nation, and check the inclination to improvement? 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 • 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? Will landlords arraign them 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 have enabled the inhabitants to follow the exam-

* A respectable Highland clergyman, of talents and learning, who occupied a farm of tome 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 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 rcierei.ee for the customs of his fathers?

pie shown them *. 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, in climate, and in the habits of the people. One obvious evil is, the too frequent practice of giving leases for only seven years. This the people dislike more than none at all f, 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 time being allowed to the tenants to reap the benefit of their previous exertions.

* 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.

f On several estates, tenants neither ask for leases, nor are any given, yet 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 tame 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 advantnpr. 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 his 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. s You turned me out of your estate,' continued the shoemaker, ' and I was determined to turn von out of my house; but, for all that, I will give you my vote.'"

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 improvement commenced J but the consequence of the last augmentation was a complete bar to farther 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 cause 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 Highlander. 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 of 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 expence they have been formed. 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 an overplus of population, at the landlord's expence, 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 *, a people who always attach so

* 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,

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 *."

and 60 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 uot 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 young artist, who has raised himself to the first eminence by bis talents, painted, a few years ago, two pieces on a subject highly interesting to agriculturists. These he called Kent 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 districtt. 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

« 前へ次へ »