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ed by the sublime and simple truths of Christiauity, they were strangers to the very existence of the sects that have branched off from the national church. In this respect, their character and habits have undergone a considerable alteration since they began to be visited by itinerant missionaries, and since the gloom spread over their minds has tended to depress their spirit. The missionaries, indeed, after having ventured within the barrier of the Grampians, found a harvest which they little expected, and amongst the ignorant and unhappy made numerous proselytes to their opinions. These converts losing, by their recent improvements, as the changes which have taken place in their opinions are called, a great portion of their belief in fairies, ghosts, and the second sight, though retaining their appetite for strong impressions, have readily supplied the void with the visions and inspirations of the New Light, * and, in this mystic lore, have shown themselves such adepts, as even to astonish their new instructors. Indeed, the latter have, in many cases, been far outdone by the wild enthusiasm and romantic fancy of those disciples whose minds they had first agitated. The ardour of the Highland character remains; it has only taken another and more dangerous direction, and, when driven from poetical recitals, superstitious traditions, and chivalrous adventures, has found a vent in religious ravings, and in contests with rival sects. These enthusiastic notions are observed to be most fervent amongst young women. A few years ago, an unfortunate girl in Breadalbane became so bewildered in her imagination by the picture drawn of the punishment of unbelievers, that she destroyed herself in a fit of desperation; a rare, and I may almost say, the only instance of this crime in the Highlands.
the same in all extensive parishes, and continues to be so where no chapel of ease is established.
* Thus have been extirpated the innocent, attractive, and often sublime superstitions of the Highlanders—superstitions which inculcated no relentless intolerance, nor impiously dealt out perdition and Divine wrath against rival sects—superstitions which taught men to believe, that a dishonourable act attached disgrace to a whole kindred and district, and that murder, treachery, oppression, and all kinds of wickedness, would not only be punished in the person of the transgressor himself, but would descend to future generations. When the Highlander imagined that he saw the ghost of his father frowning upon him from the skirts of the passing clouds, or that he heard his voice in the howlings of the midnight tempest, or when he found his imagination awed by the recital of fairy tales, of ghosts, and visions of the second sight, the heart of the wicked was subdued; and when he believed that his misdeeds would be visited on his succeeding generations, who would also be rewarded and prosper in consequence of his good actions, he would either be powerfully restrained or encouraged. When so much has been done to destroy these feelings, it were well that equal pains had been taken to substitute good principles in their room. But I fear that some of the new teachers think more of implicit faith in their own particular doctrines, than of good works in their disciples; and that morals are in general left to the teaching and control of the laws. I trust I shall not be thought too partial to the ancient and innocent superstitions of my countrymen, if I wish that there were more checks on
The powerful and gloomy impressions which the doctrines of some of these teachers have made, are evidently owing to an alteration in the state of their proselytes, whose strong feelings, irritated by many causes, sought refuge and consolation in powerful emotions. It is well known, that no itinerant preacher ever gained a footing among the Highlanders, till recent changes in their situation and circumstances paved the way for fanaticism. Some of these new teachers are, no doubt, zealous and conscientious men, but others again are rash, illiterate, ignorantof human nature, and vulgar; very incapable of filling the situation they have assumed, and peculiarly unqualified for the instruction of apeople, sensitive and imaginative, devout in their habits of thinking, and blameless in their general conduct. The same force of language and terrors of denunciation, which are barely adequate to produce compunction in the mind of the reckless and godvice than the laws aflbrd; and confess my belief that the fear of a ghost is as honourable and legitimate a check as the fear of the gallows, and the thoughts of bringing dishonour on a man's country, name and kindred, fully as respectable as the fear of Bridewell, Botany Bay, or of the Constable's whip.
less reprobate, are sufficient to plunge in utter despondency, a tender conscience, and a mind accustomed to regard the doctrines of religion with deep and mysterious awe. Some of these religious reformers, as they wish to be considered, intermix their spiritual instructions with reflections on the incapacity and negligence of the clergymen of the established church, and on the conduct of landlords, whom they compare to the taskmasters of Egypt: and it is an important fact, that, wherever the people are rendered contented and happy in their external circumstances, by the judicious and humane treatment of their landlords, and where they are satisfied with the parish minister in the discharge of his pastoral duties, no itinerant preacher has ever been able to obtain a footing, and the people retain much of their original manners, devoutly and regularly attending the parish church. *
While these seem to be the effects of religion and external circumstances combined, the differences and mutual recriminations which have taken place between the established church and the sects which have branched off from it, are apparently tending to the most deplorable results in the Highlands, where the gospel, as explained by their clergy, was formerly believed with the most implicit faith; but now, that the people see new preachers come among them, and hear the doctrines and lessons of the regular clergy derided, and described as unchristian and unsound, and that, as sometimes happens, the parish minister retorts on the intruders, people know not what or whom to believe, and there are many instances of the doubt thus thrown on religious doctrines, ending in loss of all respect for, or belief in, any religion whatever. *
* The inhabitants of a border strath in the Highlands of Perthshire were, about thirty years ago, considered the most degenerate and worst principled race in the country. Less regular in their attendance at church, litigious, almost the only smugglers in the country, horse-dealers, (or horsecoupers, as they are called in Scotland,) and, as was said, giving employment to more than one lawyer in the neighbouring town, these people have, for many years, been blessed with a humane and indulgent landlord, and a conscientious, able, and zealous clergyman. The consequences have been striking and instructive. While the population in many other parts of the country are deteriorated in character, these are improving in morals, industry, and prosperity. Regular in their attendance at church, they have lost their litigious disposition, the landlord and the minister deciding and composing their differences. They are clearing and improving their lands, paying their rents regularly, and are little addicted to smuggling. Itinerant preachers have in vain attempted to show themselves in this populous thriving district, which contains 875 inhabitants, who support themselves in this exemplary manner, and on farms, the smallness of which might seem incredible to those who know not the country, the capability of the natives, or their exertions when thus kindly treated by a patriotic landlord.
Yet though many Highlanders are thus changed, and have lost thus much of their taste for the poetry and romantic amusements of their ancestors, and though the kindness, urbanity, and respect with which all strangers were treated, have considerably abated,—with all these, and several other differences from their former character, they still retain the inestimable virtues of integrity and charity; f their mora
* Of this, lamentable consequences of ignorant zeal, and unchristian disputations, I know many instances.
f It is a principle among the Highlanders not to allow poor and distressed persons to apply in vain, or to pass their door without affording them some charitable assistance. This disposition is so well known, that the country bordering on the Lowlands is overwhelmed with shoals of beggars; an evil which has increased since the societies for the suppression of mendicity were established in the south. This is a heavy charge on the benevolence of the people, and calls for the prompt interference of the landlords. If they would establish checks in the great passes and entrances into the country to stop those sturdy beggars and strangers, who are so numerous, while the native beggars are so few, the people would easily support their own poor without any assistance whatever.
Travelling three years ago through a high and distant glen, I saw a poor man, with a wife and four children, resting themselves by the road side. Perceiving, by their appearance, that they were not of the country, I inquired whence they came. The man answered, from West Lothian. I expressed my surprise how he would leave so fine and fertile a country, and come to these wild glens. * In that fine country," answered the man, "they give me the cheek of the door, and hound the constables after me; jn this poor country, as you, Sir, call it, they give me and my little one» the fire-side, with a share of what they have."
lity is sufficiently proved by the records of the courts of justice ;* their liberality to the poor, and the independent spirit of the poor themselves, are likewise sufficiently evinced by the trifling and almost nominal amount of the public funds for their relief; and their conduct in the field, and their general qualities of firmness, spirit, and courage, will appear in the subsequent annals.
Causes and consequences of this change—Stale when placed on small lots of land—Poverty followed by demoralization.
Having thus hastily glanced at some of the changes which Highland manners have undergone during the last fifty years, it may be interesting to trace the causes by which these changes have been produced. When Highland proprietors, ceasing to confine themselves within the limits of the Grampians, began to mingle with the world, and acquire its tastes and manners, they became weary of a constant residence on their estates, and wished for a more enlarged and varied society than a scanty and monotonous neighbourhood afforded, f Those who could af
• See Appendix.
f To those who live in the busy world, and are hurried round by its agitations, it is difficult to form an idea of the means by which time may be filled up, and interest excited in families, who, through choice or necessity, dwell among their own people. The secret lies in the excitement of strong attachment. To be in the centre of a social circle, where one is beloved and useful,—to be able to mould the characters and direct the passions by which one is surrounded, creates, in those whom the world has not hardened, a powerful interest in the most minute circumstance which gives pleasure or pain to any individual in that circle, where so much affection and good will are concentrated. The mind is stimulated by stronger excitements, and a greater variety of enjoyments, than matters of even the highest importance can produce in those who are render