Appendix LXXXVII

STATEMENT for the Free Church and its Committee for the Highlands, By the Rev ROBERT RAINY, D.D.. Principal of the New College, Edinburgh, and Rev. JAMES CALDER MACPHAIL, Minister of Pilrig Church, Edinburgh. ON account of the relation in which the Free Church stands to a great part of the population of the Highlands, it has been thought desirable that a statement should be made to the Commissioners, explanatory of some points in which that Church is interested, and in connection with which she might be misunderstood. It is proposed to advert, first, to some of the aspects of the work heretofore done by the Free Church in the Highlands, and then to the condition of the people among whom that work is carried on. At the Disruption in 1843, the people of the Northern and North-western Highlands attached themselves to the Free Church, almost in mass ; while in most of the other Highland districts a large section at least of the population took the same course. These circumstances afforded encouragement to the Free Church to prosecute church work in the Highlands. At the same time, they imposed upon her a grave responsibility, directly with reference to the administration of Christian ordinances, less directly with reference to the general condition of the people, in so far as that might be affected by the religious training which they received. These responsibilities have had to be discharged under the pressure of very considerable difficulties. One obviously arises from the prevailing poverty of the people, which limits their power of contributing to the support of Christian ordinances among themselves. The Free Church has never hesitated to encourage and stimulate them to contribute for this purpose according to their ability. She has regarded such contribution as a Christian privilege, and as fitted to elevate the character, and increase the self-respect of the people. At the same time, she has willingly embraced the corresponding privilege of aiding those of her congregations, in the Highlands as well as in the Lowlands, which need aid in this department. During the forty years now expired, in addition to the cost of educational work, the Free Church has expended on the Highlands, through the S[...]tentation Fund and through the Highland Committee, beyond what she has received from her Highland congregations, a sum which it would not be easy to reckon exactly, but which amounts to very many thousand pounds. In connection with this matter of the poverty of the people, it may be right to mention what was done when the famine of 1847-48 took place. The Free Church people, having probably received an earlier and deeper impression of the urgency of the crisis, commenced the raising of funds and the distribution of aid in the Highlands before any other important effort was set on foot for that purpose. The sum raised amounted to £15,608. When the general community became impressed with the true state of the case, as it speedily did, and roused itself to charitable action, the Free Church threw the balance of the funds previously raised—£11,674, in money and provisions—into the common stock, and took part heartily in the work of raising further funds, which were dispensed by a common, and of course a non-denominational, management. Another hindrance is presented by the rugged nature of the country (divided by mountain ranges and arms of the sea), and the sparse and scattered condition of the population. Hence has arisen difficulty in organizing congregational arrangements, and in providing, in the degree that might be desired, for the Christian instruction and edification of the people. Especially in the earlier years of the Free Church, great difficulties existed, creating wants which were only supplied by most laborious itinerating service on the part of many devoted ministers. Great progress has gradually been made in filling up the outlines of our system with agency and organized work ; but there are still difficulties to overcome, and ex-[...] to supply. At the same time, it is right to remark that the injurious effects of this relative deficiency of facilities for religious service are modified by several causes. One is the fact that the peculiar types of demoralization so characteristic of town life, and even of large villages, where the population is heterogeneous, are far less operative in a population like that of the Highlands. Another is the undoubted disposition of the people to value religious ordinances, and to resort gladly to such opportunities as are afforded them. This by no means implies a decided religious character on the part of all to whom the description applies ; a distinction which is perfectly well understood among the people themselves. But it greatly aids in making the moat of a comparatively scanty supply of ordinances in the districts where the supply is limited ; and also in averting the indifference which is apt to arise when the call to public worship is less regular and less frequent than is desirable. Great help has been afforded by agents, generally men of ripe years and approved character, drawn from the people themselves, and labouring under the name of Catechists. Grants are made to about thirty-five of them from the funds of the Highland Committee. Their duty is to see to the religious instruction of families, and to conduct prayer meetings and other meetings for worship in the necessary absence of the minister. Donald M'Queen, who appeared before the Commissioners in Skye, is the oldest now in the service, and has been a very useful and much respected labourer. Another difficulty has been felt in the somewhat scanty supply of Gaelic-speaking men qualified for the ministry in Highland charges. It must now be said, however, that partly through the Grammar School Bursary Scheme, and partly by the provision of College bursaries, channels have been opened by which Gaelic-speaking young men are enabled to attain more easily the standard of qualification prescribed by the Church. Having referred to the vexed question of the language, a few words may here be said on that subject; though it must be referred to again in connection with the subject of the educational work of the Church. The principle acted on has been that of paying regard to facts, and not the theories, nor yet to sentiment. To reach the minds and hearts of the people, it is necessary to speak to them in the tongue which they best understand. Also when the people, though not ignorant of English, decidedly prefer to have religious instruction in the Gaelic language, it is necessary to have regard to that preference, while the disposition to use English must also be provided for, so far as it exists. It is certain that the ready and expert use of English would be of immense benefit to the people, especially in respect of the advantage it would give them for bettering their circumstances, and for sharing in the movements oi the national mind and life. Any disposition to hinder the acquisition of English, or to keep the people shut up in Gaelic, would be lamentably foolish. On the other hand, all ideas of rapidly suppressing the Gaelic language, or getting rid of it, by refusing to recognise it when it is the actual language of the people, are equally foolish and equally unjustifiable. It seems to be thought by some that because the children are now usually taught in English in the schools for a few years, it is reasonable to expect them thenceforth to forego the language of their homes and their associations, and to think and speak in a language which they have learned as a foreign tongue. This is a mistake. We are dealing with a people who certainly love their own tongue, and feel its power and pathos. Yet they are not at all indisposed to acquire English as far as they reasonably and naturally can. They are quite alive to the advantages which attend the knowledge of it, and they have no prejudices which oppose the acquisition. People so situated have a right to have the word of God and the message of salvation brought to them in their own tongue. And it is perfectly certain that the more their minds are stirred, and their intelligence awakened through their own language, the more will their desire be whetted to pass the limits which the Gaelic language imposes, and to open their way to the larger resources which are attainable only through the English. All this is familiar to our experience as a Church. In large districts where the ministerial work is carried on in both languages, the relative size of the congregations at English service as compared with Gaelic has been steadily increasing for years—not as the result of attempts to suppress Gaelic, but through the natural operation of causes which awaken the intelligence and stir the aspirations of the people. We now pass on to the educational work of the Church. There are four separate educational agencies through which the Free Church has steadily laboured for the enlightenment of the population of the Highlands and Islands. These are— 1st, Her general Education Scheme ; 2nd, The Gaelic School Society; 3rd, The Ladies' Association for the Religious Improvement of the Remote Highlands and Islands; and 4th, The Scheme of Grammar School Bursaries for Gaelic-speaking Young Men. I.—THE EDUCATION SCHEME OF THE CHURCH. Very soon after the Disruption the Free Church was under the necessity of originating an education scheme and setting up schools over the country in connection with her congregations. That necessity arose chiefly from the fact that so many parochial teachers, and teachers of different Societies in Scotland, who adhered to the principles of the Free Church, were expelled from their situations and had to be provided for. At the Glasgow Assembly of 1843, a few months after the Disruption, it was reported that 80 Parochial Teachers, 57 Assembly School Teachers, 27 Teachers of the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, and 196 Teachers of privately endowed and adventure schools had joined the Free Church—in all 360 teachers. Among others, the staff of the two Normal Schools in Edinburgh and Glasgow were ejected—the rectors, teachers, students, and pupils going over en masse. To carry out the scheme on which the Church had resolved, a fund of £50,000 was raised for the erection of schools and schoolmasters' houses ; and with such zeal was the work carried on, that in a short time hundreds of schools were erected in different parts of the country, and more especially in the Highlands and Islands, where a large proportion of the teachers were forced to resign their situations for conscience' sake. Besides the common schools opened all over the country, two Normal Schools for the training of teachers were erected in Edinburgh and Glasgow, at an additional cost of many thousands of pounds. These Training Colleges are now equal in arrangement and equipment to any in the kingdom, and have proved for many years past to be among the most successful institutions for furnishing annually a class of highly educated and well-trained teachers for the schools of the country. In the year 1869, three years before the passing of the Education Act for Scotland, there were connected with the Free Church Education Scheme 2 Normal Schools, 598 Congregational and Higher Schools, 633 Teachers, and 64,115 Scholars. The expenditure for that year by the Education Committee was considerably above 510,000. Since the commencement of the scheme in 1843, about £300,000 have been spent in grants from the central fund of the Church, including about £38,000 as grants for school buildings. The school buildings belonging to the Free Church were erected at a cost altogether of £220,000. Of this sum the Privy Council contributed £35,000. The remainder was raised by congregational subscriptions and grants from the Building Fund. The annual payments made to teachers from the Education Fund of the Church amounted to £10,000. Besides this an additional sum of £6000 a year was spent by congregations in supplementing teachers' salaries and in charges connected with the maintenance of the schools. From the date of the Disruption in 1843 to the passing of the Education Act, no less a sum than £600,000 was spent by the Free Church in connection with this scheme for promoting the education of Scotland. With regard more particularly to the Highlands, in the year 1865, the Royal Commissioners appointed to inquire into the state of education in Scotland found that in the four following northern counties, the number of children on the rolls of schools in connection with the Established and Free Churches was as follows :— Caithness: 901 and 4,020 respectively Sutherland: 341 and 3,177 respectively Ross and Cromarty: 938 and 10,414 respectively Inverness: 2,243 and 5,000 respectively TOTAL 4,433 and 22,611 Besides these there were on the rolls of other schools, 3,573 children. Having respect only to those districts in which Gaelic is the prevailing language, the Free Church at the time specified had in the Synods of Argyll, Moray, Ross, Sutherland, and Caithness and Glenelg 214 schools attended by about 16,000 children and taught by about 230 teachers at an expenditure of £4,200 a year. This s u m was exclusive of fees and of what may have been contributed by congregations in the way of supplementing the salaries of teachers. While the Highlands and Islands thus enjoyed their full share of the benefits conferred by the general Education Scheme of the Church, her deep interest in the population of those districts led her to encourage other schemes which were devised exclusively for their behoof. II.—THE GAELIC SCHOOL SOCIETY. This excellent Society, which is under the patronage of the Queen, was formed in 1811. It has all along been supported entirely by private benevolence, and its main object is by means of circulating schools to teach the many Gaelic speaking children in the Highlands and Islands to read the word of God in their own tongue. The labours of the Society have been attended with much success, and have been productive of incalculable good to our Gaelic-speaking population. In appointing teachers the Society has always been careful to employ only men of decided religious character, whose services, besides teaching the children, are of much value to the adult population in outlying and secluded districts far from gospel ordinances. The Society in its constitution is quite undenominational; but at the period of the Disruption the great bulk of the people in the Highlands, and, with one or two exceptions, the whole of the Society's teachers adhered to the Free Church ; and in this way the burden of supporting the Society and administering its affairs has since fallen mainly upon the membership of that Church. The Established Church opened Gaelic Schools of their own for a time. When the Education Act was passed in 1872, the directors saw with much regret that it made no provision for teaching Gaelic-speaking children to read their mother tongue. They held that such provision ought to have been made under a National System of Education. They therefore made every exertion, by memorials, deputations to Government, and otherwise, to get the Society's work accomplished through the Board Schools. They have had no desire to prolong the Society's existence if its work could be otherwise accomplished. But the only result of their representations hitherto has been the insertion of a footnote in the Education Code for 1878 intimating that " Gaelic may be taught daring the ordinary school hours, either by the certificated teacher or by any person specially employed for the purpose." No special grant is made for this subject, and in the absence of such a payment the mere permission to teach the reading of Gaelic is not likely to become operative to any appreciable extent. In the course of the representations above referred to, a Parliamentary return was, on the motion of Mr. Fraser Mackintosh, obtained by the Education Department in 1877, from which it appeared that sixty-five School Boards in the Gaelic-speaking districts of the Highlands and Islands were in favour of instruction in Gaelic as fitted to promote the general education of the children, and that 208 schools with an attendance of about 18,500 scholars would take advantage of any special provisions for teaching Gaelic. It further appears from the Gaelic census recently obtained by Government, that there are still 230,000 of our population who habitually use the Gaelic language, about 185,000 of whom are resident in the Highlands and Islands. No effective provision is made in the National Schools for teaching the children of that population to read their own tongue ; and thousands of boys, and especially of girls, who have a very imperfect knowledge of English, are now passing through their school age without ability to read the word of God in the language of their homes—the language in which they speak and think. It is a cruel wrong and injustice that is done to those children. Whoever may be responsible for this, it is surely the duty of the Church so long as her people do not understand English, and she is obliged to preach to them in Gaelic, to do what she can to teach them to read the Bible in the language they best understand. Objections have been made to teaching Gaelic-speaking children to read their mother tongue on the ground that this interferes with their learning the English language. Sheriff Nicolson, one of the present Commissioners, had occasion to deal with that objection in his valuable Report on the State of Education in the Hebrides in 1866. Referring to this Society, the Sheriff says (p. 84):—"Apart from the religious influence of its teachers, who have generally been me n of approved piety, the good conferred on the population of those remote regions, in enabling a large proportion of them to read the Scriptures in the only language generally intelligible to them, has been beyond all calculation. It was objected to the Society at the time of its institution, and is still, by people not well informed on the subject, that it would tend to retard the spread of the English language, and so obstruct the progress of the Highlands. So far otherwise has the case been that the Gaelic schools have very materially contributed to awaken the desire for education among the people. Those who have tasted the pleasures and advantages of being able to read in the only tongue they knew, have come to desire still further knowledge for themselves and their children, so that in practice the Gaelic schools instead of interfering with the operations of English ones, have generally been their pioneers and feeders." Even on purely educational grounds and apart altogether from higher considerations, the Free Church could not desire a fuller justification than this testimony affords of what she has done in giving her support to the Gaelic School Society in their endeavours to teach the Gaelic-speaking population to read the Holy Scriptures in their mother tongue. III.—LADIES' ASSOCIATIONS FOR THE RELIGIOUS AND SOCIAL IMPROVEMENT OF THE REMOTE HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS. In 1850, Ladies' Associations were formed in Edinburgh and Glasgow to supply religious and secular instruction to the more destitute parts of the Highlands. The famine that followed the first failure of the potatoes had drawn attention to the ignorance that prevailed in those districts ; and one object aimed at was to put the Highlanders into communication with the rest of the British Empire by teaching them English, and so to facilitate their getting remunerative employment in the Lowlands and in the colonies. Gaelic is also taught in the Ladies' schools, and translation is practised regularly. All the usual elementary subjects are taught, and there are always boys here and there learning Latin, Greek, and Mathematics with a view to college. Wherever it is practical, instruction in sewing is given to the girls; and sewing schools are maintained in some places where there is no male teacher. As a rule the intellectual instruction is given by students who pursue their own education at college during part of the year when the school is taught by a substitute. With some drawbacks, this system has proved to be well adapted to the peculiar conditions under which the work had to be carried on. The scheme is at once economical and elastic. It lays hold of whatever material can be found in the districts for whose benefit it was devised, and turns it to the best account. It forms a link between the remotest corners of the Hebrides and the universities, while it promotes an interchange of kindly feeling and good will between the dwellers in our large towns, and a people formerly isolated and almost unknown to them. The teachers are all in the prime of life; their sessions at college counteract the narrowing influences of their remote and solitary stations; and the hope of preferment to a better position reconciles them to many hardships in the meantime. The two Associations (now united) have occupied, for longer or shorter periods, 130 stations, besides giving grants in aid to a few others, and without counting the places where sewing schools have been maintained. The largest number for any one year was in 1871, when the two Associations had between them 60 schools under male teachers, attended by more than 3000 children, besides aided schools and sowing schools. Since 1872 the more populous districts have gradually been provided with Board Schools, and the Ladies have withdrawn to the more outlying localities, where they still have 33 schools for general instruction—to 19 of which sewing departments are attached—and 16 independent sewing schools. With school rates varying from Is. 6d. to 6s. 8d. in the pound, it is impossible for the School Boards to overtake the education of the numerous isolated groups of children in the Western Isles. The most difficult part of the work will probably always be left to the Ladies. Their past labours on behalf of teachers and taught alike, have conferred incalculable benefits on regions previously almost destitute of the means of education; and instances are constantly coming to their knowledge in which men and women, who have risen to good positions in society and proved blessings to their generation, trace back their whole success in life to their early training in the Ladies' schools. IV.—GRAMMAR SCHOOL BURSARIES. While the Free Church has been working steadily for the enlightenment and social elevation of the people of the Highlands by her efforts on behalf of primary education, she has also done much for the cause of secondary education among them. In 1860 a scheme of Grammar School bursaries, which was intended to supply to some extent the want of secondary schools among the Gaelic-speaking population, was brought under the notice of the General Assembly, and was at once very warmly welcomed by the Assembly and commended to the liberal friends of the Church. The object of that scheme was to bring promising Highland boys for one or two years to a Grammar School in a university town, that they might there acquire the intermediate education which would prepare them for college, and enable them to gain some of the bursaries that are open to competition among students entering the universities. The bursaries are strictly competitive. The examinations for them are all in writing, and are held in places chosen to suit the convenience of those who desire to compete. At last competition examinations were held on the 1st of August in Benbecula, Elgin, Fort William, Golspie, Invergordon, Islay, Lochinver, Portree, Rothesay, Stornoway, Strome Ferry, Tiree, and Tongue. Any boy may compete for them on simply presenting a certificate from his minister that he is of good principles and accustomed to speak Gaelic. The subjects of examination are seven, viz. : Gaelic, Bible, English, arithmetic and Euclid (Book i.), Latin grammar, Latin translation and composition, and Greek grammar. A printed copy of the questions set for last examination is transmitted herewith, and also a table showing the number of marks gained by each competitor. The largest possible number of marks is 700, and no bursary is given if the total number of marks gained be under 450. Every bursar is required to go on to the University from the Grammar School; but no obligation is laid on them to study for the ministry of the Free Church or any other profession. The bearing of this scheme on that class of the population into whose condition the Commissioners have been appointed to inquire, will be seen from the following analysis of the parentage of the lads who took part in the last competition. There were altogether 35 competitors, and of these the fathers of 2 were dead; 3 were the sons of small farmers ; 3 of ministers ; 2 of teachers ; 2 of police constables ; 2 of fishermen ; 1 of a shepherd; 1 of a forester; 1 of a gamekeeper; 1 of a joiner ; 1 of a ploughman ; 1 of a shopman; 1 of a slate quarrier; and 13, or more than a third of the whole, were the sons of crofters. Eleven bursaries were awarded, and four of the eleven were gained by crofters' sons. The average age of the 35 competitors was above eighteen years. In consequence of the admirable system of bursaries connected with the University of Aberdeen, most of the lads go to the Grammar School there ; and their success at the university competitions has far surpassed the anticipations which were cherished when the scheme was started. The committee by whom it is managed seldom publish a report, and have not published any since 1878 ; but in their report for that year the following passage occurs : " In the annual competition held among those entering the University of Aberdeen in 1876, 231 young me n presented themselves, and ten of these were brought forward under this scheme. Eight of the ten gained bursaries, and two of the eight were at the head of the whole list of successful competitors, one of them being first in mathematics and the other first in classics. The value of their eight bursaries was as follows : —Two were worth £35 a year each, two £20, two £15, and two £14, 10s. One of the young men that year gained, in addition to his university bursary, the London Gaelic Society's bursary of £25. As each of these bursaries was tenable for four years, the sum gained in that year alone amounted to no less than £776. And it may be stated that the success of the lads since then, both in Aberdeen and in the other universities, has continued to be gratifying in the extreme. Many of the most distinguished educationists in Scotland have borne testimony to the value of the scheme. For example, Principal Sir Alex. Grant writes: "I have read with the greatest interest your Report on Grammar School Bursaries for Gaelic-speaking Young Men. You have been actually carrying out since I860, I find, exactly the measures I have been all that time recommending in my university addresses. The success of your scheme is very gratifying, and I earnestly hope it may continue to be carried on by you, and that it may be imitated in many quarters." The following is from a joint testimony by the professors of Greek and Latin in the University of Aberdeen :— "Previously to the institution of this admirable scheme, very few of the Gaelic-speaking students were able to claim a share in the bursaries at the annual competition. While the requirements for the bursary competition have been, under recent changes, steadily rising, the appliances from the higher education throughout the Highlands have been steadily sinking. We have no hesitation in stating it as our deliberate opinion that the scheme has done much to solve the problem now exercising so many patriotic minds, how best to cement together the primary and the secondary education of the country. The agency which it has been the means of instituting is one that might be applied to other parts of the country besides the Highlands, on the largest scale, and with the most beneficial results; and the light which this valuable experiment is calculated to give is one that all interested in the higher education will gladly hail. The only other remark which we feel at liberty to make is that the young men who have thus been brought forward to the university have been uniformly of the highest character, and form an excellent element among the academic youth. But by far the most gratifying testimony to the value of this scheme is the fact that in consequence of its success, several somewhat similar schemes have been instituted by others, and now, and as the result of what as first done by the Free Church, there is not a Gaelic-speaking boy of exceptional ability in the remotest hamlet of the Highlands and Islands who may not, without much difficulty, prepare himself for one or other of our universities, and take his place on entering college side by side with lads educated in the best schools in our large towns. These are the educational agencies—in addition to the ordinary preaching of the gospel—through which the Free Church, ever since her separation from the State, has steadily laboured for the enlightenment and the social and religious improvement of the inhabitants of the Highlands and Islands. To those of them who understood English, a religious English education was provided by her education scheme and in the schools supported by the Ladies' Associations. In the Gaelic schools, and also in those of the Ladies' Associations, she has sought to teach those who knew no language but Gaelic, to read the Holy Scriptures in their mother tongue. And by means of Grammar School Bursaries she has opened a way to the universities for every Gaelic-speaking youth of exceptional ability. The writers cannot but add that the benefits derived from this work have been very largely due to the self-denying efforts of Highland ministers, animated by the desire to promote the enlightenment of the people. Many of them have drawn on their modest incomes to promote the establishment of schools and to maintain them ; and many more, in striving to promote educational efficiency, have expended time and pains in the most ungrudging manner. CONDITION OF THE PEOPLE. It now remains that something should be said, as proposed at the outset, as to the condition of the people. What shall be said will apply only to the crofter and cottar population. The writers of this statement have no commission to represent the mind of their Church on a subject so difficult as the land question. But they think they arc qualified and perhaps entitled to state a few points, in regard to which it is within their knowledge that a very general agreement prevails among those of their brethren who live in the Highlands or who are acquainted with them. They would state their conviction, first of all,—and this they can do with great confidence,—that the influence of the ministers, and, they may add, of the office-bearers and leading laymen of the Free Church, has not been used to embitter questions of this kind. On the contrary, the tendency undoubtedly has been to maintain peace and quietness, and to deprecate all violent and passionate measures. It has been maintained in some quarters that the disposition to urge peace and submission at all hazards has been carried too far. Whether that be so or not, it is beyond question that a powerful influence in that direction has been exerted. Through the religious leaders of the people a public opinion which rejects, as disapproved by Christ, everything like the " wild justice of revenge " has been remarkably maintained. It is still well remembered in Sutherlandshire, how, at the time of the changes there, wild talk and wild plans among the younger men were repressed by the resolute determination of the leading religious people to have nothing to do with any plans that proposed to avert suffering by sinning. Considering the lawless state of the Highlands four or five generations ago, the quiet which has generally obtained could hardly have existed unless the minds of the people had been controlled by principles of duty and religion. Now that these questions have become matter of public discussion, it is not for those who make this statement to say in what degree their brethren may take part in that discussion. But they are confident that whatever view they may take of the measures to be adopted, their aim will be to discourage the use of violent or unlawful means. The points on which a good measure of agreement will be found to exist are the following : 1. That the size of the crofts, speaking generally, is too small. It is not needful to dwell at all on a point which has been so frequently before the Commissioners. 2. That the existing tenure is an unsatisfactory one. In reference to this, an important distinction must be kept in view. Where a population is mixed and various, where many kinds of employment are open, and many ways of holding houses and land are exemplified, there is a corresponding variety of resource. But on great properties, where there is but one way of living, but one form of tenure for poor people, and where openings to other pursuits are obstructed by barriers of distance and language, the case is quite different. The evils connected with the prevailing tenure are least felt where a good landlord personally resides among his people, and is practically accessible to all of them. There is in that case little risk of hardship. And perhaps it may be said that there is still so much of the patriarchal feeling in the Highlands, that a verbal discussion, and consequent understanding, with the laird, is by many of the people felt to be a very natural way of settling rights and claims. Even in that case it remains true that a stimulus to industry, in the form of proper security for the fruits of it, is wanting. But that case is not the commonest. And speaking generally, the existing tenure is objectionable, first, because it gives no security for improvements; secondly, because it leaves the people in a condition, as to home and work, that is precarious ; third, because it leaves them defenceless against oppression. It is not intended to dwell on the three objections now specified. But it seems not without use to say a word or two on the third. Much has been said of the proceedings of factors and others who take part in the administration of estates, or are responsible for such administration. It should always be remembered that these persons are in trust to guard the interests and the legal rights of proprietors, and are dealing on their behalf with tenants whose legal rights are of the slenderest description. This creates for the estate functionaries a position which must sometimes be difficult, and may subject them to blame which should much rather be imputed to the system under which they work. A proprietor, if he is not in debt, can be generous and considerate. A factor may often feel that he has no right to be generous unless expressly authorized, and that he can even be considerate only within narrow limits. But what we would especially press is this, that the mass of the tenantry so situated find themselves, as each year passes on, coming within a few months or weeks of a day on which a single individual can successfully deprive any of them of their livelihood, and can ruin them if he chooses. To be in this position is really to be under a despotism. In many cases it may be a paternal and kindly despotism. But whatever the character of it may be, it is not a good or safe system either for those who administer it or those who are subject to it. In our opinion nothing is more needful than that the people in the Highlands should find in their circumstances the basis for a moderate and reasonable independence, and should be called upon to assert it, accepting at the same time its accompanying responsibilities. The Commissioners have their own means of forming an opinion as to the measure in which cases of abuse of power have been substantiated by evidence. The authors of the present statement make no allegations on that subject. But they would press on the attention of the Commissioners what they feel certain of as matter of fact. The belief exists universally throughout the Highlands that acts of great oppression have frequently been committed with impunity, and without redress. The mere belief that it has been so would do little harm among a people conscious of being able to protect themselves. But among a people who are conscious, and rightly conscious, that they are defenceless, the same belief has a very malign operation. On the one hand, it tends to create a slavish spirit of submission; on the other hand, it irritates the people into a spirit of suspicion and defiance, and suggests a resort to illegal methods to protect them from dangers which the law is known to be powerless to avert. 3. Emigration. No one is authorized to say what precise doctrine on the subject of emigration represents most nearly the views of Free Churchmen in the Highlands. It may be stated, however, in the first place, that the kind of emigration which would be most generally deprecated and opposed, would be that which sweeps the people off in masses, in order to clear the land for some other kind of occupancy. And, in the second place, it is the opinion of not a few thoughtful men that ere long, owing to the operation of education and other causes, emigration will begin to take place spontaneously from the districts which now seem to be crowded, to a much greater extent than at present. It would seem that at present, from whatever causes, the disposition to emigrate is less active than it was some time ago. One more remark must be made in conclusion, although it is believed to be superfluous as addressed to those who have examined the case with the care and the ability expended by the Commissioners. Those who look rapidly over the situation, and see a poor people, under an inclement climate and scattered over a rugged country, are apt to form hasty impressions. They conclude that any effort directed to enable such a people to continue where they are, is not worth making ; that to remove them, or allow adversity to drive them away, is the best course to take. Now it is true that many of these people are far behind in the comforts of life, and in the advantages which make it seemly and beautiful. But their circumstances admit, and their character exhibits, great elements of moral health and moral strength. They are free from many of the worst evils of our great towns and populous villages. With scanty advantages, they still form a race of men who are full of the sense of duty, and of the ties that bind them to family and to country ; and the contribution they make to the general population of the home country and the colonies is sound and good. Contented as they are with a modest scale of comforts and even of necessaries, not very much is needed in order to make them in all respects a credit to their native land. It must be admitted that they are, for the most part, imperfectly educated and sometimes scantily fed. And yet [one who has seen their ragged Hebridean children fishing from a rock on some lonely island, with the invincible gladness of childhood, amid splendid air and glorious scenery, and who remembers that the poor ill-furnished houses from which they come, are at least the scene of honest and loving family life, free from debasement and disgrace,—such a one will feel that the life of our great towns in the south supplies every day far sadder objects of contemplation. In offering these statements, no fear is felt that those who make them will be held to go beyond their province as ministers of religion, and, so far, representatives of the Church of Christ. We believe that everywhere, and, certainly, not least in Scotland and in the Highlands, the Church must co-operate on such questions with other agencies, and other agencies with the Church. Many evils have come from the separation and alienation of classes in Scotland,—evils for which it will be found that ''force is no remedy." If evils are to be averted and human passions are to be restrained, classes that have been too much alienated must work together. ROBERT RAINY. J. CALDER MACFHAIL. EDINBURGH, December 1883. N.B.—No help of any kind allowed. GRAMMAR SCHOOL BURSARIES—1883. [Transcriber’s note: only the headings of the tests are quoted, the tests themselves have been omitted] I.—GAELIC—Value 100. II.—BlBLE AND SHORTER CATECHISM.—Value 100. III.—ENGLISH.—Value 100. IV.—ARITHMETIC AND EUCLID.—Value 100. V.—LATIN GRAMMAR.—Value 100. VI.—TRANSLATION.—Value 100. VII.—GREEK GRAMMAR.—Value 100. TABLE SHOWING NUMBER OF MARKS GAINED AT COMPETITION IN 1883. [Table omitted]

No comments:

Post a Comment