Civilised Children in 1874

From Lewsiana (1874, 1886) by W Anderson Smith.  The school referred to seems to be the old blackhouse school in Islivig, which was replaced in the 1880s by the new public school at the north end of Brenish – but Smith’s passage seems to come from the earlier edition of the book.

A mile or two from the terminus of the road [at Brenish] there is a wayside school, attended by about fifty scholars. It is conducted in that ordinarily fatal way of an absentee teacher attending college and leaving a substitute to conduct it on a pittance.  Yet, in spite of the admitted faults of the system, through the strict supervision of the Free Church minister of Uig, who takes a personal and active interest not only in all the schools but in all the scholars in his district, we found the standard respectable. The scholars had a fair average knowledge of the English language, and the rudiments of a general education, showing how the conscientious discharge of an onerous duty by one man may improve the prospects of a whole community.

We found the people of Uig generally much more conversant with English than were the other outlying districts, and the church showed a large proportion of “comfortable” people, rationally dressed. The children, too, were of a more refined and civilised type than we found at Ness, more resembling those about Carloway district; show less of the rude Norse, more of the sensitive Celt. [sorry, Niseachs -ed.]