Yes, I mean I think the whole issue of Highland-Lowland migration has to be seen in a broader context. First of all, of course, they’re not separate worlds. The Highland line is a geographic conceit. It’s not something that is a pecked line that runs somewhere through central Perthshire over which you step to get down into the Lowlands. And much of what is characterising the transformation of the Gaidhalteachd in this period is, of course, exactly what’s characterising much of rural Europe. That said, the emergence of institutions of philanthropy, the role of the church, the emergence of a sort of literate concerned political public sphere in the nineteenth century, is all part of what is happening much more generally, so when newspapers start agitating as they do about ... manifesting a concern for the plight of the destitute Gael, they’re manifesting it not just because they’re Gaelic speaking or Highland born but because they’re the poor, they represent a moral crisis. This is a blight, this is something that we have to pay for, that we should be concerned about ... and there are all sorts of echoes of the emergence of a caring body politic.

  • Charles Withers
Thursday 17th June 2010