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LETTER II.: TO THE EDITOR OF THE SCOTS CHRONICLE. - John Millar, Letters of Sidney, on Inequality of Property. To which is added, a Treatise of the Effects of War on Commercial Prosperity 
Letters of Sidney, on Inequality of Property. To which is added, a Treatise of the Effects of War on Commercial Prsoperity (Edinburgh: the Office of the Scots Chronicle, 1796).
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TO THE EDITOR OF THE SCOTS CHRONICLE.
August 12. 1796.
If the rich and luxurious were to take a reasonable view of their own situation, they would be convinced that they have no interest in supporting excessive inequality of property. A man born to opulence, may be said to be predestined to misery. From his cradle, he is surrounded by sycophants, who watch every rising desire, and satisfy it, before it has time to unfold itself. All real enjoyment is effectually precluded; he is denied the pleasure of the pursuit, which usually far exceeds that of the attainment; he is ignorant of that transport with which we welcome happiness which we had nearly despaired of obtaining, with which we seize an enjoyment which has alternately excited our expectations and our fears. To him, Pleasure is a word to which none of his ideas correspond: Although all his demands are immediately satisfied, all his caprices flattered and encouraged, he feels a want in his own breast, which the assiduities of his sycophants can never remove.
But though the attention of those around him can procure him few real enjoyments, they can remove many real inconveniencies and vexations. He is unacquainted with contradiction, unused to disappointment; he learns no kind of self-command, but becomes the slave of his passions. His temper is ruffled by the slightest accidents, his mind totally unprepared for those misfortunes from which riches cannot always protect him. In the day of disappointment or adversity, he sinks in unavailing despondency, or unjustly seeks relief by tormenting those around him. His mind is unnerved; the virtues of patience, temperance, and fortitude, are strangers to his breast.
While his mind is thus weakened, and his morals vitiated by habitual indulgence, his understanding suffers from total neglect. Having always considered his rank in life, and even his amusements, as secured to him independently of his own exertions, he has never had any vigorous motive to cultivate his reason or his taste. If he has studied any thing useful, it must have been merely as a task; and few preceptors will be willing to risk their expectations of future preferment, by a rigid attention to a painful duty. His understanding will therefore be as uncultivated, as his morals are vicious, and his mind imbecile* .
In such a state, he can relish none of those studies and recreations which improve while they delight; he is debarred from all simple, rational, heartfelt enjoyments; and his life is devoted to tumultuous pleasures, which are followed by repentance and disgust. The novelty of these pleasures soon passes away; in vain does he attempt, by a thousand inventions, to give an apparent variety to enjoyments with which he is sated; the same apathy, the same ennui for ever pursue him. Surrounded by all imaginable gratifications, he sinks into a tedious lethargy, except at moments, when he is roused by a galling reflection on his own insignificance and vice. If he be possessed of a spark of sensibility, he feels degraded in his own estimation; his existence becomes a burden to him, and it is only by the supine indolence and effeminacy in which he is sunk, that he is prevented from terminating this, the worst of human miseries, by self-murder. Is this the happiness of the rich? This the condition so much envied by their inferiors? It is a state of mind equally hostile to moral and intellectual improvement, and must inevitably lead to discontent, profligacy, misery, and contempt. The Author of our nature hath, wisely and mercifully, rendered virtue and virtuous exertion the only means of securing our happiness, even in the present life; while he hath invariably attached misery to indolence, dissipation, and weakness of mind.
These observations have been so often repeated, that they may, in some degree, be trite and common; but this frequency of repetition is itself an argument of their truth. There is no country in which they have not been too fatally illustrated; and I am afraid that, without mentioning the profligacy of the noblesse of France or Italy, sufficient proofs might easily be found at home. Yet the nature of our government, the dependence which each man hath on his own exertions for attaining that rank in the state to which he may aspire, affords some opportunity to the Great of escaping that frivolity and languor which are incident to their situation. We accordingly find some men of rank and fortune, whose talents are an honour to their country; but we must regret that the same circumstances which prompt this exertion, too seldom guard them from that dissipation and profligacy, to which, from their situation in life, they are so fatally exposed. I am, Sir,
[* ]The character and accomplishments of the Rich are painted in strong but true colours by Dr. Adam Smith, in his Theory of Moral Sentiments, Part I. sect. III. chap. 2.