as holidays are concerned, the difficulty, from the farmer’s point of view, is that, however much he may sympathize with the idea, agricultural work depends for its success so largely on weather that it would be often a very great loss to him to let all his men off on some regular specified day that might be the very time when there was most need of them all to be at work on the land. The most discontented people are often those with the largest wages and the most holidays, and it has often been remarked that when a married ploughman flits, it takes a couple of good carts to carry his household goods to the next farm, but when a miner, with twice his pay, has to move, as he often does, a wheelbarrow or two is often all he needs.

The proposal to create small holdings, either for owners Small or tenants, does not find much favour among practical men, at least in central Scotland. The main reason is ticable. that land alone does not pay to cultivate in lots of less than about 60 to 100 acres, and market-gardening is only profitable near large towns. Ploughing requires a pair of horses, and 60 acres is what a pair of horses require to work advantageously. There is a great demand for farms of over 100 acres, but smaller farms are generally given up after a time unless the owner has some auxiliary occupation, such as fishing or letting his house to summer visitors. In former times there were many small-holders in some districts, especially near towns and collieries, where much carting had to be done. The carting was the auxiliary trade that kept the smallholder in funds, and when railways were introduced or pits became exhausted, the holdings had to be given up, and became merged in larger farms. Except in the neighbourhood of cities or places where there is a ready market, and where manure is easily obtained, or other occupation is available, there is no probability of smaller holdings than 100 acres ever becoming an economic success.

Another reason why small holdings have become more impracticable than ever is the cost of erecting the necessary buildings, and perhaps the introduction of a water-supply and drainage. With the rise in the price of materials of all kinds and the increase in tradesmen’s wages and local rates, house-building has become nearly 50 per cent, dearer than it was twenty years ago, and house rents have not risen in the same proportion. It is thus impossible, even if it were otherwise advisable, to do more than the minimum amount of building on a farm that is to yield an economic return to the proprietor. Recent legislation has closed many old cottages, and discouraged the building of new ones.

Proprietors who can afford to develop their estates have, until recently, greatly improved many of the cottages and farm buildings. In Scotland the tenant of a cottage prefers a bed in the kitchen near the fire, and cottages are always built with this in view. The English system of a living-room and several very small bedrooms, often without a fire, is not in favour north of the Tweed. The better class of workmen’s dwelling has a kitchen with a bed and one or two rooms, or perhaps three, one of which will probably be used as a parlour without a bed. Houses of this kind are being built on many estates and the damp old ‘ but and ben ’ is gradually being eliminated. Landlords have long recognized the principle lately enunciated by politicians, that part of the rent should be returned in improvements. Indeed, in some places the taxes and improvements, especially at the beginning of a new lease, absorb not a part, but the whole of the rent for several years to come. Each room in the cheapest class of cottage costs at least £50, and it is hardly possible to build a house with four apartments and conveniences for less than £200. At 6 per cent, the gross rent would be £12, which is more than labourers can generally afford. Oif this has to be deducted the repairs and the taxes, so that the proprietor can hope for very little net return on his outlay. The farm cottages, however, are generally included in the lease and free of rent to the labourer, who gets his house, however much or little it has cost, as part of his ordinary remuneration.

In many parts of the Highlands and the Western Conditions Islands, the land is so poor and the climate so wet, that jands^1' it can seldom he made to yield a decent livelihood and support people who wish to live according to the advanced social ideas of the present day. The barren crystalline rocks of that picturesque region have generally a scanty covering of the poorest class of soil, and this elementary fact appears to be often overlooked by well-meaning but ignorant social reformers.

Life in such places is, and always has been, a constant Value of waste of energy and a struggle against ever-recurring periods of distress and starvation. Agriculture of a remunerative sort is there almost impossible, and what is mainly wanted is wholesale emigration to Canada, except in places where new industries, such as have been already mentioned, can be established, or where there is good fishing or the possibility of fructifying showers of summer visitors. The writer is well acquainted with these wild abodes of his hungry ancestors, and has visited Nova Scotia and met Canadians whose grandfathers were sent out by the so-called cruel landlords a century ago from such congested areas. They have declared that these old ‘ clearings 5 were really the greatest blessings that ever befell their families, and not one of them dreamt of returning to starve amid the barren wilds and peatbogs of Sutherland, Ross, or the Outer Hebrides, unless perhaps they may have made independent fortunes, and come back to buy residential estates for sporting purposes or sentimental reasons.

The mining class is a large one in central Scotland, Mining where coal, ironstone, and oil-shale are produced in great quantities. Mines and oil works have had a period of wages, prosperity, in which the workers have all shared, and the average weekly wages of the pitmen has been over £2. Some miners have been earning more than 10.s. a day, and allowing for many holidays, the actual sum paid in wages has often been over £130 a year. With perhaps two or three unmarried sons working, a family can have a joint income of £400 or more. With such a revenue coming in and no income-tax to pay, it might be expected that a miner would prefer to occupy a house commensurate with his means. But that is unhappily the exception. However large the pay, the inveterate habit is to live in a house with a kitchen containing a bed, and one or at most two bedrooms with sleeping accommodation for the rest of the family. Here the Scot compares most disadvantageously with his more home-loving English comrade. It is truly a deplorable state of matters that a man whose family income is equal to or better than that of many a clergyman or doctor should persist in refusing to pay a yearly rent of more than £8 or £10 for his house. The cheap and bad housing known to exist in many of the older mining villages, for which colliery owners are often blamed, is partly due to the refusal of their occupiers to pay for better accommodation, or to build good cottages for themselves in spite of the means and the inducement that is often given them to do so. The greater part of the income, instead of being given to the housewife, is wasted on whippet racing, football exhibitions, trips, picture houses, betting, or on drink, although happily not so much on the last score as formerly.

The miners work not more than eleven days a fortnight, and sometimes only ten, and have fully two weeks of holidays, besides many others taken at odd intervals, and thus they have much spare time for amusement during the year. They go underground about 7 a.m., and are home before four o’clock, as a rule, when on the day shift. With so much spare time, there is ample room for physical or mental culture, but few of them take much advantage of these golden opportunities, or interest themselves in gardening or self-improvement. There are, of course, some exceptions where men are provident and build cottages for themselves, and in some of the newer mining districts, especially in Fife and Stirlingshire, attempts are being made to lay out tidy villages on the garden-city principle. In a perfectly new district, where there are no old traditions or inveterate habits to overcome, and where the tenants can be selected from the beginning, these excellent plans may be attended with success.

Co-operative stores are an important and growing Co-opera-institution in most industrial centres in Scotland, and are tlon' the means of promoting a great deal of thrift among the operatives. Co-operation, however, 011 the democratic basis, is not an unmixed blessing. The stores are managed by a committee of the shareholders, who, as a ride, have had 110 previous business training, and do not believe in injuring the dividend by paying more wages to their own employees than they can help. The management is thus often sadly troubled with the incapacity or dishonesty of underpaid and overworked servants entrusted with the daily handling of much ready-money and goods of great value, and these officials, even if perfectly trustworthy, often complain privately about the tyranny of their employers, and contrast them with ordinary business men in private firms, to the great disadvantage of the former. It is also a public grievance that these wealthy societies, really limited companies making handsome profits, pay no income-tax, because it is presumed by the State that none of the individual shareholders are liable. Another and very natural grievance is that while the societies are thus exempt they displace many individual shopkeepers, who would all have to pay the tax, and thus deprive the State of an important source of revenue.

One of the redeeming features of the somewhat grey Music, life in Scottish mining villages is the instrumental band and the love of music it promotes. Each district has a brass, or more often in these prosperous times, a silver band, with a full set of instruments, worth perhaps as much as £400, and great interest is taken in the performances. Rand contests between different districts draw almost as large crowds as football matches, and the judges have on occasion been as roughly handled as football referees by the disappointed competitors. These instruments are often presented by the local employer or some other popular magnate, and their maintenance and the extensive practisings for the contests and public performances involve the collection of many local subscriptions.

Pipe bands are much more easily maintained, and have become far commoner than they were twenty years ago. Bagpipe playing, indeed, all over Scotland is steadily increasing in popularity. The old game of quoiting is also a favourite and innocent pastime in many mining villages.

The local government in rural places is mainly conducted by the County and Parish Councils, ond by the School Board. The County Councils, established in 1889, took over the management of the roads and public health where there was no municipality. The Local Government Act of 1889 was subsequently amended, and the County Council empowered to create a very useful substitute for a municipality in the more populous rural centres. Many small police burghs have come to exist unnecessarily in small villages, and were originated at a time when lighting and scavenging could not be carried out efficiently without setting up the whole municipal paraphernalia. But now, with great advantage to the community, the district committees of the County Council may form separate small lighting, scavenging, and water districts without incurring the trouble and cost of a miniature local municipality. Such areas are managed very quietly and efficiently by small committees, with the aid of the regular county officials, and, indeed, some populous villages or small towns prefer to be governed in this extremely efficient but highly economical and simple manner.

The County Council superseded the old and highly-rcspectablc body, the Commissioners of Supply, who previous to 1889 held office by virtue of a considerable property qualification in the county. The more democratic county councillors require to be elected, but since many of the old Commissioners of Supply, who were really resident lairds, found it convenient to continue to gh e the public the benefit of their services and their business experience, it generally happened that the most capable of their number were elected to the new Comity Councils along with other estimable local representatives, not necessarily men of property. The County Council personnel is thus of fairlv high class, and is drawn from a large area, including all the sections of the community that have their own time at their disposal. The county business is generally transacted in an unostentatious and very efficient manner. Peers of the realm, landlords or their factors, farmers, local solicitors, managers of works, merchants, retired business men or independent tradesmen make up the bulk of the representation.

The personnel of the Parish Council is of a more humble Parish order. The parish being a smaller area, the choice of capable and willing members is more limited. The meetings are often held at night, when working men can attend regularly and when business men wish to be at home, and the result is that in some parishes the social status has gradually deteriorated, until the councillors have been largely drawn from the same class as the paupers to whom they give relief. This unhappy state of matters is most noticeable in Glasgow and the larger centres, where men of respectability can hardly be induced to undertake the dismal work of parochial relief, and to serve alongside of the kind of people, often of socialistic leanings, who are interested in obtaining seats. In the purely rural districts, however, the Councils contain a large admixture of farmers, clergymen, schoolmasters, and people of weight and respectability in the parish.

While pauperism, as has been mentioned, has notably Lunacy decreased all over Scotland during the last forty-six -Boaids-years, lunacy, or as it is now to be called, mental deficiency, has continued slowly and steadily to grow relatively to the population. The asylums are managed by Boards, most of which are composed of representatives from the County Councils, but some by Boards made up of Urban Parish Councillors exclusively. Under the Mental Deficiency Act, in force from the year 1914, Lunacy Boards have an increased scope, and the new and not very attractive title, "Boards of Control", is given to them. The Boards that were exclusively composed of County Councillors have one-third of their numbers elected by the Parish Councils, except in the seven large urban areas where the Parish Council is already the Board. The latter class of Lunacy Board, with its inferior personnel, has not been eminently successful hi its business and administrative methods, and it remains to be seen how the new system will work out in practice.

Education has always been a strong feature in Scottish national life, and the School Board naturally occupies a more conspicuous place in the public eye than the Parish Council. The Parish Council, however, has to do with the School Board in one important respect : the education rate is levied by the Parish Council along with the poor’s rate. The School Board annually asks for a certain sum, and has not the trouble or odium of raising it. While the poor’s rate may be stationary, the school rate is ever growing, and at the same time public discontent with the Education Department is constantly expressed by School Board members, teachers, and ratepayers.

The grounds on which this dissatisfaction is expressed appear to be concerned mainly with the autocratic way in which the Department often orders what it is thought proper to impose for the time being, under pain of withholding the government grant. This is the cause of deep resentment all over the country. The religious question gives no trouble as a rule, the people being nearly all Presbyterians. The trouble arises largely from what is considered the extravagance that the Department demands in equipment and buildings, and its insistence on the vain attempt to teach too many things in the primary schools, without really educating the children thoroughly in the most important elementary subjects, such as history, geography, and the three R’s. The teachers complain of too small salaries, although these are constantly being improved, and of the cost and trouble they endure on account of having new subjects added by the Department, often for but a short time, to the curriculum they have to teach. The increasing cost of living renders higher remuneration necessary in this as in other professions, no doubt, but the ratepayers think, as education is more a national than a local matter, and the expensive-minded Department is beyond their control, the additional cost should be provided by increased grants rather than by higher rates.

No review of Scottish rural life would be complete without some reference to the Kirk, and to the present interesting and instructive ecclesiastical condition of the country. To explain concisely the state of matters in 1914 and write an intelligible review of the whole situation in a few paragraphs is a matter of no small difficulty.

It must be remembered that the old Roman Catholic Church was particularly corrupt in Scotland, and under the profound influence of John Knox and the early Protestant divines the reformation was very thorough, especially in the lowlands, and in later times Presbyterian-ism became and has remained deeply rooted in the national life of a perfervid race, and no amount of subsequent persuasion and persecution has been able to eradicate the idea of freedom from priestcraft and State control in the Scottish Church. Episcopacy has little or no hold on the common people, and although it has gained many adherents among the aristocracy, its popular influence is unimportant and not increasing.

In the eighteenth century and the first half of the nine- Cause of teenth the increasing interference of the State through ,Cieces910ns-the law courts led to numerous secessions from the Establishment, mainly due to the abuse of patronage in the appointment of ministers. These smaller secessions were followed by the famous Disruption of 1843, when the great majority of the more active and evangelical ministers and the most liberal of the laymen left the Establishment in a body and formed the Free Church.

Before 1845 the poor were provided for by voluntary church-door collections in each parish, but when the Establishment was depleted by the exodus of its best givers, whose liberality was henceforth to be expended on the new Free Churches, these charitable collections, never too large, fell off and disappeared in many parishes, and so this method became totally inadequate for parochial relief. The sum required has thus to be provided by taxation, and thus the Poor Law came into force in 1845, when Parochial Boards were established, to be superseded in half a century by the Parish Councils.

At the Disruption, religious enthusiasm and public feeling as well as party spirit ran high, and it has taken two generations to mollify the bitterness between the disrupted members of the Scottish Church. But a new generation has now arisen with wider views of Christian duty and Church unity, and the irreconcilables are gradually dying out or modifying their early and somewhat fanatical opinions.

The older dissenting Churches, it must be explained, did not join the Free Church in 1843, but stood aloof and united soon afterwards with one another to form the United Presbyterian Church, politically a radical body opposed to the very idea of a Church established and endowed by the State. The original Free Church members, and Dr. Thomas Chalmers their great leader, were all at first strong establishment men and had no wish to join the so-called 1 voluntaries ’ and suddenly abandon the idea of a national State Church. But although Erastians in theory they were voluntaries in practice, and as time went on they or their children began to realize their duty better and gradually became more friendly to the United Presbyterians. Finally, in 1900 the two Churches joined forces under the name of the United Free Church, about equal in size, and far more than equal in liberality to the Established Church. But here a strange and very unhappy event took place that has produced immense heart-burning and hardship to many good people.

There was in the old Free Church a small and dwindling but recalcitrant minority chiefly composed of ultra-conservative Highlanders who refused to come into any union with United Presbyterians and voluntaries, and stoutly upheld the Establishment principle as a fundamental part of the Church’s doctrine.

They raised a civil action in which they claimed for themselves all the property and funds of the old Free Church.

This claim was unanimously refused in the Scottish law courts, but on appealing to the House of Lords in 1904, it was upheld by the English Lord Chancellor and by a bare majority of his colleagues. The legal Free Church of the "Wee Free", as it was nicknamed in derision, a body of about twenty-seven ministers, mainly Gaelic speakers, and some 2,000 church members, mostly in obscure charges in remote northern parishes, was thus served heir to the colleges, church offices, and buildings of about 1,000 congregations, and to the endowments that the Free Church had accumulated in 60 years to the sum of over £1,000,000, and was made trustee of an immense heritage that it was ludicrously unfit to administer.

So absurd and unjust was the situation created by the Church House of Lords that an Act of Parliament was hastily passed in 1905 practically to reverse the decision, and 1905-a Commission was appointed to make investigations and hand over to the United Free Church all that the legal Free Church was found incapable of administering. As matters now stand the legal Free Church has still more property than it can handle satisfactorily, and there is considerable need of another Commission to relieve it of the misapplied surplus. This reactionary little denomination is dwindling in numbers and influence. ‘ Human ’ hymns and instrumental music are severely prohibited in its services, and its ministers are largely occupied in lamenting the decadence of this evil generation and the disappearance of true religion from the land since 1843.

Curiously enough, although the legal Free Church bunion abhors the disestablishment agitation and upholds the between Establishment principle as one of its fundamental tenets, lished and it has no desire to return to the bosom of the existing United State Church, which it regards as thoroughly unorthodox Church and vitiated in other respects. The proposal in this direction that is now in the air and causing much interest in Scotland is one for a larger union, between the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church itself. The disestablishment agitation that was so rife a few years ago has in the meantime almost completely subsided, and during recent years influential committees appointed by the respective General Assemblies of the Established and United Free Churches have been meeting together and amicably endeavouring to discover some common basis for an incorporating union that will meet the wishes of all moderate men and broad-minded Christians. There are considerable obstacles in the way of such a desirable consummation of Scottish ecclesiastical history, but the gain would be so great that it is an object well worth striving after. The union in 1900 has led to the closing of a large number of superfluous churches. As numerous rural districts with a declining population have too many churches while the more populous industrial centres have sometimes too few, a larger union would lead to a better distribution of ecclesiastical energy, and more economy in the organization of Christian work. The gain would probably be greatest on the side of the State Church, but one condition of the union would, no doubt, be that the future Church of Scotland would no longer be the Established Church in the present legal sense of the term, but the recognized National Church, free from every vestige of State control in all spiritual matters. Lay patronage, the main but not the only cause of all the secessions in the past, was abolished in the Scottish Establishment in 1874, and in most other respects the Scottish Presbyterian Churches, unlike the principal Churches in England and Wales, are identical in polity, aims, and doctrine, and friendly with one another, so that the legal, personal, and ecclesiastical obstacles to union are not great, and indeed it is not easy for men who are not born Scots to understand wherein all the causes of difference are to be discovered.


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