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number of parishes in Scotland is 877; and if we allow the salary of a schoolmaster in each to be, on an average, seven pounds sterling, the amount of the legal provision will be 6,139l. sterling. If we suppose the wages paid by the scholars to amount to twice this sum, which is probably beyond the truth, the total of the expenses among 1,526,492 persons, (the whole population of Scotland,) of this most important establishment, will be 18,4171. But on this, as well as on other subjects respecting Scotland, accurate information may soon be expected from Sir John Sinclair's Analysis of his Statistics, which will complete the immortal monument he has reared to his patriotism..
The benefit arising in Scotland from the instruction of the poor, was soon felt; and by an act of the British parliament, 4 Geo. I. chap. vi. it is enacted, “that of the monies arising from the sale of the Scottish estates forfeited in the rebellion of 1715, 20,000l. sterling shall be converted into a capital
stock, the interest of which shall be laid out in erecting and maintaining schools in the Highlands." The society for promoting Christian Knowledge, incorporated in 1709, have applied a large part of their fund for the same purpose. By their report, 1st May 1795, the annual sum employed by them, in supporting their schools in the Highlands and Islands, was 3913l. 19s. 10d. in which are taught the English language, reading and writing, and the principles of religion. The schools of the society are additional to the legal schools, which, from the great extent of many of the Highland parishes were found insufficient. Besides these established schools, the lower classes of the people in Scotland, where the parishes are large, often combine together, and establish private schools of their own, at one of which it was Burns received the principal part of his education. So convinced, indeed, are the poor people of Scotland, by experience, of the benefit of instruction to their children, that, tho they may often find it difficult to feed and clothe
them, some kind of school instruction they almost always procure them.
The influence of the school establishment of Scotland on the peasantry of that country, seems to have decided by experience a question of legislation of the utmost importancewhether a system of national instruction for the poor be favorable to morals and good government. In the year 1698, Fletcher of Saltoun declared as follows: "There are at this day, in Scotland, two hundred thousand people begging from door to door. And tho the number of them be perhaps double to what it was formerly, by reason of this present great distress, (a famine then prevailed,) yet in all times there have been about one hundred thousand of those vagabonds, who have lived without any regard or subjection either to the laws of the land, or even those of God and nature; fathers incestuously accompanying with their own daughters, the son with the mother, and the
brother with the sister." He goes on to say, that no magistrate ever could discover that they had ever been baptized, or in what way one in a hundred went out of the world. He accuses them as frequently guilty of robbery, and sometimes of murder: years of plenty," says he, " many thousands of them meet together in the mountains, where they feast and riot for many days; and at country weddings, markets, burials, and other public occasions, they are to be seen, both men and women, perpetually drunk, cursing, blaspheming, and fighting together."* This high-minded statesman, of whom it is said by a contemporary, "that he would lose his life readily to save his country, and would not do a base thing to serve it," thought the evil so great, that he proposed as a remedy the revival of domestic slavery, according to the practice of his adored republics in the classic ages. A better remedy has been found, which in the silent lapse of a century has proved effectual. The
Political Works of Andrew Fletcher, octavo, London, 1737, p. 144.
statute of 1696, the noble legacy of the Scottish Parliament to their country, began soon after this to operate; and happily, as the minds of the poor received instruction, the Union opened new channels of industry, and new fields of action to their view,
At the present day there is perhaps no country in Europe, in which, in proportion to its population, so small a number of crimes fall under the chastisement of the criminal law, as Scotland. We have the best authority for asserting, that on an average of thirty years preceding the year 1797, the executions in that division of the island did not amount to six annually; and one quarter sessions for the town of Manchester only, has sent, according to Mr. Hume, more felons to the plantations than all the judges of Scotland usually do in the space of a year.* It might appear invidious to attempt a calculation of the many thousand individuals in Manchester and its
Hume's Commentaries on the Laws of Scotland. Introd. p. 50.