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Scotch Entails considered in Moral and Pow
M A N is by nature a hoarding ani
IV mal ; and to secure what is acquired by honest industry, the sense of property is made a branch of human nature (a). During the infancy of nations, when artificial wants are unknown, the hoarding appetite makes no figure. The use of money produced a great alteration in the human heart. Money having at command the goods of fortune, introduced inequality of tank, luxury, and artificial wants without end. No bounds are
set (a) Book 1. Sketch 2:
set to hoarding, where an appetite for are tificial wants is indulged : love of money becomes the ruling passion : it is coveted by many, in order to be hoarded ; and means are absurdly converted into an end. - 1
The sense of property, weak among savages, ripens gradually till it arrives at maturity in polished nations. In every stage of the progress, some new power is added to property ; and now, for centuries, men have enjoyed every power over their own goods, that a rational mind can desire (a): they have the free disposal during life, and even after death, by naming an heir. These powers are sufficient for accomplishing every rational purpose : they are sufficient for commerce, and they are sufficient for benevolence. But the artificial wants of men are boundless : not content with the full enjoyment of their property during life, nor with the prospect of its being enjoyed by a favourite heir, they are anxiously bent to preserve it to themselves for ever. A man who has amassed a great estate in land, is miserable at the (c) Historical Law-traớs, Tract. 3.
prospect of being obliged to quit his hold : to footh his diseased fancy, he makes à deed securing it for ever to certain heirs ; who must without end bear his name, and preserve his estate entire. Death, it is true, must at last feparate him from his idol : it is some consolation, however, that his will governs and gives law to every subsequent proprietor. How repugnant to the frail state of man are such swollen conceptions ! Upon these, however, are founded entails, which have prevailed in many parts of the world, and unhappily at this day infest Scotland. Did entails produce no other mischief but the gratification of a distempered appetite, they might be endured, though far from deserving approbation : but, like other transgressions of nature and reason, they are productive of much mischief, not only to commerce, but to the very heirs for whose fake alone it is pretended that they are made.
Considering that the law of nature has bestowed on man every power of property that is necessary either for commerce or for benevolence, how blind was it in the English legislature to add a most irrational
Vol. II. 3L power, power, that of making an entail ! But men will always be mending; and, when a lawgiver ventures to tamper with the laws of nature, he hazards much mischief. We have a pregnant instance above, of an attempt to mend the laws of God in many absurd regulations for the poor'; and that the law authorising entails is another instance of the same kind, will be evident from what follows.
The mischievous effects of English entails were soon discovered : they occafioned such injustice and oppression, that even the judges ventured to relieve the nation from them by an artificial form, termed fine and recovery. And yet, though no moderate man would desire more power over his estate than he has by common law, the legislature of Scotland enabled every land-proprietor to fetter his estate for ever; to tyrannize over his heirs ; and to reduce their property to a shadow, by prohibiting them to alien, and by prohibiting them to contract debt, were it even to redeem them from death or slavery. Thus, many a man, fonder of his estate than of his wife and children, grudges the use of It to his natural heirs, reducing them to