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somewhat advantageous to be able to raise a regiment in a week. Sons and kinsmen, too gentle to work, were at least provided with commissions; and when Chatham “trusted to the mountains of the North to carry on the most extensive war in which England had ever been engaged,' the demand for soldiers did in some degree relieve the pressure of over-population. Still the great profit of sheep-husbandry, and the policy of not further encouraging the growth of a population ever and anon on the verge of famine, were beginning to make way in many parts of the Highlands, when two discoveries, almost simultaneous, threw the poor Celts back into their old state, or even increased the tendency to over-population. It was found that a weed, growing along the rocky shores of the marine lochs and their thousand islands, might be turned to more account than their narrow or sterile fields. The manufacture of kelp was a work after the Highlander's own heart. It was a crop to reap without the labour and the expense of sowing: It required a few weeks of exertion, and left him long months of that drowsy existence which has now become a part of his nature. When kelp rose to 221. a-ton, the produce was prodigious. The great and sudden increase of Highland incomes might well have turned the heads of the wisest. The proprietor of a few miles of craggy seashore found himself at once in the enjoyment of an affluent fortune. It was not in human nature that such an accident should produce much good. Every laird looked to his income as permanent; but none of it went to improving the land, or bettering the condition of the people. The only care was to spend the money, and to provide hands for reaping the golden harvest. Cottages were crowded along the shores of every loch and bay; no matter whether their occupants could afford a rent or not ; they were all useful for the kelp; and if the land could not grow corn for their subsistence, the lạird trusted that he would be able to help them in bad seasons. In the meantime he built himself a grand new Castle, Abbey, or Priory--sent bis boys to Eton and Oxford--and imported the most costly habits of the great English landholders.
But another plant had still more extensive influence. Soon after the pacification of 1746 the potato had come into rather general use in the low country; but it was still used only in small quantities like other vegetables. We have heard froin men whose memory extended back over the latter half of the last century, that in their youth it was a common trick of schoolboys in the low country to steal potatoes from their neighbour's garden for roasting at the kiln-fire, in the same way as it has been the privilege at all times for schoolboys to pillage apples. But before the end of the century it was found that this plant
throve tolerably in the Western Highlands, and in an evil hour it was discovered that it produced a greater quantity of human sustenance than
from the same extent of land. Slow of change as the Highlanders are said to be, they were not slow in learning this lesson; and by-and-bye the cottage of the Celtic kelp-maker had for the most part no tilled land but the potato patch.
Even in the days of war-prices and unnatural prosperity, the Highlanders suffered the evils of such a system. There was no temptation, no motive for exertion. Lung before epidemic disease of his food-plant was dreamed of, the potato furnished but an uncertain supply. In good years, indeed, it filled the belly; but an early frost, or a gale from the south-west in autumn, would often spoil the crop; and then, if the laird was not thoughtful of his people, they starved. Too often he was thinking of nothing but the gaieties of London, and the necessity of convincing 'the world' that a Chief was as great a man as a Lord. But there were no steamers in those days. The Highlanders were distant —not given to be clamorous and their sufferings were not heard of.
After the general peace, when kelp was supplanted by barilla, and by a yet better substitute-common salt—the first effect was the ruin of a great proportion of the proprietors of the Western Highlands and Isles. Many--we might perhaps say most-of the great estates changed owners; and the gentlemen who still retained the nominal property of their paternal mountains found that they had acquired nothing by their kelp-income to balance the expensive tastes of a few years of prosperity unworked for. As in all other times, the people suffered for the madness of their chiefs. The destruction of the kelp manufacture left the peasantry of the coasts without occupation or resource. They had not been taught or encouraged to cultivate that mine of wealth under the sea. Fishing would have interfered with kelp-making. To extend the cultivation around their cottages required money and food and patient industry-and where were these to be sought in the Highlands ? But, moreover, the proprietors were now pushing extensively the system of large sheep-farms; and the poor cottar whose services were once so much prized now began to be termed a squatter, and was in truth a heavy incumbrance on the skirts of the great store-farmer's possession. Their numbers, however, did not decrease. A few attempts were made, indeed, at leading the inhabitants of whole glens to escape from their sufferings at the expense of renouncing what was dearer to them than most menthe land of their forefathers; they carried with them their whole kindred, to plant the names of Scotch clans in Canada ; and these
Canadian settlers are, we believe, thriving and happy. But the later petty emigration has been a colonial affair, carried on for the benefit of the Australian capitalists, and with little or no consideration of the circumstances or feelings of the Scotch.
Such was the state of the West Highland and Hebridean population at the period of this calamity -- the proprietors in general poor and embarrassed—the richer of them but rarely connected with the district by ancient ties, and usually absentees; a respectable tenantry of sheep-farmers — few in numbers, of course a considerable population occupying crofts or lots, paying a rack-rent, and raising barely enough, even when the potato was free from disease, to feed their families ;— lastly, the swarm of cottars, with each a mere patch of land for his potatoes, held on sufferance under the sheep-farmer, in consideration of some rural labour. As regards these last two classes, three-fourths of their food consisted of potatoes; and Sir Edward Coffin, with full experience of both countries, is of opinion that the Highlander, or at least the native of these naturally poor and remote Islands, has fewer resources and less inducement to exert himself than the Irish peasant, and that his condition deserves proportionally more watchful attention.' (Correspondence, Distress in Scotland, p. Blue Book, 1847.) It was in such circumstances that by the destruction of the potato in the summer of 1846 at least 150,000 of the Highlanders were at once deprived of three-fourths of their food.
It is no wonder that such a calamity should seem at first to paralyze all individual exertion. A universal shout was raised for a grant of money—that Government must feed the starving people-or remove them. But the Scotch advisers of the Government had had experience of similar calamities, though not equal in extent, and were not misled into recommending a mere eleemosynary aid. After much pressure and some talk of strong measures, the most reluctant proprietors- not always the poorest—were brought at length to admit their primary moral obligation to stand between their people and starvation; but many did their duty from the first nobly; not a few, alas! far beyond what their fortunes could bear. Large subscriptions in aid were raised from the lowlands of Scotland, from England, from India and Canada; and our kinsmen of America expressed their share in the general sympathy. 200,0001. in all were raised, including 11,0001. worth of provisions sent from the United States. Lastly, the Government threw in supplies of food into convenient depôts on the mainland and islands—but to be used only as a last resource, on the failure of all other means. The contributors of this munificent charity and the Government
of the country went band-in-hand. It was declared that neither money nor food should be given as alms; and if sometimes the local administrators of the charity transgressed that great rule, the evil was corrected as soon as it was discovered. Government officers of the greatest intelligence, and whose stern determination against gratuitous help never blinded them to the sufferings around them, traversed the distressed districts in all directions—and to them mainly it was owing, that in such a pressure, while the idle beggar was refused food, not one individual actually died of want. More cannot be said. The pinching of hunger was too severe and long not to have injured the constitution; and we should be sanguine indeed if we did not fear that the unnatural supply, not earned by their own exertion, may have had moral consequences no less mischievous.
A great deal has been written lately in newspapers about these poor people and their country. Gentlemen from the land of Cockaigne, having for the first time gazed upon a Highland hill in summer sunshine, wonder that every patch of smoother turf on its side is not made into wheat-land; and speak indiscreetly about the laziness and stupidity, and radical inferiority of the Celtic race. We are not quite without pride in our Teutonic birthright; but we would guard against one peculiarity of our race, which refuses to appreciate the good in other natures different from its own. An admirable lesson has been set us in this regard by these officers of the Government; English soldiers and sailors men of Saxon notions of independence and the duty of exertionseeing and counteracting the defects of the Highland character, yet treating them as a people spoiled only by ages of neglect and by seclusion from the common occasions and excitements to exertion. Some circumstances occurred which required all their forbearance. One part of the system of relief was to procure employment for the able-bodied on the railways and other great works of the lowlands. Many who knew the people, and knew how difficult it is to move them, had not foreseen that it would be no less difficult to keep them where labour and food were abundant. But before the experiment had been made, Sir Edward Coffin (the chief officer employed) had anticipated all its difficulties :
• Employment on the great public works in progress on the mainland is a more promising resource, and might in ordinary cases afford very ready and extensive relief. Unfortunately, however, the habits and prejudices, and in some degree also the disqualifications of the Highlanders oppose serious obstacles to its efficiency. They have a strong dislike to going far from home, caused partly, no doubt, by the native indolence of their character, but founded likewise on less blameable motives, such as ignorance of the language of those among whom they
have to seek employment, inferior capacity in other respects for the employment sought, the risk of sickness and consequent destitution from contagious disorders, and the difficulty of providing for the care of their families when removed from them. Some of these obstacles might be overcome by the aid of their natural protectors.
*In all instances where the labourers have been previously unaccustomed to work at a distance from their homes, careful management and attentive supervision will be necessary to keep them at their work for any length of time, or to give their families the benefit of the wages which they may earn. One point, I am assured, particularly requires attention, which is to employ them together, under the direction of a person competent to interpret between them and an overseer who may be unacquainted with their language. For want of this precaution, good and intelligent labourers are often treated as stupid and intractable; and under such circumstances it is not surprising that the men themselves should become disgusted with their employment.'— Reports on Highland Distress. I. pp. 107–235.
His suggestions were followed, as far as was possible, but still the event in many cases fulfilled his anticipations of ill. Small bands of isles-men-ruminating, sensitive, unused to hard labour, not skilled to handle the pickaxe; their very clothes, the clumsy dread-noughts of fishermen instead of light working gear; knowing no language but Gaelic-found themselves thrust among gangs of rough 'navies;' men of no delicate feelings, nor much consideration, but stalwart workmen, earning double their wages, and ready to jeer the stranger for his woman's work and his Celtic speech. From the first it was hard to hear, and some had not patience to wait till practice should give them skill, and their good behaviour produce its effect on their employers, but gave them selves up to despair, deserted their work, and threw themselves again into the jaws of starvation in their own glens. But these faint hearts were the rare exceptions : the large majority met and overcame their difficulties, and earned a character for good behaviour which more than counterbalanced, in their employers' eyes, their confessed inferiority as workmen.
Of those who remained behind we must not judge too harshly. Captain Elliot, after a long and arduous journey, says:
'I have been the witness of much individual heart-rending distress, and when the circumstances of sympathy or trifling charity might have invited it, I have never yet known of a murmur or complaint, seen a beggar, or heard of a dishonest act at their greatest need. They rather stifle than display their urgent necessities, to a censurable degree-such is the independent self-respect and national pride, that I pray God we may never break down by injudicious eleemosynary relief.
Captain Pole speaks with allowable vehemence :“The people of these western lands have bartered their independence