Imágenes de páginas

its skilful artists and manufacturers, for its lawyers, physicians, divines, and even for its generals and statesmen.

And this leads to consider, in the fifth place, the influence that great and small eftates 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 fpirit of liberty, abhorrent equally of servility to superiors and of tyranny to inferiors. The nature of the British governinent, 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 have for the good of their fellow creatures. This connection produces good manners at least, between different ranks, and perfraps some degree of cordiality. - AccumuHtion of land into great eftates, produces opposite manners : when all the land in Scotland is Twallow'd up by a number of grandees, and few gentlemen of the middle rank are left; even the appearance of poo pularity will vanilh, leaving pride and infolence 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 repugnant 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 infolent landlord, who is too self-sufficient 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 at 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.


In the feventh 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 poffeffions? 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 miferable condition of Britain, while the feudal oligarchy subfifted : fuch at present is the miserable condition of Poland : and fuch will be the miserable condition of Scotland, if the legislature do not stretch out a faving hand.

: If the public interest only were to be regarded, entails ought to be destroy'd - root and branch. But a numberlefs bo

dy of substitutes are interested, many of whom would be disinherited, if the tenants in tail had power. To reconcile as


much as possible these opposite interests, it is proposed, that the following articles be authorised by a statute. First, That the act of parliament 1685 be repealed with respect to all, future operations. Second, That entails already made and completed, shall continue effectual to such substitutes as exist at the date of the act proposed s but shall not benefit any subftitute 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 succeflion; these powers being inherent in property at common law.

At the fame time, the prohibiting entails will avail little, if truit-deeds be pers mitted in their utmost extent, as in Enga land. And therefore, in order to re-em ftablish 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 fucs cession of heirs to a land-estate, shall be effectual beyond the life of the heirs in existence at the time.


3 L 2

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors]

Y a royal borough is in Scotland un

derstood, an incorporation that hold their lands of the crown, and are governed by magistrates of their own naming. The administration of the annual revenues of a royal borough, termed the common good, is trufted to the magistrates'; but not without dcontrol. : It was originally subjected to the review of the Great Chamberlain; and accordingly the chap. 39. § 45. of the Iter Camerarii, contains the following articles, recommended to the Chamberlain, to be enquired into. “ Giff there be an good assedation and

uptaking of the common good of the

burgh, and giff faithful compt be " made thereof to the community of the

Burgh; and giff no compt is made, he "! whom and in quhaes hands it is come, " and how it passes by the community.” In pursuance of these instructions, the


[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »