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man who has always had respect, than to respect a man who we know was last year no better than ourselves, and will be no better next year. In republics there is no respect for authority, but a fear of power.” Boswell.“ At present, sir, I think riches seem to gain most respect.” JOHNSON. "
No, sir, riches do not gain hearty respect; they only procure external attention. A very rich man, from low beginnings, may buy his election in a borough; but, cæteris paribus, a man of family will be preferred. People will prefer a man for whose father their fathers have voted, though they should get no more money, or even less. That shows that the re. spect for family is not merely fanciful, but has an actual operation. If gentlemen of family would allow the rich upstarts to spend their money profusely, which they are ready enough to do, and not vie with them in expense, the upstarts would soon be at an end, and the gentlemen would remain; but if the gentlemen will vie in expense with the upstarts, which is very foolish, they must be ruined.”
When Boswell talked to him of the paternal estate to which he was heir, he said, “Sir, let me tell you, that to be a Scotch landlord, where you have a number of families dependent upon you, and attached to you, is, perhaps, as high a situation as humanity can arrive at. A merchant upon the 'Change of London, with a hundred thousand pounds, is nothing; an English duke, with an immense fortune, is nothing : he has no tenants who consider themselves as under his patriarchal care, and who will follow him to the field upon an emer. gency." His notion of the dignity of a Scotch landlord had been formed upon what he had heard of
the Highland chiefs ; for it is long since a Lowland landlord has been so curtailed in his feudal authority, that he has little more influence over his tenants than an English landlord : and of late years most of the Highland chiefs have destroyed, by means too well known, the princely power which they once enjoyed.
Speaking of the little attachment which subsisted between near relations in London, Sir," said Johnson, “ in a country so commercial as ours, where every man can do for himself, there is not so much occasion for that attachment. No man is thought the worse of here, whose brother was hanged. Iu uncommercial countries, many of the branches of a family must depend on the stock; so, in order to make the head of the family take care of them, they are represented as connected with his reputation, that, self-love being interested, he may exert himself to promote their interest. You have first large circles, or clans; as commerce in. creases, the connexion is confined to families; by degrees, that too goes off, as having become una necessary, and there being few opportunities of intercourse. One brother is merchant in the city, and another is an officer in the guards : how little intercourse can these two have !"
Boswell argued warmly for the feudal system; sir Alexander Macdonald opposed it, and talked of the pleasure of seeing all men free and independent. JOHNSON. “ I agree with Mr. Boswell, that there must be high satisfaction in being a feudal lord; but we are to consider that we ought not to wish to have a number of men unhappy for the satisfaction of one,” Boswell maintained, that numbers,
namely, the vassals or followers, were not unhappy, for that there was a reciprocal satisfaction between the lord and them; he being kind in his authority over them—they being respectful and faithful to him.
On his favourite subject of subordination, Joho. son said, “ So far is it from being true that men are naturally equal, that no two people can be half an hour together, but one shall acquire an evident superiority over the other.”
« In barbarous society," he observed, supe riority of parts is of real consequence. Great strength or great wisdom is of much value to an individual : but in more polished times there are people to do every thing for money; and then there are a number of other superiorities, such as those of birth, and fortune, and rank, that dissipate men's attention, and leave no extraordinary share of respect for personal and intellectual superiority. This is wisely ordered by Providence, to preserve some equality among mankind.”
Armorial bearings having been mentioned, Johnson said they were as ancient as the siege of Thebes, which he proved by a passage in one of the tragedies of Euripides.
Boswell mentioned with much regret the extravagance of the representative of a great family in Scotland, by which there was danger of its being ruined : and as Johnson respected it forits antiquity, he joined with him in thinking it would be happy if this person should die. Mrs. Thrale seemed shocked at this, as feudal barbarity; and said, “I do vot understand this preference of the estate to its owuer-of the land to the man who walks upon
that land.” Johnson. “ Nay, madam, it is not a preference of the land to its owner; it is the preference of a family to an individual. Here is an establishment in a country, which is of importance for ages, not only to the chief, but to his people; an establishment which extends upwards and downwards; that this should be destroyed by one idle fellow is a sad thing. Entails are good, because it is good to preserve in a country serieses of men, to whom the people are accustomed to look up as to their leaders. But I am for leaving a quantity of land in commerce, to excite industry, and keep money in the country; for if no land were to be bought in the country, there would be no encouragement to acquire wealth, because a family could not be founded there; or if it were acquired, it must be carried away to another country where land may be bought: and although the land in every country will remain the same, and be as fertile where there is no money, as where there is, yet all that portion of the happiness of civil life, which is produced by money circulating in a country, would be lost.” BoswELL. “ Then, sir, would it be for the advantage of a country that all its lands were sold at once ?" JOHNSON. “ So far, sir, as money produces good, it would be an advantage; for then that country would have as much money circulating in it as it is worth. But to be sure this would be counterbalanced by advantages attending a total change of proprietors." BOSWELL. “ I think that the power of entailing should be limited thus : there should be one-third, or perhaps one-half, of the land of a country kept free for commerce; and the proportion allowed to be entailed should be
parcelled out so that no family could entail above a certain quantity. Let a family, according to the ability of its representatives, be richer or poorer in different generations, or always rich if its representatives be always wise; but let its absolute permanency be moderate. In this way we should be certain of there being always a number of established roots; and as, in the course of nature, there is in every age an extinction of some families, there would be continual openings for men ambitious of perpetuity to plant a stock in the entailed ground.” JOHNSON, Why, sir, mankind will be better able to regulate the system of entails, when the evil of too much land being locked up by them is felt, than we can do at present, when it is not felt.”
He thus discoursed upon supposed obligation in settling estates : “ Where a man gets the unlimited property of an estate, there is no obligation upon him in justice to leave it to one person rather than to another. There is a motive of preference from kindness, and this kindness is generally entertained for the nearest relation. If I owe a particular man a sum of money, I am obliged to let that man have the next money I get, and cannot in justice let another have it; but if I owe money to no man, I may dispose of what I get as I please. There is not a debitum justitiæ to a man's next heir; there is only a debitum caritatis. It is plain, then, that I have morally a choice, according to my liking. If I have a brother in want, he has a claim from affection to my assistance : but if I have also a brother in want, whom I like better, he has a preferable claim. The right of an heir at law is only this; that he is to have the succession to an estate, in case no other