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control the accounts enjoined by the former statute to be yearly given in.
The foregoing regulations are kept in observance. Every year a precept issues from the exchequer, signed by one of the Barons, addressed to the director of the chancery, requiring him to make out a brieve for every royal borough. The brieve is accordingly made out, returned to the exchequer, and sent to the several sheriffs, to be served in all the royal boroughs within their bounds, as directed by the statute. These brieves are accordingly so served by the sheriffs ; and particularly it is a constant form in most of the royal boroughs, to issue a proclamation, fifteen days before the day named for appearance in exchequer, warning the inhabitants to repair there, in order to object to the public accounts of the town: and further, in order to give them opportunity to frame objections, the book and counts are laid open for these fifteen days, to be inspected by all the inhabitants.
We learn from the records of exchequer, that from the year 1660 to the year 1683, accounts were regularly given in
to exchequer, in obedience to the statute. The town of Edinburgh only having failed for some short time, Captain Thomas Hannilton merchant there, by an action in exchequer, compelled the magistrates to produce upon oath their treasurer's accounts, which were accordingly audited. And we also learn, that from the Restoration down to the Union, a clerk to the boroug!ı-roll was appointed by the crown, whose proper business it was to examine and audite the accounts of the boroughs,
Notwithstanding the foregoing falutary regulations, and the form constantly practised to make them effectual, the boroughs of late years have forborn to present their accounts in exchequer; hoping that they would be overlooked by the English court of exchequer, established in Scotland af. ter the Union ; which accordingly happened. This neglect in the court of exchequer is greatly to be regretted, because it reduces the royal boroughs, by the maleadministration of their magistrates, to the same miserable condition that is so loudly complained of in the statutes above mentioned. It is undoubtedly in the power of the Barons to refore good VoLIV.
government to the boroughs, by compelling the magistrates to account yearly in the court of exchequer, according to the foregoing regulations : no more is neceffary, but to fignify publicly that they are resolved to put these regulations in execution.
How beneficial that step would be to this country in general, and to the royal boroughs in particular, will appear
from considering, first, the unhappy consequences that result from fuffering magiItrates to dispose of the town's revenues, without any check or control; and next, the good effects that must result from a regular and careful management, under inspection of the King's judges.
The unhappy consequences of leaving inagiftrates without any check or control, are too visible to be disguised. The revenues of a royal borough are seldom laid out for the good of the town, but in making friends to the party who are in poffefsion of the magistracy; and in rioting and drunkenness, for which every pretext is laid hold of, particularly that of hospitality to ftrangers. Such mismanagement tends to idleness, and corruption of man
ners; which accordingly are remarkable in most royal boroughs. Nor is the contagion confined within the town: it commonly spreads all around.
Another consequence no less fatal of leaving magistrates to act without control, is a strong desire in every licentious burgess, of stepping into the magistracy, for his own sake, and for that of his friends. Hence the factions and animofities that prevail in almost all the royal boroughs; which are violently and indecently purfued, without the least regard to the good of the community.
The greatest evil of all, respects the choice of their representatives in parliament.
A habit of riot and intemperance, makes them fit subjects to be corrupted by every adventurer who is willing to lay out money for purchasing a seat in
parliament. Hence the infamous practice of bribery at elections, which tends not only to corrupt the whole mass of the people, but, which is still more dreadful, tends to fill the House of Commons with men of diffolute manners, void of probity and honour. But turning from scenes fo disinal, let
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us view the beautiful effects that result from an administration regularly carried on, as directed by the statutes above mentioned. The revenues of the royal boroughs are supposed to be above L. 40,000 yearly. And were this sum, or the half of it, prudently expended, for promoting arts and industry among the numerous inhabitants of royal boroughs; the benefit, in a country so narrow and poor as Scotland, would be immense : it would tend to population, it would greatly increate industry, manufactures, and commerce, beside augmenting the public revenue. In the next place, as there would be no temptation for designing men to convert the burden of magistracy into a benefit, faction and difcord would vanish; and there would be no less folicitude to Thun the burden, than at present is seen to obtain it. None would submit to the burden but the truly patriotic, men who would chearfully beitow their time, and perhaps their money, upon the public; and whose ambition it would be to acquire a character, by promoting industry, temperance, and honesty, among their fellow-citizens,