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the state of mere liserenters. Behold the
aces. A number of noblemen and gentlemen among us lie in wait for every parcel of land that comes to market. Intent upon aggrandizing their family, or rather their estate, which is the favourite object, they secure every purchase by an entail ; and the same course will be followed, till no land be left to be purchased. Thus every entailed estate in Scotland becomes in effect a mortmain, admitting additions without end, but absolutely barring alienation ; and if the legislature interpose not, the period is not distant, when all the land in Scotland will be locked up by entails, and withdrawn from commerce.
The purpose of the present essay, is to set before our legislature, coolly and innpartially, the destructive effects of a Scotch entail. I am not so sanguine as to hope, that men, who convert means into an end, and avaricioully covet land for its own sake, will be prevailed upon to regard, either the interest of their country, or of their pofterity : but I would gladly hope, that the legislature may be roused to give at
tention to a national object of no flight importance. ! I begin with effects of a private or domestic nature. To the possessor, an entail is a constant source of discontent, by subverting that liberty and independence, which all men cover with respect to their goods as well as their persons. What can be more vexatious to a proprietor of a great land-estate, than to be barred from the most laudable acts, suitable provisions, for example, to a wife or children ? not to mention numberless acts of benevolence, that endear individuals to each other, and sweeten society. A great proportion of the land in Scotland is in such a state. that, by laying out a thousand pounds
or so, an intelligent proprietor may add a · hundred pounds yearly to his rent-roll.
But an entail effectually bars that improvement : it affords the proprietor no credit ; and supposing him to have the command of money independent of the estate, he will be ill-fated if he have not means to employ it more profitably for his own intereft. An entail, at the same time, is no better than a trap for an improvident poffessor : to avoid altogether the contracting
debt, debt, is impracticable ; and if a young man be guided more by pleasure than by prudence, which commonly is the case of young men, a vigilant and rapacious substitute, taking advantage of a forfeiting clause, turns him out of poffeffion, and delivers him over to want and misery.
I beg indulgence for introducing a case, which, though particular, may frequently happen. A gentleman, who has a familyseat finely situated, but in the fiate of nature, is tempted to lay out great sums upon improvements and embellishments, having a numerous issue to benefit by his operations. They all fail ; and a stranger, perhaps his enemy, becomes the heir of entail. Fond, however, of his darling seat, he is willing to preserve all entire, upon procuring to his heirs a reasonable fum for his improvements ; which is refused. Averse to lay waste the work of his own hands, he restricts his demand to the real value of the growing timber--All in vain. Provoked at the obstinacy of the heir of entail, he cuts down every tree, dismantles the place ; and with a sad heart abandons his beloved habitation. In a bare country
like Scotland, is it not cruel to deter proprietors by an entail, from improving their land, and embellishing their familyfeats ? Is it not still more cruel, to force a proprietor, who has no heir of his own blood, to lay all waste, instead of leaving behind him a monument of his taste and industry ?
But an entail is productive of consequences still more dismal, even with respect to heirs. A young man upon whom the family-estate is entailed without any power reserved to the father, is not cominonly obsequious to advice, nor patiently submissive to the fatigues of education : he abandons himself to pleasure, and indulges his passions without control. In one word, there is no situation more subversive of morals, than that of a young man, bred up from infancy in the certainty of inheriting an opulent fortune.
The condition of the other children, daughters especially, is commonly deplorable. The proprietor of a large entailed estate leaves at his death children who have acquired a taste for sumptuous living. The fons drop off one by one, and a number of daughters remain, with a
scanty provision, or perhaps with none at all. A collateral male heir succeeds, who, after a painful search, is discovered in some remote corner, qualified to procure bread by the spade or the plough, but entirely unqualified for behaving as master of an opulent fortune. By such a metamorphosis, the poor man makes a ludicrous figure ; while the daughters, reduced to indigence, are in a situation much more lamentable than are the brats of beggars.
Our entails produce another domestic evil, for which no proper remedy is provided. The sums permitted in most entails to younger children, however adequate when the entail is made, become in time too scanty, by a fall in the value of money, and by increase of luxury ; which is peculiarly hard upon daughters of great families : the provisions destined for them will not afford them bread; and they cannot hope to be suitably matched, without a decent fortune. If we adhere to entails, nunneries ought to be provided.
But the domestic evils of an entail make no figure, compared with those that respect the public. These in their full ex