Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

It is in the designation philosophe, as Walpole understood it, that we have the explanation of the characteristics of the class which Carlyle so suggestively represents. For the philosophe the whole content of human experience was explicable by reason, and should be controlled by reason. Before the days when man made this discovery, they had been led astray by vague feelings which had engendered the hallucinations responsible for the follies and crimes written so large on the page of history. In the future, guided by the light of reason, humanity would avoid its past errors, and, adjusting itself to the realities of life on earth, fulfil its proper destiny. Here it is that we see the fundamental distinction between Carlyle's attitude towards life and its responsibilities and that expressed in the three previous documents we have been considering. For Adamnan and Turgot and the authors of the First Book of Discipline man's life on earth was only a preparation for another; it was a condition to be endured, not to be enjoyed, by him whose thoughts were wisely ordered. For Carlyle, on the other hand, the present life was a good thing in itself and to be made the most of while we have it. He has nowhere given us a precise statement of his theological creed, but from his incidental remarks and the general record of his life we can infer what was his attitude to the mysteries of the Christian faith. In what his editor, Hill Burton, calls a characteristic passage,' we have a sufficiently piquant indication of his opinion as to the essentials of religion. He had been requested by an exalted personage to recommend a minister for a church in Berwickshire, and he writes as follows: 'I think it of great consequence to a noble family, especially if they have many children, to have a sensible and superior clergyman settled in their parish. Young is of that stamp, and might be greatly improved in taste, and elegance of mind and manners by a free entrée to Lady Douglas.' In these words we have the ideal of the type of religion which under the name of Moderatism' dominated Scotland during the greater part of the eighteenth century. It was a type determined by the prevailing intellectual attitude of the age which demanded that all human beliefs should be brought to the bar of reason. Vague Vague aspirations, spiritual raptures, uneasy heartsearchings-these were the vagaries of distempered and half-educated minds. It was of great importance,' is a remark of Carlyle's own, to discriminate the artificial virtues and vices, formed by ignorance and superstition, from those that are real, lest the continuance of such a bar should have given check to the rising liberality of the young scholars, and prevented those of better

birth or more ingenious minds from entering into the profession' (of the Church).

We see the length we have come in the history of the national development. We have seen in succession the varying ideals of the individual and the collective life as conceived by Adamnan, Turgot, the authors of the First Book of Discipline, and a Moderate minister of the eighteenth century. Behind the external history of the successive ages these ideals were the inspiring and determining factors, and only by bearing them in mind can we understand the policies of statesmen, the general drift of events, and the ever-changing adjustments of human society. One comment, consolatory or otherwise, as we may take it, is immediately suggested by what has been said. Each age is under the illusion that its own outlook is final and all-sufficient; Carlyle was as convinced as Adamnan that he saw human conditions under their true light. Yet before Carlyle's death in 1805, men had begun to see other visions than his. Reason was displaced from the throne he assigned to it, and in new forms and in new tendencies those elements of human nature, which he thought it desirable to suppress, asserted themselves with such triumphant force as to mark the beginning of still another stage in man's history.

P. HUME BROWN.

The Trade of Orkney at the End of the
Eighteenth Century1

UST as the philologist must consider both rules and exceptions

turn his attention to the social condition of those parts of a country which, either through geographical or other causes, lie outside the general economic development of that country. In the special case of the British Isles it is only to be expected that the condition of some of the more remote Islands will afford much that is of interest. The isolation of these places tends in itself to conserve old customs; while, in early times, their trade will be found to have developed along lines which were often determined by the special exigencies of the situation. Before the epoch of steamers, such communities were often completely isolated from the rest of the world during comparatively long periods, and therefore the people were compelled to be self-contained to a considerable extent. At the same time, through various causes, from the days of the Norse rovers, there was much more communication by sea than one would expect; and, where there was such communication, there must, in times of peace, have been some trade. It is disappointing that, while the economic historian has expectations of valuable information from the social state of the inhabitants of the smaller British Islands, the early commercial history of these places remains almost a blank. And this is the more tantalising since we cannot accept the easy dictum that there was no such history. On the contrary, scattered hints here and there show that in several places during the Middle Ages there was a comparatively high degree of civilization and an extended shipping trade, much beyond what one would have expected. In later times many observers have noted traits of social life and curious customs. These involved economic transactions of a somewhat extensive character, and it is disappointing that these

1 Read at the Economic History Section of the International Historical Congress. 1913.

rarely obtain more than incidental mention. In such circumstances the discovery of the Letter-Book of a merchant of Orkney, which covers a period of three years towards the close of the eighteenth century, is the more valuable in that it affords a clear picture of the transactions of the time and place. Moreover it reveals a state of trade jus. at the turning point of a period of transition, and is the more interesting since it provides historical evidence, upon a conveniently small scale, of the working of certain well-known economic laws.

The Orkney group of Islands number 50, of which 30 are inhabited. They are separated from Scotland by the Pentland Firth. The area is 376 square miles, and the population, which was 24,445 in 1801, was returned at 25,897 in 1911. This population is largely of Norse extraction, indeed the fact that, until 1468, Orkney was subject to Norway is essential to an understanding both of its social and economic history. Up to the fifteenth century, its commercial connections were with the countries bordering on the Baltic, and to a less degree with the western Islands as far as the Isle of Man. After the annexation to Scotland, both the interest of the Crown and considerations of general policy would have tended to divert the trade of Orkney from the Continent to Scotland, but internal disputes made it impossible to pursue any fixed policy, and the resort of Dutch fishing vessels to Orkney and Shetland in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries maintained trading relations with the Continent. In the eighteenth century the growth of commerce with America gave Orkney a considerable importance. In the days of sailing-ships the Pentland Firth was considered dangerous, and therefore vessels, sailing to America by the Northern route, passed to the north of the Orkneys, and most of them touched there on the outward or the homeward voyage, or on both. Thus the Hudson's Bay Company employed young men from Orkney, who joined its ships at Stromness, in 1711.2

In the eighteenth century the chief occupation of the people was agriculture, and it was computed in 1801 that five-sixths of the occupied population was employed in this industry. The land in the valleys was fruitful, while that in the higher districts provided excellent pasturage for sheep, which yielded very fine wool.

1 The Letter-Book of Alexander Logie of Kirkwall. This MS. is in the possession of Mr. G. Cursiter, F.S.A.Scot., Kirkwall.

2 The Great Company, by Beckles Willson, 1900, i. p. 242. 8 Scots Magazine, lxx. p. 249.

Agriculture was burdened by old Norse traditions. Land was held by allodial or udal tenure, subject to 'scat' and tythe. It was divided into ure or ounce lands. Each 'ounce' of land was subdivided into 18 penny lands, and the penny lands again into farthing lands. Cultivation in the eighteenth century was generally in runrig or common field.1 This system continues to the present day in some of the Islands with reference to pasture and the kelp industry. When the authority of the Scottish Crown was established over Orkney, the tythe and the Norse 'scat' became converted in a rental payable by the Islands. This rental was stated partly in money and partly in kind. The quantities were expressed in measures derived from Norway, such as meils of malt and lispounds of butter and oil. The standard of these weights and measures was the burning economic question in Orkney during the eighteenth century. It was calculated that the Crown rent, when converted into the contemporary equivalents, amounted to 5,000 bolls of grain, 2,680 stones of butter, and 700 gallons of oil. Altogether, in the most favourable years, more than onehalf of the surplus produce of the land was exported in kind to meet this rent. In bad years, a money equivalent had to be sent instead, and it was alleged that the ratio taken for conversion was an inequitable one. Whether it is historically accurate or not to derive the Crown rental of Orkney from the tribute originally due to Norway, it is true that, in the external trade of the Islands, this rent represented, from the point of view of international trade, a position analogous to that of a tribute or indemnity. This fact explains why it was that with a surplus of recorded visible exports over recorded visible imports towards the end of the eighteenth century Orkney remained comparatively poor. The following are the figures:

1770,
1780,

1790, The Letter-Book of Alexander Logie reveals the interesting fact that in the last quarter of the eighteenth century the trade or Orkney with Scotland and other places was more nearly a foreign

Exports, 12,018 Imports, 10,406

23,247
26,598

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

14,ΟΙΙ 20,803 3

1 General View of the Agriculture of the Orkney Islands, by J. Shirreff, 1814,

PP. 25, 31.

2 Shirreff, General View, p. 27.

3 Old Statistical Account, vii. p. 537. The prevalence of smuggling (as is shown below) resulted in an understatement of the imports.

« AnkstesnisTęsti »