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sideration by others. In one page he deprecates violence, and sudden reconstruction, in another he uses language and proposes plans calculated to excite the most violent passions on the one side, and the most determined hostility on the other. When he speaks of landlords 'restoring the land,' and the like, we cannot but expect that the cupidity of the multitude will be excited by the hope of immediate plunder, and the jealousy of the proprietor aroused to the utmost possible resistance. Even where he speaks of compensation, it is in connexion with a theory and a proposed measure which are liable to grave objections.
'A feudal system of landholding and a dense population are two such incongruous elements, that, we may rely upon it, the advent of the masses of the people of this country to power, will witness the destruction of the land-monopoly. It would be very desirable, could the mind of the people be prepared by a system of prospective legislation, to avoid alike the evils which must attend a sudden and violent re-distribution of the soil similar to those suffered by the French Aristocracy, and, at the same time, secure the supremacy of just and rational principles of landholding. We would on no account sanction the deprivation of the present owners of their interest in the soil, at all events not without complete compensation. That society has no right to inflict an evil to obtain a good, until all means have been tried to avoid that evil, is a principle as valid for landlords as it ought to have been held for hand-loom weavers. But this by no means excludes action on the future. As Mr. Mill justly observes, "the reason for not disturbing acts of injustice of old date, cannot apply to unjust systems or institutions, since a bad law or usage is not one bad act in the remote past, but a perpetual repetition of bad acts, as long as the law or usage lasts." A law whose action should not commence until all now living had quitted the scene of life, might be framed to secure those just rights of society which it ought never to have given up, and it could not be charged with injustice towards the descendants of the landlords, no longer brought up with the expectations of obtaining superior advantages at the expense of the community. The landlords enjoy the monopoly of the land upon sufferance, just as they did the monopoly of the Corn Laws. The land was never granted them with the acquiescence of those at whose expense it was given; and we have yet to learn that society, in resuming its rights, after protecting the interests of the present owners, would be guilty of spoliation or robbery.'-Hole, pp. 98, 99.
He would have no more land held by an individual than he has capital to cultivate, and this be let by the State, at the termination of every life-tenancy, to the highest bidder, an arrangement which requires strict examination when proposed by one who complains of rent. His answer would be, that the payer receives back through the State. But this would not prevent the rent from becoming, in some cases, oppressive, especially if the family of a deceased tenant were anxious to continue in occupation, and bid high on that account. It is conceivable, however, that it might answer to the State, if it had a proper organization in readiness for using its acquisition, to purchase the land at its full value, at the demise of the present holders. But a
law of this kind could not now be introduced in England without something like a revolution, because the existing system has a hold not merely on the pride and greediness of a few, but on the feelings and interests of a very large portion, at least, of the community. It is regarded as the system of law and right, while the new scheme would be regarded as that of arbitrary will, and all-meddling tyranny. If the legislature were convinced of the probable feasibility of such a plan, it might be tried in a new colony, where there are no rights to be overthrown, or in such a case as that of the sale of encumbered estates in Ireland. The sudden adoption of an untried scheme, on the ground of a supposed indefeasible right, contrary to the practice of almost all nations from the beginning of the world, would be a monstrosity in legislation. And accordingly it would leave us no provision for the perpetuation of many influences which have hitherto been powerful agents in humanizing society.
Our forefathers did not do wrong in assigning land as they did. It was the procedure suited to their times; and though, like everything else, liable to abuse, it has borne good fruits. We have risen, under that system, to civilization and prosperity, and have at this moment twenty unfurnished Englands at our command for the expansion of our race, and, if we will, for the trial of our experiments. But we have used not only the hand of the material producer, but the head, the heart, and the lifeblood of the educated gentleman. And we should do well to think, before we destroy the associations of ancient family homes, or the relations of ancient princely houses to their territorial dependents. England owes as much of her wealth, her peace, her prosperity, her greatness, and even her liberty, to her noble blood, as she does to her general native energy and power of will. Many a rural district thrives under the shadow of an immemorial line of nobles, and rejoices in the improvements constantly introduced by judicious landlords, where a mere race of farmers might have let ill alone for ages. It is not uncommon to see a landlord philanthropic and judicious in the management of his property, while it is comparatively rare to see a millowner careful of the welfare of his workmen. For genuine liberality and public spirit, the English aristocracy will bear comparison with any body of men placed in a position to be tried. And those who maintain that the use of them is to consume the finer articles of produce, do them grievous wrong. Not merely the mind of a statesman, but that of a good hearty country gentleman, is a product useful to society in a thousand ways, and well worth the expense at which it is raised. There are those who deserve the reproach-In him we have lost a good ploughman,
and gained a useless foxhunter;' but not every man that hunts a fox is thus to be set down for nothing but a hunter of foxes. Many a gentleman who is eager in the chase for a few days in the year, is also the steady promoter of public improvements, the example of his neighbourhood for honour and virtue, the friend of the poor, the maintainer of justice, and the centre of a happy and well-ordered society, who enjoy his possessions almost as if they were their own.
Mr. Hole has selected as his choice instance of aristocratic tyranny the late Duchess of Sutherland, whom he accuses of turning 26,000 people out of house and home, to convert their farms into sheep-walks, for the sake of rent. We believe, that if he were to inquire a little more closely, he would find that the process of which he speaks was of a very different character. The Duchess, in fact, sacrificed her rents for many years to the improvement of her estates; built a great number of houses, made hundreds of miles of roads, encouraged fisheries, and took all possible pains to spare even the prejudices of the people. Middlemen, of course, were at a discount, and the privacy of the whisky-still was disturbed, but the census shows no trace of any vast migration, as it certainly would do if the statement were anything approaching to truth.
It will be an evil day for us when we think we can make all things new, and break the links of all our old associations in order to construct a system. Far better is the advice of Mr. Hole, in his Preface, which one would have thought he had written, contrary to usual practice, before he wrote his book, and afterwards forgotten it:
Compared with the proportions of the population embued with the sentiments and views of Socialism, the numbers in any way connected with Working Associations, Mechanics Institutes, Co-operative-stores, Flourmills, Freehold-land societies, and the like, form a small minority. Yet these contain the germ of those magnificent organizations which the world will one day witness. Enlarge and multiply these small associations, and combine them with each other. Growth is the law of Association, as of all Progress and Life-the imperfect preceding the highly developed. It is not the part of wise men to wait for the realization of large schemes, but to seize present opportunities and make the most of them. Each of these various movements is (often unconsciously to its promoters) working out the parts of a grand problem the solution of which can only be arrived at experimentally.
The principle of Association, or co-operation, is susceptible of every degree of application, from the simplest assistance which two men agree to render each other, up to the highest and most refined combinations. There is no such thing as a perfected System of Association into which society has but to jump, and from which it shall at once reap all the advantages. The degree of association of which men are capable, depends on the height of moral and intellectual cultivation to which they may have attained. Try to
1 Mr. Hole.
2 P. 95.
unite the more advanced principles of co-operation with men in a low degree of culture, and you will fail. As reasonably might one expect a nation of savages to co-operate in making laws or any refined social arrangements. They are obliged to resign themselves to the control of an individual mind. Hence autocracy is the best government for barbarous people. As men reach a higher culture, they require and obtain more liberal institutions. This principle, if fully understood, would tend to reconcile many discordant interests, and demonstrate the folly of agitation for extreme liberal opinions on the one hand, and extreme conservative ones on the other. Facts and experience are the demand, the reasonable demand, of the stubborn world. Fact must precede all sound theories and systems. Take, for example, the progress of railway communication. What an immense amount of knowledge now exists upon the subject! Every department, even the minutest, has been studied and tried by repeated experiments and calculations. Not an exigency arises, but ingenuity is racked to supply it. As soon as difficulties occur, they are obviated. But all this vast amount of knowledge could not have existed anterior to the construction of a railway. It was the emergency which developed the resources. No conclave of philosophers and engineers could have pre-arranged the railway system. The utmost they could do, would be to examine the fundamental principles,—to take as much care as possible that nothing entered into the first experiment which might mislead them: and the duty of society was not to stand gaping incredulously at the labours of the discoverers and inventors, still less to oppose them, but to lend its sympathy and aid as far as the object might reasonably appear to deserve it. In the same manner the principle of Association must pass through many phases, before its full value, and the right extent of its application, will become developed. Association in production, and Association in consumption, will doubtless exist as separate applications of the principle for some time. As practice develops the advantages of the system and exposes its weak points, the former will become increased, the latter remedied, until the principle has been carried to the greatest extent to which it can subserve human happiness.'-Ibid. Introd. pp. viii. ix.
But every one supposes the carrying out of his own favourite schemes to be an exception to general rules, and the measures which he has in view to be safe under circumstances which would be fatal to the success of less perfect legislation. It is something, however, for a writer of such a school to acknowledge, in any degree, the necessity of compensation for vested interests, of preparation for social changes, and of the gradual growth of new institutions. It would be too much to expect an appreciation of the higher refinements of individual and social culture, on the value of dogmatic truth. His book is worth reading to any real inquirer, who will neither blindly follow, nor blindly combat him, but look well to the problems he proposes, and to the general direction in which he seeks their solution. That he has yet found it, is more, perhaps, than he would himself avow, at least in sober thought and honest conviction. But the ignorant reader has no power of estimating difficulties, when once captivated with the first show of a system; and many may be deceived by the prospect of such a prize as the redistribution of the land, little aware that the land itself, seized by a hasty
process, might prove a useless gain, and that the best prospect to be expected from it for the many, on revolutionary terms, would be a bare subsistence, with no small probability of a famine as fatal as that which recently desolated Ireland.
Yet, if England is to flourish with her increasing population, there must be considerable improvements in the employment of land, through public institutions, beyond those which the natural course of supply and demand will necessarily introduce. There can be no gentle and self-working system of relief for the agricultural labourer under general depression without the command of a good extent of soil for cultivation.
It is certainly a defect in our present Poor-law, that it has so little provision for rendering the labour of the pauper productive. But we have yet to learn whether it may not be possible very much to narrow the limits of pauperism by a system of agriculture which will employ a large amount of human labour. On this head, Mr. Kingsley's Lecture on the Application of Associative Principles and Methods to Agriculture is very suggestive, though somewhat sanguine in its calculations. The amount to be gained by means of the manure collected and saved by his plan of building for labourers, seems at least to be over-stated. And it must not be forgotten, that if landlords or farmers do not advance the capital necessary for unprofitable production, somebody must advance it, and lose it too, or else that production will not take place. To do him justice, however, he does not require the whole country to spring at once into the system of maximum production, but rather recommends experiments on the application of associated labour, such as may be made with the consent of landlords, and by means of agreements with them. The great benefit of these methods would be, that the labourer would be enabled to obtain the benefit of that portion of his labour, which is not worth buying with wages, on which he could live. Suppose his labour during nine months of the year would bring in more than ten shillings per week, but in the remaining three months less. The farmer is willing to employ him while his labour produces a profit, but declines doing so as soon as its produce falls below the customary wages. Now, if he could gain only five shillings per week on an average during these three months, he would be a gainer by three guineas, which is a considerable sum to a labourer. Many liberal landholders do, in fact, give employment to men all the year round, taking some loss of this kind rather than allow them to be either pauperised, or starved and demoralised for want of employment.
A very interesting attempt has been made in Holland, of ich some account is given in Mr. Senior's work on Foreign