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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 IV.

Smuggling—Consequences of reducing the Highlanders from the Condition of small Tenantry—Policy of retaining an Agricultural Population.

I must now advert to a cause which contributes to demoralize the Highlanders in a manner equally rapid and lamentable. Smuggling has grown to an alarming extent, and, if not checked, will undermine the best principles of the people. When they become habituated to falsehood, fraud and perjury, in one line of life, they will soon learn to extend these vices to all their actions. This traffic operates like a secret poison on all their moral feelings. They are the more readily betrayed into it, as, though acute and ingenious in regard to all that comes within the scope of their observation, they do not comprehend the nature or purpose of imposts levied on the produce of the soil, nor have they any distinct idea that the practice of smuggling is attended with disgrace or turpitude. Their excuse for engaging in such a traffic, is, that its aid is necessary to enable them to pay their rents and taxes;—an allegation which supposes that these demands require the open violation of the law, by practices at once destructive of health and good morals, and affords a lamentable instance of the state to which they find themselves reduced. As a contrast to the discontents against Government which prevail in the South on political subjects, and on Reform, it deserves to be mentioned, that in the North, annual parliaments, universal suffrage, and the whole catalogue of political grievances, are never thought of. There the severity and intricacy of the Excise laws, which render them equally difficult to be understood or obeyed, conjoined with the conduct of individual proprietors, form the theme of their complaints. The delicate situation in which landlords are placed, when sitting as magistrates in Excise courts, and inflicting penalties for smuggling, has a strong influence on the minds of their tenants, who complain that they cannot dispose of their produce, or pay their rents, without the aid of this forbidden traffic; and it is difficult to persuade them that gentlemen are sincere in their attempts to suppress a practice without which, as it is asserted, their incomes could not be paid, in a country where legal distillation is in a manner prohibited. How powerfully this appearance of inconsistency contributes to affect the esteem and respect of tenants for their landlords, must be sufficiently evident.

It was not till after the year 1786, when the introduction of foreign spirits was checked by Mr Pitt's celebrated bill, that the distillation of whisky was carried on, to any extent, in the Highlands. [So little was it practised in the Perthshire Highlands, that a tenant of my grandfather's was distinguished by the appellation of " Donald Whisky," from his being a distiller and smuggler of that spirit. If all existing smugglers were to be named from this traffic, five of the most numerous clans in the country conjoined, could not produce so many of one name. In the year 1778, there was only one officer of Excise in that part of Perthshire above Dunkeld, and he had little employment. In the same district, there are now eleven resident officers in full activity, besides Rangers (as they are called) and extra officers sent to see that the resident excisemen do their duty; yet, so rapidly did illicit distillation increase, that it would seem as if the greater the number of officers appointed, the more employment they found for themselves ; and it is a common, and, I believe, a just remark, that whenever an Excise officer is placed in a glen, he is not long without business.] Brandy and rum were landed on the West coast, from which they were conveyed to all parts of the country, and composed the principal spirituous drink of the inhabitants. But when foreign spirits were prohibited, the contraband distillation of whisky commenced, and was prosecuted to an extent, and with an open defiance of the laws, hitherto unknown; and yielding large profits,—particularly since the improvements in agriculture increased the produce of barley,—the traffic spread rapidly, and, in many districts, became the principal source from which the rents were paid. Whisky became fashionable, and superseded the consumption of other liquors; one effect of which has been, the nominal price to which rum has been reduced. The Lowland distillers complained that the smugglers undersold them, and lessened the demand for their manufacture. These complaints were not without cause, at the same time that the preference given to the contraband spirits was owing to its superior quality;—a remarkable difference, considering that the legal distiller has full time for conducting his operations in safety, while the smuggler is in constant hurry and dread of detection, and, when ferreted out from one rock or hiding-place, is obliged to commence in another. With all this, a pure and wholesome spirit is distilled in the hills, while the legal still throws out an unsaleable liquor, at least not saleable, unless at a lower price, or until after it is re-distilled and rectified.

Several acts of Parliament were passed for the suppression of smuggling. By a special act, the Highland district was marked out by a definite line, extending along the southern base of the Grampians, within which all distillation of spirits was prohibited from stills of less than 500 gallons. It is evident that this law was a complete interdict, as a still of this magnitude would consume more than the disposable grain in the most extensive county within this newly drawn and imaginary boundary; nor could fuel be obtained for such an establishment, without an expense which the commodity could not possibly bear. The sale, too, of the spirits produced was circumscribed within the same line, and thus the market which alone could have supported the manufacture of such quantities was entirely cut off. The quantity of grain raised in many districts, in consequence of recent agricultural improvements, greatly exceeds the consumption; but the inferior quality of this grain, and the great expense of carrying it to the Lowland distillers, who, by a ready market, and the command of fuel, can more easily accommodate themselves to this law, renders it impracticable for the Highland farmers to dispose of their grain in any manner adequate to pay rents equal to the real value of their farms, subject as they are to the many drawbacks of uncertain climate, uneven surface, distance from market, and scarcity of fuel. Thus, no alternative remained but that of having recourse to illicit distillation, or absolute ruin, by the breach of their engagements with their landlords. [Since the formation of roads to the hill-mosses, and the introduction of carts, the consumption of peat for fuel has greatly increased, and is quickly diminishing the supply. Peat has now become an expensive fuel; the raising and carrying home the quantity necessary for even family purposes consume much valuable time, in the season best calculated for agricultural labour and improvements. Coals are brought from thirty to fifty miles by land carriage, in preference to the expense and loss of time in preparing a species of fuel which is not well calculated for strong fires. The nature and expense of this fuel afford additional arguments against the propriety or justice of equalizing the Highland duties with those of the Lowland distilleries, independently of the great difference in the quality of the grain and of the distance from market The price of forty stones of coal sold in this neighbourhood is thirteen or fourteen shillings ; the same quantity is sold in Perth for four shillings; how then, with an inferior grain, and such a difference in the expense of fuel, and a farther expense of sending the spirits to market, can the Highland distiller pay the same duty as the Lowland distiller?] These are difficulties of which the Highlanders complain heavily, asserting that nature and the distillery-laws present insurmountable obstacles to the carrying on a legal traffic. The surplus produce of their agricultural labour will, therefore, remain on their hands, unless they incur an expense beyond what the article will bear, in conveying to the Lowland market so bulky a commodity as the raw material, and by the drawback of price on their inferior grain. In this manner, their produce must be disposed of at a great loss, as it cannot be legally manufactured in the country. Hence they resort to smuggling as their only resource,—a state to which it might have been expected that neither an enlightened government nor liberal landlords would have reduced a well-principled race, and thereby compelled them to have recourse to practices subversive of the feelings of honour and rectitude, and made them regardless of their character in this world, and their happiness in the next. And if it be indeed true, that this illegal traffic has made such deplorable breaches in the honesty and right feeling of the people, the revenue drawn from the large distilleries, to which the Highlanders have been made the sacrifice, has been procured at too high a price to the country.

By the late alterations in the distillery-laws, the size of the still has been reduced, with the view of meeting the scarcity of fuel, and the limited means of the Highlanders. Government had, unfortunately, shut their eyes to the representations of the evil consequences resulting from those prohibitory measures, and had turned a ready ear to the offers of revenue by the large distillers. This conflict between temporary revenue and lasting injury to the morals of a virtuous people, was so long continued, that the evil has become too general, but not beyond remedy. If the Excise-laws were so framed as to enable the Highland distiller to overcome the difficulties which nature has thrown in his way, and with his light and inferior grain, to pay the duties which are calculated for the more productive grain of the southern counties, it might safely be predicted that smuggling to any extent would speedily disappear.

[When the duty on malt was lowered a few years ago, all grain malted in the Highlands of Perthshire was entered for the Excise-duty, and a great increase of revenue drawn ; but when it was again augmented, smuggling of malt recommenced, and the revenue produced has not been worth the expense of collection.

Since the publication of the former editions, circumstances have occurred which, if persevered in, will confirm the above prediction. An act was passed in 1823, lowering the duty, and allowing stills of forty gallons. The consequence has been, that smuggling is disappearing ; and when the people have time to comprehend the provisions of the act (no easy matter, considering the power the Board of Excise assume, of construing the different clauses at their own discretion), smuggling will be as little practised in the Highlands as it was sixty years ago ; that is, before the people were prohibited from manufacturing their grain, by enactments so unsuitable to the state of the country as to be a complete interdict.]

It is well known that smuggling was little practised, and produced no deterioration in the morals of the people, (who, in the last age, were not, in any manner, addicted to strong liquors, [The salaries of Excise-officers are so small, as to be inadequate to the support of their families, and the expense to which the exercise of their duty lays them open, viz. being daily on horseback, and living much in taverns. The deficiency is supplied by their being allowed a share of all fines and seizures; but it is evident that, if there were no smuggling, there could be neither fines nor seizures, and, while the suppression of the traffic would destroy a source of great emolument to those whose duty it is to suppress it, they must live on their small and inadequate salaries,—an alternative to which it were prudent not to expose them. 'Without attributing any improper conduct, or neglect of duty, to men placed in this delicate situation, it is well known, that fines and seizures have failed in suppressing smuggling. On the contrary, smugglers proceed with more eagerness than usual, immediately after a seizure or conviction, as, otherwise, how could the consequent fine be paid? How could the Excise- officer be paid his share ?]) till the change in the Excise-laws, [Till within the last thirty years, whisky, as I have just noticed, was less used in the Highlands than rum and brandy, which were landed on the West coast, and thence conveyed all over the country. Indeed, it was not till the beginning, or rather towards the middle of the last century, that spirits of any kind were so much drank as ale, which was formerly the universal beverage. Every account and tradition go to prove that ale was the principal drink among the country people, and French wines and brandy among the gentry. In confirmation of the general traditions, I may state, that Mr Stewart of Crossmount, whom I have already mentioned, and who lived till his 104th year, informed me, that, in his youth, strong frothing ale from the cask was the common beverage. It was drank from a circular shallow cup with two handles. Those of the gentry were of silver (which are still to be seen in ancient families), and those used by the common people were of variegated woods. Small cups were used for spirits. Whisky-house is a term unknown in the Gaelic. Public-houses are called Tai-Leanne, that is, Ale-houses. Had whisky been the favourite beverage of the Highlanders, as many people believe, would not their songs, their tales, and names of houses allotted for convivial meetings, bear some allusion to this propensity, which has no reality in fact, and is one of those numerous instances of the remarkable ignorance of the true character of the Highlanders on the part of their Lowland friends and neighbours? In addition to the authority of Mr Stewart (who was a man of sound judgment and accurate memory to his last hour), I have that of men of perfect veracity, and great intelligence regarding every thing connected with their native country. In the early part of their recollection, and in the time of their fathers, the whisky drank in the Highlands of Perthshire was brought principally from the Lowlands. The men to whom I allude died within the last thirty years, at a great age, and consequently the time they allude to was the end of the seventeenth century, and up to the years 1730 and 1740. A ballad full of humour and satire, composed on an ancestor of mine, in the reign of Charles I., and which is sung to the tune of Logie o' Buchan, or rather, as the Highland traditions have it, the words of Logie o' Buchan were set to the air of this more ancient ballad, describes the Laird's jovial and hospitable manner, and, along with other feats, his drinking a brewing of ale at one sitting, or convivial meeting. In this song whisky is never mentioned; nor is it in any case except in the modern ballads and songs.] and in the manner of letting land; and there is little doubt, that, if the laws were accommodated to the peculiar circumstances of the Highlands, the prediction which I have now ventured to make would be fully verified. In this opinion I am supported by that of many men of judgment and knowledge of the character and disposition of the people, whom I have consulted, and who have uniformly stated that smuggling was little practised till within the last thirty years. The open defiance of the laws, the progress of chicanery, perjury, hatred, and mutual recrimination, with a constant dread and suspicion of informers,—men not being sure of, nor confident in their next neighbours, a state which results from smuggling, and the habits which it engenders,—are subjects highly important, and regarded with the most serious consideration, and the deepest regret, by all who value the permanent welfare of their country, which depends so materially upon the preservation of the virtuous habits of the people. No people can be more sensible than the Highlanders themselves are of this melancholy change from their former habits of mutual confidence and good neighbourhood, when no man dreaded an informer, or suspected that his neighbour would betray him, or secretly offer for his farm. And they still recollect that the time has been when the man who had betrayed or undermined the character or interests of his friend and neighbour, would have been viewed as an outcast from the society to which he belonged. But, while they bitterly lament this change, they ascribe much of it to the seeming determination of Government to prevent distillation on a small scale, by enforcing laws and regulations unsuitable to their country or its means, and equally difficult to be comprehended or obeyed; and when landlords cannot draw the full value of their lands, nor tenants pay their rents without a vent for their produce, the complaints of the Highlanders, both proprietors and tenants, seem to be well founded.

There is another circumstance which I cannot avoid noticing ; that is, a practice lately introduced of ordering parties of cavalry to the Highlands as a terror to smugglers. Dragoons are necessary to oppose an enemy; but they are instruments that ought not to be used at the instigation, or under the direction, of an irritated, and perhaps ignorant, exciseman. Parading cavalry through glens and rocks, where they can be of no use, is an ignorant display of power, and would be matter of derision, were it not for the feeling which the exhibition occasions among the people, who ought not to be suspected of resisting the laws without good grounds; nor should they be permitted to believe that they are so formidable as to require military force. So different is it in the Highlands, that, with a tolerable knowledge of circumstances, I know not of one case where it was necessary to call in the military. On the contrary, the excise officers are so far from meeting with resistance, that when they make a seizure, they are often assisted by the people to destroy their own utensils with their contents; and when the duty is finished, the officers are offered refreshment, and invited into the houses of those whose property had been destroyed. Are these a people requiring dragoons to keep them down? Government and the Board of Excise ought to look into this matter. Military force is not yet required in the Highlands, except in the northern ejectments by fire, and military execution; but unnecessary harshness, and accustoming men to believe that they are turbulent, may make cavalry and infantry necessary. Let a warning be taken from Ireland. The deforcements and resistance to excise-officers, so frequent in the neighbourhood of Glasgow, Stirling, and Perth, are by bands of men of desperate character, many of them Irish, and from the western counties, who are the purchasers and carriers of smuggled spirits, but not the manufacturers, who carefully avoid such encounters and skirmishes, and, except in cases of unnecessary severity on the part of excise-officers, and the consequent irritation, quietly surrender their property when discovered.

The recent change of disposition and character forms an additional argument with those who urge the propriety of removing the ancient inhabitants, on pleas derived from then-supposed incapacity and indolence, or from the climate and soil. This character has been depicted in strong colours. Pinkerton describes the Celts as "mere radical savages, not advanced even to a state of barbarism; and if any foreigner," adds he, "doubts this, he has only to step into the Celtic part of Wales, Ireland, or Scotland, and look at them, for they are just as they were, incapable of industry or cultivation, even after half their blood is Gothic, and remain, as marked by the ancients, fond of lies, and enemies to truth." Without being influenced by the opinions of this author, the well-known fact should be recollected, that much of the land in the Highlands is barren, rugged, and from the numerous heights and declivities difficult to cultivate; that the climate is cold, wet, and boisterous; and that the winter is long and severe, and the country fitted only for the maintenance of a hardy abstemious population. No doubt, the population is numerous in many districts, in proportion to the extent of fertile land, but nevertheless the people have supported themselves, with an independence, and a freedom from parochial aid, which a richer, more favoured, and more fertile country, might envy.

The indolence of the Highlander is a common topic of remark: at the same time it is admitted, that, out of their own country, they show no want of exertion, and that, in executing any work by the piece, and in all situations where they clearly see their interest concerned, they are persevering, active, and trust-worthy.

[The integrity and capability of the numerous bands of Highlanders which supplied Edinburgh with Caddies is proverbial. These Caddies were, during the last century, a species of porters and messengers plying in the open street, always ready to execute any commission, and to act as messengers to the most distant corners of the kingdom, and were often employed in business requiring secrecy and dispatch, and frequently had large sums of money intrusted to their care. Instances of a breach of trust were most rare, indeed almost unknown. These men carried to the South the same fidelity and trustworthiness which formed a marked trait in the character of the Highlanders of that period, and formed themselves into a society, under regulations of their own. Dr Smollet, in his Humphry Clinker, gives an account of an anniversary dinner of this fraternity, of which nine-tenths were Highlanders, though little now remains of the original order of Caddies. These employments are thrown into other channels, the number of stage-coaches rendering communication so cheap and safe, that special messengers are unnecessary. There are, however, many Highlanders in Edinburgh employed as chairmen, and in other occupations; and it might furnish no uninteresting inquiry, whether the Highlanders formerly employed in Edinburgh were more trust-worthy, and more remarkable for their zeal, activity, and regard to their word, than those of the present day ? If such an inquiry should prove that they have not greatly degenerated from the virtues of their predecessors, perhaps there is little foundation for the reports of the deplorable want of religion and morality in the North. It would, on the contrary, show that their moral feelings, and the sense of shame which they attached to a breach of trust, were the best safeguard of that integrity which made them valuable servants to the public. On the other hand, were such an inquiry to show a change of character, it would afford a melancholy contradiction to the reports of the improved religious knowledge of the Highlanders, and show that the blessings resulting from religious and moral education were not so defective in the last age as many have been made to believe.]

But still it is maintained, that, if placed on small farms in their native country, they are worse than useless. If this opinion be well-founded, it might furnish a subject of inquiry, why men should be persevering as labourers in one situation, and in another useless, and that too, though labouring for their own immediate comfort, and for the support of their families? It might also furnish a surmise, that as they seldom show any deficiency of intellect in comprehending their own interests, so there is something wrong in the system under which they are frequently managed ; otherwise what could occasion an inconsistency so difficult to reconcile with any known principle, as that a man should be indolent and careless about his own fields, and yet active and vigilant about those of others?

[The small tenantry often complain of the want of encouragement to improve. But the want of encouragement to themselves they would not perhaps feel so much, did they not see great encouragement given to the large farmers, while they are abandoned to their own exertions. Thus, when glens and districts in the Highlands are depopulated, and the lands given to a man of capital, estimates are taken for building a proper establishment, large sums are expended on inclosures, and stipulations are made to recompense the tenant at the end of the lease for improvements made by him. When such are the very commendable encouragements given to farmers on a large scale, why are the small tenants so often refused any kind of support? Before large houses are built for tenants, it might, however, be matter of consideration to apportion the rent and taxes in such a manner as to leave a clear income suitable to the accommodation provided for them; otherwise it must appear absurd to place a man in a house proper for an income of six or seven hundred a year, as is often seen, when perhaps the clear profits of the farm are not fifty. There are farms of two and three hundred pounds' rent, where the interest of money sunk in building houses is from fifty to sixty, and in some cases more than one hundred pounds. Had these men the fee-simple of their farms, it might be a question how far it would be prudent to pay such rents for a dwelling-house and its appendages. Several farms within my knowledge are rented at two pounds the acre, but the landlords have erected such expensive buildings, that the interest of the money expended is equal to one pound per acre, leaving only the same sum of clear rent, while the tenant is subjected to an unsuitable expense in furnishing and keeping in repair such an establishment. A process which is so hurtful to the tenant, and which reduces the landlord's rent one half, is called by our statistical economists, improving his property.]

Another circumstance has prejudiced the character of the Highlanders in the opinion of strangers; I mean, the reluctance they showed to avail themselves of the employment offered them on the Caledonian Canal, although furnishing employment to the ejected tenantry was one of the reasons assigned for undertaking that work. At the same time, it may be observed, that this expensive relief, the formation of the Canal, was only temporary, while the want of employment is permanent. The small number of Highlanders who have been employed on the Canal has afforded ground for an opinion, that they have a disinclination to labour, and are not calculated for any exertion beyond the habits of a pastoral life. To those who are strangers to their habits and way of thinking, this of itself might appear a sufficient proof of their aversion to any stationary or laborious employment; but not so to those who know that land and cattle, with their usual appendages, form, as I have already noticed, the principal aim of a Highlander's ambition. Deprived of these, he is lowered and broken in spirit; and to become a labourer in his own country, and to be forced to beg for his daily hire and daily bread, in sight of his native mountains, and of those who witnessed his former independence, he cannot bear without extreme impatience. Hence, while so few resorted to the constant and well-paid labour on the Canal, in the heart of their country, thousands crowded down for employment to the most distant Lowlands. Indeed, the greater the distance the better, as at a distance from home they were unknown, and their change of station remained concealed, or unnoticed. For the same reason, they overcome their attachment to their native country, and emigrate to the woods of America, in the hope of obtaining a portion of land, the possession of which they consider as the surest and most respectable source of independence. "Wherever the Highlanders are defective in industry," says the late Professor Walker, "it will be found upon fair inquiry, to be rather their misfortune than their fault, and owing to their want of knowledge and opportunity, rather than to any want of spirit for labour. Their disposition to industry is greater than is usually imagined, and, if judiciously directed, is capable of being highly advantageous both to themselves and to their country."

Their spirit and industry may be seen by looking to the nature of the country, and the length of time during which the Highlands formed a separate and independent kingdom, repelling all invasions, and at length establishing their king and government in more fertile regions. It must therefore have been capable of supporting a greater population than it is commonly supposed adequate to maintain; for, surrounded as the people were by the sea, and by neighbours often hostile, preventing any excursions beyond their mountains, except by force of arms, their sole dependence must have been on their own resources. But these must have been sufficient to maintain the whole inhabitants, or they could not have so long existed in independence. Indeed, it is not easy to form an opinion of the extent to which population might be carried by spirited and liberal encouragement to the industry and energy of the people. Unfortunately, however, this is not the opinion of many, who hold that the country cannot prosper while the original inhabitants remain, and that, to improve the soil, where the people are without capital or skill, would be a vain attempt. This opinion is probably the cause why, in so many cases, the liberal encouragement of Highland landlords has been directed to other channels than that of raising the condition of the original occupiers of their estates. If the Highlanders are deprived of their lands, where is the benefit to them, that great sums are expended in building large and commodious establishments for the stranger of capital ? Is it of any advantage to the ancient race, that the landlord liberally sacrifices part of his expected rents to encourage the present skilful possessors, to make room for whom they were removed? Nor does it seem clear that the natives of the country can profitably avail themselves of the admirable roads, for the formation of which gentlemen advanced large sums; or that they can frequent the inns built, and the piers and shores formed, since by their removal to their new stations, as cottagers, they are left without a horse to travel on the roads, without produce to embark at the shores, and deprived of the means of acquiring property or independence.

It was not by depopulation, or by lowering the condition of the inhabitants; it was not by depriving the country of its best capital and strength, "a sensible, virtuous, hardy, and laborious race of people," [Professor Walker's Economical History.] and, by checking all further increase of wealth, except what might arise from the increased value of the produce of pasture lands, that the Dutch reclaimed fertile meadows from the ocean, that the Swiss turned their mountains into vineyards, and that the natives of Majorca and Minorca, scraping the rocky surface of their respective islands, (as hard as the most barren within the Grampians), caused them to produce corn and wine in abundance. What industry has accomplished on the rocks of Malta is proverbial. But, in the North, "the climate is a common-place objection against every improvement. It is certain that improvements which, for this reason, are resisted in the Highlands, have taken place successfully in districts of Scotland, which are more unfavourable in point of climate." [Professor Walker's Economical History.] If such is the case in other districts, the difficulty should be more easily overcome in the Highlands, from the abstemious and hardy habits of the people, who are contented and happy with the plainest and cheapest food. Wherever time has been allowed, and proper encouragement afforded, the industry of the tenants has overcome the difficulties of climate, and of unproductive soil.

[No encouragement to a Highlander is equal to the prospect of a permanent residence, and of an immediate return for his labour. The rent should be fully as high as the produce will admit, with a promise of reduction in proportion to the extent of improvements made. Hence, when men rent small farms of fifteen, twenty, and thirty acres, they will, by their personal labour, and that of their families and servants, be able to drain, clear, and inclose the land. The improvements should be annually valued, and one-fourth or one-third of the amount allowed to the tenant as a deduction from his rent. In this manner an industrious tenant will work equal to twenty or thirty per cent. of the rent. This will make the farm cheap during the progress of improvement, and, as these operations can be completed in a few years, the landlord will afterwards have his full rent, which the tenant will be enabled to pay easily by the improved state of his land; and, at the end of the lease, can afford a considerable augmentation from his increased produce, the consequence of his own industry, and of the encouragement given him,—which may be said to have cost the landlord nothing, as the money remitted out of the rent could not perhaps have been paid without the personal labour and improvement of the tenant. It is evident that this process could not be accomplished by mere capital alone, without the personal labour of the occupier; and that the farm must consequently be small, because, if the work were done by hired labour, the payment by the landlord would be no relief to the tenant in the way of abatement of rent, as he must pay it away to those he hired; whereas, if he labours himself, with the assistance of his family, he retains the money for his immediate use. Such a mode as this might be advisable in barren land, which will not always reimburse any considerable outlay of money, without the assistance of the personal labour of the cultivator.]

Although their labours are unremitting, their time and attention are divided among so many objects, that the aggregate produce of their labour is less visible than where the same time is employed in the single endeavour to extract the utmost produce from the soil. The tending of cattle wandering over mountains, or constantly watched in pastures not inclosed, and the preparing and carrying home their fuel, with numerous interruptions, divide and increase their toil, in a manner of which the people of the plains can form no idea. These, indeed, are not monotonous labours, that chain down the body to a certain spot, and limit the mind to a narrow range of ideas; but still they are toils incessant and exhausting. A different kind of labour may seem more advantageous to those economists, who would reduce the labouring class to mere machines, and produce, in this free country, a division of the people into castes, like the population of India. But such a change is nowhere desirable, and is impossible, in regions divided from each other by almost insurmountable barriers. A general plan of making all persons, however different their circumstances, conduct the agriculture of their respective districts, in the same manner,—like the iron bed of Procrustes, which all were made to fit, by being either stretched to the proper length, or shortened by mutilation,—must not only be inexpedient, but cruel and oppressive to the tenant, and subversive of the best interests of the landlord.

[The sagacity and facility of accommodation to novel situations that mark the Highland character, may be ascribed to the versatility arising from such varied occupations. As emigrants settling in a wilderness, the exemption from dependence on tradesmen must be peculiarly useful. If the Highland, like the English peasant, could not subsist without animal food, and bread made of the best of flour, together with ale and beer, it would give some strength to the opinion of those who think that the barren lands of the North ought to be left in a state of nature, and that an attempt to improve them to advantage would be hopeless, as the produce of so sterile a soil could not sup. port a people requiring such expensive food. But, when we have men of vigorous bodies, capable of subsisting on potatoes and milk for nine months in the year, using animal food, beer, or spirits, only on great occasions, and wheaten bread never; it may be allowed that a Highland proprietor, having lands fit for cultivation, and a hardy race, might preserve the one and improve the other, and thus secure a better and more certain income on his improved soil, than that which depends entirely on the price of sheep or cattle.]

But it is unnecessary to talk of economy, industry, and good morals, in regard to a country without people, as is the state of many Highland districts. These districts, once well-peopled with a race who looked back for ages to a long line of ancestors, will now only be known like the ancient Pictish nation; that is, by name, by historical tradition, and by the remains of the houses and the traces of the agricultural labours of the ancient inhabitants. In these there can be no increase of the general produce, by any amelioration of the soil, and consequently the rents can advance only by a rise in the value of the animals fed on the pas-tures; and as this increase of price may proceed from a previous loss by severe winters, diseases, and other causes, it is rather a precarious contingency. The increased value of animal produce has enabled those interested to put forth statements of the unprecedented riches of the country, and of the expected prosperity of those placed in the new villages.

[In the same manner, reports are published of the unprecedented increase of the fisheries on the coast of the Highlands, proceeding, as it is said, from the late improvements; whereas, it is well known, that the increase is almost entirely occasioned by the resort of fishers from the South. To form an idea of the estimation in which Highland fishermen are held, and the little share they have in those improvements of the fisheries noticed in the newspapers, we may turn to an advertisement in the Inverness newspapers, describing sixty lots of land to be let in that county for fishing stations. To this notice is added a declaration, that a "decided preference will be given to strangers." Thus, while, on the one hand, the unfortunate natives are driven from their farms in the interior, a "decided preference" is given to strangers to settle on the coast, and little hope left for them, save that those invited from a distance will not accept the offer. When they see themselves thus rejected, both as cultivators, shepherds, and fishermen, what can be expected but despondency, indolence, and a total neglect of all improvement or exertion?]

But no hint is given of this important truth, that the same high prices would have equally affected the small occupiers as the great stock graziers, and that the high prices are the causes of the increased value of land, and not the cold-hearted merciless system pursued, and the change of inhabitants. Wherever there is a space and soil covered with a well-disposed population, experience, example, and encouragement, will teach them to better their situation.

I shall only notice one other argument adduced in support of the depopulation of the Highlands; and that is, that sheep are the stock best calculated for the mountains. On this subject there can be but one opinion; but why not allow the small farmer to possess sheep as well as the great stock grazier? It is indeed said that it is only in extensive establishments that stock-farming can be profitable to the landlord. This hypothesis has not yet been proved by sufficient experience, or proper comparison. But allowing that it were, and allowing a landlord the full gratification of seeing every tenant possessing a large capital, with all comforts corresponding to the opinion of a great proprietor, who wishes to have no tenant but who can afford a bottle of wine at dinner ; there is another important consideration, not to be overlooked in introducing this system into the Highlands—that, in allotting a large portion of land to one individual, perhaps two, or three, or even five hundred persons will be deprived of their usual means of subsistence, compelled to remove from their native land, and to yield up their ancient possessions to the man of capital,

[We have lately seen 31 families, containing 115 persons, dispossessed of their lands, which were given to a neighbouring stock-grazier, to whom these people's possessions lay contiguous. Thus, as a matter of convenience to a man who had already a farm of nine miles in length, 115 persons, who had never been a farthing in arrear of rent, were deprived of house and shelter, and sent pennyless on the world. The number of similar instances of disregard . of the happiness or misery of human beings in an age which boasts of enlightened humanity, patriotism, and friendship for the people, are almost incredible, and do unspeakable injury to their best principles, by generating a spirit of malice, envy, and revenge.]

to enable him to drink wine, to drive to church in a gig, to teach his daughters music and quadrille-dancing, and to mount his sons upon hunters, while the ancient tenants are forced to become bondsmen or day-labourers, with the recollection of their former honourable independence still warm. Yet this is a system strongly recommended, and practised with great inconsistency, by men who have the words liberty and independence in their mouths, and are loud in their com-plaints of the slavish and oppressed state of the people.

It is impossible to contemplate, without anxiety and pain, the probable effects of these operations in producing that demoralization, pauperism, and frequency of crime, which endanger the public tranquillity, and threaten to impose no small burden on landlords, in contributing to the maintenance of those who cannot or will not maintain themselves. Will the Highlanders, as cottagers, without employment, refrain from immorality and crime? Can we expect from such men the same regularity of conduct as when they were independent, both in mind and in circumstances?

[When the engrossing system commenced in the North, and the people were removed from their farms, a spirit of revenge was strongly evinced among those who were permitted to remain in the country. They saw themselves reduced to poverty, and, believing that those who got possession of their lands were the advisers of their landlords, hatred and revenge, heightened by poverty, led to the commission of those thefts from the pastures noticed in the criminal convictions in the Appendix, BB. As cattle-stealing disappeared when the people were convinced of the immorality of the practice, and as the crime now noticed commenced only when they were reduced to poverty, and instigated by vindictive feelings for the loss of their ancient habitations, may it not be believed that, if these irritating causes had not occurred, neither would the crimes which seem to have resulted from them? And if circumstances confirm the justness of this supposition, may we not ask what degree of responsibility to God and to their country attaches to those whose plans led to the commission of these crimes?]

When collected together in towns and villages, will they be able to maintain the same character that was their pride on their paternal farms? Losing respect for the opinion of the world, [See Appendix EE.] will they not also lose that respect for themselves, which, in its influence, is much more powerful than laws, on morality and public manners; and attempt to procure a livelihood by discreditable expedients, by petty depredations, or by parish aid? We have the example of Ireland, where the people are poor and discontented. In the tumults and outrages of that country, we see how fertile poverty and misery are in crimes. The Irish and Highlanders were originally one people, the same in lineage, character, and language, till the oppression of a foreign government, and the system of middlemen, as they are called, with other irritating causes, have reduced the lower orders in the former country to a state of poverty which, while it has debased their principles, has generated hatred and envy against their superiors. This has been the principal cause of those outrages which throw such a shade over the character of a brave and generous people; who, if they had been cherished and treated as the clansmen of the Highlands once were, would, no doubt, have been equally faithful to their superiors in turbulent times, and equally moral and industrious in their general conduct.

[The misery of the lower orders in Ireland is frequently produced as an instance of the misery resulting from the continuance of small tenants in the Highlands. This, however, must originate in gross ignorance of the relative state of the two countries, which will not bear a comparison. The small tenants in the Highlands generally possessed from two to ten or twenty milch cows, with the usual proportion of young cattle, from two to five horses, and from twenty to one or two hundred sheep ; the quantity of arable land being sufficient to produce winter provender for the stock, and to supply every necessary for the family. To each of these farms a cottager was usually attached, who also had his share of land; so that every family consumed their own produce, and, except in bad seasons, were independent of all foreign supplies. This was, and still is, in many cases, the small farming system in the Highlands, to which the system prevalent in Ireland bears so little resemblance, that it is impossible to reason analogically from the one to the other.]

But, instead of exhibiting such a character as has been depicted, we have the following view from an intelligent author oh the "Education of the Peasantry in Ireland." In allusion to the absence of proprietors, their ignorance of the character, dispositions, and capability of the native population, and their harsh measures towards them, he says, "The gentry, for the most part, seldom find time for such inquiries; the peasantry who live around them are sometimes the objects of fear, but more usually of contempt; they may be enemies to guard against, creatures to be despised, but never subjects of research or examination. The peasantry saw that the real hardships of their condition were never inquired into. Their complaints were met by an appeal to force: the impatience of severe oppression was extinguished in blood. This served to harden their hearts; it alienated them from the established order of things; it threw them back on their own devices, and made them place their confidence in their wild schemes of future retaliation.

"The gentry, of a lofty and disdainful spirit, intrepid and tyrannical, divided from the people by old animosities, by religion, by party, and by blood; divided, also, frequently by the necessities of an improvident expenditure, which made them greedy for high rents, easily to be obtained in the competition of an overcrowded population, but not paid without grudging and bitterness of heart; the extravagance of the landlord had but one resource—high rents; the peasant had but one means of living—the land: he must give what is demanded, or starve; and, at best, he did no more than barely escape starving. His life is a struggle against high rents, by secret combination and open violence: that of the landlord, a struggle to be paid, and to preserve a right of changing his tenantry when and as often as he pleased. In this conflict, the landlord was not always wrong, nor the peasantry always right. The indulgent landlord was sometimes not better treated than the harsh one, nor low rents better paid than high. The habits of the people were depraved; and the gentry, without attending to this, and surprised that no indulgence on their part produced an immediately corresponding return of gratitude and punctuality, impatiently gave up the matter as beyond their comprehension, and the people as incapable of improvement."

This being given as the state of the Irish, we have the following view of the English peasantry from an able author, who, as I have already stated, in p. 153, describes the degradation consequent on the expulsion of the agricultural population from their lands. "Millions of independent peasantry were thus at once degraded into beggars. Stripped of all their proud feelings, which hitherto had characterized Englishmen, they were too ignorant, too dispersed, too domestic, and possessed too much reverence for their superiors, to combine as mechanics or manufacturers in towns. Parish relief was, therefore, established as a matter of necessity." Endeavouring to show the impossibility of preserving independence and morality in the precarious state of existence to which many are subject in England, he proceeds: "In England, the poor quarrel about, and call for, charity as a right, without being either grateful or satisfied. The question of property should be but of secondary consideration on this subject with the State. Whether the rents of the parish go to one great lord, or to one hundred great paupers, is a point of less importance than moral character. It has been already shown, that the poor rates of England tend to make the peasantry base and vicious. Men having no encouragement will idle if they can, but the parish officers will not let them if they can. The peasantry will not find work, but the parish officers will. The peasantry are put upon the rounds, as it is called; that is, they are sent round the parish, from door to door, not to beg, indeed, but to work a certain number of days, according to the extent of the property on which they are billeted, whether there be any work for them to do or not, The roundsmen are paid eight or tenpence a-day, and so much is saved apparently to the parish funds. But the roundsmen knowing this, and having no mercy on the parish fund, thinking they are used ill in being thrust about and being treated probably with ill humour by those they are thrust upon : under these circumstances, the roundsmen do just as little work as they can, and perhaps do more harm than good. Thus pushed about, as a nuisance, are the peasantry of this great, wealthy, and enlightened nation, without house or living, kindred, or protecting superiors; and yet we shall be told, these are free-born Englishmen, and that the slaves in the West Indies are hardly off, though they possess those enjoyments of which the English peasant is deprived, except personal liberty; that is, the enjoyment of being disregarded by every one, except as a nuisance. This is the state of the lower orders; and yet we are told, that teaching them to read will remove the evil—will correct the vices which such a horrible system necessarily generates. Give them not a looking-glass; gin and drugged beer will do better." [Serious Considerations on the State of the English Peasant.]

We have here a short but impressive view of the state of the peasantry in the two sister kingdoms; what the peasantry have been in the northern part of Scotland, and what they now are, I have attempted to show. But if the Highlanders are forced to renounce their former habits of life; if the same system is applied to them as to the peasantry of the two sister kingdoms, infinitely more favoured by climate, soil, and every natural advantage for promoting the comfort, independence, and contentment of the people; are we not to expect that the results will be much more fatal in a country comparatively poor, and destitute of such adventitious aids, as might counterbalance, or fix a limit to, the evils of systems which have produced so much wretchedness? Should the Highlanders be placed in similar circumstances, may we not dread lest they realize in the North of Scotland the lawless turbulence of the sister island of Celts, and the degraded pauperism of a large portion of England?

After the year 1745, when many of the Highlanders were driven from their homes, and forced to lead a wandering life, we know that many depredations were committed, although the great body of the people remained sound. Judging from recent symptoms, we may safely hazard the assertion, that the irritating causes in 1746, 1747, and in 1748, did not affect the morals of the people to the same extent as the events which have lately taken place. At no period of the history of the country, indeed, were the people more exemplary than for many years posterior to the Rebellion, when the moral principles peculiar to, and carefully inculcated at that period, combined with the chivalry, high feeling, and romance of preceding times, strengthened by the religious and reverential turn of thinking peculiar to both, gave force and warmth to their piety, and produced that composition of character, which made them respected by the enemy in the field, and religious, peaceable, and contented in quarters, as well as in private life. [See Appendix FF.] What they have formerly been, will they not still continue to be, if they were only made to experience the same kindness as their forefathers? The cordial and condescending kindness of the higher orders, as I have already oftener than once said, contributed materially to produce that character which the people seem anxious to perpetuate. This is particularly exemplified by the exertions which they make to give their children an education suitable to their station in life, and often far above it. The value of education is well understood ; and whenever they have the power, and their circumstances are comfortable, they seldom fail to give it to their children.

[One of the many instances of this is exhibited in a small Highland valley, the length of which is less than six miles, and the breadth from half a mile to one mile and a quarter. This glen is, with one exception, managed in the old manner, the original people being allowed to remain on their small possessions. How small these are may be judged from the population, which is 985 souls. They are consequently poor, but not paupers. Several aged women, and two men, who are lame, receive ten or fifteen shillings annually from the parish fund. The whole are supported on their lands, for which they pay full value. There are not manufactures, except for home consumption. In this state of comparative poverty, independent, however, of parochial aid, such is their proper spirit, and sense 'of the value of education, that as the parish school is near one end of the glen, the people of the farther extremity have e-stablished three separate schools for their children, paying small salaries, with school fees, to the teachers, who, if unmarried (as is generally the case), live without expense among the more wealthy of the tenants. Thus, these industrious people give an education, suitable to their situation in life, to 240 children (the number when I last saw them), including those at the parish school, without any assistance whatever from the landlords.]

But unless their temporal, as well as their intellectual and spiritual concerns are attended to, it may be a question, whether any degree of learning will make them contented and moral. If men live in the dread of being ejected at every term, or contemplate the probability of being obliged to emigrate to a distant country, the best education, unless supported by a strong sense of religion and morality, will hardly be sufficient to produce content, respect for the laws, and a love of the country and its government.

Scotland has indeed reaped the greatest benefits from education ; but perhaps it is rating these advantages too high to ascribe the acknowledged moral character of the people solely to this source. The Scotch were a trust-worthy people before there was any established system of education in the country. Of this we have sufficient evidence in the confidence placed in Scotchmen in France and Holland, where for ages they were held in such esteem as to be preferred to situations requiring the greatest trust, honour, and firmness. Had these men been void of good principles at home, they could not well have acquired, them in a superior degree, in countries where they were preferred to the natives. In a report of the southern counties of Scotland by William Elliot of Stobbs, and Walter Scott of Arkleton, in the year 1649, we find that, after seven years of rebellion and intestine commotion, theft, lying, and swearing (except a-niong a few outcasts), were totally unknown; the people were strong and active, sober, and abstemious in their diet; ingenious, and hating deceit. [Report of Selkirk, &c. Advocates' Library, 1649.]

When the tyrannical restrictions on religion and conscience, in the reign of Charles II., drove the people in the western counties to desperation, and when forced to fly to the mountains, woods, and mosses, and to exist on such accidental supplies as an exhausted country could afford, we meet with no firing of houses, nor murders of magistrates, prosecutors and witnesses, as we daily see in the present enlightened age: all was borne with Christian patience, except in cases where fanaticism and bigotry deprived men of their reason ; and it ought to be observed, that the principal actors in these instances were generally of the higher and educated orders, as in that of the murderers of Archbishop Sharpe. In the Highlands we find, from many authors, that, with the exception of their forays and cattle depredations, the Highlanders were early considered a valuable trust-worthy race. In the year 1678, when the Duke of Lauderdale and the Ministers of Charles II. ordered the "Highland Host" to the south-western districts of Scotland to put down the Covenanters, their forbearance, considering the nature of their duty, was a topic of remark. In like manner, in 1745, when many thousands were in arms, and let loose from all restraint, with little education among the common men, it may be a problem whether, if they had all been graduates of St Andrew's or Aberdeen, they could have conducted themselves with more urbanity and moderation. Such were the characteristic principles of the Scotch, both Lowland and Highland, when education was far from being general. There are upwards of 8000 schools in Ireland, but these apparently exert little influence on the morals of the peasantry, because they are oppressed, despised, and neglected; nourishing a spirit of hatred and revenge, and in a state of poverty and despair which no education can remove.

The truth seems to be, that in a country where a universal system of education has been established as in Scotland, there must have been an early and well-founded principle, of which the schools may be considered as the effect, and not the cause, and which must have produced those estimable habits, long a distinguished feature in the national character. The foundation of those valuable habits may in part have been owing to the cordiality, mutual confidence, and support, which subsisted between the higher and lower orders in Scotland.

Fletcher of Saltoun, a strenuous supporter of the independence of his country, gives indeed a deplorable view of the state to which thousands of the people were reduced at the end of the seventeenth century. His statement seems to refer only to Fife and the counties southward and westward, which at that period did not contain beyond 900,000 inhabitants. Of this population, he states that 200,000 went about in bands of sturdy beggars, or sorners, as they were called, without house or habitation, living on the public by begging, open plunder, and private stealing. This frightful number of beggars and outcasts of society, in so small a population, is almost incredible, particularly when compared with the report of the same counties by the Lairds of Arkleton and Stobbs, fifty years preceding. There was, indeed, sufficient cause for poverty, distress, and crimes in Saltoun's time. It was at that period that the stock-grazing system of large farms began in the South, when the higher orders lost all regard for their followers, and forgot all ancient kindness and friendship (of which we have seen too many instances in our times in the North), and thousands of the brave Borderers, whose forefathers defended their country, were sent adrift without house or shelter, in that country for which their ancestors had fought and bled. Then the people naturally lost all confidence and respect for those from whom they received this treatment; and there being no manufacturing towns to receive them, no emigration to America, and no employment in a country all turned to pasture, they had no alternative but to beg or steal.

[I happened to read Fletcher of Salton's Statement of the Scotch Poor early in life, and was much struck with it. I mentioned the subject to Mr Stewart of Crossmount, who, as I have already noticed, died in 1791, in his 104th year, consequently was born before the reign of King William, and was 15 years of age at the death of that monarch in 1702. He had a perfect recollection of the period to which Fletcher's Statement refers, I have already said that he was a man of sound judgment and accurate memory, but from his extreme youth at the period in question, he could not speak from personal observation beyond the glen in which he lived; yet he remembered, that King William's seven years of famine, as they were called by the Jacobites, were the subject of all conversations, and that his father made a considerable sum of money by a speculation in grain which he brought from Dundee and Perth. In the Highlands the grain never ripened for many harvests. It would not grind into meal from its softness. The people dried or roasted the best and ripest grains, and, pounding it between two stones, ate it in that state. He knew little more of the South, than that he always heard that the people there suffered more than the Highlanders, because they had not so many cattle and deer to kill for their food. The number of cattle killed in those years, and afterwards sent to England, when the trade opened after the Union, raised the price to a height formerly unknown; that is, to twenty shillings or a guinea for a fat ox or cow. He added, that he went south with the rebels in 1715, and was wounded and taken at Sheriffmuir. When he recovered he came back through the south-east of Scotland. He saw many wandering beggars.]

Were it not for America and the towns in the Lowlands, would not the late ejectments, and depopulations in the North produce a host of sturdy beggars, sorners, and thieves? A reference to the state of England by Sir Thomas More, of Scotland by Fletcher of Salton, and to the recent associations for the suppression of felony in different parts of the Northern Highlands, exhibits a striking coincidence, and shows that the want of education is not the principal cause of crimes and poverty. Now that schools are generally established in Scotland, it behoves the higher orders to endeavour, by protection, by kindness, and by example, to preserve those principles which have been so honourable to this country, which form the best basis for good education among a people, and without which, indeed, education may be a curse instead of a blessing. But, unfortunately, many Highlanders have begun, (as I have too often had occasion to mention), to lose all confidence in the views and line of conduct of their superiors, of whom they say, "When I see a man subscribing for schools and bible societies, while he reduces his tenants to poverty by exorbitant rents; while he has school-books and bibles in one hand, and in the other a warrant of ejectment, or an order for rouping out for the rent; and when he makes speeches at public meetings lamenting the loss of morals, and in private, lectures against drunkenness and the vices it produces, while, at the same time, the rents are such that they cannot be paid without smuggling, cheating, perjury and lying;—when all this is daily seen and practised, who can doubt but that there is much hypocrisy at the bottom?"

Such are the sentiments I often hear expressed by the people, and which may be ascribed to the operation of that grasping selfish system, which looks only to what is supposed to bring the most immediate advantages, careless of the loss to others,—tempting men to cheat and deceive by calling for the cheapest contracts,—raising a spirit of rivalry and over-reaching by auctioning, and receiving secret offers for farms,—and which have occasioned great distress and discontent in the Highlands, with much less permanent advantage to the promoters than might have been obtained by a more open, and a milder line of conduct. If people see that their welfare is attended to, they will return the favour. Gratitude, kindness, and friendship, are natural to man; but harshness and oppression will quickly destroy all. In the Highlands, the contrast between the past and present manners are the more striking, from the recollection of those times when the poorest clansman received a kind shake of the hand from the laird, and was otherwise treated like an independent man, and a proper regard shown to his feelings. Modern customs allow of no such intimacy with the lower orders, and strangers, with no recommendation but money, are preferred to all ancient claimants. "If a Lowlander," said an old acquaintance to me, with tears in his eyes, "comes among us with a good horse, a pair of spurs, and a whip, he is immediately received by the laird, who takes him to his house; he has the choice of a farm, and a whole tribe of us are sent to cot-houses on the moors, or ejected entirely; and while the Lowlander gets a fine house at the landlord's expense, I must build my own hut, get no allowance for the house I have left, although I built it myself, and while the stranger is supplied with Norway wood for his house, if I take a birch-tree not worth five shillings from the hill-side, the constable is sent after me with a warrant; I am threatened with a removal and the terrors of the law by the laird on whose lands I built the house, and whose property it will be when I leave it, which I would do to-morrow if I knew where to go." Will education cure this poor man's grief and indignation? Will reading make him contented with his lot, loyal to his king and government, and attached to his landlord? Reading will more clearly show him his misery. To make a man comfortable in his circumstances, and easy in his mind, and thus to remove all temptation or necessity for resorting to improper practices, are better and more certain preservatives of morals than reading or writing, particularly if the educated reader is in poverty and destitution, and that destitution occasioned by the oppressive conduct of others.

As a man blind from his infancy may be virtuous, and well instructed in all useful knowledge, without ever having read a line in his life, so are the bulk of the uneducated Highlanders well instructed in a knowledge of the Gospel and of the Scriptures, and possessed of great intelligence in all that immediately concerns themselves, and comes within the range of their knowledge, confined, as it must necessarily often be, to the narrow bounds of a Highland strath or glen.

I have already mentioned, that many Highland gentlemen, though possessed of honourable and humane dispositions, have, with the best intentions, allowed themselves to be seduced into hasty measures, and the adoption of plans unsuitable to their lands and their tenants; and have thus unhinged the social virtues, and the mutual confidence between them and their formerly attached dependants, whose sentiments and feelings are deplorably changed in many respects. May we not therefore hope, that when prejudicial effects are produced on the minds of the tenants, an abatement of hasty changes will ensue; and that we shall not see advertisements inviting strangers to offer for their lands, while they are themselves willing and able to pay equally high rents; with other measures calculated to raise their indignation, and check the inclination to improve their farms and modes of cultivation? May we not hope, that gentlemen will take into consideration the well-known fact, that the agricultural system now carried on with such spirit in Scotland, was 140 years [A respectable Highland clergyman, of talents and learning, who occupied a farm of some extent contiguous to his glebe, was so wedded to old customs, that it was not till the year 1815 that he commenced green crops, liming, and fallow; although two gentlemen (the honourable Baron Norton and Mr Macdonald of Glenco) in his immediate neighbourhood, had carried on the system for some years with great success. Now, when such a person rejected all innovations, is it surprising that an ignorant Highlander, with his deep-rooted predilection to ancient habits, should not commence a system (by order, perhaps, of a harsh and authoritative agent) which would overturn all notions of respect and reverence for the customs of his fathers?] in progress in England before the prejudices of the southern Scotch farmers were so far overcome as to embrace and practise it? And if gentlemen will also recollect, that their own fathers and grandfathers, men of education and knowledge of the world, saw these improved changes, in their frequent intercourse with the South, long before they introduced them into their own practice, many never having done so at all; will they not then make some indulgent allowance for the prejudices of the poor and ignorant Highlander, who never travelled beyond the bounds of his own or the neighbouring districts, and afford him time to comprehend the advantages of changes so recent, and so opposite to his usual habits? Should landlords arraign their people as incorrigible, because they do not change with every variation of every political or economical opinion, or according to the direction in which newly-adopted theories would turn them, and embrace systems of which they have never been made to comprehend the advantages, and without any encouragement or spur for exertion but an augmentation of rent?

In what manner the people comprehend and act on the new system of agriculture, when the knowledge of it is attainable, is clearly seen in those districts whose vicinity to the South has enabled the inhabitants to follow the example shown them. [The inveteracy and the difficulty of overcoming ancient habits, in countries highly favoured by many opportunities of improvement, is shown in several parts of England, where ploughing is still performed, even on light soils, with four and five horses; whereas that custom has long been laid aside in Scotland, where two horses are found sufficient for the deepest soils: yet, with this example before them, English farmers continue such a waste of labour, at great additional expense to themselves and consequent loss to the landlord. But it would be endless to state instances of prejudices as deep-rooted and prejudicial as any entertained in the Highlands, where the people have suffered so much from mischievous experiments, founded on their supposed incapacity and incurable prejudices.] Any person travelling through Athole, Breadalbane, and other districts of the Highlands of Perthshire, will observe, in the altered appearance of the country, how readily the people have availed themselves of useful and practical knowledge, and to what extent improvements have been carried, both in respect to the quantity and the quality of the produce. These districts furnish decisive proof of this progressive improvement. In glens where a few years ago, turnips and the green crop system were totally unknown, they are now as regularly cultivated as in Mid-Lothian; on a small scale, to be sure, as it must necessarily be, from the size of the farms and the narrow limits of cultivation, but in a manner calculated to produce good rents to the proprietors, and great comparative comfort to the tenants. This spirit of improvement is extending northwards and has every appearance of spreading over the whole country, although it has, in various instances, been checked by attempts to force it on too rapidly, and by theories founded on the customs of countries totally different, both in soil, climate, and in the habits of the people. One obvious evil is, the too frequent practice of giving leases for only sever years. This the people dislike more than none at all,

[On several estates, tenants neither ask for leases, nor are any given, ye' improvements are carried on with the same spirit as on estates where leases are granted. In the former case, much of the confidence of old times remains, the landlord's promise being as good as his bond; and the tenants trust to this in preference to a documentary term of years, and are safe from a removal while they conduct themselves with propriety, and are willing at the same time to augment their rents according to the times. In the latter they would be in anxious suspense, and in dread of removal at the end of each lease. Such is the manner of acting and thinking peculiar to landlords and tenants on the estates of honourable and judicious men, some of whom I have the happiness to call my friends; and such also is the custom in many parts of England. A highly enlightened and respectable friend, a native of Yorkshire, has favoured me with the following communication: "The practice of letting farms to the highest bidder is unknown. It would be utterly destructive of that good faith that subsists between landlord and tenant. In Yorkshire, few gentlemen grant leases. It may be supposed that the want of leases impedes improvement, inasmuch as tenants are unwilling to lay out their capital upon an uncertain tenure. This may be true to a certain extent, but the good faith that subsists between landlord and tenant is a sort of relationship in which they stand to each other. They are not bound to observe each other's interest by leases or bonds of parchment; but they are bound by obligations of honour, of mutual interest, and reciprocal advantage. The right of voting at county elections gives the freeholder of forty shillings a high degree of importance and respectability in his own opinion, and in that of his landlord. He confers a favour on his superiors, and he has at least once in seven years the power of showing bis independence, and of chastising the insolence or oppression of the rich. At a late county election, the popular candidate of a northern county waited on a shoemaker to solicit his vote. 'Get out of my house, Sir,' said the shoemaker: the gentleman walked out accordingly. 'You turned me out of your estate, continued the shoemaker, ' and I was determined to turn you out of my house; but, for all that, I will give you my vote.'"]

as, according to their opinion, the expiration of these short terms serves to remind the landlords of an increase of rent on the improvements made, without allowing time to the tenants to reap the benefit of their previous exertions.

Much of the want of that spirit for improvement, so much complained of, is owing to the practice of augmenting the rent on any successful exertion or change made by the tenant. On several estates within my knowledge, the rents were augmented every third and fourth year after the improvements commenced but the consequence of the last augmentation was a complete bar to further exertions on the part of the tenants, who then saw no prospect of being allowed any benefit from their labours. Another practice equally incredible is gaining ground, and calculated to excite surprise in an enlightened age, with the example of Ireland as a warning, were we not accustomed to see many extraordinary things in the management of the poor Highlanders. Landlords and their agents have employed middlemen, to whom they let a tract of country, with power to subset, on a rent of their own fixing, to the small tenants,—a system pregnant with misery and discontent, without one apparent advantage to the landlord, except the saving of trouble by collecting rent from one great middleman instead of thirty or forty small tenants.

But notwithstanding these insulated cases, when we find, that in the southern Highland districts, the natural course of improvements has led to the best results, the same might be expected in more northern counties, if the inhabitants were allowed the additional time rendered necessary by their greater distance from example, and suffered to reap the advantage of the new communications opened by the admirable roads, the construction of which does so much credit to the spirit and liberality both of the proprietors and of government, at whose joint expense they have been formed. [The amount of this joint expenditure exceeds 460,000l. Upwards of 1200 miles of new roads have been made, and about 540 miles of the old military roads completely repaired, with 1436 bridges, of one or more arches, and 11,460 water-courses and covered drains.—See Reports of Parliamentary Commissioners.] It is hoped, therefore, that gentlemen will believe, that Highlanders may acquire skill by experience, and a capital by their exertions and industry; and that they will also believe, that, although a numerous tenantry may consume more produce than one large establishment, humanity, and the poverty, misery, and perhaps crimes, resulting from their removal, ought not to be totally forgotten ; nor a plausible theory of feeding a surplus population, at the landlord's expense, be allowed to make them lose sight of the important fact, that their income is never so secure as when their farms are occupied by an economical, industrious, and well-principled people;

[The late Mr Campbell of Achallader, who, as I have already mentioned, was fifty-five years agent or factor to the late Earl of Breadalbane, often stated, that during this long period, a failure of payment was so rare, and so much shame was attached to it, that when, by misfortune or accident, a person happened to be deficient, his friends or neighbours generally assisted him by a loan, or otherwise. The deficiency was never officially known to the chamberlain, except in cases of total bankruptcy, or roguery on the part of the tenant. I have the same good authority for stating, that of these the instances were very rare; and such was the mutual confidence, and such the honourable manner in which business was conducted, that no receipt for rent was ever asked. An account was opened for every tenant, and when the rent was paid, Achallader put the initials of his name below the sum credited. This was sufficient receipt for upwards of eleven hundred sums paid by that number of tenants under his charge. I know not whether this is more honourable to the noble proprietor, to the judicious management of his excellent chamberlain, or to the integrity and industry of the numerous tenantry. During that period there were several years of severe pressure, and particularly the autumns, from 1770 to 1774, were cold and wet, and very unproductive in the higher grounds, where the corn did not ripen for three successive harvests. I am informed by my friend Mr Stewart of Ardvorlich, a gentleman of the first respectability and intelligence, who succeeded Mr Campbell, that he experienced equal fidelity to their engagements on the part of the tenants, and that he never had a shilling of arrears while he had the management, which he resigned many years ago.]

 —a people who always attach so much disgrace to a failure in the payment of rent, that, on a reverse of fortune having befallen a man, he comforted himself with this reflection, "I have one happiness, I have paid my rent, and have not lost credit with my landlord."

[A young artist, who has raised himself to the first eminence by his talents, painted, a few years ago, two pieces on a subject highly interesting to agriculturists, but, as Mr Wilkie found, not a popular piece of art. These he called Rent-Day, and Distraining for Rent. The latter was little known in the Highlands till introduced with the improvements; and Rent-Day, as it was held in former times, is no longer seen in what are called the improved districts. In former times, the collection of rents was a kind of jubilee, when the tenants on great estates attended, and spent several days in feasting and rejoicing at fulfilling their engagements with their landlords, and in offering grateful libations to their honour and prosperity. Perhaps things are differently managed now, and the irregularity of payment renders general meetings impossible. But in Yorkshire, as I am informed by a friend to whom I owe very interesting communications, "The good custom of Rent-Day Dinners still continues to be observed, when all the tenantry on the estate assemble in the hall of the landlord's mansion, and are regaled with roast beef, plum-pudding, and home-brewed ale, and the Squire's health is drank with affectionate enthusiasm. In ancient families it is still customary for the landlord to preside in person, but in more refined modern establishments, the steward takes the head of the table. The annual appearance at this table is a subject of honest pride. The absence of a tenant is considered ominous of his declining credit. Not to appear at the rent-day is disgraceful. The conversation at these dinners is on the best breed of cattle, and the best modes of husbandry. They have given rise to agricultural societies. Thus emulation, good neighbourhood, respectful attachment to landlords, and friendly feelings towards each other, are promoted. The man who would offer a higher price for his neighbour's farm, or endeavour to supplant him, could not show his face at the Rent-Day Dinner; and the landlord who would accept such an offer at the expense of an old and respectable tenant, would be held in contempt by many of his own rank, and in abhorrence by his tenantry. Such, I believe, are the implied conditions between landlord and tenant; and how soon the increasing progress of luxury and extravagance may produce rapacity and extortion, it is impossible to say ; but hitherto the respect paid to good faith, and the value attached to good character, have prevented those melancholy and cruel effects which have been so severely felt in many of the northern parts of the island."]

This is a principle worth preserving, and a more honourable security for good payments than distraining for rents, and other modes much too frequent; for it is no uncommon thing to see a tenant's whole stock under sequestration, without liberty to dispose of an article, unless by consent of the landlord, who orders an examination of the stock and produce at certain periods, and what is marketable to be disposed of for the rent. Will it be credited, that such a system can be pursued, and that men, who thus act towards their tenants, complain of their indolence and want of spirit to improve—under sequestration, and an annual warning to remove?

After so long a disquisition on a most painful subject, I now turn to one of a more agreeable nature,—the exertions made of late years to remedy, or rather to restrain the progress of those evils which press so heavily on the natives of the Highlands. These efforts, and the examples shown by individuals, have done much; but having avoided the mention of names, either in approbation or the reverse, I shall now follow the same rule, and merely notice public bodies. Among these, the high respectability of the members of the Highland Society of Scotland,—the judicious discrimination and spirit with which the objects of this institution are carried into effect,—the benefits it has conferred,—and the liberal and impartial manner in which its premiums are distributed,—justly entitle this patriotic body to high estimation, and render it the most eminently useful of any public association ever connected with the Highlands.

"The Highland Society of Scotland derives its origin from a number of gentlemen, natives of, or connected with the Highlands, assembled at Edinburgh in the year 1784. That meeting conceiving (as the words of their own resolutions express) that the institution of a Highland Society at Edinburgh would be attended with many good consequences to the country, as well as to individuals,' determined to take the sense of their countrymen on the propriety of such an institution. A numerous meeting of such gentlemen as a residence in or near Edinburgh allowed of being called together, was assembled. They warmly approved of the measure; agreed to become members of such a society; proceeded to the nomination of a President, Vice-Presidents, and Committee; and having thus far embodied themselves, wrote circular letters to such noblemen and gentlemen as birth, property, or connexion qualified, and, as they supposed, might incline to join in the formation of such an establishment, inviting them to become members of the proposed society." [Introduction to the first volume of "Transactions and Essays of the Highland Society," by Henry Mackenzie, Esq. one of the Directors.]

The original objects of the Society were, an inquiry into the present state of the Highlands and adjacent Isles, with the condition of their inhabitants; the means of their improvement by establishing towns and villages, roads and bridges, advancing agriculture and extending fisheries, introducing useful trades and manufactures, and by an exertion to unite the efforts of the landlords, and to call the attention of Government towards the encouragement and promotion of these useful purposes. The Society also proposed to pay attention to the preservation of the language, poetry, and music of the Highlands. These were the original objects of the institution ; but they are now extended so as to embrace a great variety of branches, both of agriculture and the arts. The premiums annually distributed by the Society have raised a spirit of emulation, exertion, and a desire to improve, productive of the greatest advantages. Premiums have been given in every district of the country for improving the breed of horses, cattle, and sheep,—for draining, trenching, clearing, and planting,—for the cultivation of green crops in all their varieties, as well as for many other improvements, more especially applicable to the Highlands. In support of national literature, the Society has been equally liberal; and the amount of the sums expended in preparing and publishing a Gaelic Dictionary is, I believe, almost unexampled in the history of literature. Premiums are also given for various agricultural improvements, &c. in the Lowlands. Much labour, and a considerable portion of the Society's funds, have been expended on the subject of establishing an uniformity of weights and measures, with many other important objects intimately connected with the welfare of the country.

Faithful to the purposes of its institution, the Society has  taken every opportunity of encouraging whatever tends to improve the cultivation of the country in general, and particularly of the remote and mountainous region from which it assumed its name. The premiums, therefore, are not confined to the Highlands, or to such kinds of agriculture or manufactures as are exclusively adapted to that country; they have extended, and continue still farther to extend, to draw forth information, and to stimulate ingenuity in every branch of those departments which may be useful, whether in the Highlands or other parts of the country: and in the eloquent language of one of its first members, who has ever been a constant, zealous, and able conductor of its duties,—"The Highland Society has been, not unaptly, compared to one of our native rivers, which has its rise indeed in the Highlands, but which, increasing as it flows, fertilizes and improves Lowland districts, at a distance from those less cultivated regions whence it originally springs." [Introduction to the third volume of the Transactions of the Highland Society, by Henry Mackenzie, Esquire. Lord Bannatyne and Mr Mackenzie are now the only surviving members of the Lounger and Mirror Club. For a period of thirty-nine years they have never been absent from a General or Committee Meeting of the Highland Society, except in instances of indisposition, or some indispensable engagement.] In prosecution of these views, the Society has, within the" last twelve years, distributed about L.1400 annually in premiums.

The subject of emigration did not escape the attention of the Society; but the Directors were too intelligent to attempt to prevent emigration, among a people who, in the language of the Report on the subject, have been "thrown, as it were, loose from their native land," and left without the means of subsistence. With more humanity they endeavoured to show the cruelty of such measures, and, at the same time, suggested the necessity of establishing regulations to preserve the health and lives of the emigrants on their voyage, by preventing vessels from taking more than a certain number of passengers, that there might be proper accommodation and a sufficient supply of provisions, so that emigrants may in future be treated with humanity, "instead of being delivered over, by numberless privations, and the want of comfort and care, to diseases and destruction." [Report of the Highland Society.] In conformity to these views of this important subject, the Society got a bill brought into Parliament, founded on their suggestions: It passed with little opposition, [Emigration, properly regulated, ought to be encouraged from those districts where the new improvements have sent the people to patches of land, and laid the foundation for realizing the cottage and potatoe-garden system, and the wretchedness of the Irish peasantry. It is surely better for the mother country that they should emigrate than remain with such deplorable prospects in view. Two years ago some Highland gentlemen, resident in India, lamenting the state to which so many of their countrymen were reduced, subscribed about L. 1250, and sent home the money to pay for the passage of a certain number of emigrants. About 200 received the benefit of this donation, and have gone to Canada. The humane act of these gentlemen is called the " Demon of Reform " by those who write in praise of the new order of things in the North.] so that an emigrant has now the chance of reaching his destination without danger of being doomed to "diseases and destruction." With this humane act, I conclude this short notice of the patriotic Highland Society of Scotland, which has rendered such essential service to that part of the country whose name it bears. It consists of nearly 1500 members.

A few years previous to the institution of the Highland Society of Scotland, a Society was established in London in somewhat similar circumstances. General Fraser of Lo-vat, and several Highland gentlemen, met at the Spring-Garden coffee-house in the year 1778, and, after a few arrangements, formed themselves into a Society with the same views, and for somewhat similar purposes as those I have detailed of the meeting in Edinburgh. The Society soon increased in numbers, and in the rank and respectability of its members, among whom were not only many of the first nobility and men of talents and property in the kingdom, but several members of the Royal Family; and in 1817, his Majesty, then Prince Regent, was graciously pleased to become "Chief of the Highland Society of London."

The Highland Society of Scotland taking the lead in promoting the agricultural, and indeed the general improvement of the country, that of London confines itself chiefly to the language, music, poetry, and garb of the Highlands, and, along with these, to preserve, perhaps, some of the best traits of the ancient character of the people : and while in Edinburgh, rewards and premiums are given for agricultural improvements, ingenious inventions, and other objects applicable to civil life; in London it was intended to give rewards and honorary marks of distinction for particular instances of courage, distinguished talent, and chivalrous deeds in war, as they might be displayed by Scotchmen and Scotch corps. But in this respect the intentions of the Society have been interrupted by an unfortunate misunderstanding, which will be noticed afterwards. In the encouragement of national music and other objects, it has been most liberal; as is seen at the annual exhibition in Edinburgh of the ancient war and field music of the mountains, and of the Highland garb, which was instituted, and the expense defrayed, by the London Society. But the greatest and most important benefit which it has conferred, was the institution of the Caledonian Asylum in London, for educating, supporting, and clothing the children of soldiers and sailors of Scotland killed or disabled, or of other destitute Scotchmen resident in London. This institution originated with the Highland Society of London ; and having concluded the notice of the Society of Scotland by the act for the protection of the unfortunate emigrants, I finish now this notice of the sister Society, by stating its connexion with the Caledonian Asylum.

Two such dissertations as the foregoing, on the past and present state of the Highlands, may be considered as out of the line of my profession, and not a very suitable preliminary to a military memoir. But as the same people form the subject of both, and as their personal hardihood and moral qualities were such as peculiarly fitted them for the toils and privations of a military life, as will more fully appear in the military narrative; it may not perhaps be foreign to the principal subject, to show of what materials the Highland regiments were originally composed, and what were the habits of thinking and acting which, formed and matured within their native mountains, accompanied them in their military progress. And, as much of the happiness of the Highlanders, and no small share of the prosperity of the country, depends on the manner in which they are treated by their natural protectors, in whose hands Providence and the laws have placed so much power to raise or depress their condition; it is surely of importance to remember that this race of people, although poor in circumstances, has been both moral and independent; and as symptoms of a retrograde tendency have recently begun to show themselves, I trust I shall not be thought presumptuous in making this feeble attempt, founded on a long intimacy with the people, both as inhabitants of their native glens, and as soldiers in barracks and in the field, and on some knowledge of the state of the country—to show what they were, what they now are, and what, under a proper management, they may yet become. The revolution to which I have so often alluded, considering the short space of time in which it has been in operation, has been great. Had it been accomplished in a more gentle manner, its influence on the general disposition and character of the people would have been less evident and more beneficial, and they might have been taught to become more industrious, without any loss of attachment or of moral principle.

In the central Highlands, industry can be employed only in the cultivation of the land. Fuel is too scarce, and all materials, except wool and flax, are too distant for manufactories. This is not to be regretted; there is sufficient space for manufactories in the low country, and the towns are abundantly populous. Let the Highlanders, therefore, remain a pastoral and agricultural people; the superabundant population filling our military ranks with good recruits, sending out an annual supply of labourers to the Low country when required, and colonizing our distant possessions with a loyal and well-principled race. Although there may be some waste of labour, and some parts of that produce consumed on the spot, which might otherwise be sent to distant markets, still it may be admitted, that the general value of produce does not depend on the difference between a distant and home consumption. It matters little to the general welfare of the State, whether the consumption be on the spot, or at the distance of forty or one hundred miles; and, although on a first view, it may appear a waste of labour to employ more persons in agriculture than are absolutely necessary to cultivate the soil, yet the morality and the independence of the agricultural population is surely of some, if not of the highest, consideration. It ought not, moreover, to be forgotten, that, if small farmers raise the same quantity of produce as large farmers, the greater consumption on the spot, in the former case, cannot possibly affect the question, or form any solid objection that can be brought into comparison with the advantage the bulk of the people derive from having a share in the cultivation of the soil: seeing that, while these people remain in the country, they are to be fed from its produce, it matters not in what particular place they consume it. It may be further remarked, that the frequent distress of the working classes, is mainly to be ascribed to the too general adoption of the present agricultural system, which forces people from the country to the towns, increases in an inordinate degree the number of competitors for employment, and entails misery on themselves and all who are in similar circumstances. These observations will receive additional force, when it is considered, that this agricultural independency is the best security against poor's rates. It is evident that these rates originated in England when the people were driven from the cultivation of the land, and left without any share in the profits of the soil, except as labourers hired by others. It is equally well known, that, in Scotland, people occupying land never apply for charity, except in extreme cases. Numerous examples show, likewise, that the consumption of a few additional mouths will not diminish the rent: therefore, as the population in the Lowlands is already fully adequate for the present state of manufactures in that part of the country, is it prudent or patriotic to overstock them by depopulating the glens of the Highlands? There, experience has proved, that a man may be poor, yet independent, and innocent, although idle: but how idleness and poverty generate vice in populous towns, the records of the criminal courts sufficiently evince. These show, likewise, how numerous the crimes committed by Highlanders, or, at least, persons with Highland names, and of Highland descent, have become in cities. In their native country, on the contrary, the convicted criminals in seventy years, during periods the most turbulent and lawless, and taken from a population of 394,000 souls, did not exceed 91; [Records of the Court of Justiciary.] while the number of criminals convicted in one year (1817), at the spring and summer assizes at Lancaster, was 86; and yet the agricultural parts of the neighbouring county of Westmorland, and some counties in Wales, equal any part of the kingdom in morality and exemption from crime. It may be said, that, to compare the habits, temptations, debauchery, and crimes of cities, with the innocence of an agricultural or pastoral life, cannot be fair and just. Certainly it is not; but is it then consistent with our duty to God, or to humanity, with our love of country, or our patriotism, to drive the people away from the innocent walks of life, and force them into the resorts of immorality and crime?


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