« AnteriorContinuar »
seduce land-proprietors to a small number.
Let us, in the fourth place, take under consideration, the children of landholders with respect to education and industry; for unless men be usefully employ'd, population is of no real advantage to a state. In that respect, great and smaJl estates admit no comparison. Children of great families, accustomed to affluence and luxury, are too proud for business; and were they even willing, are incapable to drudge at a laborious employment. At the fame time, the father's hands "being tied up by his entail from affording them suitable provisions, they become a burden on the family, and on the state, and can do no service to either, but by dying. Yet there are men so blind, or so callous, as to be fond of entails. Let us try whether a more pleasing scene will have any effect upon them. Children of small landholders, are from infancy educated in a frugal manner; and they must be industrious, as they depend on industry for bread. Among that class of men, education has its most powerful influence; and Vpon that class a nation chiefly relies, for
its hs skilful' artists and manufacturers, for its lawyers, physicians, divines, and even for ks generals and statesmen.
And this leads to consider, in the fifth place,-the influence that great and small. estates have on manners. Gentlemen of a moderate fortune, connected with their superiors and inferiors, improve society, by spreading kindly affection through the whole members'of the state. In such only resides the genuine spirit of liberty, abhorrent equally of servility to superiors and of tyranny to inferiors. -The nature of th« British government, creates a mutual dependence of the great and small on each'-other. The "great have favours to bestow: the small have many more, by their privilege of electing parliament-men; which obliges men of high rank to affect popularity, however little feeling they may nave for the good of their fellow-creatures. This' connection produces good ""manners at l£ast, between different ranks, arid perhaps some degree of cordiality. Accurtfumfton of land into great estates, produces opposite manners': when all the land in Scotland."is TvVallow'd up by arrumber of grandees, and few gentlemen of the middle 1 a i -; - -rank rank are left; even the appearance of popularity will vanish, leaving pride and insolence on the one hand, and abject servility on the other. In a word, the distribution of land into many shares, accords charmingly with the free spirit of the British constitution; but nothing is more re-f pugnant to that spirit, than overgrown estates in land.
In the sixth place, Arts and sciences can never flourish in a country, where all the land is engrossed by a few. Science will never be cultivated by the dispirited tenant, who can scarce procure bread; and still less, if possible, by the insolent landlord, who is too self-fufsicient for instruction. There will be no encouragement! for arts: great and opulent proprietors, fostering ambitious views, will cling to the feat of government, which is far removed from Scotland; and if vanity make them sometimes display their grandeur ac their country-seats, they will be too delicate for any articles of luxury but what are foreign. The arts and sciences being thus banished, Scotland will be deserted by every man of spirit who can find bread elsewhere.
Vol. IV. 3 i I*
In die seventh place, Such overgrown estates will produce an irregular and dangerous influence with respect to the House of Commons. The parliament-boroughs will be subdued by weight of money; and with respect to county-elections, it is a chance if there be left in a county as many qualified landholders as to afford a free choice. In such circumstances, will our constitution be in no danger from the ambitious views of men elevated above others by their vast possessions? Is it unlikely, that such men, taking advantage of public discord, will become an united body of ambitious oppressors, Overawing their sovereign as well as their fellow-subjects? Such was the miserable condition of Britain, while the feudal oligarchy subsisted: such at present is the miserable condition of Poland: and such will be the miserable condition of Scotland, if the legislature do not stretch out a saving hand. . If the public interest only were to be regarded, entails ought to be destroy'd root and branch. But a numberless body of substitutes are interested, many of whom would be disinherited, if the tenants in tail had power. To reconcile as -' *. „ much much as poflible these opposite interests, it is proposed, that the following articles be authorised by a statute. First, That the act of parliament i685 be repealed with respect to all future operations.. Second, That entails already made and completed, mall continue effectual to such substitutes as exist at the date of the act proposed) but shall not benefit any substitute born after it. Third, That power be reserved to every proprietor, after the act 1685 is at an end, to settle his estate upon what heirs he thinks proper, and to bar these heirs from altering the order, of succession; these powers being inherent in property at common law.
At the fame time, the prohibiting entails will avail little, if trust-deeds be permitted in their utmost extent, as in England. And therefore, in order to re-establisti the law of nature with respect to land-property, a limitation of trust-deeds is necessary. My proposal is, That no trust-deed, directing or limiting the fuc-i cession of heirs to a land-estate, stiall b% effectual beyond the life of the heirs yfc existence at the time, '-,; .v rnodw
3 L 2 SKETCH