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I beg indulgence for introducing a case, which, though particular, may frequently happen. A gentleman, who has a family-seat finely situated, but in the state 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 sum 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 family-seats? 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 commonly obsequious to advice, nor patiently submissive to the fatigues of education: he abandons himself
self to pleasure, and indulges his passions without controul. 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 sons 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 unquali fied 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 lamenta ble 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, with
out 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 extent would fill a volume: they are well known; and it may be sufficient to keep them in view by some slight hints.
As observed above, few tenants in tail can command money for improvements, however profitable. Such discouragement to agriculture, hurtful to proprietors of entailed estates, is still more so to the public. It is now an established maxim, That a state is powerful in proportion to the product of its land: a nation that feeds its neighbours, can starve them. The quantity of land that is locked up in Scotland by entails, has damped the growing spirit of agriculture. There is not produced sufficiency of corn at home for our own consumpt: and our condition will become worse and worse by new entails, till agriculture and industry be annihilated. Were the great entailed estates in Scotland split into small properties of fifty or a hundred pounds yearly rent, we should soon be enabled, not only to supply our own markets, but to spare for our neighbours.
In the next place, our entails are no less subversive of commerce than of agriculture. There are numberless land-estates in Scotland, of one, two, or three hundred pounds yearly rent. Such an estate cannot afford bare necessaries to the proprietor, if
he pretend to live like a gentleman. But he has an excellent resource: let him apply to any branch of trade, his estate will afford him credit for what money he wants. The profit. he makes, pays the interest of the money borrowed, with a surplus; and this surplus, added to the rent of his estate, enables him to live comfortably. A number of land-proprietors in such circumstances, would advance commerce to a great height. But alas! there are not many who have that resource: such is the itch in Scotland for entailing, as even to descend lower than one hundred pounds yearly. Can one behold with patience, the countenance that is given to selfish wrong-headed people, acting in direct opposition to the prosperity of their country? Commerce is no less hurt in another respect: when our land is withdrawn from commerce by entails, every prosperous trader will desert a country where he can find no land to purchase; for to raise a family, by acquiring an estate in land, is the ultimate aim of every merchant, and of every man who accumulates money.
Thirdly, An entail is a bitter enemy to population. Population depends greatly on the number of land-proprietors. A very small portion of land, managed with skill and industry, affords bread to a numerous family; and the great aim of the frugal proprietor, is to provide a fund for educating his children, and for establishing them in business, A numerous issue, at the same time, is commonly the
the lot of the temperate and frugal; because luxury and voluptuousness enervate the body, and dry up the sources of procreation. This is no chi-mera or fond imagination: traverse Europe; compare great capitals with distant provinces, and it will be found to hold universally, that children abound much more among the industrious poor, than among the luxurious rich. But, if division of land into small properties, tend to population; depopulation must be the necessary consequence of an entail, the avowed intent of which is to unite many small properties in one great estate; and consequently to reduce 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 employed, population is of no real advantage to a state. In that respect, great and small 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 same 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