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conduct, whatever might be their natural disposition.
The authority of the chief, however great, was not of that absolute kind which has sometimes been imagined, and could not be maintained without an unremitted attention to all the arts of popularity. Condescending manners were necessary in every individual, of whatever rank; the meanest expected to be treated as a gentleman, and almost as an equal. Nor was this all. The intimate connexion of the chief with his people, their daily intercourse, the daily dependance they had on each other for immediate safety, the dangers which they shared, were all naturally calculated to produce a great degree of mutual sympathy and affection. If there were any of the higher ranks who did not really feel such sentiments, prudence prevented them from allowing this to appear; and the devoted attachment of their followers is described in terms of astonishment by cotemporary writers.
Yet this attachment was an effect easily
deducible from the general principles of human nature. Among the poor in civilized countries, there is, perhaps, no circumstance more severely felt, than the neglect they meet with from persons of superior rank, and which appears to stigmatize them, as of an inferior species: when any one attends to their distresses, they are often more soothed by the concern which they perceive they excite, than by any direct advantage that may result. When a person of rank treats his inferiors with cordiality, and shows an interest in their welfare, it is seldom that, in any country, this behaviour is not repaid by gratitude and affection. This was particularly to be expected among the Highlanders, a people naturally of acute feelings, habituated to sentiments of a romantic and poetical cast in them the condescending manners and kindness of their chiefs, excited an attachment bordering on enthusiasm*
* See Appendix [B.]
II. Change in the policy of the Highland proprietors subsequent to the Rebellion in 1745.
THE change which this state of society underwent after the rebellion in 1745, was great and sudden. The final issue of that contest annihilated the independance of the chieftains; and the vigorous measures by which the victory of Culloden was followed, gave to regular government an authority which it had never before possessed in that part of the kingdom. The country was disármed, and a sufficient force stationed in it to prevent any great and daring violation of the law.
The chiefs now ceased to be petty monarchs. The services of their followers were no longer requisite for defence, and could no longer be made use of for the plunder of a defenceless neighbour. They were reduced to the situation of any other proprietors: but they were not long in discovering, that to subsist a numerous train of dependants was not the only way in which
their estates could be rendered of value; that the rents they received were far below those given for lands of equal quality in other parts of the kingdom.
For a few years after the power of the chieftains was broken, the influence of old habits seems to have prevailed, and it was some time before any great change took place; but, by degrees, the proprietors began to exact a rise of rent. Though the first demands of this kind were extremely moderate, the rents being still far below the real value of the lands, yet the circumstance was so unprecedented, that great dissatisfaction ensued; and the removal of some of the tenants, who refused to comply, excited still more indignation. Accustomed to transmit their possessions from father to son, as if they had been their property, the people seem to have thought, that as long as they paid the old and accustomed rent, and performed the usual services, their possessions were their own by legal right.
The discontents which arose from these
causes, were for a time but partial; for the progress of raising rents was slow. The gentlemen who had been educated amidst the habits of the feudal times, could not at once relinquish all the sentiments of their youth. The attachment of their people was of so flattering a nature, that it was often preferred to pecuniary advantages; and little alteration seems to have been made, till the generation of old proprietors was extinct. Gradually, however, men educated under different circumstances came forward, and feeling more remotely the influence of antient connexions with their dependants, were not inclined to sacrifice for a shadow the substantial advantage of a productive property. The more necessitous, or the less generous, set the example; and one gradually followed another, till at length all scruple seems to be removed, and the proprietors in the Highlands have no more hesitation than in any other part of the kingdom, in turning their estates to the best advantage.
There are still, indeed, a few chieftains who retain so much of the antient feudal no