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FOR FEBRUARY 1799.
FOR THE EDINBURGH MAGAZINE.
The GLEANER, N°. IV. (concluded from our laft.)
and the appro
HEN advanced to that age at of a half-pay officer, without having W professional mode of life, their father forts so necessary to his situation informs the eldest that he has procured The next fon is destined for the for him a commiffion in the army, navy ; and at an early period, before and that he must equip himself and his gevius is fully developed, he is join his regiment without delay, put on board of a ship of war. Af
young man is possibly the one ter many years of hard service, when who possesses talents of a philosophi- his constitution is worn out with the Cal or oratorical nature, by the cul fatigues of his profession, he may attivation of which he had flattered tain to the rank of lieutenant, prohimself with attaining to future emi. bably to that of Poft-Captain ; pofli
It is however in vain to ob- bly he may arrive at the height of ject ; his honour is engaged; he must nautical dignity; and by attending be a soldier. To trace the progress to his duty, or by some fortuitous of his life will be a simple tasks. Torn chance, he may be loaded with the from all that is most dear to him; praises of his country fent abroad a member of a profession bation of the government ;---but on which in its principles and practice the other hand, his career of glory he detests : obliged to yield to diffi- may be foon ended; he may
be dis. pation, which has no charms for him, abled in the service ; he may retire added to the mortification of feeing and pass the remainder of bis exiftjuni .r officers, poffeffors of superior ence in a similar obscure fituation interest, placed over his head; and with that of his brother. finding his parents totally occupied The two remaining boys are der. with the fate of his eldest brother, tined to the profeffion of the law; be links into a desponding lethargy, one as an Advocate, and by chance produced by these combined and ir- his abilities and inclioations are adritating circumstances, and only at apted to that study; the other as a teaupts to do his duty. Should he Writer, whose desires are placed upreturn to his native country after the 'on a military life. dangers of war, or of a foreign cli The advocate, if his oratorical mate, it is only to pass the remainder powers are eminent, begins in a few of his life in the gloom and obscurity years to attract the attention of the
Court, and to find his ftudies and a pair of colours," or of giving diligence rewarded by the accumu- commands at the head of a company lation of bnfiness. He may perhaps sword in hand. At the found of the find an opportunity of getting into drum or trumpet his heart throbs Parliament, and he inlifts under the with violence ; at the appearance of banners of Opposition, as being the military pomp, his eyes flash with insurest way to obtain notice. His telligence ; at the narration of galfanie increases in proportion to his lant actions, his bre. It glows with epatriotic exertions; but he finds that mulation ; he indulges in a delightit will require at least a considerable ful reverie produced by the enthusilapse of time to turn the ministry asm of the moment, but which is out of place, probably that such an soon disturbed by the harsh voice of event may not happen. Impelled his maiter. The recollection of his by poverty to fix his anxious glances situation returns with aggravated upon the loaves and fishes, he takes bitterness to bis heart, he is indu ed : the first opportunity of gulping down by his feelings to execrate his fituathe fop thrown by the hand of power, 'tion, and “urged by those passions of burying in an infamous oblivion « which at a certain age bear down the recoliection of his former exer- " the comparatively weak barriers of tions in the cause of liberty, and of " worldly wisdom and of prudence, deserting those friends whose honour "he plunges into diffipation, ruins and-iotegriry is incorruprible, to re- « his health, corrupts his morals, ceive the doceurs of a place, and the “ sours his temper, becomes disa. gracious smiles of the bestowers of “greeable to himself and to all a
« round him, and sometimes is urged Froin this period he either be 6 hy the misery he suffers to put an comes merely a voting member, or " end to his existence." if he exerts the powers of his elo. To illustrate more strongly my afquence, he does so in direct contra 'sertion, that the privileges of primodiction to the very sentiments, the geniture are a moral wrong, we must fupporting of which firit brought consider what would, in all probahim into notice. But this is the fa- bility have been the fate of these five vourable fide of the picture. On the young men had they been each pos. other hand, there is a strong proba- feffed of an equal share of fortune, bility, that he may plod on in the sufficient to have enabled them to common path allotted to lawyers ; have chofen a profeflion agreeable to that he may pass many of the best their feelings and inclinations, or, years of his life in penury and ob had they been entitled, at the demise scurity, and never rise above medio. of their father, to have received a fair crity either in fame or fortune, - proportion of bis eftate, without any happy, if he even attains to that. invidious preference being paid to
The latt of these young men is seniority of birth. Their parents in placed in an attorney's writing room, that event would have been equally and forced to enter into the practice interested in the success of each ; and of a profession, the theory of which in order to promote that success, was previously disagreeable to him would undoubtedly have allowed The sprichtliness of his temper is ill them to have followed the bent of adapted to a dry and abftrufe ftudy; their difpofitions The eldest son, and his deteftation is rendered addi- instead of being nurtured in indolence tionally strong, when he finds himself and ignorance, and cherished like a obliged to run about with bags and “ fick girl,” would have been sent to bundles of papers, inftead of carrying a public fchool, where he would have
Icccived eceived an education similar to that welfare he had devoted his time and of his brother. The o hers would abilities. have had an opportunity of profecut- Each of these young men would ing their Audies or professions in a have had it in their power to have manner suitable to their birth and adopted that mode of happiness most expectations ; when they faw no un- congenial to their ideas; they might jult preference paid to this brother, have chosen the women of their hearts they would have had an additional to have been the partners of their inducement to exertion ; and in place lives, to have softened the distresses of looking upon him as the usurper of frail humanity, to have lightened of their rights, they would have re- the troubles of their several vocations, gard. d him with fraternal affc ation; without any harsh exercise of auwhile he would have been emulous of thority, to have dalhed the cup of at least equalling them in mental ac- felicity from their lips or to have emcoinplifhments. The foldier and the bittered their enjoyments. sailor would have had the ability to To trace the fate of the female have prevented any junior officers be part of the family is unnecessary, as ing placed over them, as their for. The “ softer tex” must always be hap. tune would have been sufficient to py or miserable, fortunate or unfor. have procured necessary and propertunate, according to the lot of the promotion, or in case of their being generality of men. disabled in the service would have From these premises it is sufficientenabled them to have enjoyed ease ly evident, that the privileges attachand happiness in retirement. The ed to feniority of birth form a genewriter would have suffered no tyran- ral moral wrong, of the utmost magnical abuse of power to have impel. nitude; as the benefit of one individuled him to the study of a profession al is not only preferred to that of sevedisagreeable to his feelings; and the ral, but is also promoted to their maniorator would have been enabled to fest injury. That this inference is have perfitted in exerting his elo. incontrovertible, there surely cannot quence in the cause of his country, be the Shadow of a doubt; for waving with no accusations of apoftaly to all argument respecting the natural embitter his enjoyments, no merited equality of man, I shall only ask, reflections thrown upno his conduct, Whether these young men who are no execrations of the public to clond equal in rank, in rational and in na. the setting of his existence. On the tural rights, as being the descendcontrary, he might have long shone a ants of the same parents, are got brilliant luminary in the hemisphere confequently entitled to a fair and of patriotism, the ornament of Par. equal inare of the property of thele liament; and with the admiration parents ? and esteem of the public, he might
Third Title. have huried the lightening of truth again't the artifices and attempts of That the privileges of primogenicorruption. Raised by merit to fill ture constitute dangerous political an office of confequence, be might evils, is abundantly obvious in se: have become a statesman, the justice veral views. and integrity of whose conduct would ist, As enslaving a great mojority have attracted the respect even of of men to promote the power and his opponents, and when his virtu. enjoyments of a comparatively small ous career was ended, he would have minority. In order to evince the been followed to the grave by the juitness of this inference, we must contears of a grateful nation to whose sider the nature of civil liberty, which
is the power which every member of a vided in the following or similar profri State is entitled to enjoy over his portions, would be effectual for reamit aétions and inclinations, provided medying all these evils One year's that hole actions and inclinations do interest of the monied, and one year's Dot militare against the interest of the rental of the landed property, to be State, or the rights of any of his fel. left in the power of the proprietor to low citizens. Now, it is perfectly dispose of in legacies, or in any manevident that younger brothers in g: ner, ani to any person he thought beral, fo far from enjoying a power os fit; a fimilar sum to be allotted as ver t eir own actions and inclinations, the portion of the dau.hter o daugh. are tub ect to an infamotis iyitem of ters; and under the burden of these in. opp:: ffion in their outlet of liie, and cumbrances the whole property to be are almoit ever after, in a state of de divided equally amongst the fons ;punde ce upon, and subject to the con- failing of fons amung't the daughgrout of, their tyrannical relations, ters, and failing of them, among which is the most grievous state of the family of his nearest relation 3 lizoury in the world
reserving to the eldest the tiili, and . zdly, This unequal divifion of diguities of the family. The advanpopuriy, as ledging he rights of e
tages to be derived from such a diviksion in a great measure, in the fiun of property would be various, hands f an arittocracy, wcitlier dif- and 'ghly beneficial in their nature, tinguished for th-ir numbers, their both , individuals and to the com. abilities, or choir accomplishm-oss, is munity at large ; as the members of bighly prejudicial to the free om of a Stare must be happy and free, in the nation. To satisfy ourselves whe general, in proportion to the equalither this inference is tounded on fo- ty of their possessions. It certainly lid grours, we have only to confi could not be a hardship upon any der the definition of political liberty, proprietor, to ordain a fair distribuwhich undoubtedly is the power tion of his fortune to be made a* which the members of a State mongit his own children át bis de" ought to have of arriving at pub ceale; and although such diftribution ce lic offices or at least of having votes might be disadvantageous to those « in the nomination of those who fill. elder fons who have been educated in es then”
the idea of aggrandizing the whole Laitly, As tending to the materi- wealth of the family, as it would pre. al injury of the nation, by repressing' vent them from supporting their tol. the population; as these younger ly, and indulging their vitious appebrothers, were they permitted and tites, in fo great a degree as they enabled to marry at a time when can do at present, yet in a short lapse their inclinations are strong and their of time even that disadvantage would bodies vigorous, would in all proba- no longer be recollected, and fucbility have a numerous and healthy ceeding generations would be fenfioffspring, who might fupport the in- ble of the absurdity of regrètting the terest of the public in various ways; loss of privileges and monopolies, which and the loss of thefe citizens and of were no longer authorised. The hope such supp»t is attended with the of gaining a part or probably the mott ruinous consequences.
whole of the legacy sum, would be Fourth Title.
one motive to induce the children to
vie with each other in attention to An act of the Legislature declar. their parents, if any such motive was ing, that the property of parents at necessary; but the far more powertheir deçcase thould in future be din ful one would be the senle of their
equality, and the knowledge that the remained inactive; neither to have respect, the estimation and the sup- added to, nor detracted from tbeir port of the world, and any fuperi- fortune ; and to have families as large ority over one another, could only as that of their father, the income of be acquired, by fulfilling the moral each of the males of the second geduties of society (one of the princineration will be as follows, including pal of which is respect to parents,) the proportion of tie jointuie which in a proper and exemplary manner. will in all probability have revertid The fate of the female part of the to the fainily,
L. 1800 community would also be much more Proportion of jointure, happy than it is at present, as young (luppose 160l.) L.32 00 men would be enabled, by the com- Proportion of the in. petency of their fortunes, to marry, terelt of legacy fum, without the inducement of large por. and daughter's por tions; and the union of two young tion,
L.18 o 0 persons produced by love or mutual
JOOO esteem, would be attended with more felici y.than one promoted through Income remaining to each, L.130 DO selfish and interested views. But be- Let us continue the calculation fides this, the fortunes of the ladies to another generation, under the fanse would often be very large, for sup- supposition as the former. posing a man of L 50,000. per ann. The income of each of the to have only one daughter, she would sons will be,
L.32 8 0 be entitled to a year's interest of his Proportion of jointure, (supeftate at his decease, and in the event pose 1.50) : of his leaving her the legacy sum, her Proportion of the in fortune would be One Hundred tereit of legacy sum Thousand Pounds.
and daughter's por To trace the operations of a law tion,
L. 3.4911 of this nature, let us suppose it to
-13 4 DE have been established previous to the death of a man pofseffed of L.5000 Income remaining to each, L.19 3's a year, who leaves a wife with a joint ure of L. 500, and a family confifting Thus fuppofing the male part of of five sons, and several daughters. these large families to have remainThe property being equally divided, ed inactive to the third generation, the fortune of each of the young me!, (which is however scarcely poffible,) (under the following deductions) there would be a sufficient fortune would be, per ann. L.1002 O O remaining to enable the descendents Proportion of the
of each of theın to enter into the jointure, L.100 OO
scenes of active life, and atode hy - of the interest
induttry for the culpable indolence of of the daughter's
their predeceffors ; at all events, the portion and le
obfcurity and contempt which they gacy fum,
may thus fall into, will be merited.
To conclude “We would have
less reason to regret the partial disIncome remainingtoeach, L.800 ó o tribution of fortune, or to lament the
evils arising from it, were the elder In this view, the fons receive no brothers, or even the majority of them, part of the legacy sum.
equally dillinguished for the luitre of Suppose all of these fons to have their talents in the senate or in the