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Chronicals of Stratheden
The Home and Surroundings of a "Big Fairmer" in a Highland Parish of To-Day


BURNSIDE COTTAGE, the residence of Mr Malcolm Macgregor—one of the principal farmers in Stratheden—is a snug-looking edifice situated at the foot of a picturesque hill. It is a comparatively modern structure, and, in point of design and accommodation, is far in advance of the kind of habitation in which lived the great majority of Highland farmers some forty years ago. The situation and surroundings are essentially picturesque. The cottage nestles cosily in a nook, sheltered, in Nature's own inimitable fashion, by the majestic hills that encircle the spot. On one side, a little distance away, there rises a massive oval-shaped hill, and for some considerable distance up the slope of this hill there is a wood, which, when decked in the variegated autumn tints, forms a pretty contrast to the, rugged, rocky hills around. Quite near, there runs a river fed by numerous streamlets from the neighbouring hills; and when water is abundant — which will happen, though the climate of Stratheden is not a moist one—a waterfall, only a few yards away from Burnside Cottage, beats its weird and not unmusical time on the gurgling waters in the river's bed. Looking eastward, from an eminence quite near the cottage, a very fine picture of natural scenery presents itself. For some distance along there is a considerable extent of cultivated ground, circular in shape, a broad stream with miniature islands forming the diameter, and rocky, heathery hills standing out in bold relief on either side. Farther on, in the same direction, patches of richest green are visible in the distant valley; while, a little way beyond, the eye catches sight of the far-off sea stretching far away, until it and the horizon seem to meet and vanish out of sight. And those that love the music of the voice, as well as Nature's silent grandeur, may find, amid the scene here described, much to delight the ear and speak to the heart. There is a clump of trees right opposite Burnside Cottage in which the winged songsters seem to love to warble, and we have often listened with delight to their cheering concert. The mavis and the lark, — the latter has not yet disappeared from Stratheden,—often pipe their sweet song in or near that clump of trees and if the lapwing sometimes sweeps along with its not inviting music, the contrast but makes the listener the better prize the happy music of the smaller birds. The milkmaid's song, too, in the still summer evening echoes along the neighbouring rocks "when the kye come hame," and an occasional low from "crummie" herself echoes far down the Strath —and this latter, though not always a sound remarkable for melody, is sufficiently in keeping with the surroundings to constitute an additional charm ; while, as if responding, there strike upon the ear, with a pleasing music of their own, the lowing of other "crummies" browsing on the hillsides, and the bleating of sheep feeding in the distant glen.

Mr Malcolm Macgregor, as the natives generally say, is a "big fairmer," and owns some three thousand sheep. His stock is composed chiefly of Cheviots, or caoraich inhor (big sheep), as the Gaelic-speaking residents call them, in contradistinction to the caoraich blaeag (little sheep), or black-faced—which latter kind formed the bulk of the stock of sheep-holders generally in Highland parishes before the days of the modern "big fairmer." Malcolm Macgregor is a good specimen of the better class of farmers in the Highlands of to-day. He has a thoroughly practical knowledge of his profession—which, of course, is necessary for successful farming in the Highlands, as in every other place—and when occasion requires, he does not consider it beneath his dignity to take a share of the manual work of the farm. From his youth he has been familiar with sheep-farming his father, a genuine Highlander, and a shrewd industrious man, being a farmer occupying extensive sheep-holdings; and the son seems to have inherited some of the shrewdness and perseverance of the father.

Macgregor is a man of great despatch—so much so, indeed, that some might think that at times he is even too hurried, too anxiously eager; but it is his way, and that, we suppose, is the philosophy of such individual features. We have heard, however, some farmers say that certain ones in Malcolm's profession in Highland and other parishes might be the better of a little of the said despatch; that some "big fairmers" show too much of a proneness to the easy-going style of life—seeming imperturbably satisfied, so to speak, with the status quo idea, and having apparently unlimited faith in the usual returns, prices, and the like. Be this as it may, and merely observing that increasing competition must tend to diminish the number of easy-going farmers, we proceed to observe that, with Malcolm Macgregor, farming is not an amusement merely. He looks on it as a real, and, as many others in these days of foreign competition and severe seasons will think, a very arduous profession, and wisely concludes that it is the duty of every farmer to leave no proper effort untried towards making the farm pay. Macgregor's ideas of farming, however, are not altogether confined by considerations as to what will pay. The aesthetic element enters somewhat into his musings regarding the management of his farm. He is strong in improving tendencies, as some other Highland farmers of to-day are, and might become a successful and even famous land-reclaimer were his energies entirely devoted in this direction. In the few years he has been in Burnside, he has made considerable alterations with the view of beautifying the 'immediate surroundings of his home. The cottage itself was all that could be desired—commodious and compact, and is such, indeed, as the most fastidious farmer might be pleased with; but Macgregor thought there was room for improvement in the immediate surroundings. The lawn in front was pretty enough, but it looked bare, and the planting of trees and shrubs was resolved on.

The ordinary daily life of a "big fairmer" in a Highland parish does not abound in events of specially exciting interest. Lambing time, clipping time, the big wool - market days, smearing time, and a few busy days in spring and harvest, constitute the principal events in his calendar. District shows, also, of cattle, sheep, and farm-produce, occasion some slight ripple on the comparatively unmoved sea of the average Highland farmer's life. There is always, no doubt, plenty of room for activity and diligence, and, nowadays especially, no small need for the exercise of both; nor will any right-thinking person fail to sympathise with farmers in the difficulties they have, as a class, to contend against in these unmistakably changed days of farming in Scotland generally.

Highland farmers and their families, in their tastes and general ways, present somewhat of a contrast to those of about forty years ago. The simpler tastes and primitive ways of the days of yore are rapidly disappearing. The style of living in diet, dress, and general home surroundings, has much changed within even the, last twenty years---the tendency being, it need hardly be added, towards more luxurious and expensive ways. In the matter of diet, perhaps, the change is not so marked, if we except the now more common use of those table delicacies—such as desserts and fruit accompaniments —which every farmer's wife in all Highland parishes of to-day endeavours to command, especially when there are strangers staying at the house, or even temporarily dining there. With regard to dress, except in some far - away secluded spot, where remnants of older - fashions yet are honoured, the homespun and like humble fabrics worn by most of the Highland farmers of some forty and even twenty-five years ago are all but unknown; and as for the lady members of the farmer's family, it is hardly necessary to say that by them the latter form of progress is especially patronised.

With the more elaborate architectural design now shown by 'farmers' houses, a grander, more costly style of furniture has, of course, come to be used.

And there are other evidences of the changed times. The sons and daughters of the farmer of to-day are supposed to get a more fashionable or more "finished" education than was common among the same class at the period alluded to. Libraries in farmers' houses, also, are more elaborate than of yore ; but this does not mean in every case a greater cultivation of reading habits. There were, as many know, at the time referred to, as cultured and well-read farmers as the most cultured of to-day; and indeed we are not sure but that there was a broader, healthier refinement in some instances then than is now ordinarily met with, even among the better class of Highland farmers. Farmers, very probably, as a class, are better educated to-day; and there is no reason why they should not be so, seeing their advantages are so much greater. But some farmers and their families, just like other people, in their manner of speaking, and in their style of commenting on persons they envy or dislike, afford quite ample evidence that more than education so called —more than grandeur in dress and equipage, and costliness in diet—is needed for the encouragement of that cultured, generous refinement which bespeaks the lady and the gentleman.

Altogether the simpler ways of other times, generally speaking, are gone, though it is not easy to admit that the change is, in every instance, an unmixed good. If, as a class, farmers' wives are to-day better read and more accomplished generally, we have met with certain shrewd ones—farmers too, men able to compare both periods—who allege that, whatever be the progress of our time, there are among the farmers' wives of the present day more industrious gossips and busybodies in other people's matters than of yore. To what extent the allegation is well founded we need not inquire, and will merely add that we like to think that any farmers' wives that do give way to the too common weaknesses of excessive gossip and busy bodyism, form the exceptions among a highly respectable and kindly class of persons.

Some may think that there are other unpromising features associated with the so-called advanced circumstances of the Highland farmers of to-day,—so far, that is to say, as some of them are concerned. Many of us have heard, longer ago than we care to think of, that "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy;" but if the converse be true, some farmers in some Highland parishes of to-day should be the very opposite of dull. With such it is all play and no work, and it is unnecessary to say what epithet the authority already quoted would apply to Jack in such a case. They look upon the farm as an unfailing source of revenue—as, come what may, a sure money-making institution—and that with the smallest possible personal industry or supervision. And yet most of such people are ambitious in a certain way. Grand displays at home and from home, aping the ways and habits of big people they have met or even seen, thoughtless expenditure in luxuries in diet and in dress,—all these are weaknesses frequently associated with the class of people here alluded to. No other person, of course, has any business with this matter, though any one is free to comment upon it; and when, along with the features indicated, there is an affectation of superiority—more commonly met with, it is right to add, in the wives and families of such farmers than in the farmers themselves—such people must not murmur if their peculiarities receive a passing notice. We know, however, Highland farmers, good men and true, who, in addition to diligently attending to their farms, are mindful of the cultivation of their minds and hearts, and their homes afford clear enough evidence of the cultured as well as practical views the heads of the house take of life and its duties.

Malcolm Macgregor, the tenant of Burnside farm, as was indicated, leads a busy life. Most farmers have what is called a manager—an official, as the name implies, supposed to supervise the farm interests generally. Some farmers specially need the services of such a person, their own practical knowledge being limited, or their fondness for work not being great; while others, having more than one farm, or one very large farm, require a manager, though they themselves may possess practical knowledge, and be fond of making themselves useful in their own interest. Malcolm Macgregor is his own manager, being fond of work and possessing the requisite practical knowledge, while the extent of his farm enables him to undertake its management. This renders Macgregor's life a particularly busy one. He goes " to the hill," confers with each shepherd, gives instructions, and, generally, conducts the intelligence department of the farm. In this respect it is a decided advantage to Magregor, who is a genuine Celt, that he can speak Gaelic, inasmuch as, though shepherds and other farm-servants unable to speak Gaelic are becoming numerous in Highland parishes, there are yet some that can better understand instructions conveyed in the Gaelic tongue.

Notwithstanding his busy professional life, Mr Macgregor finds time to give his services in the management of parochial work. He is a member of the School Board of Stratheden, and being of practical, shrewd business ways, is a useful member of the Board. In many Highland parishes those qualified for such offices are not particularly numerous, and the " munnistarrs " and the " big fairmers " in most of such cases have the work to do. Some of the latter are pleased with this arrangement—proud of it, indeed ; and certain of the clergy even manifest a sort of eagerness for the dignity of office in school and other boards.

The average "big fairmer " in a Highland parish of to-day is not particularly given to going from home, or even to "calling," in his own neighbourhood. He travels to markets far and near, of course, goes to look for wintering for his sheep, and several times to see his sheep at wintering; but he does not often travel for travelling's sake. His calls in the parish are principally to other big farmers, and the usual conversation at such meetings is of sheep and wool, and the like, with an occasional reference to politics so called, to the laird, the rent, the parson, the preaching, the crofter, and the weather. It is said some big farmers like very much to speak about the parson in a way savouring of something like envy at "the cloth" for their position, and that such ones are particularly fond of trying to say smart, and even unkind, things about the clergy. Who knows, but there, may be some such persons?—"big fairmers" are not known to be infallible more than any other people.

Malcolm Macgregor, however, appears to be very respectful to the clergy, attends church with praiseworthy regularity, and, so far as we have seen, manifests no tendency either to sneer at or envy the members of the clerical profession. The Rev. George Cameron, parish minister of Stratheden, is Mr Macgregor's pastor. It appears that the reverend gentleman and he were acquainted with each other long before either came to Stratheden, and when his reverence visits at Burnside, they like to repeat reminiscences of other days. They also talk of Church and other politics, and though of one mind on the Church question, it is said that, in the matter of politics so called, they do not always understand each other. The parson, so it is said, is what is called a Liberal-Conservative, and Macgregor is known as a pretty pronounced Liberal, which perhaps explains any political misunderstandings that may occur. But these two do not often talk of politics, nor, indeed, do politics so called by any means frequently form the subject of conversation between pastor and people in the average Highland parish.

With all his busy habits, and notwithstanding that his industrious management of his farm necessitates his being much out of doors, Malcolm Macgregor is a thoroughly domesticated man, and a kind, and withal judicious, paterfamilias. We said that in the management of his surroundings Macgregor pays due regard to the aesthetic. This feature is specially noticeable within his home. There a not inconsiderable degree of refinement prevails. Not to speak of the minor element of elegance in furniture, we find Macgregor wisely encouraging the cultivation of the refining art of music; and more than once have we listened with pleasure to Malcolm and his little daughter Mary - a bright, clever little lady, some eight years old, and doubly dear to Malcolm in his widowed loneliness—singing a plaintive little song or cheering hymn.

This reference to music leads us to mention that one of the members of Mr Malcolm Macgregor's household is Miss Flora Macleod, governess, an intelligent young lady, and a good musician. Governesses are not so numerous in Highland parishes as of old. Local schools are at hand, and where these are not considered sufficient, the increased travelling facilities afford easy access to boarding-schools and like institutions — both which facts may well enough be understood to wend towards diminishing the number of governesses. They yet are met with, however; and in many Highland parishes where what is called "the society" is somewhat limited, a governess is often a valuable accession to a family, and, indeed, to the neighbourhood generally. We spent an evening lately at Burnside Cottage, and heard Miss Macleod at the piano with much pleasure, while she gave, in fine style, some good old Scottish airs, some plaintive Highland melodies, and stirring pibrochs. Some young ladies, some Highland farmers' daughters among them—no one seems to know why—affect indifference to Scotch music generally, and Highland music in particular. We cannot help thinking that there must be something radically wrong in the training that would render such a feeble affectation as this possible; and we would respectfully warn patriotic parents and guardians in Highland parishes, to beware lest their daughters and their charge are kept in ignorance of the bettering strains of "the auld Scotch sangs" and plaintive Highland melodies by means of a false estimate of genuine culture.

Such is a "big fairmer," and such a "big fairmer's" home, in a Highland parish of to-day. There is no doubt that for a considerable period, up till some eight years ago, Highland farmers, in common with their brethren all over the country, enjoyed a large measure of prosperity. The general trade of the country—by which, obviously, the prices of cattle, sheep, and farm-produce generally are so much regulated—was brisk, foreign competition had not assumed the stupendous proportions it now presents, and the growing facilities for exporting local produce formed another element in giving to the Highland farmer a succession of, what even he himself admitted to be, very good years. The aspect of the farming situation is not, however, at this moment specially encouraging; and while some of the causes of this, such as the recent unusually severe winters —which have occasioned so much outlay for artificial feeding, and, it is to be feared, caused a deterioration in the sheep stock—may be expected to be temporary, signs are not wanting that, in the event of trade not markedly improving, and foreign competition even remaining at its present stage of development, the terms of farm occupancy will have to be practically considered by landlord and tenant. It must, of course, be borne in mind, that so long as farms to let are so eagerly sought after, as even yet they seem to be, by persons ready to give; the same, if not a higher rent, landlords cannot reasonably be expected to offer such farms at a reduced rent. The matter, in short, will be self-adjusting. It is very much in the farmers' own hands, and will be regulated by the simplest rules of supply and demand.

No description of a farmer's surroundings would be complete without some reference to the farm-servants, on whom the general prosperity of a farm so much depends. The changed circumstances of shepherds and ploughmen consist mainly in their being, as compared with those of, say, thirty years ago, better educated and better paid. We have heard, however, a very shrewd "big fairmer" question the exclusive benefit of the change to servant or master, on the ground that—instances of which, he said, he had met with—the advance in education so called originates a sort of restless discontentedness and an impracticable ambition, and that the increased wages promote tastes and habits neither helpful to the usefulness of the servant nor favourable to the comfort of his home. Such results, no doubt, may occur; but it can hardly be doubted that the changes referred to, and especially the progress in education, must in the main tend towards the elevating and general improvement of the various classes of farm-servants.

Shepherds, as a class, seem better educated than ploughmen ; and in the matter of speech and behaviour, a comparison would be decidedly in favour of the former. In the gathering of general information the shepherd seems more favourably circumstanced as to opportunity. His life, no doubt, is ordinarily as busy as the ploughman's, and at such seasons as lambing and clipping time, more exhausting, perhaps, than the ploughman makes his work at any time; while the latter knows nothing of an arduous, tedious, and even dangerous, employment the snows of winter sometimes throw in the shepherd's way. And yet the shepherd seems to find more opportunities for self-improvement than the ploughman, and that though the latter often is nearer any library that may chance to exist. While going his daily rounds from his mountain home, the shepherd, if so inclined, may take with him a book or newspaper, and sit, with his flock in view, on heathery knoll or rocky chair, and read amid the undisturbed and thought-begetting solitudes around him. And we have met shepherds in Stratheden, natives of the parish, men of some thirty years of age, who evidently do not neglect their opportunities of gathering information. We know two young shepherds on the farm of Heathfield, whom we consider to be good specimens of the better class of shepherds in a Highland parish of to-day. These are Kenneth Sutherland and Hugh Mackay, both sons of shepherds that long did duty on the same farm. These young men are sober, intelligent, and even thoughtful; nor would it be easy to find, among people of far greater pretensions, many so much at home on topics of general interest. Not, perhaps, that they are very strong in politics so called; but with the history of their country and the traditions of their parish, with the nature and prospects of the national industries, and such matters, they are acquainted to a degree that reflects much credit on their manner of using their opportunities. And in the matter of religious breadth, though it is difficult for them all at once to Ieap out of the narrow exclusiveness and self-righteous fanaticism encouraged by the local atmosphere in their early days, these young men manifest a hopeful progress. They adhere to the Free Church, for the reason, very probably, that, as a rule, determines the ecclesiastical name of people of any and every Church—because their parents attended the said Church; but their intelligence and growing knowledge of the world are manifested, not merely in their not being afraid to fraternise "Moaderats," as some few of the older natives yet seem to be, but in the still greater advance indicated by their giving practical evidence that they do not fear—as some silly bigots seem to think—that their souls would be placed in jeopardy by their worshipping within the walls of a "Moaderat" kirk. We know another shepherd on the same farm of Heathfield—George Mackay to name, and some fifty years of age—who is as good a specimen of the intelligent shepherd as can easily be met with. He is fond of reading, and in his conversation generally manifests a shrewdness of observation, and an intelligent discernment, indicating good mental endowments, and a very diligent use of opportunities for exercising them.

In George Mackay there is traceable a peculiar combination of shyness and reflectiveness, which we have frequently noticed in shepherds—to be accounted for, perhaps, on the ground of the solitariness of their usual surroundings; and one can easily imagine how the isolation and silence of their mountain home, with the extent, and often the grandeur, of the prospect it commands, would combine to promote, if not shyness, at least a sort of quiet reserve, and something akin to contemplativeness. We recently heard from a clergyman in a Highland an amusing story, illustrative of the shyness in question. A shepherd about to get married, called on the reverend gentleman, soliciting his services in getting the nuptial knot tied. He sat for some time with the parson, but said nothing of his errand. He seemed to have something special to say, but, as our informant put it, "he never seemed able to come to the scratch." It was shyness, in short, and something more than the ordinary hesitancy some people display in such circumstances. At last he mustered courage so far, and thus abruptly addressed the reverend gentleman: "Please, sir, what's the size of your head, minister?" It is customary in some districts for the bridegroom to present the officiating clergyman with a hat, and hence the shy shepherd's rather remote way of announcing his errand!

We instanced the increase in wages as one of the changes in the circumstances of farm-servants generally, and by way of illustration of this marked change it may be mentioned, that while some forty years ago, and even at a later period, a ploughman's wages — exclusive of the usual perquisites of about seven bolls of oatmeal and a few bolls of potatoes yearly, as also a pint of milk daily — amounted to £7 in money yearly, the same class, of ploughmen to-day, ;with the same perquisites, receive, as a rule, £20 per annum in money wages.

The style of living—in dress, diet, and general habits—is also considerably changed, and that very much in consequence of the increase in wages. Corduroy or moleskin, and the plainest homespun, were reckoned a suitable Sunday garb at the beginning of the period indicated. To-day these stuffs are, by the same class, considered too common for everyday wear even, and the finer tweeds alone meet the ambitious dress-taste of the average ploughman. Watches, now so common, were then exceedingly rare among this class,—so much so, that instances were known in which, among half-a-dozen ploughmen employed on the same farm, only one possessed the luxury of a watch to tell himself and his fellow-servants of the passing hours. To-day, it may be said, every ploughman has his watch; and herd-boys, not long able to know the language of a watch, consider themselves as not rightly equipped unless they sport their watch and albert chain,—and it is even said that in some such cases nought but the chain exists!

The change in the matter of diet is not so marked, if we except the increase in the use of tea and coffee; and altogether, it cannot be said that the increase in wages has brought about extravagance in diet. Butcher-meat, indeed, is nowadays much more sparingly used by farm-servants, and crofters also, than was common some fifty years ago, when the extensive outrun afforded more pasture than is today available; and to this, perhaps, combined with the now extensive use of tea and other commodities equally feeble in nutritive power, is owing the fact that the physique of the Highlander is not to-day, generally speaking, so hardy as of old. In certain aspects, however, there is a greater fastidiousness, so to speak, in the matter of diet. We heard an old ploughman say recently that he quite well remembers the time—some thirty-five years ago—when fish-sauce,—riot the condiment popularly known as such, but the water in which fish is boiled,—was thought a palatable accompaniment to potatoes. To-day such, if offered, would be scornfully refused. Meal, milk, potatoes, fish, butter, and tea, constitute the staple articles of diet to-day. Tea is very generally used; and when farm-servants' wives—as like other wives they will do—meet for gossip, they must have tea with their tattle,—nor, at times, is the accompaniment of a liquid more intensely stimulating reckoned out of place at these conventicles.

Notwithstanding the greater outlay there may be in diet, further explanation is necessary to show why, though farm-servants to-day receive so much higher wages, they are not, as a rule, more independent pecuniarily than in the days of lower wages. The explanation, it will be found, indicates a leaning in the direction of luxuries of various kinds. Ploughmen and their wives and children are to-day dressed in a fashion which necessitates a considerable inroad on the increase in the pay. Ploughmen are as proud as other people of seeing their wives well dressed, and both parents see no reason why their bairns should not be as elaborately costumed as other people's bairns. Besides, there are books—picture and other books—toys, and other modern articles, to be bought, which were comparatively unknown in other days, and this means another demand on the increase in the wages. To-day everything in dress must be new. In days gone by, when the ploughman's bairns needed clothes, old garments of older people were often turned to good account. Not so now to any great extent. The draper's shop is so accessible, and stuffs are so cheap, that there is a long account with the draper,—and hence yet another demand on the resources of the higher wages. Again, the ploughman's wife or grown-up daughter or son wishes to go from home a little distance, and who would be bothered walking even a couple of miles when the railway train is so convenient? Before the days of the railway a walk of eight or ten miles was little thought of by these people; but to-day two miles are considered a long way to walk; and hence—and people travel much more frequently to-day—one more outlet for the increased wages. These and similar considerations will explain why ploughmen that of old had but £7 per annum, with the usual perquisites, were, as a class, almost, if not altogether, as rich as those having to-day, with the same perquisites,£20 per annum of money wages. Some of them do save a little money, and in this way the ambition of some to become crofters is realised—the savings being expended in the purchase of stock and other requirements of the croft; but few farm-servants can manage to save enough to support them when no longer able to work. Farm-servants, however, and ploughmen especially, as a rule, do not long survive their working days; and in those cases in which incapacity for work overtakes an empty purse—if there be no grown-up sons able to help —parochial relief must be resorted to.

Of the general character of farm-servants it is not necessary to say much As a class, they are sober and commendably industrious; of their moral character, strictly so called, the same complimentary verdict can hardly be so exclusively given. Without specifying certain aspects of an attractive moral life in which several of them are unhappily deficient, there is noticeable an unpleasant tendency to an objectionable, if not decidedly impure, style of speech; and too often the kind of wit considered smartest by people of this class is vulgar, and occasionally strong in impure suggestiveness. This is more generally the case in regard to ploughmen —shepherds being, as a rule, superior to ploughmen, not only in general intelligence, but likewise in manner, speech, and general behaviour. Masters are more responsible for the moral training of those ploughmen and other farm-servants than certain of these masters seem to realise; and we have sometimes thought these latter, like some other people, might profitably consider what name is given, in a Book that masters and servants profess to reverence, to not doing good when one "knoweth to do" it. There are, of course, among farm-servants, persons of excellent moral character, who are also intelligent and well-informed; but there are likewise among them individuals sadly low in the scale of morality and intelligence,—and the problem of raising such in the former scale is one that perplexes many genuinely interested in their welfare. A large-hearted, manly interest taken by masters in servants would go far to encourage the latter in well-doing; and where such interest exists, its good effect is reflected in the general character of the servants. Some masters in Highland parishes, as in other places, seem to take little or no interest in those in their employment, and even speak of them as if they were of a lower order of being. The existence between them of such a gulf as this indicates is not hopeful, and with regard to such masters, it is difficult to check a feeling of contemptuous scorn when one hears them speaking slightingly of their servants, while doing nothing to promote their moral and social welfare. The dignity that comes of genuine culture is never compromised in the endeavour to improve a fellow-creature; but while it is gratifying to know that there are not a few masters who manifest an intelligent appreciation of their duty to their servants, there are cases in which a feeble affectation of superiority renders a master indifferent, if not blind, to this important duty.


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