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


Part II

Present State, and Change of Character and Manners

SECTION II.

Causes and Consequences of this Change—State when placed on-small Lots of Land—Poverty followed by Demoralization.

Having thus hastily glanced at some of the changes, which Highland manners have undergone during the last fifty years, it may be interesting to trace the causes by which those changes have been produced. When Highland proprietors, ceasing to confine themselves within the limits of the Grampians, began to mingle with the world, and acquire its tastes and manners, they became weary of a constant residence on their estates, and wished for a more enlarged and varied society than a scanty and monotonous neighbourhood afforded. [To those who live in the busy world, and are hurried round by its agitations, it is difficult to form an idea of the means by which time may be filled up, and interest excited in families, who, through choice or necessity, dwell among their own people. The secret lies in the excitement of strong attachment. To be in the centre of a social circle, where one is beloved and useful, —to be able to mould the characters and direct the passions by which one is surrounded, creates, in those whom the world has not hardened, a powerful interest in the most minute circumstance which gives pleasure or pain to any individual in that circle, where so much affection and good will are concentrated. The mind is stimulated by stronger excitements, and a greater variety of enjoyments, than matters of even the highest importance can produce in those who are rendered callous, by living among the selfish and the frivolous. It is not the importance of the objects, but the value at which they are estimated, that renders their moral interest permanent and salutary.] Those who could afford the expense removed to London or Edinburgh, for at least the winter months; and their sons who formerly remained at home till sent to the universities to finish their education, now accompanied their parents at so early an age, that they lost the advantages of founding their classical attainments on the generous enthusiasm and the amor patriae as cribed to mountaineers. But the Highland youth were now, in many cases, early alienated from their clans, and from those regions in which warm affections and cordial intimacies subsisted between the gentry and the people; and the new tastes which they acquired were little calculated to cherish those sympathies and affections which indescribably endear the home of our youth. Thus initiated into the routine of general society, when they occassionally returned to their native glens they felt the absence of the variety of town amusements, and had also lost that homefelt dignity and those social habits which formerly gave a nameless charm to the paternal seat of a Highland landlord, while he maintained an easy intercourse with the neighbouring proprietors, with the old retainers of the family, and with gentlemen farmers, or, as they are styled in the expressive language of patriarchal brotherhood, "friendly tenants."

[The extinction of the respectable race of tacksmen, or gentlemen farmers, where it has taken place on extensive estates, is a serious loss to the people. Dr Johnson, speaking of the removal of the tacksmen, as it was supposed they could not pay equally high rents with men who lived in an inferior style, and who required less education for their children, thus expresses himself: "The commodiousness of money is indeed great, but there are some advantages which money cannot buy, and which, therefore, no wise man will, by the love of money, be tempted to forego." The soundness of this opinion has been fully confirmed; the rank and influence which these respectable men held are now void,—their places being, in most cases, filled up by shepherds and graziers from the South, or by such natives as had capital or credit enough to undertake their farms. This new class being generally without birth, education, or any of the qualifications requisite to secure the respect of the people on those great estates, where there are no resident proprietors, the inhabitants are left without men of talent, or of sufficient influence, from rank or education, to settle the most ordinary disputes, or capable of acting as justices of the peace, and of signing those certificates and affidavits, which the law in so many instances requires. In extensive districts, containing two, three, and four thousand persons each, not more than one, or two at the utmost, or perhaps none, of the ancient rank of gentlemen tacksmen remain, although once so numerous, that on the estates of Macdonald and Macleod, there were upwards of sixty, who, as I am informed by my friend Lord Bannatyne, (and many of them were of his intimate acquaintance,) "were in general liberally educated, possessing the the manners and spirit of gentlemen." It was the same in many other districts, but the few of this description of gentlemen farmers who remain, are the only individuals capable of acting as justices of the peace; and pensioners and others, who wish to make affidavits, must travel thirty or forty miles for that purpose. Fortunately for the people of many Highland districts, their original habits are still so strong and so well preserved, that magistrates have hitherto been seldom necessary for other purposes. The want of magistrates, therefore, is a trifling grievance in comparison of leaving a population so numerous and virtuous, open to an inundation of political and religious tracts, of ignorant and pretended teachers of the gospel, and of agents of the white slave trade , the last of whom induce many unfortunate creatures to emigrate to America, and to sell the reversion of their persons and labour for the passage, which they cannot otherwise obtain. Of the religious and political tracts industriously distributed among these people, they cannot discriminate the truth from what may be intended to deceive and inflame. The itinerant preachers of the "New Light" disseminate hostility to the character and doctrines of the established clergy; while the agents of the emigrant vessels are most active in contrasting the boasted happiness, ease, and freedom, to be enjoyed in America, with what they call the oppression of their landlords. To all this delusion these unfortunate people are exposed, while the new system of statistical economy, with its cold unrelenting merciless spirit, has driven away those who contributed so materially to maintain the moral and physical energies of the state, by the influence they exerted over the minds and actions of the people.]

These were no longer companions suited to the newly acquired tastes and habits. The minds of landlords were directed to the means of increasing their incomes, and of acquiring the funds necessary to support their new and more expensive mode of life in a distant country, while their own was impoverished by this constant drain of its produce.

The system of agriculture which formerly prevailed in the Highlands was well adapted to the character and habits of the people, and was directed to the cultivation of grain, and the rearing of cattle and goats. The value of sheep not being then well understood, they only formed a secondary object. During the summer months the herds were driven to the shealings, or patches of pasture along the margins of the mountain streams. Temporary huts were erected to shelter those who tended the herds and flocks and managed the dairy, the produce of which, and the cattle, the goats, and the few sheep which they could dispose of, formed the only sources of their wealth, the produce of the arable land being seldom sufficient to supply the wants of a family. Latterly grazing appears to have almost superseded agriculture. When a farmer could afford to enlarge his possession, he usually did so, by adding to the number of his live stock, and neglecting cultivation, which at an early period was greatly more extensive. [See Appendix, Z.]

While this continued to be the prevailing practice among the farmers of the Highlands, the improvements in agriculture in England, which had their origin in the reign of Elizabeth and James L, were matured and reduced to system in the reign of his son Charles I. The extension of these to the northward seems, however, to have been gradual. From the reign of James I. of England, so slow was the march of improvement, that it did not extend to Scotland till 140 years thereafter. Potatoes, which were known in England in the time of Sir Walter Raleigh, were not introduced into Scotland, except as a rare garden vegetable, till after the commencement of the reign of George III.

[In the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, it is stated that Mr Prentice, in the neighbourhood of Kilsyth, was the first person who planted potatoes in the open field in Scotland: He died in 1792.

It was not till after the year 1770, that my father planted potatoes, which were the first raised in the field in his district; and it required some time and persuasion to induce his servants to eat them. This vegetable, which is now the principal food of the Highland peasantry, was then considered as incapable of supporting a man employed in active labour.]

In East Lothian, as late as the year 1740, few carts were to be seen, and none adapted for heavy and distant conveyances. Fifty years ago field turnips were in very limited use, and it is not many years since they were generally cultivated; yet field-turnips, potatoes, and sown grass, were quite common in England a century before. In the year 1760, the Lothian farmers were as prejudiced in favour of eld customs, and as backward in adopting modern improvements, as the most uncultivated of the Highlanders. One of the most opulent, extensive, and enlightened farmers in the county of Perth, was twenty years a cultivator before he could overcome his prejudices so far as to enter upon the new system; and it was not till after the year 1770 that Mr John White, at Kirkton of Mailler, in Strathearn, first introduced the green crop system into Perthshire.

[So backward was agriculture in the Carse of Gowrie, in the year 1756, that a gentleman who, by his abilities, had risen to the highest dignity in the law, walking with a friend through his fields, where his servants were weeding the corn, expressed great gratitude to Providence for raising such a quantity of thistles; "as otherwise," said the Lord President, "how could we, in this district, where we cannot allow our good corn land to be in pasture, find summer food for our working horses? "]

The farmer who first commenced the system of dry fallow in East Lothian only died in the late reign. This new mode of agriculture was considered so extraordinary, that for some time it was looked upon as the result of a disordered intellect even in the now highly cultivated district of the Lothians.

[Had the Lothian gentlemen of that period ejected the bulk of the ancient inhabitants, as indolent, prejudiced, ignorant, and worthless, as the Highlanders are characterised by the supporters of the depopulating system, placing those allowed to remain, on barren and detached patches of land;—and had they invited strangers from England, France, or Flanders, to supply the place of the extirpated inhabitants, would there not have been the same senseless clamour, (as the expression of the indignant feelings, roused by various cruel and unnecessary measures pursued in the Highlands, is called), although in. the fertile soil of the Lothians, near the consumption of great cities, with the command of manure and water carriage, large establishments, and farms of one or two hundred arable acres, may be suitable to the circumstances and situation of the country ? But what are the consequences even in that fertile country? People are so scarce, that, without assistance from other countries, their field labour and harvest could not be accomplished. It may indeed be a question,—if the whole kingdom were in similar circumstances, and had as few inhabitants comparatively as the Lothians, where part of the autumn labour is performed by Highlanders, (principally women, Who travel southward upwards of 100, and numbers 200 miles),—whence could a supply be obtained? If then, large farms cause a deficiency of necessary labourers, even in the fertile lands of the Lothians, how unsuitable and ruinous to the barren Highlands must a system be, which leaves not a sufficiency of hands, in a country with such narrow stripes of arable land, that a farm of 300 acres would stretch along the whole side of a district ? From the uncertainty of the climate, the want of an immediate and efficient supply of hands would be ruinous. The North having no towns or villages whence assistance could be obtained, if the arable lands in the Highlands contained as few inhabitants as the Lothians, the principal parts must be kept in pasture, and one-half of what the soil would produce lost; for, even in the Highlands, where the cultivation of the valleys is well managed, and the supply of labourers sufficient, it is beyond all proportion the most profitable, notwithstanding the comparatively barren soil, and backward uncertain climate.]

Whilst agriculture in Scotland was thus slowly advancing, it was suddenly accelerated by the spirit of enterprise which burst forth after the Seven Years' War. In the Lowlands, however, the people were allowed time to overcome old habits, and to acquire a gradual knowledge of the new improvements. But many Highland landlords, in their intercourse with the South, seeing the advantages of these improvements, and the consequent increase of rents, commenced operations in the North with a precipitation which has proved ruinous to their ancient tenants, and not always productive of advantage to themselves;—a consequence to be expected, when, as has been remarked by Mr Pennant, in his Tour through the Highlands, "they attempted to empty the bag before it was filled."

The people, unwilling to change old institutions and habits, as if by word of command; unable, or perhaps averse, to pay the new rents, without being allowed time to prepare for the demand; and seeing, as it often happened, their offers of a rent equal to that of the strangers rejected, were rendered desperate. Irritated by the preference thus given, and by the threats of expulsion, their despondency and discontent must cease to astonish. The natural consequence is, a check to exertion, or of any attempt to improve. When this seeming indolence shows itself, gentlemen, and those by whom they often allow themselves to be influenced, and to whom they frequently yield their better judgment and kindlier feelings, declare, that so long as such a lazy incorrigible race remains, they cannot enjoy the value of their lands. In this opinion they are confirmed by persons who argue, that the prosperity of the state calls for such measures, at the same time that they acknowledge the harshness of these measures in themselves, and profess their sympathy with the people, who are thus reduced to poverty, and its too frequent consequences, immorality and crime; forgetting that it can never be for the well-being of any state to deteriorate the character of, or to extirpate a brave, loyal, and moral people, its best supporters in war, and the most orderly, contented, and economical in peace. These reasoners found their arguments on general principles; and, without taking into consideration, or perhaps unacquainted with the peculiar circumstances of the case, with the nature of the country, its uncertain humid climate, or the hardihood and capability of the inhabitants, if properly managed,—and keeping entirely out of view, also, the reduced condition of the people, an omission not to be expected in an enlightened age;—they endeavour to prove, that if one family can manage a tract of country,

[If it were probable that machinery could be invented to carry on manufactures of every description without the intervention of human labour, and that corn could be imported for the consumption of the inhabitants of Great Britain, the soil turned to pasture, and little manual, manufacturing, or agricultural labour left for the working population, which would thus be thrown idle; would such a sacrifice of productive labour be proper, and would the welfare of the state be promoted by the diminution of the people, which must be the necessary consequence of a want of employment? for, if the population is reduced, how is the produce of the soil and of manufactures to be consumed? The question is as applicable to the northern portion as to the whole empire ; and as it would be ruinous to the lower orders to put an end to all agricultural labour in the South, so it must be to the people of the North, if the whole country be converted into pasture and large farms. In this case, the people must be sent to the colonies, as the Lowlands offer no encouragement for extensive emigration from the Highlands. If allowed to remain in their native country, without any support but daily labour, in a country where, under such management, all, except a few men of capital, must be day-labourers, and under a system which yields but little employment; when even that little fails, as from the natural course of events it must often do, poor-rates must be established, and the lower orders in the Highlands become paupers, as is the case with one-seventh of the population of England; a state of degradation unparalleled in the Christian world. And yet this is the state to the completion of which, so much has been said and written, to prevail upon the Highland proprietors to reduce the ancient occupiers of their land.]

it is an useless waste of labour to allow it, as was formerly, and is still the case in many parts of the Highlands, to be occupied by many families possessing much economy and industry, though with little capital.

But whatever be the capital of farmers, or the size of farms, rents must be according to the value of the producer While the staple and only article of export from the Highlands was so low that the price of the best ox did not exceed thirty shillings, and a sheep half-a-crown, the rents were in proportion to, but not lower than, those in the most fertile districts of Scotland

[In the year 1785, some of the best lands on Lord Kinnaird's estate in the Carse of Gowrie were rented on old leases of fifty-nine years, at four pounds Scots, or six shillings and eightpence the acre. The present rent is £6 Sterling per acre. The difference of the present rents and of those paid seventy years ago, on the estates of Lords Kinnoull, Gray, and others in the Lowlands, are similar. In those days they were equally low with the rents in the Highlands, which were of more value to the proprietors than they would seem, by merely looking to the money rent, as much was paid in kind, and in personal services. It is said that Stewart of Appin received as rent an ox or cow for every week, and a goat or wether for every day in the year, with fowls and smaller articles innumerable. When the money rent and personal service for warlike and domestic purposes are added, the provisions gave the laird abundance, the money independence, and the personal services dignity and security in turbulent ages, when the laws were too weak to afford protection.]

 at the same period. But when a great demand and increased prices led to the prosperity of the tenants, it was natural for proprietors to raise their rents, and to attempt those improvements and changes which the progress of agricultural knowledge and the wealth of the country suggested. This was the just and natural progress of events, and would of itself have been the cause of many changes in the manners and condition of the Highlanders; and, judging from numerous examples, might have been effected without injury to the original tenants, and to the great and permanent advantage of the proprietors. Rents might have been gradually increased with the increasing value of produce, and improved modes of cultivation introduced, without subverting the character-istic dispositions of a race of men who inherited from, their ancestors an attachment seldom equalled, and still more seldom exceeded, either in fidelity or disinterestedness.

[It may be considered unnecessary to multiply examples of disinterested attachment; but the traits they disclose are of such a nature, as must be gratifying to all who respect the best characteristics of human nature. A few years ago, a gentleman of an ancient and honourable family got so much involved in debt, that he was obliged to sell his estate. One-third of the debt consisted of money borrowed in small sums from his tenants, and from the country people in the neighbourhood. The interest of these sums was paid very irregularly. Instead of complaining of this inconvenience, his creditors among his people kept at a distance, lest their demands might add to the difficulties of the man whose misfortunes they so much lamented; and many declared, that if their money could contribute to save the estate of an honourable family they would never ask for principal or interest. Speaking to several of these people on this subject, the uniform answer which I received was nearly in the following words: "God forbid that I should distress the honourable gentleman; if my money could serve him, how could I bestow it better? He and his family have ever been kind,—he will do more good with the money than ever I can,—I can live without it,—I can live on potatoes and milk, but he cannot;—to see his family obliged to quit the house of his forefathers, is cause of grief to us all,"]

By taking advantage of this honourable disposition, (for what can be more honourable than that disinterested fidelity to which life and fortune were sacrificed?) the tenants might have been induced to pay adequate rents for their lands, without the necessity of depopulating whole districts; the farms, too, might have been gradually enlarged—the mode of husbandry altered—sheep stock introduced—the surplus population, if such there was, employed in clearing and improving the land fit for cultivation, or induced to change their residence from one district to another, or to transfer their industry from the land to the fisheries, or to trades or handicrafts, without being driven at once from their usual means of subsistence and from their native districts. "The forcible establishment of manufactories and of fisheries," says a learned author on the rural economy of the Highlands, "are projects only of inconsiderate benevolence; it is only by the gradual change of opinions and practices, by the presentation of new motives, and the creation of new desires, that the state of society must be changed. All that which ought to follow will proceed in its natural order, without force, without loss, and without disappointment." [Dr Macculloch's Description of the Western Islands of Scotland.] This would, no doubt, have been the case in the Highlands, where a gradual, prudent, and proper change would not have excited riots among a people distinguished for their hereditary obedience to their superiors, nor rendered it necessary to eject them from their possessions by force, or, as in some instances, by burning their houses about their ears, and driving them out, homeless and unsheltered, to the naked heath. It was a cold-hearted spirit of calculation, from before which humanity, and every better feeling, shrunk, that induced men to set up for sale that loyalty, fidelity, and affection, which, as they cannot be purchased, are above all price.

[The same disposition is seen in the sale of woods which beautified the country, and gave an appearance of antiquity and pre-eminence to gentlemen's seats. The destruction of old timber has, for some years past, been so great, that, if continued, Dr Johnson's remark, "that no tree in Scotland is older than the Union," will have too much the air of truth. Noble trees, of the age and growth of centuries, which gave dignity to the seats they ornamented, have been levelled to the ground, and sold for a trifle, as the age that made them so venerable diminished their value as timber. It would be trifling with common sense, to dispute the propriety of cutting and selling wood as an article produced by the soil, but that cannot be applied to woods planted for ornament and shelter, more particularly in Scotland, now bare and destitute of wood, although once abounding with the noblest forests. There are few countries where the woods have a more striking effect than in the Highlands of Scotland, from the contrast they form to the bleak and barren mountains which inclose them. Whether trees are found in natural woods, covering the boldest and most precipitous rocks, or in those ancient avenues and groves ground gentlemen's seats in the glens, they alike excite the surprise of the stranger, who does not expect to see such strength of vegetation, and brightness of verdure, in the centre of mountains, which, on the first approach, look so dreary and forbidding. Every man of taste must deplore the loss of woods and picturesque scenery which animated the poet, and delighted the painter. In former ages, these trees were preserved and venerated; and by the recollections of the length of time they had sheltered and thrown an air of dignity and importance over the castles and seats of ancient families, the respect of the people for their owners was increased and preserved. But such recollections are now out of fashion; the trees are valued according to the money they bring, and, like the fidelity of the clansmen, are sold to the highest bidder. And so is disposed of much of the respect and esteem of the lower orders for their superiors, who thus, for the sake of a small acquisition of money, easily spent and soon forgotten, destroy for ever the magnificent ornaments reared by their forefathers, which no wealth can purchase, and which proved the antiquity and respectability of the families who possessed them. No person of taste can view without a feeling of reverence, an ancient mansion, embosomed in groups of tall trees or avenues, the growth of centuries, with noisy rooks clustering and cawing on their tops, as if they were inhabitants of another and higher region.]

But, though the introduction of a few men of agricultural experience and judgment into the Highlands, might be a judicious measure, as their knowledge and example would readily spread among the natives, this cannot justify the entire removal or ejection of the ancient inhabitants. In several cases, those who promoted these improvements, by the costly sacrifice of turning adrift from their lands a people who considered themselves born to love and honour their superiors, reasoned so speciously on the expected advantages of this course of policy, as to extinguish in themselves and others those feelings of remorse and compunction, which the price at which they were to be purchased might have been calculated to excite. Thus was identified with national advantages the system at which individual benevolence revolted, but which, it was pretended, was to support liberal and enlightened principles, and to achieve a conquest over all deep-rooted prejudices, and stubborn long-descended customs; and many have been induced, more from authority and fashion than from sordid motives, to follow the example. In this manner the system has spread with a fatal rapidity, allowing no time for the better feelings of those who have been drawn into it, perhaps unwarily, to operate; and it is certain that there is no recent instance in which so much unmerited suffering has produced so little compassion, or reprobation for the authors. The cruelty of removing the slaves on one West India estate to another, perhaps scarcely five miles distant, is, frequently reprobated in the strongest terms, and attempts are made to procure acts of Parliament to prevent the removal of a slave from his usual residence; yet the ejectment or emigration of the Highlanders, their total ruin and banishment from their native land, is viewed with apathy, and their feelings of despair deemed unworthy of notice. The negroes, with little local attachment, may be as happy on their new as on their former plantations, as they are probably deprived of no former comfort, and merely subjected to a change of residence. The Highlander, with the strongest local attachment, confirmed by numberless anecdotes of former ages, cherishes with reverence the memory of his ancestors. With these attractions to his native country, he is deprived of his means of livelihood, driven from his house and his ancient home, and forced to take shelter in a foreign land, or in a situation so new to him, that all his habits must undergo a total change; and yet this appears so just and proper, that strangers, ignorant of the national character of this country, and witnessing the apathy with which the misery of the unfortunate Highlanders is beheld, might suppose that the inhabitants are void of all humanity; and, while the press is often employed in exposing and reprehending political delinquencies, the oppressions, forcible ejectments, and burnings out of the Highlanders, pass unnoticed, however rapidly such cruel measures lead to poverty, immorality, and crime. Indeed, so little do such considerations affect some of our modern philanthropists, that the conduct of those who have made desolate wastes of many once happy communities in Inverness, and other counties, is applauded; while they violently declaim against a similar line of conduct, when the inhabitants of the West Indies are in question. A very honourable and humane friend of mine, who has exerted himself powerfully in the cause of the poor negroes, told me, not long ago—and was not well pleased because I did not coincide in his opinion,—that Sutherland contained 20,000 inhabitants too many, and that they ought to be removed without delay, and sent to the colonies.

[Mr Foster Alleyne, of Barbadoes, has a population of nearly 1208 negroes on his estate in that island, which has been in his family since the reign of Charles I. By overcropping and mismanagement during his absence, the soil, which was favourable for sugar, had become totally unfit for producing that valuable article; he therefore turned his attention to the raising of provisions, the cultivation of which is less laborious, and requires little more than half the number of hands necessary for sugar; consequently, he might have disposed of the surplus population, to the amount of nearly 500 persons. How did this honourable and humane gentleman act in these circumstances, while several Highland proprietors, in similar cases, found no difficulty or hesitation? "I cannot find in my heart," said he, "to part with any of these poor faithful creatures, all of whom have been born on my property, where their fathers have served mine for generations (there has been no addition by purchase since the year 1744, when a few were added for some special purpose), and they shall remain undisturbed while I remain." From a very extensive and intimate knowledge of many colonies, acquired in the course of military service in the West Indies, at different periods, I could cite many pleasing instances of this kind regard to the feelings of negroes. Were clansmen treated with the same fatherly kindness displayed by this gentleman, landlords would ever be exempted from witnessing such horrible excesses as have been exhibited by the Irish peasantry.

When attempts are made to establish very laudable regulations, in order to prevent the removal of negroes from their original homes, why is humanity so blind as not to see the cruelty of transporting 20,000 Highlanders from their country to the plantations? Perhaps, the defenders of depopulation may say, as the defenders of the slave trade did of that atrocious and inhuman traffic, that transportation will improve their condition, and that they will be more comfortable in the colonies than in their native country. This may be true as far as regards some Highlanders, whose condition may easily be improved (as, in many cases it cannot well be worse) ; but does the misery of the unfortunate outcasts, during the progress of this improvement and transportation to a foreign land, deserve no consideration?]

As two-thirds of these people are unable to pay for their passage, they must bind themselves to serve for a term of years the person who pays for them, and who again disposes of them to the highest bidder; [See Parkinson's Tour and other works on North America.] a species of slavery not very agreeable to the dispositions of the mountaineers, and which I did not expect that my philanthropic friend, who has such an abhorrence of slavery of every kind, would have proposed for them. Slavery is already too common in America, where every sixth individual is in that degraded condition. Although the term of the emigrant's bondage is only temporary, yet slavery of any kind is not calculated to procure the means, or foster the spirit of independence;—it must, therefore, be matter of regret, that our countrymen are compelled to become bondsmen in a foreign country, even in a land of liberty such as America,—if that can be called a land of liberty where slavery exists to such a lamentable extent.

The late transfer of 3000 subjects between the sovereigns of Baden and Bavaria has been arraigned in the strongest language by some of our journalists. Yet these people retain, as before, possession of their property and their native homes, and have only to suffer in their feelings by being transferred from the government of one sovereign to that of another; a matter that seems to be of little consequence amongst the contiguous principalities of Germany. The Highlanders are not only forced to transfer their allegiance to another government, but to transport themselves to distant regions;—and yet no reprobation follows.

While the misery of a blameless and unoffending people thus excites so little pity, and while the depopulation of a glen is viewed with indifference, or hailed as an advantage, like ridding pasture ground of foxes and other vermin; it is no wonder that proprietors should be encouraged to proceed, not only without regret, but even with self-gratulation.

[To afford an idea of the extent of the newly established farms, and the consequent depopulation of the country, we may produce, as an instance, an advertisement in the Inverness newspapers of a Highland farm to be let, described as consisting of 1000 arable acres, near the dwelling-house (the number of arable acres at a greater distance is not stated) of the first quality, and with a full supply of drifted sea-weed on the shore, and which may, as stated in the advertisement, "be laboured to the greatest advantage." "The hill pastures," it is added, "stocked with Cheviot sheep, are of the first quality in the country, and extend 50 miles along the sea-coast. " It is impossible to read this advertisement, without commiseration for the fate of those who formerly occupied this extensive tract of country, which is "capable of being laboured to the greatest advantage," and, consequently, well calculated to support its ancient population. Another farm is also advertised as capable of "maintaining 9000 Cheviot sheep, and as perhaps the safest in Britain ; and its pastures, for richness and variety, inferior to none in the Highlands." This fact furnishes a striking example of the force of that delusive patriotism which benumbs the feelings of even good men, and blinds them to the sufferings of the ejected tenantry. Part of the land which gave birth to many brave men, who, as soldiers, have contributed to make the name of Scotland honoured and respected over all Europe, is now without an inhabitant, except five shepherds and their families. But then it is "capable of maintaining 9000 sheep!" So it would be although all the ancient race had remained. The quantity of grass required for sheep and cattle does not depend on the land being occupied by one, or by a number of tenants.]

A late author, describing the state of the agricultural population in England in the reign of Henry VIII., when the country was first arranged in large farms, says, "Millions of independent peasantry were thus at once degraded into beggars; stripped of all their proud feelings which hitherto characterized Englishmen, they were too ignorant, too dispersed, too domestic, and possessed too much reverence for their superiors, to combine as mechanics and manufacturers in towns. Parish relief was, therefore, established." [The suppression of the monasteries, no doubt, contributed to this sudden creation of artificial misery; but it is a proper distinction, that the monasteries only fed those who were poor and idle already, whereas, the engrossing and grazing system made thousands idle whose habits were formerly industrious.] Lord Chancellor More, one of the most virtuous men in England, an eyewitness of what he describes, gives a view of the state of the people at that period, which must strike home to the heart of every humane person, who has seen or heard of similar scenes in the Highlands. Speaking of engrossing farms, by which small tenants were compelled to become day-labourers, [See Appendix, AA.] relying for their support on accidental circumstances, a situation more dependant than that which trusts to the more certain produce of nature, the Lord Chancellor says, "These men turn all dwelling and all glebe land into desolation and wilderness; therefore, that one covetous and unsatiable cormorant, and very plague of his native country, may compass about and inclose many thousand acres of ground together within one pale, or hedge, the husbandmen be thrust out of their own, or else, either by force, or fraud, or by violent oppression, they be put beside, or by wrongs and injuries they be so wearied, that they be compelled to sell all; by one means, therefore, or another, either by hook or crook, they must needs depart away, poor wretched souls ! men, women, husbands, wives, fatherless children, widows, woful mothers, with their young babes, and their whole household, small in substance, but much in numbers, as husbandry requireth many hands. Away they trudge, I say, out of their known and accustomed houses, finding no place to rest on. All their household stuff, which is very little worth, though it may well abide the sale, yet being suddenly thrust out, they be constrained to sell it for a thing of nought, and when they have wandered till that be spent, what can they do but steal, and then, justly perhaps, be hanged, or else go about begging. And yet then, also, they may be cast into prison as vagabonds, because they go about and work not, when no man will set them at work, though they never so willingly proffer themselves thereto. For one shepherd, or herdsman, is enough to eat up that with cattle which occupied numbers, whereas about husbandry many hundreds were requisite. And this is also the cause why victuals now in many places be dearer; besides this, the price of wool is so risen, that poor folks, which were wont to work it and make cloth thereof, be now able to buy none at all, and by this means very many be forced to forsake work, and give themselves to idleness."

[This picture of misery, degradation, and vice, to which the brave, the generous, the independent peasantry of England were reduced, was written more , than two centuries ago, when no intermediate station was left in the agricultural population between wealthy yeomen and day-labourers. It bears too striking a resemblance to later scenes in some Highland glens; and as it was the origin of the English poor-rates, are not similar results to be dreaded in the Highlands, by depriving the bulk of the people of all permanent property or certain means of subsistence, more especially as there is no manufacturing or regular employment for the labouring classes?]

On the part of those who instituted similar improvements, in which so few of the people were to have a share, conciliatory measures, and a degree of tenderness, beyond what would have been shown to strangers, might have been expected towards the hereditary supporters of their families. It was, however, unfortunately the natural consequences of the measures which were adopted, that few men of liberal feelings could be induced to undertake their execution. The respectable gentlemen,

[Several years previous to the death of George Lord Littleton, he visited Scotland, and passed some weeks at Taymouth with the late Earl of Breadalbane. Being asked by a friend some time after his return, what he had seen in the Highlands, and what he thought of the people and country? After giving his opinion, at some length, he concluded: "But of all I saw or heard, few things excited my surprise more than the learning and talents of Mr Campbell of Achallader, factor to Lord Breadalbane. Born and resident in the Highlands, I have seldom seen a more accomplished gentlemen, with more general and classical learning." The late Achallader and his father were upwards of ninety years factors to two successive Earls of Breadalbane.

Such were the gentlemen who formerly managed great Highland estates. With their superior rank in society, (an important point in the eyes of the Highlanders, whose feelings are hurt, when they see men without birth or education placed over them,) their influence, honourable principles, and intelligence, they kept the people under such judicious rules, as produced great fidelity, contentment, and independence of spirit. The gentlemen who managed the estates of Atholl, Argyll, Montrose, Perth, &c. were also of the first character and families in the country. Why has this system been changed, and why do independent men refuse acting? Formerly, and even within my own remembrance, the tenants on great estates were envied, and considered most fortunate, in the ease, happiness, and comfort they enjoyed. How does it happen, that, in this respect, there is a total change and revolution in the views and feelings of the people?]

who, in so many cases, had formerly consented to undertake the management of Highland property, resigned their employments, when they found the execution of the new measures incompatible with their sense of humanity and duty to a higher power than their employers. They shrunk from the ungrateful task. Their places were supplied by persons cast in a coarser mould, and generally strangers to the country; who, detesting the people, and ignorant of their character, capability, and language, quickly surmounted every obstacle, and hurried on the change, without reflecting on the distress of which it might be productive, or allowing the kindlier feelings of landlords to operate in favour of their ancient tenantry. "Men of this cast," says a reverend author, "overturn every thing." To attempt a new system, and to become acceptable tenants, was considered impossible with men so prejudiced, incurably indolent and ignorant, as the old occupiers were described, they were therefore in too many cases removed from the fertile and cultivated farms ; some left the country, and others were offered limited portions of land on uncultivated moors, on which they were to form a settlement; and thus, while particular districts have been desolated, the gross numerical population, has in some manner been preserved, and has afforded a ready answer to those who have thus acted, "I have not rooted out my people, I have only changed my system; they are as numerous as ever." Many judicious men, however, doubt the policy of these measures, and dread their consequences on the condition and habits of the people. The following account of their situation is from the respectable and intelligent clergyman of an extensive parish in the county of Ross. "When the valleys and higher grounds were let to the shepherds, the whole population was drawn down to the sea-shore, where they were crowd-, ed on small lots of land, to earn their subsistence by labour (where all are labourers and few employers) and by sea-fishing, the latter so little congenial to their former habits. This cutting down farms into lots [It will be observed, that these one or two acre lots are forming as an improved system, in a country where many loud complaints are daily made of surplus population, and of the misery of the people on their old farms of five, ten, fifteen, twenty, and more, arable acres, with pasture in proportion; and yet in a country without regular employment, and without manufactures, a family is to be supported on one or two acres!!] was found so profitable, that over the whole of this district, the sea-coast, where the shore is accessible, is thickly studded with wretched cottages, crowded with starving inhabitants. Ancient respectable tenants, who passed the greater part of life in the enjoyment of abundance, and in the exercise of hospitality and charity, possessing stocks of ten, twenty, and thirty breeding cows, with the usual proportion of other stock, are now pining on one or two acres of bad land, with one or two starved cows; and, for this accommodation, a calculation is made, that they must support their families and pay the rent of their lots, not from the produce, but from the sea; thus drawing a rent which the land cannot afford. When the herring fishery (the only fishery prosecuted on this coast) succeeds, they generally satisfy the landlords, whatever privations they may suffer; but when the fishing fails, they fall in arrears, and are sequestrated, and their stock sold to pay the rents, their lots given to others, and they and their families turned adrift on the world. The herring fishery, always precarious, has, for a succession of years, been very defective, and this class of people are reduced to extreme misery. At first, some of them possessed capital, from converting their farm stock into cash, but this has been long exhausted. It is distressing to view the general poverty of this class of people, aggravated by their having once enjoyed abundance and independence ; and we cannot sufficiently admire their meek and patient spirit, supported by the powerful influence of religious and moral principle. There are still a few small tenants on the old system, occupying the same farm jointly, but they are falling fast to decay, and sinking into the new class of cottars.

"Except in Glenelg, emigration has been very limited from this side of the island, owing to their powerful attachment to the country of their fathers : although, at the time of the violent changes, they had sufficient property to trans-port and settle their families comfortably in America, they could not tear themselves away; and now, although eager for a change, they have not the power." [Letter from Dr Downie, minister of Lochalsh.]

This mode of giving all the good and cultivated land to a few rich individuals, and of subdividing small portions of barren moor or of inferior soil among the previous occupiers, in a country without any permanent means of subsistence beyond the scanty and precarious produce of those unreclaimed patches, is a line of policy, which could not fail to excite universal surprise, did we not yearly witness so many theoretical schemes, often inconsistent with each other, and so little regard for the happiness of the people. But leaving out of view the consideration that, from the prevalence of turning corn lands into pasture, the demand for labour is diminished while the number of labourers is increased, it can scarcely be expected that a man who had once been in the condition of a farmer, possessed of land, and of considerable property in cattle, horses, sheep, and money; often employing servants himself, conscious of his independence, and proud of his ability to assist others; should without the most poignant feelings, descend to the rank of a hired labourer, even where labour and payment can be obtained, more especially if he must serve on the farms or in the country where he formerly commanded as master. It is not easy for those who live in a country like England, where so many of the lower orders have nothing but what they acquire by the labour of the passing day, and possess no permanent property or share in the agricultural produce of the soil, to appreciate the nature of the spirit of independence, which is generated in countries where the free cultivators of the soil constitute the major part of the population. It can scarcely be imagined how proudly a man feels, however small his property may be, when he has a spot of arable and pasture land, stocked with corn, horses, and cows; a species of property which, more than any other, binds him, by ties of interest and attachment, to the spot with which he is connected. He considers himself an independent person, placed in a station in society far above the day-labourer, who has no stake in the permanency of existing circumstances, beyond the prospect of daily employment; his independence being founded on permanent property, he has an interest in the welfare of the state, by supporting which he renders his own property more secure, and, although the value of the property may not be great, it is every day in his view; his cattle and horses feed around him; his grass and corn he sees growing and ripening; his property is visible to all observers, which is calculated to raise the owner in general consideration; and when a passing friend or neighbour praises his thriving crops and his cattle, his heart swells with pleasure, and he exerts himself to support and to preserve that government and those laws which render it secure. Such is the case in many parts of the world; such was formerly the case in Scotland, and is still in many parts of the Highlands. Those who wish to see only the two castes of capitalists and day-labourers, may smile at this union of independence and comparative poverty. But, that the opposite system is daily quenching the independent spirit of the Highlanders, and laying a foundation for the establishment of poor-rates, and the consequent degradation of the people, is an undoubted fact, and gives additional strength to the argument of those who object to the reduction of the agricultural population, and regret their removal to the great towns, and to those seats of misery and vice, the villages in preparation in some parts of the country.

It is painful to dwell on this subject; but as information, communicated by men of honour, judgment, and perfect veracity, descriptive of what they daily witness, affords the best means of forming a correct judgment; and as these gentlemen, from their situations in life, have no immediate interest in the determination of the question beyond what is dictated by humanity and a love of truth, their authority may be considered as undoubted. The following extract of a letter from a friend, as well as the extract already quoted, is of this description. Speaking of the settlers on the new allotments, he says, "I scarcely need tell you that these wretched people exhibit every symptom of the most abject poverty, and the most helpless distress. Their miserable lots in the moors, notwithstanding their utmost labour and strictest economy, have not yielded them a sufficient crop for the support of their families, for three months. The little money they were able to derive from the sale of their stock has, therefore, been expended in the purchase of necessaries, and is now wholly exhausted.

[When whole districts are depopulated at once, their pecuniary losses, and the distress of those ejected, are increased by the circumstance of all selling off their stock and furniture at the same time, as consequently there can be but few purchasers. Their moveables will not suit the establishments of the capitalists ; and, while the ejected tenants must leave them unsold, or accept of a nominal price, they are deprived of this small and last resource for transporting themselves to a foreign country, where a virtuous, high-spirited, brave people, are not considered as a nuisance or a burthen on the soil.]

Though they have now, therefore, overcome all their scruples about leaving their native land, and possess the most ardent desire to emigrate, in order to avoid the more intolerable evils of starvation, and have been much encouraged by the favourable accounts they have received from their countrymen already in America, they cannot possibly pay the expense of transporting themselves and their families thither." [Letter from a gentleman in the county of Ross.]

Well might the old Highlander thus warn his countrymen—"Take care of yourselves, for the law has reached Ross-shire." He had more cause for alarm for his posterity than he was aware of. Little could he calculate, when his fears were excited by vague ideas of a change; little could he anticipate that the introduction of civil order, and the extension of legal authority, which, in an enlightened age, tend to advance the prosperity, as well as promote the security of a nation, should have been to his countrymen either the signals of banishment from their native country, or the means of lowering the condition of those who were permitted to remain. With more reason it might have been expected that the principles of an enlightened age would have gradually introduced beneficial changes among the ancient race; that they would have softened down the harsher features of their character, and prepared them for habits better suited to the cultivation of the soil, than the indolent freedom of a pastoral life. Instead of this, the new system, whatever may be its intrinsic merits or defects, has, in too many cases, been carried into execution, in a manner which has excited the strongest and most indignant sensations in the breasts of those who do not overlook the present inconvenience and distress of the many, in the eager pursuit of a prospective advantage to the few. The consequences which have resulted, and the contrast between the present and past condition of the people, and between their present and past disposition and feelings towards their superiors, show, in the most striking light, the impolicy of attempting, with such unnatural rapidity, innovations which it would require an age, instead of a few years, to accomplish in a salutary manner; and the impossibility of effecting them without inflicting great misery, endangering good morals, and undermining loyalty to the king, and respect for constituted authority.

A love of change, proceeding from the actual possession of wealth, or from the desire of acquiring it, disturbs, by an ill-directed influence, the gradual and effectual progress of those improvements which, instead of benefiting the man of capital alone, should equally distribute their advantages to all. In the prosecution of the great changes which have taken place in different parts of the North, it would appear that, in many instances, the original inhabitants were never thought of, nor included in the system which was to be productive of such wealth to the landlord, the man of capital, and the country at large. Strangers were called in to assist as agents in the execution of the plans, while others were placed, as farmers, on large establishments, to make room for which whole glens were cleared of their inhabitants, who, in some instances, resisted these mandates, (although legally executed), in the hope of preserving to their families their ancient homes, to which all were enthusiastically attached.

[The strength of this attachment is not easily comprehended by those who are unacquainted with the people. An instance of this feeling has been already given, and I could add many more, all evincing an unconquerable attachment to the spot where they first drew breath. I shall state two cases of men who seem to have died of what is commonly called a broken heart, originating in grief for the loss of their native homes. I knew them intimately. They were respectable and judicious men, and occupied the farms on which they were born till far advanced in life, when they were removed. They afterwards got farms at no great distance, but were afflicted with a deep despondency, gave up their usual habits, and seldom spoke with any seeming satisfaction, except when the subject turned on their former life, and the spot which they had left. They appeared to be much relieved by walking to the tops of the neighbouring hills, and gazing for hours in the direction of their late homes; but in a few months their strength totally failed, and without any pain or complaint, except mental depression, one died in a year, and the other in eighteen months. I have mentioned these men together, as there was such a perfect similarity in their cases; but they were not acquainted with each other, nor of the same district. When they suffered so much by removing from their ancient homes only to another district, how much more severe must their feelings have been had they been forced to emigrate, unless, perhaps, distance and new objects would have diverted their attention from the cause of their grief? But be that as it may, the cause is undoubted.]

These people, blameless in every respect, save their poverty and ignorance of modern agriculture, could not believe that such harsh measures proceeded from their honoured superiors, whose conduct had hitherto been kind and paternal, and to whom they themselves had ever been attached and faithful. The whole was, therefore, attributed to the acting agents, and against them their indignation was principally directed; and, in some instances, their resistance was so obstinate, that it became necessary to enforce the orders "vi et armis," and to have recourse to an obsolete mode of ejectment, by setting their houses on fire. This last species of legal proceeding was so conclusive, that even the stubborn Highlanders, with all their attachment to the homes of their fathers, were compelled to yield.

[The author of Guy Mannering has alluded to this "summary and effectual mode of ejectment still practised in the north of Scotland when a tenant proves refractory," in his admirable description of the ejectment of the colony of Derncleugh. When this picture of fictitious distress, of which a lawless race were the supposed objects, has created a powerful sensation wherever our language is understood; what heart shall withhold its sympathy from real distress, when faithful, blameless, and industrious beings are treated in the same manner, without the same provocation, and without any cause except the desire of increasing an income, and where, instead of " thirty hearts that wad ha'e wanted bread before ye wanted sunkets," more than twice thirty thousand have been turned adrift in different parts of the North?]

Some of the ejected tenants were allowed small allotments of land; some half an acre, others two acres of moor, which they were to cultivate into arable land; and the improvements which have succeeded those summary ejectments have been highly eulogized, and references made to their effects, in contrast to the former uncultivated state of the country. Many people are, however, inclined to doubt the advantages of improvements which call for such frequent apologies; for if the advantages to the people were so evident, and if more lenient measures had been pursued, vindication could not have been necessary.

It must, however, be matter of deep regret, that such a line of proceeding was pursued with regard to these brave, unfortunate, and well principled people, as excited so strong and general a sensation in the public mind. It is no less to be deplored, that any conduct sanctioned by authority, even although productive of ultimate advantage, (and how it can produce any advantage beyond what might have been obtained by pursuing a scheme of conciliation and encouragement, is a very questionable point),

[The following are instances of the capability of small tenants in the Highlands, and of the improvement of lands and rents effected by far other means than the burning decrees. The tenant of a friend of mine, when he first took his farm, paid a rent of L.8, 10s. This rent has been gradually augmented, since the year 1781, to L.85, and this without lease or encouragement from the landlord, who, by the industry and improvements of his tenant, has received an increase of more than 1000 per cent. in less than forty years. On another estate, nineteen small tenants paid, in the year 1784, a joint rent of L.S7. This has been raised by degrees, without a shilling given in assistance, for improvements, which have been considerable, to L.371. The number of acres is 145, which are situated in a high district, and with no pasture for sheep. These are not insulated facts. I could produce many, to show that industry, with abstemious and contented habits, more than compensates for the increased consumption of produce by so many occupants; and that by judicious management, the peasantry of the Highlands, although they may be numerous in proportion to the quantity of fertile land, contribute to secure the permanent welfare both of the landholder and of the country. What men can pay better rents than those who live nine months in the year on potatoes and milk, on bread only when potatoes fail, and on butcher meat seldom or never? Who are better calculated to make good soldiers, than men trained up to such habits, and contented with such moderate comforts? And who are likely to make more loyal and happy subjects, contented with their lot, and true to their king, and to their immediate superiors?]

should have, in the first instance, inflicted such general misery. This regret must be greatly increased, by the belief that these proceedings originated in mistaken notions, founded on malignant and persevering misrepresentations, calculated to give the proprietors a most unfavourable impression of the character and capability of the native inhabitants; who were described as being in a state of misery, without religion or morality, and -totally unfit for any good purpose. These prejudiced and unfounded statements were followed up by flattering views of the prosperity and happiness to be expected from the proposed plans for their future establishment. Those who thus vilified the poor people, and who strongly advocated the adoption of these new plans, were well a-ware of the partiality, patriarchal kindness, and protection exercised by the proprietors; and knew that no proposal for their entire ejectment and expatriation, nor even for their removal to the situations proposed to them, would be received, unless the former favourable opinion had been changed and obliterated. To this point, therefore, the attention of the promoters of these violent changes was particularly directed, till at length they succeeded in procuring the removal of the native farmers, and the introduction of a new order of tenantry. This system of overlooking the original occupiers, and of giving every support to strangers, has been much practised in different Highland counties; and on one great estate, the support which has been given to farmers of capital, as well in the amount of the sums expended on improvements, as in the liberal abatement of rents, is, I believe, unparalleled in the United Kingdom, and affords additional matter of regret, that the delusions practised on a generous and public-spirited landholder, have been so perseveringly and successfully applied, that it would appear as if all feeling of former kindness towards the native tenantry had ceased to exist. To them any uncultivated barren spot of moor land, however small, was considered sufficient for the support of a family; while the most lavish encouragement was given to the new tenants, on whom, and on the erection of buildings, the improvement of lands, roads, bridges, &c. upwards of 210,000. have been expended since the year 1808. With this proof of unprecedented liberality, it cannot be sufficiently lamented that an estimate of the character of these poor people was taken from the misrepresentations of interested persons, instead of judging from the conduct of the same men when brought out into the world, where they obtained a name and character which has secured the esteem and approbation of men high in honour and rank, and, from their talents and experience, perfectly capable of judging with correctness. With such proofs of capability, and with such materials for carrying on the improvements, and maintaining the permanent prosperity of the country, when occupied by a hardy abstemious race, easily led on to a full exertion of their faculties by proper management; there cannot be a question but that if, instead of placing them, as has been done, in situations bearing too near a resemblance to the potato-gardens of Ireland,—the origin and still existing cause of the poverty, disaffection, and hostility towards the higher orders, so prevalent in that country,—they had been permitted to remain as cultivators of the soil, receiving a moderate share of the vast sums expended on their richer, but not more deserving successors, such a humane and considerate regard to the prosperity of a whole people, instead of confining it to a favoured few, would undoubtedly have answered every good purpose. Although the wealth expected from the improvements might be delayed, it would have been no less certain, had the progress been left to the ancient attached race; and had such a course been pursued, instead of depopulated glens, and starving peasantry, alienated from their superiors, and in their grief and despair too ready to imbibe opinions hostile to the best interests of their country, we should still have seen a high-spirited and loyal people, ready, at the nod of their respected chiefs, to embody themselves into regiments, with the same zeal as in former times; and when enrolled among the defenders of their country, to exhibit a conduct honourable to that country and to their profession. [See Articles on the Sutherland regiments. In a memorial presented to Government by the Earl of Sutherland, claiming a compensation for expense and loss sustained in 1745, it is stated, that his Lordship had armed and ready to support the royal cause, 2337 men, from his own estate, who, it is added, received high approbation from the Earl of Loudon, and the other generals who saw their fine and warlike appearance. The power of bringing to the support of the King so large a force, when the country required their services, is worth some sacrifice of rent; not that any sacrifice would be necessary were time allowed to the tenants, and the same encouragement and support given to them as has been received by the newly introduced tenants, who perhaps would hesi-state to obey a summons to attend their landlord's call, or, if they did, their small number would render them of little use.] Such is the acknowledged character of the men of these districts as soldiers, when called forth in the service of their country, although they have been described as irregular in their habits, and a burden on the lands which gave them birth, and on which their forefathers maintained the honour, and promoted the wealth and prosperity of their chiefs and superiors. [The late Lord Sutherland was the twenty-first Earl; a length of succession unparalleled in the peerage of this country. The estates which supported this ancient unbroken descent have undergone less change than almost any others. In all the numberless revolutions of property, either in troublesome or peaceable times, these have not only been preserved entire, but great additions made by the purchase of neighbouring estates, from the produce of the labour and rents of the ancient tenantry. With a boisterous ungenial climate, and a rugged barren soil, the estate supported 15,000 persons, who maintained the independence of their superiors, and enabled them to preserve their title and property in a manner which no other family can boast; and, with such evidence, it might have been expected that some hesitation would have been observed in asserting that the country is totally incapable of maintaining the ancient population. When it is recollected that this population has been maintained for so many centuries, and that, by the rents they paid, they enabled the landlords to purchase all the lands for sale which lay convenient for them, these assertions will be received with caution.] But is it conceivable that the people at home should be so degraded, while their brothers and sons who become soldiers maintain an honourable character? The people ought not to be reproached with incapacity or immorality without better evidence than that of their prejudiced and unfeeling calumniators. If it be so, however, and if this virtuous and honourable race, which has contributed to raise and uphold the character of the British peasantry in the eyes of all Europe, are thus fallen, and so suddenly fallen; how great and powerful must be the cause! and if at home they are thus low in character, how unparalleled must be the improvement which is produced by difference of profession, as, for example, when they become soldiers, and associate in barracks with troops of all characters, or in quarters, or billets, with the lowest of the people, instead of mingling with such society as they left in their native homes! Why should these Highlanders be at home so degenerate, as they are represented, and as in recent instances they would actually appear to have become?

[Of the fruits of the modern civilization of the Highlanders, and of the system of improving their condition, as it is practised in the North, we have an instance in a recent association for the suppression of felony, formed by those concerned in the stock and grazing farms. The object of this measure is the protection of property from the depredations of that people, amongst whom, in their uncivilized and uneducated state, crimes were so few, that, according to the records of the Court of Justiciary, from 1717 to 1810, there was only one capital conviction for theft, (horse stealing, which happened in the year 1791,) and only two capital convictions for other crimes; namely, a woman for child murder in 1761, and a man for fire raising in 1785. Such was the former state of the people in these districts, where crimes have increased so rapidly of late, that protecting associations are become necessary, and where it has been found that nearly 600 sheep have been stolen in a season from one individual: while those who left the country with the character and dispositions acquired among their fathers and brothers, (against whom those protecting societies are formed), are declared by the first authority "pictures of perfect moral rectitude, military discipline, and soldierly conduct;" and, in the energetic language of an ingenious author, "a mirror to the the British army."—The man convicted of horse stealing was William M'Kay, a discharged soldier, who had learned a lesson in another country. The circumstance was so very extraordinary as still to afford subject of conversation among the people.]

And why, when they mount the cockade, are they found to be so virtuous and regular, that one thousand men have been embodied four and five years together, at different and distant periods, from 1759 to 1763, from 1779 to 1783, and from 1793 to 1798, without an instance of military punishment? These men performed all the duties of soldiers to the perfect satisfaction of their commanders, and continued so unexceptionable in their conduct down to the latest period, when embodied into the 93d regiment, that, according to the words of a distinguished general officer, "Although the youngest regiment in the service, they might form an example to all:" And on general parades for punishment, the Sutherland Highlanders have been ordered to their quarters, as "examples of this kind were not necessary for such honourable soldiers, who had no crimes to punish," [See Article Sutherland Highlanders.]

Can it be doubted, that had a moderate portion of the encouragement given to the stock graziers possessed of capital, been bestowed on these valuable men, we should probably have seen no difference of character, except that, in those who remained at home, we might have expected to meet with more of native simplicity and integrity, part of which might have been lost by those who had mixed more with the world ? If those who remain at home have shown contrary dispositions, these must have been produced by some powerful cause; and, with the loss of that independence and disinterested fidelity which hardly knew any bounds, the best parts of their character must have been destroyed. Is not their altered conduct rather a subject of pity than of blame ? When they see their children starving, and crying for that food which they have not to give; and when we reflect that, according to the Gaelic proverb, "Hunger has a long arm,"—some cause may, perhaps, be discovered why the hand which ought to have been employed in profitable industry at home, or against an enemy abroad, has been sometimes extended to endanger a neighbour's property. Have they shown ingratitude for kind treatment? Are they unreasonable, because they are not satisfied when suddenly deprived of their usual means of subsistence, and placed upon the black moors? Some are, indeed, told that the ocean is open to them, and that they may live by fishing, though their former habits render them unfit for that line of life. [Till lately, very few flat fish were caught by the fishers on the east coast of Scotland, although the sea abounds with turbot, soles, &c. Every encouragement in the way of premiums had failed to induce these men to alter their usual mode of fishing. When such are the difficulties in the way of overcoming the prejudices of men who have been fishers from their youth, can it be matter of surprise that the shepherds and graziers of the mountains do not, as if by instinct, become fishers, without the least knowledge or experience of the new element from which they are desired to extract their subsistence?]

It is probable that the notoriety which these facts have obtained, is the cause which has given birth to the statements which I have already noticed. In these publications the people are vilified, and described as dishonest, void of religion, irregular in their habits,

[Detachments of the Sutherland Fencible regiment of 1762 were stationed in different parts of the Perthshire Highlands. The excellent and orderly conduct of these men, their regular attendance at church, and their general deportment, were so marked, even among a people who were themselves distinguished for similar habits, that the memory of the Sutherland soldiers is, to this day, held in respect. In the years 1797 and 1798, large detachments of the Sutherland regiment of that period were stationed in the same districts. The character and conduct of these soldiers, every man of whom was from Sutherland, were in all respects the same. So strong was the impression made on the minds of the people of Athole and Breadalbane by the behaviour of the Sutherland men, that it materially changed their previous opinion of the character of soldiers in general, whom they considered as reprobates, with whom no person of quiet domestic habits could with safety associate; and hence, when a young man enlisted in any regiment except the National Corps, his family were too ready to believe that he was a lost man, an outcast from them and his native country. I now speak from personal experience, as I found, in the course of my recruiting in those districts, a great and gratifying change in the sentiments of the people. After the Sutherland detachments were stationed in Perthshire, young men engaged more readily, and their parents showed less dread at their inlistment as recruits, "as they now found that soldiers were quiet sober people, with whom they need not be afraid to trust their sons." ]

and incapable of managing farms, or of paying adequate rents; although, on a reference to the poor's funds, taken on an average of many years previous to 1800, it will be found, that, however ignorant they were of farming, they were so independent of parochial aid, that, in those days, when the population of that country was so great as to form one of the alleged causes of removal, the sums paid to the poor of this supposed surplus population, in the parish of Rogart, containing 2023 persons, were under L. 13 annually; in the parish of Farr, containing 2408 persons, under L.12; in Assynt, containing 2395 inhabitants, under L.ll; in Kildonan, containing 1443 persons, under L.8 annually: other parishes were nearly in the same proportion ; and at this moderate expense were all the poor of those districts supplied ! Few districts, however fertile, can produce such instances of independence as were exhibited by these uncultivated parishes, which gave birth to the religious, the virtuous, and honourable soldiers of the Reay and Sutherland regiments, whose character, as appreciated by the best judges, and proved by their own conduct, will be seen in the Notice of the Military Services of these Corps.

[The great changes which have taken place in the above parishes, and some others, have excited a warm and general interest. While the liberal expenditure of capital was applauded by all, many intelligent persons lamented that its application was so much in one direction; that the ancient tenantry were to have no share in this expenditure; and that so small a portion was allotted for the future settlement of the numerous population who had been removed from their farms, and were placed in situations so new, and in many respects so unsuitable,—certain that, in the first instance, great distress, disaffection, and hostility towards the landlords and government, with a diminution of that spirit of independence and those proper principles which had hitherto distinguished them, would be the inevitable result. So sudden and universal a change of station, habits, and circumstances, and their being reduced from the state of independent tenants to that of cottagers and day-labourers, could not fail of arresting the notice of the public.

Anxious to obtain the best information on this interesting subject, I early made the most minute inquiry, careful, at the same time, to form no opinion on intelligence communicated by the people of the district, or by persons connected with them, and who would naturally be interested in, and prejudiced against, or in favour of those changes. I was the more desirous for the best information, as the statements published with regard to the character, capability, and principles of the people, exhibited a perfect contrast to my own personal experience and knowledge of the admirable character and exemplary conduct of that portion of them which had left their native country ; and I bettered it improbable, nay impossible, that the sons of worthless parents, without religious or moral principle—as they have been described—could conduct themselves in such an honourable manner as to be held up as an example to the British army. But, indeed, as to information, so much publicity had been given, by various statements explanatory of, and in vindication of these proceedings, that little more was necessary, beyond what these publications afforded, to show the nature of the plans, and the manner in which they were carried into execution.

Forming my opinions, therefore, from those statements, and from information communicated by persons not immediately connected with that part of the country, I drew the conclusions which appeared in the former editions of these Sketches. But, with a strong desire to be correct and well informed in all I state, and with an intention of correcting myself, in this edition, should I find that I had been misinformed, or had taken up mistaken views of the subject, in the different statements I had produced, I embraced the first spare time I could command; and in autumn 1823, I travelled over the improved districts, and a large portion of those parts which had been depopulated and laid out in extensive pastoral farms, as well as the stations in which the people are placed. After as strict an examination as circumstances permitted, and a careful inquiry among those who, from their knowledge and judgment were enabled to form the best opinions, I do not find that I have one statement to alter, or one opinion to correct; though I am fully aware that many hold very different opinions. But however much I may differ in some points, there is one in which I warmly and cordially join; and that is, in expressing my high satisfaction and admiration at the liberality displayed in the immense sums expended on buildings, in enclosing, clearing, and draining land, in forming roads and communications, and introducing the most approved agricultural implements. In all these, the generous distribution of such exemplary encouragement stands unparalleled and alone. Equally remarkable is the great abatement of rents given to the tenants of capital—abatements which it was not to be expected they would ask, considering the preference and encouragement given them, and the promises they had held out of great and unprecedented revenue, from their skill and exertions. But these promises seem to have been early forgotten; the tenants of capital were the first to call for relief: and so great and generous has this relief been, that the rents are reduced so low as to be almost on a level with what they were when the great changes commenced. Thus while upwards of L.210,000 have been expended on improvements, no return is to be looked for from this vast expenditure; and in the failure of their promised rents, the tenants have sufficiently proved the unstable and fallacious nature of the system which they, with so much plausibility and perseverance, got established by delusions practised on a high-minded, honourable individual, not aware of the evils produced by so universal a movement of a whole people. Every friend to a brave and valuable race, must rejoice that these evils are in progress of alleviation, by a return of that kindness and protection which had formerly been so conspicuous towards that race of tenantry, and which could never have been interrupted, had it not been for those delusions to which I have more than once alluded, and which have been prosecuted, within the last twenty years, in many parts of the Highlands, with a degree of assiduity and antipathy to the unfortunate inhabitants altogether remarkable. But in the county in question, no antipathy to the people is now to be dreaded; a return of ancient kindness will be met with ancient fidelity and attachment; and if the people are rendered comfortable and contented, they will be loyal, warlike, and brave. Then regiments may again send recruiting parties, which had been recalled from the county, as not a young man would enlist while the minds of the people were soured and disaffected ; but now, Sutherland will again be what it has been, a nursery of soldiers, "Mirrors," as they have been called, "to the British army."]


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