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Assembly, regarding the progress made in already completed up to the 4ch chapter of translating and printing the quarto edition Isaiah, and that the directors entertained of the Gaelic Bible. The report was given sanguine hopes of the work being complete in by Dr. Campbell, and read by the before the meeting of another Assembly. clerk. It stated that the translation was On the motion of Principal M•Farlane,
rous family, and all this with a hundred pounds a year-half an acre of Highland ground not adequate to the grazing of six geese, far less of a cow, to feed his family, or a pony perhaps to carry him twenty miles to his place of worship, without the ability of buying clothes or buying books. Let me ask you what kind of men shall we have in place of our present young, intrepid, and zealous missionaries? Why, Sir, you will have men whose spirits are broken down with care, men whom the cold blast of poverty has enervated, and who, languishing in obscurity, will become a despised and degraded order—and unable to maintain their place in society, they would bring your order into contempt, and destroy that admirable equality of rank which constitutes the glory and the stabi. lity of our church. But granting Sir, that that bill should be carried into effect, what can forty or fifty of these new stationary curates, or levites, or government chaplains—for I scarce know what to call them-what impression can they make on the scattered population of the Highland Isles ? A greater number still of missionaries would be required.
In respect to our want of schools, the very Reverend Principal has gone into so very full a detail that I conceive it would be very unpardon. able in me to offer any thing additional on this head. In regard to the county of Argyle perhaps we are better off as to the advantages of schools than any other part of the Highlands. But even with respect to Argyleshire, how stands the fact ? By a minute and undoubted calculation the average extent of parishes in Argyleshire, one with another, is 106 square miles for each parish, and allowing that there are two schools in each of these parishes, which by the bye is not the case, you have still a geographical district of fifty-three square miles for each school. Consider only the state of two of these parishes, that of Ardnamurchan and the parish of Lismore in Appin. They contain each of them 500 square miles of surface; and allowing that each of these had four schools, it would leave a district of about 120 square miles for each school. It will probably be said that the population of these parishes is in no way proportioned to their extent, but how stands the fact regarding the very last parish I have noticed, that of Lismore Appin ? There are, 1166 children in that parish betwixt the years of five and fifteen, and granting that there are four schools in that parish, still we have a population of 291 chil. dren for each of these schools, while at the same time we know this fact, that from forty to fifty children is the average attendance at schools in the Highlands. And with regard to the county of Argyle in general, the number of children betwixt five and fifteen years of age is 27,680. The number of parishes in the county is thirty-four; and allowing two schools, as I have said, to every parish, you have a population of 400 children left you for each parochial school—and considering that the average attendance at these schools is 50, which in fact is above the number, you have, by this calculation, a population of 26,326 without any provision whatever by the state of the country for the means of their instruction, and depending entirely upon the operations of private societies, or the exertions of their poor parents and other adventitious and
VOL. XXIII. NO. VII.
who paid a high compliment to their zeal a committee to co-operate with them in and diligence, the Assembly approved of this important work. the report, and unanimously voted its Dr. Lee then laid before the Assembly thanks to the directors, and re-appointed the Report of the Committee on Church
uncertain circumstances not to be depended upon. I trust these facts, in addition to those you have already heard, will impress upon your minds the necessity of additional means of instruction in the Highlands, when this is the state of one of the most favoured of the counties, and here allow me to suggest the suitableness of that plan on which the Gaelic school society has acted, 1 mean the ambulatory or itinerary system. In all Highland parishes there are distant tracts and remote corners from which the children cannot attend any fixed or established school, and where the people, from the scantiness of population, cannot receive the advantages of education, and it is in this point of view that the Gaelic school system is so deserving of praise, as it provides for this evil. I have been told out of doors that the number of children attend. ing the schools of that society are of late years diminishing, and some people are disposed from this fact, if it be a fact, to think that the evil complained of is also diminishing, or that the schools are less popular.
If the number of children attending them is less than formerly, I was prepared for the fact; and, Sir, I delight in the fact, for, paradoxical as it may appear, it is a proof of the admirable suitableness of the ambulatory plan to the peculiarities of the Highlands: for you will observe that when these schools were first introduced into the country, they were placed in those districts of the parish where the population was most crowded, and where the greatest good could be effected; but Session af. ter Session they have been gradually removing to the distant points and extremities of the parish-to the obscure glens and to the remote Isles. Others unacquainted with the Highlands may look with interest on the lists of that society in proportion to the number of children whom they find attending the schools, and the eye may dwell with peculiar delight upon the good effected at so small an expense by some of those schools, where a great number of children are in attendance. You Sir, may take your arithmetical calculations and ascertain the good that is effected by those schools, judging by the numbers in attendance and the expense incur. red; but, acquainted as I am with the Highlands and Islands, my eye searches with a higher interest into the columns of the reports for those schools where I only find a dozen of children in attendance. Here, I say, is the glory of the ambulatory system. Had they not gone to those children in those sequestered glens and lonely isles of the sea, the poor people would have ever remained unheeded and untaught, and unenlightened by the word of God, and unblessed by the comforts which a knowledge of it is calculated to communicate.
While I therefore hope that this system will be kept in view in any arrangement that may be made for additional schools, I also earnestly hope that the other great principle which characterises that institution will also be attended to, viz. that the language which a person is accus. tomed to speak is the one which he can be most easily taught to read. I am the more anxious to press this upon the attention of the House, as I fear some respectable persons deeply interested in the improvement of the Highlands may be disposed to withhold their countenance from any scheme which has for its object the teaching of the Gaelic language, from
Manuscripts, which was approved of; and for the zeal, ability, and diligence he had on the motion of Mr. Borthwick, advocate, displayed in accomplishing the objects of the Moderator, in name of the Assembly, the Assemly. returned thanks to the Reverend Doctor Sir John Connel, the procurator for the
an idea that the existence of that language is unfavourable to the cultivation of the English language. Believe me, Sir, no position was ever more untrue than this reason. It is my confirmed and settled opinion, and I speak from facts, and from what has come under my own obser. vation, that if you had no higher object in view than the cultivation of the English language, you could not more effectually promote that object in the Highlands and isles than by introducing the English through the medium of Gaelic schools. A year or two will bring forward facts to justify the soundness of this principle. The Glasgow Auxiliary Society are sending their English schools to those stations where Gaelic schools were formerly established ; and I venture to affirm, without fear of contradiction, that where an English school has been preceded by a Gaelic one, it has effected more good in six months than would have been done by an English school in six years without such a preparation.
But why, Sir, all this anxiety for annihilating the Gaelic language ? what though the accents of that mountain tongue may appear uncouth and unharmonious in your ears? The language itself is rich in structure and variety, and it is dear to us by every association that can impress the mind. It has survived every effort made to destroy it-venerable already, it will be more venerable still, and after we and our children are called to the land of our fathers, its motto will still be that which, I trust, you will long live to instamp upon the solemn deeds of the church; “ nec tamen consumebatur.”
While, therefore, it is the existing language of this country, every good man will approve of giving the people instruction in that language, through which alone they are capable of receiving it; and much it is to be regretted, that in the act of Parliament for parochial schools, a knowledge of the Gaelic language was not made a sine qua non in the qualification of teachers for schools in the Highlands. Much it is to be regretted that persons are not only found qualified, but even preferred to those situations who cannot teach the children of the poor people to read one word of the book of God in the only language in which they and their parents are able to understand it, and much it is to the hon. our of the Society for propagating Christian knowledge, that they have had the good sense to see their error in this respect, and the candour by a late regulation to adopt a different system.
I most earnestly beg your indulgence while I would call your atten. tion to the best means suggested by our overture for the improvement in the Highlands, I mean the appointment of the additional catechists. In no way whatever can more good be done in the Highlands, and at an expense so moderate, as by employing pious and prudent men with moderate salaries in the capacity of catechists. This mode of giving instruction is highly appropriate to the peculiarities of that country, and the habits of the people. Their peculiarities have already been stated. You have heard of the extent of our parishes; in these situations all intercourse is prevented, during a great part of the year, between the minister and the people, so that it is comparatively little that the most laborious and faithful minister can effect. How useful then would a catechist prove on these stations, to instance one out of many.
Church, intimated to the Assembly, that The Assembly then took into consider. proper accommodation had been provided ation a petition and memorial from certain in the General Register House for the re- Presbyterian ministers in Nova Scotia, cords of the Church.
praying that the Assembly would erect
The parish of Jura and Collonsay, lately under the care of my friend and co-presbyter, now in my eye, do not think, Sir, that I exaggerate when I say that it would be much easier for you to preach one Sabbath in your own church at Ratho, the next Sabbath at Paisley, the third in the Kingdom of Fife, and the fourth in the Bass Rock, than for the minister of that parish, after preaching the first Sabbath at his own church in Jura, to go the following Sabbath to the Island of Col. lonsay, a distance, 80 miles by land, and upwards of 30 of a broad and dar.gerous ocean, preach the third Sabbath in the Island of Scarba, 40 miles in the very opposite direction, and the fourth Sabbath in the Slate Isle, separated at a still greater distance, and that by the dangerous whirlpool of Corry vreckan; and this Island, Sir, not a rock on the sea for fishermen to dry their nets on, but having a population of nearly two hundred, not one half-dozen of whom have entered the threshold of their own parish church since they were born. How useful then would a catechist prove in such Islands—how suited to the peculiarities of such a country!
In no way whatever can Christianity be made to flourish in those solitudes, so well as by the appointment of such men.
But this mode of instructing the Highlanders is also admirably suited to the taste and habits of the people. Great as is the change which has taken place in late years in the manners and habits of the Highlanders—and great it undoubtedly is, whether for the better or the worse, I shall not now say--still their habits are peculiar, and deserve to be attentively considered in any plan devised for their improvement. They are a people, Sir, fond of society; they abound in leisure their miscel. laneous labours give them long intervals of repose, while the adventure ous nature of their pursuits suggests much matter for interesting narrative. The art of conversation is cultivated among them with great care; they are accustomed to meet in groups during the long winter nights, and with all the world shut out from them, they communicate the interesting narratives which oral tradition has transmitted from father to son.
Time indeed was when these recitations were of such a nature as to confer on the Highlanders a degree of intelligence and sentiment, smile at the phrase who will—not to be found in similar classes of society in the kingdom; for these were the recitations of an elevated poetry -a commemoration of the virtues of the departed; but these days have passed away-this familiarity with poetry no longer exists-the domestic chronicle of the poor Highlander, which has afforded so much amusement to persons unacquainted with them, is no longer kept. They have nothing to communicate in their hours of relaxation; their evenings are spent in absolute inactivity, brooding in gloomy mood on the painful thought of leaving the land of their fathers, and seeking a distant home in that far-off land to which so many of their friends have gone. Their constant complaint, similar to that expressed by the poet, with whom we all are acquainted, at least in our early days
Ite meæ, felix quondam pecus, ite capellæ ;
Carmina nulla canam. Yes, Sir, the change is great in their habits and customs; but this change does not, in my humble opinion, render the Highlands and Isles a field of them into a Presbytery in connection with Mr. Knox took part; the three former the Church of Scotland.
were of opinion that the Assembly could A short conversation ensued, in which not recognise the petitioners as a part of its Dr. Mearns, Dr. Inglis, Dr. Cook, and body, until some security was obtained for
less interesting promise to all who would give their taste a new direction -sooth the minds of the poor people, and revive their well-known attachment to their native land. Already, in some instances, the experiment has been tried. In some districts where religious impressions have been made, the book of God has come in to supply the vacuum-a happy change has followed. The social groups still meet; the Bible is read; the interesting histories of Joseph and his brethren, of Saul and Jonathan, the beautiful parables of our Lord and Saviour, constitute among them a new and never failing source of pleasure. The sweet songs of Israel, and hymns the most proper to nourish faith's hope, never cease to resound in many a poor and lonely cottage. Never therefore, Sir, was there a period more favourable for the labours of catechists to follow up what has already been done to excite a taste for spiritual knowledge, to converse familiarly with them on the facts of the Bible and the elementary principles of religion.
Do you ask me what kind of men I would propose for the office of catechists ? I answer, plain, prudent, and pious Christians, native High. landers, acquainted with their Bible and the elementary principles of religion, who, though deficient in what may be termed the literature of Theology, may be found possessed of such a degree of piety and intelligence as would render them good parents, and good instructors of their own family; and I want no higher qualifications for rendering them useful and excellent catechists, under the superintendence of the parish minister, and amenable to the church for their conduct and operation ; and in this respect the plan of the very reverend principal has my most cordial approbation. The administration of a scheme for employing teachers and catechists under the management of a committee of this town, and amenable to its jurisdiction, would remove every objection which could be used against the appointment of such men; and while this part of his plan would secure unity and consistency, and soundness in the persons emaployed, it is quite sufficient, in my opinion, to protect the people against any degree of fanaticism which some persons might dread as the consequence
of the system which I have been proposing. I acknowledge, Sir, and I do so most frankly, that however much my heart is set on such a scheme, I should never wish to see it carried into effect except under the superintendence of the Church. In regard to catechists and preachers sent to us by private societies, I honestly say that I want none of them. I speak as I feel, and I hope to be pardoned for giving my reasons.
It is not to be denied that a most unfavourable opinion exists in the minds of many respectable persons in the low country, and in this very metropolis, against the great proportion of the Highland clergy, especially those in the western districts of the Highlands. They talk of us and think of us as if we belonged to a commun. ion different from our brethren in other parts of the Church--as if we had a different confession of faith from them--a different creed-aye I would be almost disposed to say, a different Bible. They talk of us as though we were total strangers to theology, unacquainted and uninfluenced by the peculiar doctrines of Christianity, and which, if we do not inculcate with the same eloquence as our Lowland brethren, and our