ページの画像
PDF
ePub

than in the Colonies. That they may not fly from the increase of rent, I know not whether the general good does not require that the landlords be, for a time, restrained in their demands, and kept quiet by pensions proportionate to their loss.

To hinder insurrection by driving away the people, and to govern peaceably, by having no subjects, is an expedient that argues no great profundity of politicks. To soften the obdurate, to convince the mistaken, to mollify the resentful, are wor

thy of a statesman; but it affords a legis. · lator little self-applause to consider, that

where there was formerly an insurrection, there is now a wilderness.

It has been a question often agitated without solution, why those northern re. gions are now so thinly peopled, which formerly overwhelmed with their armies the Roman empire. The question supposes what I believe is not true, that they had once more inhabitants than they could maintain, and overflowed only because they were full.

This is to estimate the manners. of all countries and ages by our own. · Migration, while the state of life was unsettled, and there was little communication of in

telligence between distant places, was de mong the wilder nations of Europe, capri. cious and casual. An adventurous projector heard of a fertile coast unoccupied, and led out a colony ; a chief of renown for bravery; called the young men toge. ther, and led them out to try what fortune would present. When Cæsar was in Gaul, he found the Helvetians preparing to go they knew not whither, and put a stop to their motions. They settled again in their own country, where they were so far from wanting room, that they had accumulated three years provision for their march.

The religion of the North was military; if they could not find enemies, it was their duty to make them: they travelled in quest of danger, and willingly took the chance of empire or death. If their troops were numerous, the countries from which they were collected are of vast extent, and with. out much exuberance of people great armies may be raised where every man is a soldier. But their true numbers were never known. Those who were conquered by them are their historians, and shame may have excited them to say, that they were overwhelmed with multitudes. To çount is a modern practice, the ancient

method was to guess; and when numbers are guessed they are always magnified.

Thus England has for several years been filled with the atchievements of sev. enty thousand Highlanders employed in America. I have heard from an English officer, not much inclined to favour then), that their behaviour deserved a very high degree of military praise; but their numbers has been much exaggerated. One of the ministers told me, that seventy thousand men could not have been found in all the Highlands, and that more than twelve thousand never took the field. Those that went to the American war went to destruction. Of the old Highland regiment, con

sisting of twelve hundred, only seventy-six | survived to see their country again.

The Gothic swarms have at least been multiplied with equal liberality. That they bore no great proportion to the inhabitants, in whose countries they settled, is plain from the paucity of northern words now found in the provincial languages. Their country was not deserted for want of room, because it was covered with forests of vast extent; and the first effect of plenitude of inhabitants is the destruction of wood. As the Europeans spread over

America, the lands are gradually laid naked.

I would not be understood to say, that necessity had never any part in their expeditions. A nation, whose agriculture is scanty or unskilful, may be driven out by famine. A nation of hunters may have exhausted their game. I only affirm that the northern regions were not, when their irruptions subdued the Romans, overpeo. pled with regard to their real extent of ter. ritory, and power of fertility. In a coun: try fully inhabited, however afterward laid waste, evident marks will remain of its for mer populousness. But of Scandinavia and Germany, nothing is known, but that as we trace their state upwards into anti: quity, their woods were greater and their cultivated ground was less.

That causes very different from want of room may produce a general disposition to seek another country is apparent from the present conduct of the Highlanders, who are in some places ready to threaten a total secession. The numbers which have already gone, though like other num. bers they may be magnified, are very great, and such as if they had gone together and agreed upon any certain settlement, might have founded an independent government in the depths of the western continent. Nor are they only the lowest and most indigent; many men of considerable wealth have taken with them their train of labourers and dependents; and if they continue the feudal scheme of polity, may establish new clans in the other hemisphere.

That the immediate motives of their desertion must be imputed to their landlords, may be reasonably concluded, be. cause some Laird's of more prudence and less rapacity have kept their vassals undi. minished. From Raasay only one man had been seduced, and at Col there was no wish to go away. .

The traveller who comes hither from more opulent countries, to speculate up. on the remains of pastoral life, will not much wonder that a common Highlander has no strong adherence to his native soil ; for of animal enjoyments, or of physical good, he leaves nothing that he may not find again wheresoever he may be thrown,

The habitations of men in the Hebri. des may be distinguished into huts and houses. By a house, I mean a building with one story over another ; by a hut, a dwelling with only one floor. The Laird,

« 前へ次へ »