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stables, and other farm offices. A kitchen-garden, stocked with the common potherbs then in use, and sometimes with a few fruit- trees, extended on one side, sheltered perhaps by a hedge of boortree or elder, and often skirted by a few aged forest-trees; while the low, thatched dwellings of the hinds and cotters stood at a little distance, each with its small cabbage-garden, or kail-yard, behind, and its stack of peat, or turf fuel, in front.
An upland farm, of the common average size, extending to about four or five hundred acres, partly arable and partly pastoral, usually employed three or four ploughs; and the master's household, exclusive of his own family, consisted of six or seven unmarried servants, male and female. The married servants,-namely, a head shepherd, and a hind or two (as the married ploughmen were termed), – occupied cottages apart; as likewise did the cotters, who were rather a sort of farm retainers than servants, being bound only to give the master, in lieu of rent, their services in haytime and harvest, and at other stated periods. The whole, however, especially in remote situations, formed a sort of little independent community in themselves, deriving their subsistence alınost exclusively from the produce of the farm. The master's household alone usually amounted to fifteen or twenty souls; and the whole population of the farm, or onstead, to double or treble that number; — a number considerably greater, perhaps, than will now be commonly found on a farm of the same extent, — but maintained with much
frugality, and always industriously occupied, though not oppressed with labour.
Little of the jealous distinction of ranks which now subsists between the farming class and their hired servants, was then known. The connexion between master and servant had less of a commercial, and more of a patriarchal character. Every household formed but one society. The masters (at that time generally a sober, virtuous, and religious class,) extended a parental care over their servants, and the servants cherished a filial affection for their masters. They sat together, they ate together, they often wrought together; and after the labours of the day were finished, they assembled together around the blazing fire, in the “ farmer's ha’,” conversing over the occurrences of the day, the floating rumours of the country, or“ auld warld stories ;” and not unfrequently religious subjects were introduced, or the memory of godly men, and of those who, in evil times, had battled or suffered for the right, was affectionately commemorated. This familiar intercourse was equally decorous as it was kindly, – for decent order and due subordination were strictly maintained. It was the great concern of masters and mistresses, when new servants were required, to obtain such as were of sober and religious habits : if any one of a different character got in, his dismissal, at the first term, was certain. Servants in those days never thought of changing masters, unless something occurred which rendered the change indispensable.
At ordinary meals, the master (or good-man, as
he was termed,) took his seat at the head of the large hall table, the mistress sitting on his right hand, the children on his left, the men-servants next in station, and the maid-servants at the bottom, -one of the latter serving. The use of tea was then unknown, except in the houses of the gentry. Porridge was the constant dish at breakfast and supper; at dinner broth and meat, milk, cheese, and butter. Twice in the year, exclusive of extraordinary occasions, there was a farm festival, in which every inhabitant of the place partook; namely, the kirn, or harvest home, at the close of autumn, and the celebration of the new year. On these occasions, an abundant feast of baked and boiled cheered the heart of the humblest labourer on the land, and was closed with decent hilarity by a cheerful beaker or two of home-brewed ale.
But the religious order of the family was the distinguishing trait. The whole household assembled in the hall (or kitchen) in the morning before breakfast, for family worship, and in the evening before supper. The good-man, of course, led their devotions, every one having his Bible in his hand. This was the stated course even in seed-time and harvest : between five and six in the morning was the hour of prayer in these busy seasons.
On Sabbath all went to church, however great the distance, except one person, in turn, to take care of the house or younger children, and others to tend the cattle. After a late dinner, on their return, the family assembled around the master, who first catechised the children, and then the servants. Each was required to tell what he remembered of the religious services they had joined in at the house of God; each repeated a portion of the Shorter Catechism; and all were then examined on heads of divinity, from the mouth of the master. Throughout the whole of the Sabbath, all worldly concerns, except such as necessity or mercy required to be attended to, were strictly laid aside; and nothing was allowed to enter into conversation save subjects of religion.
These homely details may perhaps seem, at first sight, calculated to corroborate, in some respects, the exaggerated notions which prevail in England respecting the religious austerity of the old Presbyterians; and readers, looking exclusively to the strictness of their discipline, their alleged“ proscription of all amusements,” the limited education, the want of books, and, above all, the want of refinement which, according to our modern notions, might be expected to be the necessary result of familiar association with menial servants,-may possibly picture to themselves a state of society altogether clownish, melancholy, and monotonous. Yet this would be a very false estimate of the real character and condition of the old Scottish tenantry.
The life of the husbandman and his dependents, in those days, was so far from being unenlivened by mirth and enjoyment, that there was in truth much more real enjoyment than is now often to be witnessed. They had more leisure to be merry than their descendants, and there was,
in reality, no proscription of innocent amusements. Spring and autumn were the only seasons that required very arduous labour in the old system of husbandry; and then those seasons came round with an air of more festivity, had more of a heartstirring aspect about them, and their toils were encountered with a more grateful alacrity, than in our days of regular rotations and improved machinery. At other seasons of the year the labours were comparatively light. The winning of peats and hay, ewe-milking, sheep-shearing, the dairy, and the tending of the flocks and herds, chiefly occupied the jocund days of summer. In winter their leisure was still greater, and their enjoyments not less diversified. Field sports were eagerly followed in the intervals of labour, or when frost and snow had stopped the progress of the plough; nor were the peasantry then restrained from such hardy amusements by the enforcement of demoralising game laws. At other times, the grave good-man would toss down to his sons and servant-lads the foot-ball or the kitticat, and bid them take a bout to warm their youthful blood And in the long winter evenings, when seated around the fire, harmless mirth and jocularity pleasantly alternated with more serious and instructive conversation ; nor did any puritanical sourness forbid the recitation of the old romantic border ballads and legends, or the singing of the sweet pastoral songs, of which both the poetry and the music were, like the broom and birch of the braes around them, the spontaneous and unsophisticated growth of their own beautiful country.