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lishment. The clergyman, being every where resident in his particular parish, becomes the natural patron and superintendant of the parish school, and is enabled in various ways to promote the comfort of the teacher, and the proficiency of the scholars. The teacher himself is often a candidate for holy orders, who, during the long course of study and probation required in the Scottish Church, renders the time which can be spared from his professional studies, useful to others as well as to himself, by assuming the respectable character of a schoolmaster. It is common for the established schools, even in the country parishes of Scotland, to enjoy the means of classical instruction;* and many of the farmers, and some even of the cottagers, submit to much privation, that they may obtain, for one of their sons at least, the precarious advantage of a learned education. The difficulty to be surmounted arises, indeed, not from the expense of instructing their children, but from the charge
Church music is likewise a part of the education of the peasantry of Scotland, in which they are usually instructed in the long winter nights by the parish school-master, who is generally the precentor, or by itinerant teachers more celebrated for their powers of voice.
of supporting them. In the country parish schools, the English language, writing, and accounts, are generally taught at the rate of six shillings, and Latin at the rate of ten or twelve shillings per annum. In the towns, the prices are somewhat higher.
The information and the religious education of the peasantry of Scotland, promote sedate
That dancing should also be very generally a part of the education of the Scottish peasantry, will surprise those who have only seen this description of men; and still more those, who reflect on the rigid spirit of Calvinism with which the nation is so deeply affected, and to which this recreation is strongly abhorrent. The winter is also the season when they acquire dancing, and indeed almost all their other instruction. They are taught to dance by persons generally of their own number, many of whom work at daily labour during the summer months. The school is usually a barn, and the arena for the performers is generally a clay floor. The dome is lighted by candles stuck in one end of a cloven stick, the other end of which is thrust into the wall. Reels, strathspeys, country-dances, and hornpipes, are here practised. The jig, so much in favour among the English peasantry, has no place among them. The attachment of the people of Scotland of every rank, and particularly of the peasantry, to this amusement, is very great. After the labours of the day are over, young men and women walk many miles, in the cold and dreary nights of winter, to these country-dancing schools; and the instant that the violin sounds a Scottish air, fatigue seems to vanish, the toil-bent rustic becomes erect, his features brighten with sympathy; every nerve seems to thrill with sensation, and every artery to vibrate with life.
ness of conduct, and habits of thought and reflection. These good qualities are not counteracted by the establishment of poor-laws, which, while they reflect credit on the benevolence, detract from the wisdom of the English legislature. To make a legal provision for the inevitable distresses of the poor, who by age or disease, are rendered incapable of labour, may indeed seem an indispensable duty of society; and if, in the execution of a plan for this purpose, a distinction could be introduced, so as to exclude from its benefits those whose sufferings are produced by idleness or profligacy, such an institution would perhaps be as rational as humane. But to lay a general tax on property for the support of poverty, from whatever cause proceeding, is a measure full of danger. It must operate in a considerable degree as an incitement to idleness, and a discouragement to industry. It takes away from vice and indolence the prospect of their most dreaded consequences, and from virtue and industry their peculiar sanctions. In many cases it must render the rise in the price of labour, not a blessing, but a curse to the labourer; who, if there be an excess in what he earns beyond his immediate necessities, may
be expected to devote this excess to his present gratification; trusting to the provision made by law for his own and his family's support, should disease suspend, or death terminate his labours. Happily in Scotland, the same legislature which established a system of instruction for the poor, resisted the introduc tion of a legal provision for the support of poverty; the establishment of the first, and the rejection of the last, were equally favourable to industry and good morals; and hence it will not appear surprising, if the Scottish peasantry have a more than usual share of prudence and reflection, if they approach nearer than persons of their order usually do, to the definition of a man, that of "a being that looks before and after."
A striking particular in the character of the Scottish peasantry, is one which it is hoped will not be lost-the strength of their domestic attachments. The privations to which many parents submit for the good of their children, and particularly to obtain for them instruction, which they consider as the chief good, has already been noticed. If their children live and prosper, they have their certain reward, not merely as witnessing, but as sharing of their
prosperity. Even in the humblest ranks of the peasantry, the earnings of the children. may generally be considered as at the disposal of their parents; perhaps in no country is so large a portion of the wages of labour applied to the support and comfort of those whose days of labour are past. A similar strength of attachment extends through all the domestic relations.
1st May, 1800.