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was not appropriated in such diminutive parcels, but remained, in some measure, as a common stock, which every member of the community might bring at pleasure to market.
In all parts of the world it is accordingly observable, that the great body of the people, while they remain in a state of rudeness and simplicity, are distinguished by their intelligence, acuteness, and sagacity; and that in proportion to their advancement in commerce and manufactures, they become ignorant, narrow-minded, and stupid. But in the period of the Scottish history now under consideration, the lower and middling classes of the people were placed in the former situation; at the same time that, from the causes already mentioned, the more enlightened part of the nation was not altogether destitute of literature and philosophy. While a great number of all ranks were neither immersed in business nor engrossed by the early pursuit of gain, they were at leisure to procure instruction, to go through a regular course of education at schools and universities, and to spread over the community a relish for such parts of learning as were then fashionable. A strong pre
dilection for what are called the learned professions became thus very prevalent in Scotland; and men of an active disposition, little accustomed to an ordinary routine of employments, were easily induced to change their professional objects, or even to migrate into foreign countries for the
of advancing their fortune*
The intelligence, sagacity, and disposition to learning, in the common people of Scotland, were inseparably connected with that modesty and reserve which make a distinguishing feature in the manners of rude and simple na
* Of all the common trades, in the hands of the vulgar, that of gardening approaches the nearest to a liberal profession. A gardener, by the cultivation of fruits and vegetables acquires a considerable branch of the knowledge in the department of a farmer; by collecting a number of plants, by observing their analogies and differences, and by arranging and assorting them, he becomes a proficient in botany; by studying their medical virtues, and by taking advantage of the credulity of his neighbours, he is exalted into a species of physician.
These advantages produced a powerful attraction to this employment; the same bias remains even to the present times; and Scotland, it is well known, has the merit of furnishing a large proportion of the gardeners over Great Britain.
tions. These qualities proceed from the necessitous condition of mankind antecedent to the improvements of society, when, from the difficulty of supplying their own wants, they have little opportunity or disposition for exercising a mutual sympathy, or fellow-feeling with each other; and, consequently, are ashamed and unwilling to disclose the secret emotions and sentiments which they know will meet with little attention or regard. That style of distance and reserve which the Scots possessed in common with all rude nations, was confirmed, we may suppose,
and liarly modified by the nature of their government and political circumstances. As the common people were extremely dependent upon the higher classes, they became necessarily cautious of giving offence, and desirous of recommending themselves to their superiors by an obliging deportment, by obsequious attention, and by a studied expression of zeal and affection. The habits produced by such a situation are, doubtless, not very favourable to plain-dealing and sincerity, however they may fit the possessor for the intercourse of the world, and render him expert in smoothing
the frowns or improving the smiles of fortupe. The national characters bestowed
the inhabitants of different countries, must be received with large allowances for exaggeration and prejudice; though as they proceed upon general observation, they have usually a foundation in truth. In this light we may view the character of the Scottish nation delineated by her English neighbours; and so far as the picture is genuine, it will perhaps, be in some measure explained by the foregoing remarks.
The shrewdness, cunning, and selfishness, imputed to the people of Scotland, are merely the unfavourable aspect of that intelligence and sagacity by which they are distinguished above the mere mechanical drudges in the southern part of the island, and by which they are more able to discover their own interest, to extricate themselves from difficulties, and to act, upon every occurrence, with decision and prudence.
They are accused of not being over-scrupulous with respect to the dignity of those me thods by which they endeavour to better their circumstances. It is to be feared that this ac
If it has any
cusation has no very peculiar application to the inhabitants of the north. real foundation, it must undoubtedly be imputed to the debasing effects of the old Scottish government, and to the long continuance of that poverty and dependence, from which the people, in our days, are but beginning to emerge.
The national spirit of Scotchmen has been much taken notice of; insomuch that they are supposed to be all in a confederacy to commend and extol one another. We may remark, that, as candidates, either for fame or profit, in the London market, they are greatly the minority; and it is not surprising, that in such a situation they should feel a common bond of union, like that of strangers in a hostile country*
* It is said that the common people in Scotland never give a direct answer. This may proceed, no doubt, from habits of caution, concealment, and dissimulation; but it may also be derived from a habit of reflection, which leads them to discern not only what you directly inquire, but what farther information you may wish to obtain. “Pray, “friend, am I in the right road to such a place?” “What place did you come from, Sir?” “ What business have you, friend, with the place I came from?” « None at