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On Emigration and the State of the Highlands
Appendix O.


The landlord enlarges his farms to make way for a mode of agriculture or pasturage, which he conceives more advantageous. He removes the former occupants, and admits a person of more understanding, and more efficient capital: he makes a provision for those who may be dispossessed, by offering them a small tenement; but pride and irritation scorn to accept his provision.

Where it is found more profitable to lay a district under grass to the half or two-thirds of its extent, it is obvious, that unless you make a previous provision of some kind, many must leave their country to seek food and employment in some other place. In this case, one of the most improveable farms should be divided into crofts or fields of one or three acres; and a judicious selection should be made of those to whom they should be offered; for some men, who pride themselves upon being men of spirit, would spurn at the thought of descending from the rank of a tenant into the station of a crofter. If a man of this kind, however, refuses any rational accommodation, the country is better without him; he is ripe for emigration. He may be cured by changing his residence. His spirit is not sound. This is the touchstone.

These expressions are rather too severe to be applied to a feeling so natural and so universal among mankind,. The desire of bettering our condition, the reluctance and mortification that is felt at any retrograde step, seem to be almost inseparable from the human mind. They may be traced in every rank of society: the greatest monarch on earth is not exempt from their influence, nor is the meanest peasant. If these feelings meant with indulgence in one rank, ought they to be censured with so much rigour in another?—We do not think it extraordinary that a gentleman of large property should be averse to sink into the station of a farmer or a shopkeeper: the reverend author himself would not, perhaps, be well satisfied if he were reduced to the condition of a small tenant: and is the tenant to be blamed because he too clings to the small degree of rank he possesses, and will not submit to sink in the scale of society without an effort to maintain his station?

in this passage Mr. Irvine has perhaps been influenced by a glimpse of the arguments which are insisted on in these Observations; and by this he has been led to a practical conclusion more just than the general tendency of his work can be deemed. He certainly cannot be accused of being a friend to emigration; yet if the gentlemen of the Highlands agree with him in the sentiment that the country is better without those whose "spirit," as he describes it, "is-not sound" they will not find .any amongst the emigrants to excite their regret.


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