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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


Beneficial Results of Judicious Arrangements, and of allowing Time to acquire a Knowledge of Agricultural Improvements— Emigration—Agricultural Pursuits promote Independence, and prevent Pauperism.

Happily for the prosperity of the Highlands, for the welfare of the state, and for the preservation of the original inhabitants of the mountains, there are many populous districts, in which the inhabitants have been permitted to remain, and are contented and independent, and in which the beneficial effects of judgment, combined with a proper appreciation of the best interests of Highland landlords, are successfully displayed, and the character and capability of Highland tenants practically proved. The former, availing themselves of the natural benefit of a hardy athletic race of men, easily induced by kindness to make a full exertion of their powers, have realized the most beneficial effects on their general character, and, by a gradual and gentle diffusion of agricultural knowledge, have both improved their own incomes, and increased the wealth and comfort of their tenants. The aversion of the latter to any change of ancient habits, has been, in a great measure, overcome; and they are found to enter very keenly into the improved system, when encouraged by example, and once fairly convinced of its advantages.

[This is no new trait of character. Dr Walker, an eminent Professor of Natural History in the University of Edinburgh, commenced, in the year 1760, an extensive and enlarged system of inquiry relative to the Highlands. From that year till 1780, he was employed by the General Assembly to examine and report on the religious and moral condition of the inhabitants, to which he added their economical history. Of the people he says, "It is only from a superficial view that they are represented as unconquerably a-verse to industry and every kind of innovation. Besides other good qualities, their laborious assiduity in various occupations is well known, wherever they happen to settle in the low country." He adds, "The unrestrained progress of inoculation abundantly shows, that the Highlanders are as candid in their judgment, are as ready to embrace, and can as vigorously pursue, any innovation that is advantageous or salutary, as any other people whatever."— Economical History of the Highlands of Scotland.]

The gentlemen to whom I allude commenced with the improvement of the condition of their tenants, as the best foundation for the improvement of their estates, the permanency of their incomes, and the pleasure of seeing themselves surrounded by a prosperous, grateful, and contented tenantry.

[A very worthy Baronet in the Highlands (Sir George Stewart of Grand-tully), who has made the necessary allowances for the prejudices and frailties of men, has allowed his tenants the time necessary to learn the improved mode of culture, and to increase the value and size of their breed of cattle and sheep. This has been done without separating the arable land from the pasture, or diminishing the farms of any, but rather enlarging them, if too small, when it could be done without prejudice to others. At the same time the rents have been gradually rising. The consequence is, that he receives the undiminished rental of his estate; and while considerable distress has been experienced in his neighbourhood, his people are in so different circumstances, that, when lately, he had occasion for a supply of money to assist him in the purchase of some adjoining lands, they came forward with a spontaneous offer to advance 18,000 l., with a declaration that they were ready with 60001. more if required. This is a pleasing instance of the attachment of the olden times. The manner in which these people pay their rents, and support their families, will appear the more remarkable to the advocates for large farms, as this estate, with a rental of less than 9000l. supports a population of 2835 souls, all maintained on the produce; while only 17 disabled paupers, and some poor old women, require parochial relief; and the tenants are so independent, and so grateful to their humane and generous landlord, that they enable him to purchase the estates for sale in his neighbourhood.]

"On every estate," says Dr Robertson, speaking of the new system, "this complete change has not taken place: the ancient connection between the heads of tribes and their clan is not in every instance dissolved. In these cases, the affability and kindness of the landlord is the frequent subject of their conversation, and the prosperity of his family is the object of their warmest wishes and devout prayers.

At their little parties and convivial meetings, his health is always the first toast. They feel an interest in the fortunes and destiny of his children. Upon his return home, after a long absence, or his promotion to a place of honour or profit, or the birth of an heir, the glad tidings spread with the velocity of lightning, and bonfires illuminate the whole estate. In the county of Inverness there are such landlords: as the almoners of heaven, they take the divine pleasure of making their dependants happy. There are also, in the same county, landlords, who are left to the execration of their people, to the contempt of every benevolent man, and to the reproach of their own condemning consciences." [Dr Robertson's General View of the Agriculture of the County of Inverness, drawn up by order of the Board of Agriculture.]

The policy of the innovations may be considered in three points of view; 1st, As affecting the interests of the proprietors; 2dly, The welfare of the people; and, 3dly, That of the state.

1st, The interest of the proprietors. Whether these innovations be conducive to the advantage of the proprietor is a point which, in the conflict of adverse opinions, is not easily decided; yet it would seem to be very clear, that a system, which has so great a tendency to break the spirit and lower the natural and moral condition of the bulk of the people engaged in the agriculture of the Highlands, cannot, in any just sense of the word, be very advantageous to the landlords, since, by throwing the produce of the country into the hands of a few men of capital, it gives them a monopoly of the farms, and often the option of fixing whatever rents they choose to pay; for few men can enter into competition on the enlarged scale of the new system,—an evil which seems to have been overlooked when it was adopted. But, admitting that landlords are not bound to wait for the instruction and improvement of their tenants in agricultural knowledge; admitting, to its fullest extent, their legal right of managing their lands in the manner apparently most profitable; and allowing the most unqualified power to exercise the right of removing the ancient occupiers, [In answer to the question of the propriety of dismissing the ancient occupiers of land, the conduct of manufacturers and tradesmen is quoted as an example of the exercise of such a right, and of the practice of turning away the people without regard to their future comfort. While it is admitted that this is certainly the practice in the instance alluded to, it may still be a question whether, if more kindness were shown, if the legal right of dismissal were less rigorously exerted, and if working tradesmen and artisans were encouraged, by ties of kindness and association, to believe their situations and employments permanent, we would see so many combinations against master tradesmen and manufacturers, and their houses and property so often in danger of conflagration. But, whatever may be the cause, there is no doubt of the appearance of a spirit of revenge and despair on the part of the working classes, and of a want of confidence and a distrust on the part of their employers; and certainly such a state of society, in which the employed are kept down by the bayonet and the strong arm of the law, and the lives and properties of the employers protected by military force, and a strict police, does not form a very desirable example for the imitation of Highland proprietors, in the case of the once chivalrous, and still valuable occupiers of their land.] it may still be doubted whether plans so hastily adopted, so productive of immediate distress, and which occasion such permanent discontent, are likely to be ultimately successful.

But, at the same time that this legal and admitted right of removing the original tenantry from their farms has been very freely exercised, it must appear somewhat extraordinary, nor is it easy to account for it in a satisfactory manner, that so many attempts have been made to restrain emigration, the best and only remaining relief for those who had been deprived of their farms. This course must undoubtedly have been pursued under the persuasion that some benefit would have been lost to the community by the consequent depopulation. But, the truth is, the value of the people was well known; and to constrain them to remain in the country, after they have been deprived of their usual resources, is equally inconsistent with every principle of sound policy and of justice. Nor is it a weak objection to the expediency of these measures, that an interference to prevent government from giving encouragement to emigrants was found necessary; [Government having listened to representations made a few years ago in name and behalf of those Highlanders who had already been ejected from their possessions; and in behalf of others who dreaded the same fate, it was resolved to encourage emigration to Canada, under certain stipulations. Several landholders became alarmed, and made counter representations, on the plea that their country would be depopulated. In consequence of this, the execution of the plan was suspended, and it was at length entirely withdrawn, to the great distress of numbers who were anxious to avail themselves of this opportunity of removal to a country more favourable to their views, but who were destitute of the means of attaining their object, as much of their small capital had been expended in waiting the final decision of the proposed offers. This line of conduct must appear very inconsistent.] for this furnishes a practical refutation of the principles on which many have acted, and of the assertion made, that the Highlands were only calculated for pasture and a thin population. If the position was correct, why, in opposition to this maxim, attempt to retain the people, and place them on such paltry lots of land as have been mentioned, perhaps not one-tenth of the extent of the farms from which they were removed, on the ground that they were too small, and this in a country without regular employment, or, indeed, any means of subsistence except such as are drawn from the soil? Hence, it would appear, that the value of the old tenantry was well understood; otherwise why encourage or compel them to remain? Many considerations might be expected to operate to prevent the adoption of a system which called for such indefensible expedients, and which could only be supported by arguments so inconsistent.

When the proprietor is anxious to obtain the utmost rent for his land, it is, in general, his interest not to divide his farms upon too minute a scale, such subdivision of land, among those of the ancient tenantry, who, after their removal from their original farms, are permitted to remain, being found to be fruitful in misery and discontent: but, however proper and applicable extensive establishments may be to fertile districts, easily cultivated, situated in a favourable climate, and possessing the advantages of being near market, water carriage, and manure; and also of being within reach of towns and villages, where a supply of labourers, in the busy period of autumn, may be readily procured; yet, in peculiar situations, great advantage may be derived from a division of the soil into moderately small farms; and, with regard to the Highlands, many, who have had opportunities of judging accurately, have been inclined to believe that, at a distance from market, with much rugged but improvable land, an active abstemious population, and a comparatively barren soil, improvements, which could not be executed by capital alone, unassisted by the manual labour of the occupiers, [See Appendix, BB.] may be carried on to the mutual advantage both of landlord and tenant. To this we may add what has occurred in many instances in times of difficulty, that the economical habits of the small tenantry will enable them to fulfil their engagements to their landlords, when the large farmers, embarrassed by extensive speculations and expensive establishments, must often fail in the fulfilment of theirs. That this is not merely a fanciful hypothesis, unsupported by facts, may be seen by reference to those countries in which the lands are more generally distributed, as in France, where the labours of the agricultural population are at once productive of a great public revenue, and of comfort and independence to the body of the people. England, in the days of the Edwards and Henries, although her foreign commerce was then extremely circumscribed, was prosperous and powerful from the produce of the soil alone, as was France during the late war, in which, though general communication and commerce were almost entirely interrupted, great revenues were derived from internal resources. In the same manner, in Flanders, Holland, &c. the profits of agricultural produce are more generally diffused, and few countries display a finer agricultural prospect; especially Austrian Flanders, where the farms do not, in many instances, exceed 10, 20, and SO acres each, and only, in a few cases, extend to 100 or 200; and yet it has been maintained that, in Britain, where, in many counties, the farms average from 300 to 3000 acres, the country could not pay the taxes and other public burdens, [The great increase in the value of animal produce has been ascribed to an extensive commerce, and particularly to the great consumption in manufacturing towns. Yet, in no period in the history of this country, were the manufacturers in greater distress, and less able to purchase animal food, than in 1816 and the four succeeding years, while at no time were sheep and cattle higher-priced, or in greater demand. In 1822, when manufacturers were in full employment, the price of beef and mutton fell fifty per cent. below former prices in the butcher-market. In 1824, again, cattle have risen forty per cent. in price above that of 1822, while there is no change in the condition of the manufacturers. The high price of Highland produce must, therefore, depend on other causes than the demands of manufacturing districts.] unless formed into such extensive establishments, and unless the rural population were dispersed. It is a striking fact, however, that poor-rates are as high, and in some cases higher, and that, consequently, greater poverty prevails in the thinly-peopled agricultural districts, than in the more populous counties. In Norfolk, Sussex, and other counties, where the largest capitals are invested [It was stated by Mr Burrell, in the House of Commons, that, in the parish of West Grinstead, in Sussex, 5000 acres pay poor-rates to the amount of L.4000.] in agriculture, and where public meetings are held to celebrate the prosperity and successful enterprise of the men of capital and skill, landlords must pay back 20, 30, and 40 per cent. of the produce of their land to support the paupers, who are so numerous in the midst of this prosperity. No part of the crowded manufacturing districts of Lancashire is more heavily taxed with poor-rates than several of these great agricultural districts. In like manner, we find, that parochial rates are, by no means, so heavy in the populous manufacturing counties of Lanark and Renfrew, as in the large farming counties in the south of Scotland, particularly in Roxburgh and Berwickshire, where the English system of pauperism has begun to find its way,—not, as I heard stated by some reverend members of the General Assembly in the year 1818, on account of the vicinity of these counties to England, but, partly at least, from the similarity of system adopted and pursued. Pauperism is not geographically contagious, and poverty and poor-rates have not increased in Roxburgh and Berwickshires, because they happen to be contiguous to England, but because the same evil will spread in Scotland as well as in other countries, by the action of the same cause. But it is evident, as has been already stated, that it is advantageous to have a considerable portion of a country laid out in large farms, that men of capital and education may be encouraged to engage in agricultural pursuits; and this has always been the case in the Highlands, where large tracts have been held in lease by men of education and respectability,—as, for instance, the estates of Macdonald and Macleod, on which there were sixty gentlemen farmers: it is the too general adoption of such a system which is to be dreaded; nor, indeed, can it be generally established, even in one district, without causing great distress, in the first instance, and ultimately expelling a valuable and industrious race of people.

[The evils resulting from the non-residence of proprietors are generally acknowledged. In no country is the absence of country gentlemen more felt than in the Highlands, where many proprietors seldom see their estates or tenants; and when they do, it is too often either for the sake of a few weeks' pastime, or perhaps to collect arrears of rent, or to make arrangements for an increase : and hence their visits are more a subject of dread than of satisfaction to their tenants. Now, if the absence of proprietors be an evil, would it not be subversive of the best interests of the Highlands to suppress or remove the whole class of country gentlemen and proprietors of small estates from L. 100 to L.3000 a-year, and concentrate their lands in possession of a few individuals, leaving no intermediate class between the great landholder and the occupiers of his farms? By the same analogy, would it not be destructive of the independence of the lower classes in the North, if entire districts were given to one great farmer, leaving the whole population to support themselves on accidental la-hour, or on such employment as the man of capital chose to give them? As country gentlemen, of small or moderate properties, resident on their estates, have ever been an honourable, independent, and useful class in the chain of society, and as they have eminently contributed to the support of the country, does not the same thing apply to a lower link in society in the Highlands, where the gradation in the division of land among the tacksmen, smaller tenantry, and cottagers, has preserved their race moral and independent, without the degradation of poor-rates or pauperism? And should not these facts and considerations operate in preserving a share of the profits of the soil for a more general distribution of its benefits in producing independence and comfort to the bulk of the people?]

Nor does the adoption of such a system appear so conducive to the interest of the proprietor as it might, on a first view, seem. Late experience has, in many cases, shown, that improvements may be effected, and good rents obtained, by judicious changes and modifications of the old system, without the expatriation of inhabitants or great expense to the landlords. In illustration of this point, I could produce many instances, but shall content myself with the following brief account of a great Highland estate.

Previous to 1797, this estate was occupied by a numerous small tenantry, interspersed with large farms, rented by men of education and respectable rank in society. The latter began to improve their lands and stock, after the examples they saw in the Lowlands. The small tenants also evinced symptoms of increasing industry, but they held their lands in common, and by what is known in Scotland by the name of "Runrig" that is, each man having a ridge of the arable land alternately with his neighbour, the higher pastures being held in common. While this interlacing system continued, it was not easy to carry on any improvement; but, soon after the period just mentioned, the arable lands were measured, and each man received a portion equal to what he formerly held, but contiguous, and, in general, enclosed, so that the benefit of his improvements was entirely his own. The people were so numerous, that from eight to thirty arable acres, with a portion of pasture, were all that could be allotted to each tenant; but none were removed. The pastures remained in common, as, from their nature and extent, they must always be, the expense of enclosures and subdivisions being more than such unproductive lands can sustain. But the number of horses, cattle, and sheep, to be kept on the pastures, was limited in proportion to the quantity and quality of the arable land occupied by each tenant, at the same time allowing a small portion for each cottager. By taking advantage of the great inequality of soil and climate, and diversifying the stock and produce accordingly, the tenants were frequently able to pay their rents in cases in which they must have failed, had they had only one article for sale. When these changes took place, the farms of the tacksmen on a larger scale remained without any alteration as to extent: but they forthwith commenced considerable improvements, and gave an example to the common people, who readily followed it, and who, at the same time, received considerable encouragement from their landlord.

The consequence of this wise and equitable plan was a progressive and regular improvement of the soil, and an advancement of the wealth and comfort of the tenants, while rents at once adequate and well paid were secured to the proprietor. But in an evil hour, and unfortunately for both landlord and tenant, the management of this estate was transferred to an agent of the new school, who immediately commenced operations according to the most approved modern system. He divided and subdivided farms that were already sufficiently small, while he made others again by far too large. Secret and rival offers were called for, and while he raised a spirit of rivalry, revenge, and irritation, which has not yet been subdued, he quickly succeeded in increasing the rent-roll to an unprecedented nominal amount; but the actual returns have fallen much below the original rent, much of the stock and capital of the tenants having been expended;—a deficiency of payment hitherto unknown among a people remarkable for their punctuality, and respect to their pecuniary engagements with their landlords.

Others, by separating the high pasture lands from the low arable grounds, and letting them apart, have lost the advantages which joint possessions of arable and pasture grounds afforded for counteracting the evils of precarious seasons, and the difficulty of disposing of produce when distant from market; and have also lost the benefit to the arable ground of the winter manure of the cattle fed upon the pastures in summer. It frequently happens, that, when corn is at a low price, the produce of the pastures is high; and, again, when sheep, wool, and cattle, are low, there is sometimes a great demand for grain. Judicious distributions of these natural advantages of the country have long secured an equality to, if not, in some cases, a superiority over situations more favoured in point of climate and soil. Of this superiority, however, many have deprived themselves by the separation of the arable from the pasture lands, in expectation, that, by this separation, better rents would be received,—an expectation which experience has proved to have been ill founded. To deprive people of their pasture lands, in a country naturally pastoral, appears a very questionable measure, when it is considered that in the Highlands manure cannot be purchased, and that the scarcity of fuel renders lime expensive.

[By the loss of their sheep, the small tenants suffered exceedingly. All the clothes in common use were formerly manufactured at home from their own wool, and they were thus able to clothe their families with comfort and at small expense. Now, much money goes out of the country for clothing, which formerly went to pay the rents, or to portion their children. This also accounts for the almost total disappearance of tartan, which was formerly made in every family; for so many want wool that they cannot manufacture any, and the flimsy thin dry tartan made in the Lowlands is too expensive, and quite different from what was in use in the Highlands, and is unfit for the common purposes of life. Thus almost every new measure tends to change the habits as well as the character of the people. How much dress affects the manners is well known; and certainly the clumsy, vulgar, ill-made clothes, now so much worn by the young men of the Highlands, give them a clownish appearance, altogether different from, and forming a marked contrast to the light airy garb, gay with many colours, and the erect martial air and elastic step of the former race of Highlanders. I have already noticed the manner in which particular patterns or sets of tartan were preserved in families, as also Mr West's opinion of the beauty of the colours, and the taste with which they were arranged. Indeed, the beauty and clearness of the dye were quite remarkable. There are plaids preserved in families, manufactured in the Highlands in the seventeenth century, with as brilliant a tint as can well be given to worsted. These were the manufactures of the tenants in their families.]

Another inconvenience arising from this separation is, that their hay cannot be consumed unless the farmers become dealers in cattle, which often renders them losers by the uncertainty and sudden variations of this precarious traffic; whereas, if they had cattle of their own, reared and fed on the produce of their lands, they could only occasionally suffer by the falling of markets, and not be subject to the heavier loss of purchasing high and selling low.

These reflections will receive farther confirmation, if we look to the state of the inhabitants in the two most populous and extensive districts of the Highlands of Perthshire, namely, Athole and Breadalbane. These districts are divided into eleven parishes, there being nine in the former, and two in the latter, and contain a population of 26,480 persons, of which number not more than 364 (taking the average of five years previous to 1817) require relief from the public funds. The extent of this relief cannot be great, as the funds for the support of the poor are supplied by voluntary donations, and the interest of a few trifling legacies. Accordingly, the annual sum allotted for the above number is, on the same average of five years, L.522, 0s.10½d. or L.1, 8s. 8d. to each individual. [See Appendix, CC.]

[This is a very different condition from what we find in a large parish in Sussex, stated by Mr Burrell in the House of Commons to contain a population of 18,000 souls, and to pay L. 16,000 of poor-rates; so that the proportion paid for the maintenance of the poor by the Highland population of these two districts is to the proportion paid by an equal number of the English population in the same condition with the parish in Sussex, referred to by Mr Burrell, as 1 to 51.5 nearly. And yet the Highlanders, among whom there is only one pauper for every fifty-one, in one of the most fertile counties in England, are called a slothful, beggarly, poor people. They are poor; but as they manifest so proper a spirit of independence, such appellations might sometimes be spared. When the Highlanders are so often branded as poor and ignorant, might not some observations be made on the line of conduct pursued by those who are the cause of their poverty and ignorance? If the people had the power, they would soon remove the stain of poverty, and having the means would provide teachers to enlighten their ignorance. Gentlemen would be more honourably employed, in individually removing the cause of the distress of their people,—which they have themselves the power to do,—than in calling public meetings in Edinburgh and other towns, to proclaim to the world the destitute and deplorable state of their dependants and tenants; and begging for charity from the benevolent to relieve them. There are many gentlemen in the Highlands who would hesitate to acknowledge that their tenants are poor and depressed, and would blush if forced to ask for charitable aid.]

When the poor in these districts are so few, and when these few are so easily supported, how does it happen that such frightful misery and poverty have existed in the more northern counties, and that, in other parts of the country, such heavy demands are made on the benevolence of landlords? This difference between the poverty of some districts and the comparative comfort of others, may be ascribed to local situation, and to different modes of management. In those parts of the North where the greatest distress prevails, the people have been removed from their lands; and in the Southern counties, where poor-rates are establishing, the people have no support but from accidental daily labour: but in Athole and in Breadalbane the removal of the ancient tenantry, and the increase of unemployed labourers, has not, by any means, been adopted to the same extent, and, consequently, the continuance of small farms allows to a very great proportion of the people a share in the produce of the earth. Hence, they feel no want of food, no abject poverty, although subjected, of course, like other parts of the kingdom, to the difficulties arising from bad crops, depreciated produce, and other causes. So great a proportion of the people having a permanent support, they are able to assist the destitute without the smallest call upon landlords. But, while the people are in a great measure independent of charitable aid, it must nevertheless be admitted, that, in some recent instances, lamentable symptoms of a relaxation of principle are visible, especially in the want of punctuality in the payment of rents. This is not now, as formerly, a heavy reproach; for the frequency of defalcation has obliterated the shame which attached to it, and thus the best security of punctual payment and correct general conduct is destroyed. [This evil is extending to more transactions than payment of rents. When so much of the sense of shame is lost, when a breach of engagement with a landlord, which was considered as a heavy misfortune, begins to be contemplated with indifference, other claims will soon come to be viewed in the same light. Such answers as the following are already becoming frequent, "Don't speak of your debt; why should I pay you, when I have not paid my rent?"]

The great influx of money occasioned by the late war, a circumstance which, in general, has had an effect directly contrary, introduced into the Highlands the same speculative spirit which was, more or less, in operation over the whole kingdom. Agriculturists and graziers received unprecedented prices for their grain and for their cattle. Intoxicated with this gleam of prosperity, tenants, forsaking their wonted integrity and union of interests, were induced to overbid each other, and succeeded in misleading such landlords as were inclined to be moderate in their calculations, till thus tempted, as it were, by such extravagant offers ; for who, it was said, could know the value of land so well as the cultivators? and how could landlords be expected to refuse rents, however high, that were thus urged upon them? [See Appendix, DD.] If the moderate and well-meaning were thus misled, the speculations of the sanguine or thoughtless may be supposed to have exceeded the bounds of moderation. This progress of late events and of new opinions may, in some manner, account for the more painful process now in operation, which has a marked tendency to deprive proprietors of the genuine comfort that attends living honoured and beloved in a safe and happy home, surrounded by an attached and contented people.

The point of view in which the system of agriculture, now pursued in many parts of the Highlands, may be considered as affecting the general interests of the State, is the loss of a valuable body of men by too general emigration, or the much greater evil that may be produced by forcing the inhabitants to remain without affording them any certain means of subsistence, and by breaking down their native spirit, and extinguishing the shame, which, happily for themselves and their country, has hitherto attached to mendicity.

An attempt has been made to account for the peculiar character of the Highlanders on the principle of feudal subordination and hereditary attachment to their leaders; and those who impute the character attained by Highland troops solely to such causes, affect to ascribe the change which, they say, they discover in the conduct of latter corps, to the absence of this excitement. Whether these corps have actually degenerated from the example shown by their predecessors, will be best decided by those who, either as friends or enemies, have witnessed their conduct; and, on the testimony of such persons, though strangers to their country and their language, the proof may safely be allowed to rest. Still, however, it may with truth be said, that, in those regiments which, as national corps, have been preserved more unmixed than any other, their moral and military character stands pre-eminent to this day. Of this the Seaforth and Sutherland Highlanders afford incontestable proof.

To those who object to the policy of the late changes in the Highlands, on account of their effect in expelling or in lowering the condition of so many able defenders of their country, it has been replied, that, with the abolition of the patriarchal system, the military spirit of the Highlanders has been extinguished; that the recruits, who have been obtained from the Highlands of late years, did not come forward, as their fathers were wont to do, at the call of their chief, but were procured by a species of crimping, or offered as the premium of a renewed lease, or some other petty gain. But those who urge this argument ought to remember, that the great drafts from the Highlands were made at a time long subsequent to the dissolution of the patriarchal brotherhood and feudal government, and were completed with as much expedition, and to as great an extent, as in times when the authority of the chieftain was most absolute; and that numerous bands of recruits followed Highland gentlemen, and young men, who had neither land nor leases to grant, nor money with which to tempt or reward the young soldiers. To those who know the facts, it will appear absurd to state what must be so familiar to their knowledge, that the great numbers of independent men who have, from time to time, inlisted from the Highlands, could not have been influenced by the trifling temptations which most of the individuals to whose fortunes they attached themselves were able to offer.

[It is well known that the bounty-money had no influence in the Highlands, when men were raised for the 42d and other Highland corps in the Seven Years' War, as well as in that which ended in 1783. In 1776, upwards of 800 men were recruited for the 42d in a few weeks, on a bounty of one guinea, while officers who offered ten and twelve guineas for recruits, which they were raising for their commissions, could not get a man till the national corps were completed. I have also had frequent experience of this in my own person while serving in the 42d and 78th regiments. On many occasions, as I shall have to notice afterwards, numbers of young Highlanders inlisted for foreign service, (and this sometimes in bands together), on receiving less than one-half of the bounty-money given at the same time by officers for their commissions in the regular and fencible regiments for home-service, as likewise by others for militia substitutes. When I was recruiting for the 78th, the regiment was in the East Indies, and the prospect held out to the men of embarking for that country in a few months; yet they engaged with me, and other officers, for ten guineas, to embark immediately on a dangerous but honourable duty, when they could have got twenty guineas as militia substitutes, and to remain in their native country. This is very different from what some late authors have pretended to discover, that the youth of the Highlands have a notorious aversion to a military life.]

It is the value of such recruits, and the danger of their being lost to this country by too extensive an emigration, and more especially by the disaffection of those who remain at home, that constitute the great consideration of public importance. If the proprietors of many estates, once full of men able and willing to serve in defence of their country, were now to muster their military strength, it is to be feared, that, even in cases where the ancient race is still retained, neither the influence of the name, nor the wealth of their superiors, would be able to counteract the effects of the disregard which has been shown to the feelings of their ancient retainers, nor recall that power over the mind and heart which their forefathers so fully possessed. Many seem to apprehend that the military spirit of the Highlanders is not only connected with the existence of the feudal system, but that it is, in some measure, dependent upon their continuing to lead a pastoral or agricultural life, and that a sedentary or mechanical employment must of necessity assimilate them to other artisans. Although there may be some reason for this conclusion, perhaps it assumes too much. "Nature," says Mrs Grant, "never meant Donald for a manufacturer. Fixing a mountaineer to a loom too much resembles yoking a deer to a plough, and will not in the end succeed better." And it is presumed that, even supposing he should become a manufacturer, there is still something left to distinguish him from either the Glasgow or the Perth weaver.

It is not, however, so much the actual removal of the inhabitants to another country, which the State has reason to deprecate, as the manner in which it has, in so many instances, been effected, and the impression which it has made upon the character and spirit of those who remain in their native country. Under proper limitations, emigration is desirable, and ought to be encouraged, in as much as, it affords vent for a redundant population which might otherwise prove injurious to a country without commerce, and without extensive tracts of new and uncultivated land. [It was sending forth colonies from a redundant population, which originally peopled the different regions of the earth. This was the policy of Greece and Rome, and, in later ages, of the northern nations, who, in their migrations southward, overcame and ultimately subdued the Roman empire.]

Surplus population, where it exists in the Highlands, must be disposed of as in all other countries. But admitting that moderate emigration would provide for a useful people, if too numerous for their native country, this cannot apply to measures which do not aim at lessening the number of pea-pie, but either at the complete expatriation of the whole, or such a depression of the condition of those who are permitted to remain, as will endanger their independence by creating both the necessity and inclination for receiving charitable aid, and by increasing in a tenfold ratio the evil of a redundant population,—an evil which is by no means general in the Highlands,

[While the evil of a crowded population is so much dreaded in the Highlands, it must be irreconcileable with every principle of sound policy or humanity, to attempt to check emigration, its best antidote. Yet, notwithstanding the many complaints of a superabundant population, grain, in all average seasons, is so plentiful, even in the most populous glens, in which the people have been retained in their original possessions, that the greater part is unsaleable. Now, as provisions are unsaleable from their abundance, can there be any serious danger of over-population ? Or, if the number of consumers was lessened, would it not increase the evil of superabundant produce, (if it can be called an evil); and can there be a surplus population, when the value of land is diminished) by the cheapness of the produce?]

and which exists only in those places where small lots of an acre, or more, have recently been assigned to each of those families whose former farms had been dismantled. Emigration is, in every view, preferable to this system of retaining the peasantry after they have lost their lands, and of confining them within bounds too narrow to afford them subsistence. Voluntary emigration would benefit the state by strengthening the colonies, and transfusing into their general mass able and intrepid defenders; but it is much to be feared that the provocations and oppressions which have already induced many to fight in the ranks of an enemy, may, at some future day, set those who have sought an asylum in another region in open array against the mother country, whence they have, in effect, been banished,—the highest punishment, next to death, which the law inflicts.

[Although the sentences of judges condemning criminals to temporary banishment have been questioned as being too severe, and the miseries of the convicts on their passage to New South Wales have been brought under the view of Parliament, little notice has been taken of the banishment for life of thousands driven from the Highlands; of whom so many must sell the reversion of a portion of their lives for the expence of the passage, the miseries of which, and of the after slavery, will be seen in Parkinson's Tour in America, and other works. Emigrants paying, in this manner, for their passage, are said to be bought and sold, and transferred like cattle from hand to hand. When felons, who, with all their crimes, are certainly objects of compassion, meet with such commendable attention, why do not the virtuous and innocent, who are sent to perpetual exile, meet with equal commiseration ? While Government is arraigned for supposed inattention to the comforts of those whose crimes are disgraceful to the country for whose safety they are transported, the misery of the unoffending Highlanders does not seem to attract the same attention as the supposed harsh usage of felons, who, in reality are rendered so comfortable on the passage, that in a voyage of ten months, vessels have not lost an individual by sickness. How different is the condition of unfortunate emigrants in their wretched and crowded vessels! In fact, the subject is too melancholy to contemplate without the deepest commiseration ; and yet the usual professors of philanthropy and religion are silent.]

The intercourse between Highland landlords and their people resembled that of a family, and, when a breach of confidence occurs, their quarrels and animosities, like those of long-tried friends, are the more bitter and painful;

[Perhaps it may be thought that I give too many instances of the attachment and fidelity of the Highlanders to their superiors. I shall only give one more from a number of facts of the same description. While the estates forfeited after the rebellion of 1745 were vested in the Crown, the rents were moderate, and the leases long, the latter being generally forty-one or fifty-nine years. In the year 1783, these estates were restored to those who had been attainted, or to their heirs. This event caused general joy in the Highlands, and, among many other acts of kindness of his late Majesty towards the Highlanders, has so operated on their ardent minds, long affectionately attached to their kings and superiors, that he is often called the "King of the People." The heir of one of the persons attainted succeeded to an estate of considerable extent. Government, with a kindness that might have been imitated to advantage, removed few of the tacksmen, "kindly tenants," and followers of the old families. When the tenants of this gentleman found the descendant of their venerated chiefs in possession of the inheritance of his ancestors, they immediately surrendered their leases, doubled the rents upon themselves, and took new ones for a term shorter by ten years than that which was yet to run of the King's leases; in order, as they said, that the man whose presence among them had diffused so much happiness, might sooner be enabled to avail himself of the price of produce, which they saw annually increasing, and raise his rents accordingly. This was in 1783, nearly forty years after the whole power of the chiefs, except over the minds and affections of the people, had ceased. This is one of the many instances that show how long those honourable traits of character continued, and the importance of such disinterested and generous attachment.]

and, consequently, those who emigrate from compulsion, carry with them a lasting remembrance of the cause. I have been told by intelligent officers, who served in Canada during the last war, that they found the Highland emigrants more fierce in their animosity against the mother country than even the native Americans. By weakening the principle of loyalty and love of country among a people hitherto distinguished for both, but who now impute part of their grievances to the Government which does not (perhaps cannot) protect them, the interests of the State are affected, and a fund of hostility created, if I may so express myself, against the occurrence of some season of difficulty and trial, when Government will in vain look for aid from those men whose minds are rankling with the remembrance of recent injuries, and whose spirits are broken by an accumulation of actual and irritating evils.

[How different the feelings of those are who emigrate voluntarily, may be seen by the following instance. My father had long been an indulgent landlord to a numerous tenantry. By his kind treatment several became rich, at least they believed themselves rich, and wished to get their farms enlarged. Their landlord explained to them that he could not do this without injustice to others, by removing them without cause from their farms. They saw the force of this reasoning; but, still anxious to enlarge their possessions, resolved to emigrate to a country where they could, without injustice or injury to their neighbours, accomplish their wishes; and they accordingly gave up their farms and embarked for America. Having the command of money, one detachment purchased a tract of land on the banks of the Hudson river, equal in fertility to any in the United States; others purchased in different parts of the Union. By their labour they cleared a considerable portion of land. It is now upwards of thirty years since the first detachment emigrated; but, so far are they from entertaining a spirit of hostility towards this country, that they cherish the kindest feelings towards their ancient homes, and the families of their ancient laird; their new possessions are named after their former farms, and their children and grand-children are named after the sons and daughters of their laird; and so loyal were they to the King and Government of this country, that, to avoid serving against them in the late war, several emigrated from the States to Canada, where the young men entered the Royal Militia and Fencibles. Such are the consequences of considerate treatment, and of voluntary emigration.]

These emigrants, with all their endearing recollections of the past, have excited the sympathy of the Muse, and poetry has been called in to interest us in their fate; but, in this case, truth is better than fiction.

[In the Emigrant, by the late Honourable Henry Erskine, he describes the feelings of an old Highlander on quitting his native country for America.

"Farewell, farewell, dear Caledonia's strand,
Rough though thou be, yet still my native land,
Exiled from thee, I seek a foreign shore,
Friends, kindred, country, to behold no more:
By hard oppression driven

* * * * *

Thou dear companion of my happier life,
Now to the grave gone down, my virtuous wife,
'Twas here you rear'd, with fond maternal pride,
Five comely sons; three for their country died,
Two still remain, sad remnant of the wars,
Without one mark of honour but their scars:
They live to see their sire denied a grave
In lands his much-loved children died to save.
My two remaining boys, with sturdy hands,
Rear'd the scant produce of our niggard lands;
Scant as it was, no more our hearts desired,
No more from us our generous lord required.
"But, ah! sad change! those blessed days are o'er,
And peace, content, and safety charm no more:
Another lord now rules those wide domains,
The avaricious tyrant of the plains.
" For thee, insatiate chief! whose ruthless hand
For ever drives me from my native land;
For thee I leave no greater curse behind,
Than the fell bodings of a guilty mind;
Or what were harder to a soul like thine,
To find from avarice thy wealth decline.

* * * * *

"Feed on, my flocks,—my harmless people, feed,
The worst that ye can suffer is to bleed.
O! that the murderer's steel were all my fear,
How fondly would I stay to perish here:
But hark, my sons loud call me from the vale,]

Dr Robertson, in his Report for the county of Inverness, says, "Some of the chieftains themselves have given the death-blow to chieftain-ship: they have cut the cords of affection which tied their followers and their tribes, and yet they complain of the defection of their tribes, which, with their eyes open, they have driven from them." [See Report to the Board of Agriculture.] Those who respect the feelings of a whole people, may mourn over the breaking of those cords which bound together in affectionate duty and esteem the different orders of Highland society; and, while a change of management and improved cultivation were not only necessary, but indispensable, may regret that, to attain them, it has been found necessary to occasion such a revolution as has, in many cases, taken place, by the abrupt and unanticipated adoption of such measures as, without time or opportunity afforded for guarding against the convulsive shock, have been productive of the most violent changes, and proved subversive of all former habits and modes of living.

And, lo! the vessel spreads her swelling sail.
Farewell, farewell ------
Then casting many a lingering look behind,
Down the steep mountain's brow began to wind."

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