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Landholding In England by Joseph Fisher

Part 2 out of 2

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unnecessary. Unfortunately Henry and his counsellors did not
appreciate the consequence of the suppression of retainers and
liveries. By the course he adopted to secure the influence of the
Crown, he compensated the nobles, but destroyed the agricultural
middle class.

This change had an important and, in some respects, a most
injurious effect upon the condition of the nation, and led to
enactments of a very extraordinary character, which I must submit
in detail, inasmuch as I prefer giving the ipsissima verba of the
statute-book to any statement of my own. To make the laws
intelligible, I would remind you that the successful efforts of the
nobles had, during the three centuries of Plantagenet rule, nearly
obliterated the LIBERI HOMINES (whose rights the Norman conqueror
had sedulously guarded), and had reduced them to a state of
vassalage. They held the lands of their lord at his will, and paid
their rent by military service. When retainers were put down, and
rent or knights' service was no longer paid with armed men, their
occupation was gone. They were unfit for the mere routine of
husbandry, and unprovided with funds for working their farms. The
policy of the nobles was changed. It was no longer their object to
maintain small farmsteads, each supplying its quota of armed men to
the retinue of the lord; and it was their interest to obtain money
rents. Then commenced a struggle of the most fearful character. The
nobles cleared their lands, pulled down the houses, and displaced
the people. Vagrancy, on a most unparalleled scale, took place.
Henry VII., to check this cruel, unexpected, and harsh outcome of
his own policy, resorted to legislation, which proved nearly
ineffectual. As early as the fourth year of his reign these efforts
commenced with an enactment (cap. 19) for keeping up houses and
encouraging husbandry; it is very quaint, and is as follows:

"The King, our Sovereign Lord, having singular pleasure above all
things to avoid such enormities and mischiefs as be hurtful and
prejudicial to the commonwealth of this his land and his subjects
of the same, remembereth that, among other things, great
inconvenience daily doth increase by dissolution, and pulling down,
and wilful waste of houses and towns within this his realm, and
laying to pasture lands, which continually have been in tilth,
WHEREBY IDLENESS, THE GROUND AND BEGINNING OF ALL MISCHIEF, daily
do increase; for where, in some towns 200 persons were occupied,
and lived by those lawful labors, now there be occupied two or
three herdsmen, and the residue full of idleness. The husbandry,
which is one of the greatest commodities of the realm, is greatly
decayed. Churches destroyed, the service of God withdrawn, the
bodies there buried not prayed for, the patrons and curates
wronged, the defence of the land against outward enemies feebled
and impaired, to the great displeasure of God, the subversion of
the policy and good rule of this land, if remedy be not hastily
therefor purveyed: Wherefore, the King, our Sovereign Lord, by the
assent and advice, etc., etc., ordereth, enacteth, and establisheth
that no person, what estate, degree, or condition he be, that hath
any house or houses, that at any time within the past three years
hath been, or that now is, or heretofore shall be, let to farm with
twenty acres of land at least, or more, laying in tillage or
husbandry; that the owners of any such house shall be bound to
keep, sustain, and maintain houses and buildings, upon the said
grounds and land, convenient and necessary for maintaining and
upholding said tillage and husbandry; and if any such owner or
owners of house or house and land take, keep, and occupy any such
house or house and land in his or their own hands, that the owner
of the said authority be bound in likewise to maintain houses and
buildings upon the said ground and land, convenient and necessary
for maintaining and upholding the said tillage and husbandry. On
their default, the king, or the other lord of the fee, shall
receive half of the profits, and apply the same in repairing the
houses; but shall not gain the freehold thereby."

This act was preceded by one with reference to the Isle of Wight, 4
Henry VII., cap. 16, passed the same session, which recites that it
is so near France that it is desirable to keep it in a state of
defence. It provides that no person shall have more than one farm,
and enacts:

"For remedy, it is ordered and enacted that no manner of person, of
what estate, degree, or condition soever, shall take any farm more
than one, whereof the yearly rent shall not exceed ten marks; and
if any several leases afore this time have been made to any person
or persons of divers and sundry farmholds whereof the yearly value
shall exceed that sum, then the said person or persons shall choose
one farm, hold at his pleasure, and the remnant of the leases shall
be void."

Mr. Froude remarks (History, p. 26), "An act, tyrannical in form,
was singularly justified by its consequences. The farm-houses were
rebuilt, the land reploughed, the island repeopled; and in 1546,
when the French army of 60,000 men attempted to effect a landing at
St. Helens, they were defeated and driven back by the militia, and
a few levies transported from Hampshire and the surrounding
counties."

Lord Bacon, in his "History of the Reign of Henry VII., says:

"Enclosures, at that time, began to be more frequent, whereby
arable land (which could not be manured without people and
families) was turned into pasture, which was easily rid by a few
herdsmen; and tenancies for years, lives, and at will (whereupon
much of the yeomanry lived) were turned into demesnes. This bred a
decay of people and (by consequence) a decay of towns, churches,
tithes, and the like. The king, likewise, knew full well, and in
nowise forgot, that there ensued withal upon this a decay and
diminution of subsidies and taxes; for the more gentlemen, ever the
lower books of subsidies. In remedying of this inconvenience, the
king's wisdom was admirable, and the parliaments at that time.
Enclosures they would not forbid, for that had been to forbid the
improvement of the patrimony of the kingdom; nor tillage they would
not compel, for that was to strive with nature and utility; but
they took a course to take away depopulating enclosures and
depopulating pasturage, and yet not by that name, or by any
imperious express prohibition, but by consequence. The ordinance
was, that all houses of husbandry, that were used with twenty acres
of ground and upward, should be maintained and kept up for ever,
together with a competent proportion of land to be used and
occupied with them; and in nowise to be severed from them, as by
another statute made afterward in his successor's time, was more
fully declared: this, upon forfeiture to be taken, not by way of
popular action, but by seizure of the land itself, by the king and
lords of the fee, as to half the profits, till the houses and land
were restored. By this means the houses being kept up, did of
necessity enforce a dweller; and the proportion of the land for
occupation being kept up, did of necessity enforce that dweller not
to be a beggar or cottager, but a man of some substance, that might
keep hinds and servants, and set the plough a-going. This did
wonderfully concern the might and mannerhood of the kingdom, to
have farms, as it were, of a standard sufficient to maintain an
able body out of penury, and did, in effect, amortise a great part
of the lands of the kingdom unto the hold and occupation of the
yeomanry or middle people, of a condition between gentlemen and
cottagers or peasants. Now, how much this did advance the military
power of the kingdom, is apparent by the true principles of war,
and the examples of other kingdoms. For it hath been held by the
general opinion of men of best judgment in the wars (howsoever some
few have varied, and that it may receive some distinction of case),
that the principal strength of an army consisteth in the infantry
or foot. And to make good infantry, it requireth men bred, not in a
servile or indigent fashion, but in some free and plentiful manner.
Therefore, if a state run most to noblemen and gentlemen, and that
the husbandman and ploughman be but as their workfolks and
laborers, or else mere cottagers (which are but housed beggars),
you may have a good cavalry, but never good stable bands of foot;
like to coppice woods, that if you leave in them standing too
thick, they will run to bushes and briars, and have little clean
underwood. And this is to be seen in France and Italy, and some
other parts abroad, where in effect all is nobles or peasantry. I
speak of people out of towns, and no middle people; and therefore
no good forces of foot: insomuch as they are enforced to employ
mercenary bands of Switzers and the like for their battalions of
foot, whereby also it comes to pass, that those nations have much
people and few soldiers. Whereas the king saw that contrariwise it
would follow, that England, though much less in territory, yet
should have infinitely more soldiers of their native forces than
those other nations have. Thus did the king secretly sow Hydra's
teeth; whereupon (according to the poet's fiction) should rise up
armed men for the service of this kingdom."

The enactment above quoted was followed by others in that reign of
a similar character, but it would appear they were not successful.
The evil grew apace. Houses were pulled down, farms went out of
tillage. The people, evicted from their farms, and having neither
occupation nor means of living, were idle, and suffering.
Succeeding sovereigns strove also to check this disorder? and
statute after statute was passed. Among them are the 7th Henry
VIII., cap. 1. It recites:

"That great inconveniency did daily increase by dissolution,
pulling down, and destruction of houses, and laying to pasture,
lands which customarily had been manured and occupied with tillage
and husbandry, whereby idleness doth increase; for where, in some
town-lands, hundreds of persons and their ancestors, time out of
mind, were daily occupied with sowing of corn and graynes, breeding
of cattle, and other increase of husbandry, that now the said
persons and their progeny are disunited and decreased. It further
recites the evil consequences resulting from this state of things,
and provides that all these buildings and habitations shall be re-
edificed and repaired within one year; and all tillage lands turned
into pasture shall be again restored into tillage; and in default,
half the value of the lands and houses forfeited to the king, or
lord of the fee, until they were re-edificed. On failure of the
next lord, the lord above him might seize."

This act did not produce that increased tilth which was
anticipated. Farmers' attention was turned to sheepbreeding; and in
order to supply the deficiency of cattle, an act was passed in the
21st Henry VIII., to enforce the rearing of calves; and every
farmer was, under a penalty of 6s. 8d. (about L3 of our currency),
compelled to rear all his calves for a period of three years; and
in the 24th Henry VIII. the act was further continued for two
years. The culture of flax and hemp was also encouraged by
legislation. The 24th Henry VIII., cap. 14, requires every person
occupying land apt for tillage, to sow a quarter of an acre of flax
or hemp for every sixty acres of land, under a penalty of 3s. 4d.

The profit which arose from sheep-farming led to the depasturage
of the land; and in order to check it, an act, 25 Henry VIII., cap.
13, was passed. It commences thus:

"Forasmuch as divers and sundry persons of the king's subjects of
this realm, to whom God of His goodness hath disposed great plenty
and abundance of movable substance, now of late, within few years,
have daily studied, practised, and invented ways and means how they
might gather and accumulate together into few hands, as well great
multitude of farms, as great plenty of cattle and in especial
sheep, putting such lands as they can get to pasture and not to
tillage: whereby they have not only pulled down churches and towns,
and enhanced the old rates of the rents of possessions of this
realm, or else brought it to such excessive fines that no poor man
is able to meddle with it, but have also raised and enhanced the
prices of all manner of corn, cattle, wool, pigs, geese, hens,
chickens, eggs, and such commodities almost double above the prices
which hath been accustomed, by reason whereof a marvellous
multitude of the poor people of this realm be not able to provide
meat, drink, and clothes necessary for themselves, their wives, and
children, but be so discouraged with misery and poverty, that they
fall daily to theft, robbery, and other inconveniences, or
pitifully die for hunger and cold; and it is thought by the king's
humble and loving subjects, that one of the greatest occasions that
moveth those greedy and covetous people so to accumulate and keep
in their hands such great portions and parts of the lands of this
realm from the occupying of the poor husbandmen, and so use it in
pasture and not in tillage, is the great profit that cometh of
sheep, which be now come into a few persons' hands, in respect of
the whole number of the king's subjects, so that some have 24,000,
some 20,000, some 10,000, some 6000, some 5000, and some more or
less, by which a good sheep for victual, which was accustomed to be
sold for 2s. 4d. or 3s. at most, is now sold for 6s., 5s., or 4s.
at the least; and a stone of clothing wool, that in some shire of
this realm was accustomed to be sold from 16d. to 20d, is now sold
for 4s. or 3s. 4d. at the least; and in some counties, where it has
been sold for 2s. 4d. to 2s. 8d., or 3s. at the most, it is now 5s.
or 4s. 8d. at the least, and so arreysed in every part of the
realm, which things thus used to be principally to the high
displeasure of Almighty God, to the decay of the hospitality of
this realm, to the diminishing king's people, and the let of the
cloth making, whereby many poor people hath been accustomed to be
set on work; and in conclusion, if remedy be not found, it may turn
to the utter destruction and dissolution of this realm which God
defend."

It was enacted that no person shall have or keep on lands not their
own inheritance more than 2000 sheep, under a penalty of 3s. 4d.
per annum for each sheep; lambs under a year old not to be counted;
and that no person shall occupy two farms.

Further measures appeared needful to prevent the evil; and the 27th
Henry VIII., cap. 22, states that the 4th Henry VII., cap. 19, for
keeping houses in repair, and for the tillage of the land, had been
enforced on lands holden of the king, but neglected by other lords.
It, therefore, enacted that the king shall have the moiety of the
profits of lands converted from tillage to pasture, since the
passing of the 4th Henry VII., until a proper house is built, and
the land returned to tillage; and in default of the immediate lord
taking the profits as under that act, the king might take the same.
This act extended to the counties of Lincoln, Nottingham,
Leicester, Warwick, Rutland, Northampton, Bedford, Buckingham,
Oxford, Berkshire, Isle of Wight, Hertford, and Cambridge.

The simple fact was, that those who had formerly paid the rent of
their land by service as soldiers were without the capital or means
of paying rent in money; they were evicted and became vagrants.
Henry VIII. took a short course with these vagrants, and it is
asserted upon apparently good authority that in the course of his
reign, thirty-six years, he hanged no less than 72,000 persons for
vagrancy, or at the rate of 2000 per annum. The executions in the
reign of his daughter, Queen Elizabeth, had fallen to from 300 to
400 per annum.

32 Henry VIII., cap. 1, gave powers of bequest with regard to land;
as it explains the change it effected, I quote it:

"That all persons holding land in socage not having any lands
holden by knight service of the king in chief, be empowered to
devise and dispose of all such socage lands, and in like case,
persons holding socage lands of the king in chief, and also of
others, and not having the lands holden by knight service, saving
to the king, all his right, title, and interest for primer seizin,
reliefs, fines for alienations, etc. Persons holding lands of the
king by knight's service in chief were authorized to devise two
third parts thereof, saving to the king wardship, primer seizin, of
the third paid, and fines for alienation of the whole lands.
Persons holding lands by knight's service in chief, and also other
lands by knight's service, or otherwise may in like manner devise
two third part thereof, saving to the king wardship of the third,
and fines for alienation of the whole. Persons holding land of
others than the king by knight's service, and also holding socage
lands, may devise two third parts of the former and the whole of
the latter, saving to the lord his wardship of the third part.
Persons holding lands of the king by knight's service but not in
chief, or so holding of the king and others, and also holding
socage lands, may in like manner devise two thirds of the former
and the whole of the latter, saving to the king the wardship of the
third part, and also to the lords; and the king or the other lords
were empowered to seize the one third part in case of any
deficiency."

The 34th and 35th Henry VIII., cap. 5, was passed to remove some
doubts which had arisen as to the former statute; it enacts:

"That the words estates of inheritance should only mean estates in
fee-simple only, and empowers persons seized of any lands, etc., in
fee-simple solely, or in co-partnery (not having any lands holden
of knight's service), to devise the whole, except corporations.
Persons seized in fee-simple of land holden of the king by knight's
service may give or devise two thirds thereof, and of his other
lands, except corporation, such two thirds to be ascertained by the
divisor or by commission out of the Court of Ward and Liveries. The
king was empowered to take his third land descended to the heir in
the first place, the devise in gift remaining good for the two
thirds; and if the land described were insufficient to answer such
third, the deficiency should be made up out of the two thirds."

"The next attack," remarks Sir William Blackstone, vol. ii., p.
117, "which they suffered in order of time was by the statute 32
Henry VIII., c. 28, whereby certain leases made by tenants in tail,
which do not tend to prejudice the issue, were allowed to be good
in law and to bind the issue in tail. But they received a more
violent blow the same session of Parliament by the construction put
upon the statute of fines by the statute 32 Henry VIII., cap. 36,
which declares a fine duly levied by tenant in tail to be a
complete bar to him and his heirs and all other persons claiming
under such entail. This was evidently agreeable to the intention of
Henry VII., whose policy was (before common recovery had obtained
their full strength and authority) to lay the road as open as
possible to the alienation of landed property, in order to weaken
the overgrown power of his nobles. But as they, from the opposite
reasons, were not easily brought to consent to such a provision, it
was therefore couched in his act under covert and obscure
expressions; and the judges, though willing to construe that
statute as favorably as possible for the defeating of entailed
estates, yet hesitated at giving fines so extensive a power by mere
implication when the statute DE DONIS had expressly declared that
they should not be a bar to estates-tail. But the statute of Henry
VIII., when the doctrine of alienation was better received, and the
will of the prince more implicitly obeyed than before, avowed and
established that intention."

Fitzherbert, one of the judges of the Common Pleas in the reign of
Henry VIII., wrote a work on surveying and husbandry. It contains
directions for draining, clearing, and inclosing a farm, and for
enriching the soil and reducing it to tillage. Fallowing before
wheat was practised, and when a field was exhausted by grain it was
allowed to rest. Hollingshed estimated the usual return as 16 to 20
bushels of wheat per acre; prices varied very greatly, and famine
was of frequent recurrence. Leases began to be granted, but they
were not effectual to protect the tenant from the entry of
purchasers nor against the operation of fictitious recoveries.

In the succeeding reigns the efforts to encourage tillage and
prevent the clearing of the farms were renewed, and among the
enactments passed were the following:

5 Edward VI., cap. 5, for the better maintenance of tillage and
increase of corn within the realm, enacts:

"That there should be, in the year 1553, as much land, or more, put
wholly in tillage as had been at any time since the 1st Henry
VIII., under a penalty of 5s. per acre to the king; and in order to
secure this, it appoints commissioners, who were bound to ascertain
by inquests what land was in tillage and had been converted from
tillage into pasture. The commission issued precepts to the
sheriffs, who summoned jurors, and the inquests were to be
returned, certified, to the Court of Exchequer. Any prosecution for
penalties should take place within three years, and the act
continues for ten years."

2 and 3 Philip and Mary, cap. 2, recites the former acts of 4 Henry
VII., cap. 19, etc,, which it enforces. It enacts:

"That as some doubts had arisen as to the interpretation of the
words twenty acres of land, the act should apply to houses with
twenty acres of land, according to the measurement of the ancient
statute; and it appoints commissioners to inquire as to all houses
pulled down and all land converted from pasture into tillage since
the 4th Henry VII. The commissioners were to take security by
recognizance from offenders, and to re-edify the houses and re-
convert the land into tillage, and to assess the tenants for life
toward the repairs. The amount expended under order of the
commissioners was made recoverable against the estate, and the
occupiers were made liable to their orders; and they had power to
commit persons refusing to give security to carry out the act."

2 and 3 Philip and Mary, cap. 3, was passed to provide for the
increase of milch cattle, and it enacts:

"That one milch-cow shall be kept and calf reared for every sixty
sheep and ten oxen during the following seven years."

The 2d Elizabeth, cap. 2, confirms the previously quoted acts of 4
Henry VII., cap. 19; 7 Henry VIII., cap. 1; 27 Henry VIII., cap.
22; 27 Henry VIII., cap. 18; and it enacts:

"That all farm-houses belonging to suppressed monasteries should be
kept up, and that all lands which had been in tillage for four
years successively at any time since the 20th Henry VIII., should
be kept in tillage under a penalty of 10s. per acre, which was
payable to the heir in reversion, or in case he did not levy it, to
the Crown."

31 Elizabeth, cap. 7, went further; and in order to provide
allotments for the cottagers, many of whom were dispossessed from
their land, it provided:

"For avoiding the great inconvenience which is found by experience
to grow by the erecting and building of great number of cottages,
which daily more and more increased in many parts of the realm, it
was enacted that no person should build a cottage for habitation or
dwelling, nor convert any building into a cottage, without
assigning and laying thereto four acres of land, being his own
freehold and inheritance, lying near the cottage, under a penalty
of L10; and for upholding any such cottages, there was a penalty
imposed of 40s. a month, exception being made as to any city, town,
corporation, ancient borough, or market town; and no person was
permitted to allow more than one family to reside in each cottage,
under a penalty of 10s. per month."

The 39th Elizabeth, cap. 2, was passed to enforce the observance of
these conditions. It provides:

"That all lands which had been in tillage shall be restored thereto
within three years, except in cases where they were worn out by too
much tillage, in which case they might be grazed with sheep; but in
order to prevent the deterioriation of the land, it was enacted
that the quantity of beeves or muttons sold off the land should not
exceed that which was consumed in the mansion-house."

In these various enactments of the Tudor monarchs we may trace the
anxious desire of these sovereigns to repair the mistake of Henry
VII., and to prevent the depopulation of England. A similar mistake
has been made in Ireland since 1846, under which the homes of the
peasantry have been prostrated, the land thrown out of tillage, and
the people driven from their native land. Mr. Froude has the
following remarks upon this legislation:

"Statesmen (temp. Elizabeth) did not care for the accumulation of
capital. They desired to see the physical well-being of all classes
of the commonwealth maintained in the highest degree which the
producing power of the country admitted. This was their object, and
they were supported in it by a powerful and efficient majority of
the nation. At one time Parliament interfered to protect employers
against laborers, but it was equally determined that employers
should not be allowed to abuse their opportunities; and this
directly appears from the 4th and 5th Elizabeth, by which, on the
most trifling appearance of a diminution of the currency, it was
declared that the laboring man could no longer live on the wages
assigned to him by the Act of Henry VIII.; and a sliding scale was
instituted, by which, for the future, wages should be adjusted to
the price of food. The same conclusion may be gathered also
indirectly fom the acts interfering imperiously with the rights of
property where a disposition showed itself to exercise them
selfishly.

"The city merchants, as I have said, were becoming landowners, and
some of them attempted to apply their rules of trade to the
management of landed estates. While wages were rated so high, it
answered better as a speculation to convert arable land into
pasture, but the law immediately stepped in to prevent a proceeding
which it regarded as petty treason to the state. Self-protection is
the first law of life, and the country, relying for its defence on
an able-bodied population, evenly distributed, ready at any moment
to be called into action, either against foreign invasion or civil
disturbance, it could not permit the owners of land to pursue, for
their own benefit, a course of action which threatened to weaken
its garrisons. It is not often that we are able to test the wisdom
of legislation by specific results so clearly as in the present
instance. The first attempts of the kind which I have described
were made in the Isle of Wight early in the reign of Henry VII.
Lying so directly exposed to attacks by France, the Isle of Wight
was a place which it was peculiarly important to keep in a state of
defence, and the 4th Henry VII., cap. 16, was passed to prevent the
depopulation of the Isle of Wight, occasioned by the system of
large farms."

The city merchants alluded to by Froude seem to have remembered
that from the times of Athelwolf, the possession of a certain
quantity of land, with gatehouse, church, and kitchen, converted
the ceorl (churl) into a thane.

It is difficult to estimate the effect which the Tudor policy had
upon the landholding of England. Under the feudal system, the land
was held in trust and burdened with the support of the soldiery.
Henry VII., in order to weaken the power of the nobles, put an end
to their maintaining independent soldiery. Thus landlords' incomes
increased, though their material power was curtailed. It would not
have been difficult at this time to have loaded these properties
with annual payments equal to the cost of the soldiers which they
were bound to maintain, or to have given each of them a farm under
the Crown, and strict justice would have prevented the landowners
from putting into their pockets those revenues which, according to
the grants and patents of the Conqueror and his successors, were
specially devoted to the maintenance of the army. Land was released
from the conditions with which it was burdened when granted. This
was not done by direct legislation but by its being the policy of
the Crown to prevent "king-makers" arising from among the
nobility. The dread of Warwick influenced Henry. He inaugurated a
policy which transferred the support of the army from the lands,
which should solely have borne it, to the general revenue of the
country. Thus he relieved one class at the expense of the nation.
Yet, when Henry was about to wage war on the Continent, he called
all his subjects to accompany him, under pain of forfeiture of
their lands; and he did not omit levying the accustomed feudal
charge for knighting his eldest son and for marrying his eldest
daughter. The acts to prevent the landholder from oppressing the
occupier, and those for the encouragement of tillage, failed. The
new idea of property in land, which then obtained, proved too
powerful to be altered by legislation.

Another change in the system of landholding took place in those
reigns. Lord Cromwell, who succeeded Cardinal Wolsey as minister to
Henry VIII., had land in Kent, and he obtained the passing of an
act (31 Henry VIII., cap. 2) which took his land and that of other
owners therein named, out of the custom of gavelkind (gave-all-
kind), which had existed in Kent from before the Norman Conquest,
and enacted that they should descend according to common law in
like manner as lands held by knight's service.

The suppression of the RELIGIOUS HOUSES gave the Crown the control
of a vast quantity of land. It had, with the consent of the Crown,
been devoted to religion by former owners. The descendants of the
donors were equitably entitled to the land, as it ceased to be
applied to the trust for which it was given, but the power of the
Crown was too great, and their claims were refused. Had these
estates been applied to purposes of religion or education they
would have formed a valuable fund for the improvement of the
people; but the land itself, as well as the portion of tithes
belonging to the religious houses, was conferred upon favorites,
and some of the wealthiest nobles of the present day trace their
rise and importance to the rewards obtained by their ancestors out
of the spoils of these charities.

The importance of the measures of the Tudors upon the system of
land-holding can hardly be exaggerated. An impulse of self-defence
led them to lessen the physical force of the oligarchy by relieving
the land from the support of the army, and enabling them to convert
to their own use the income previously applied to the defence of
the realm. This was a bribe, but it brought its own punishment. The
eviction of the working farmers, the demolition of their dwellings,
the depopulation of the country, were evils of most serious
magnitude; and the supplement of the measures which produced such
deplorable results was found in the permanent establishment of a
taxation for the SUPPORT of the POOR. Yet the nation reeled under
the depletion produced by previous mistaken legislation, and all
classes have been injured by the transfer of the support of the
army from the land held by the nobles to the income of the people.

Side by side, with the measures passed, to prevent the Clearing of
the Land, arose the system of POOR LAWS. Previous to the
Reformation the poor were principally relieved at the religious
houses. The destruction of small farms, and the eviction of such
masses of the people, which commenced in the reign of Henry VII.,
overpowered the resources of these establishments; their
suppression in the reigns of Henry VIII. and Elizabeth aggravated
the evil. The indiscriminate and wholesale execution of the poor
vagrants by the former monarch only partially removed the evil, and
the statute-book is loaded with acts for the relief of the
destitute poor. The first efforts were collections in the churches;
but voluntary alms proving insufficient, the powers of the
churchwardens were extended, and they were directed and authorized
to assess the parishioners according to their means, and thus arose
a system which, though benevolent in its object, is a slur upon our
social arrangements. Land, the only source of food, is rightly
charged with the support of the destitute. The necessity for such
aid arose originally from their being evicted therefrom. The charge
should fall exclusively upon the rent receivers, and in no case
should the tiller of the soil have to pay this charge either
directly or indirectly. It is continued by the inadequacy of wages,
and the improvidence engendered by a social system which arose out
of injustice, and produced its own penalty.

Legislation with regard to the poor commenced contemporaneous with
the laws against the eviction of the small farmers. I have already
recited some of the laws to preserve small holdings; I now pass to
the acts meant to compel landholders to provide for those whom they
had dispossessed. In 1530 the act 22 Henry VIII., cap. 12, was
passed; it recites:

"Whereas in all places through the realm of England, vagabonds and
beggars have of long time increased, and daily do increase, in
great and excessive numbers by THE OCCASION OF IDLENESS, THE MOTHER
AND ROOT OF ALL VICES, [Footnote: See 4 Henry VII., cap, 19, ante,
p. 27, where the same expression occurs, showing that it was
throwing the land out of tilth that occasioned pauperism.] whereby
hath insurged and sprung, and daily insurgeth and springeth,
continual thefts, murders, and other heinous offences and great
enormities, to the high displeasure of God, the inquietation and
damage of the king and people, and to the marvellous disturbance of
the commonweal of the realm."

It enacts that justices may give license to impotent persons to beg
within certain limits, and, if found begging out of their limits,
they shall be set in the stocks. Beggars without license to be
whipped or set in the stocks. All persons able to labor, who shall
beg or be vagrant, shall be whipped and sent to the place of their
birth. Parishes to be fined for neglect of the constables.

37 Henry VIII., cap. 23, continued this act to the end of the
ensuing Parliament.

1 Edward VI., cap. 3, recites the increase of idle vagabonds, and
enacts that all persons loitering or wandering shall be marked with
a V, and adjudged a slave for two years, and afterward running away
shall become a felon. Impotent persons were to be removed to the
place where they had resided for three years, and allowed to beg. A
weekly collection was to be made in the churches every Sunday and
holiday after reading the gospel of the day, the amount to be
applied to the relief of bedridden poor.

5 and 6 Edward VI., cap. 2, directs the parson, vicar, curate, and
church-wardens, to appoint two collectors to distribute weekly to
the poor. The people were exhorted by the clergy to contribute;
and, if they refuse, then, upon the certificate of the parson,
vicar, or curate, to the bishop of the diocese, he shall send for
them and induce him or them to charitable ways.

2 and 3 Philip and Mary, cap. 5, re-enacts the former, and requires
the collectors to account quarterly; and where the poor are too
numerous for relief, they were licensed by a justice of the peace
to beg.

5 Elizabeth, cap. 3, confirms and renews the former acts, and
compels collectors to serve under a penalty of L10. Persons
refusing to contribute their alms shall be exhorted, and, if they
obstinately refuse, shall be bound by the bishop to appear at the
next general quarter session, and they may be imprisoned if they
refuse to be bound.

The 14th Elizabeth, cap. 5, requires the justices of the peace to
register all aged and impotent poor born or for three years
resident in the parish, and to settle them in convenient
habitations, and ascertain the weekly charge, and assess the amount
on the inhabitants, and yearly appoint collectors to receive and
distribute the assessment, and also an overseer of the poor. This
act was to continue for seven years.

The 18th Elizabeth, cap. 3, provides for the employment of the
poor. Stores of wool, hemp, flax, iron, etc., to be provided in
cities and towns, and the poor set to work. It empowered persons
possessed of land in free socage to give or devise same for the
maintenance of the poor.

The 39th Elizabeth, cap. 3, and the 43d Elizabeth, cap. 2, extended
these acts, and made the assessment compulsory.

I shall ask you to compare the date of these several laws for the
relief of the destitute poor with the dates of the enactments
against evictions. You will find they run side by side.

[Footnote: The following tables of the acts passed against
eviction, and enacting the support of the poor, show that they were
contemporaneous:

Against Evictions.
4 Henry VII., Cap. 19.
7 Henry VIII, Cap. 1.
21 Henry VIII,
24 Henry VIII, Cap. 14.
25 Henry VIII, Cap. 13.
27 Henry VIII, Cap. 22.
5 Edward VI., Cap. 2.
2 and 3 Philip and Mary, Cap. 2.
2 and 3 Philip and Mary, Cap. 3.
2 Elizabeth, Cap. 2.
31 Elizabeth, Cap. 7.
39 Elizabeth, Cap. 2.

Enacting Poor Laws.
22 Henry VIII., Cap. 12.
37 Henry VIII., Cap. 23.
1 Edward VI., Cap. 3.
5 and 6 Edward VI., Cap. 2.
2 and 4 Philip and Mary, Cap. 5.
5 Elizabeth, Cap. 3.
14 Elizabeth, Cap. 5.
18 Elizabeth, Cap. 3.
39 Elizabeth, Cap. 3.
43 Elizabeth, Cap. 2.]

I have perhaps gone at too great length into detail; but I think I
could not give a proper picture of the alteration in the system of
landholding or its effects without tracing from the statute-book
the black records of these important changes. The suppression of
monasteries tended greatly to increase the sufferings of the poor,
but I doubt if even these institutions could have met the enormous
pressure which arose from the wholesale evictions of the people.
The laws of Henry VII and Henry VIII., enforcing the tillage of the
land, preceded the suppression of religious houses, and the act of
the latter monarch allowing the poor to beg was passed before any
steps were taken to close the convents. That measure was no doubt
injurious to the poor, but the main evil arose from other causes.
The lands of these houses, when no longer applicable to the purpose
for which they were given, should have reverted to the heirs of the
donors, or have been applied to other religious or educational
purposes. The bestowal of them upon favorites, to the detriment
alike of the State, the Church, the Poor, and the Ignorant, was an
abuse of great magnitude, the effect of which is still felt. The
reigns of the Tudors are marked with three events affecting the
land--viz.:

1st. Relieving it of the support of the army;

2d. Burdening of it with the support of the poor;

3d. Applying the monastic lands to private uses.

The abolition of retainers, while it relieved the land of the
nobles from the principal charge thereon, did not entirely abolish
knight's service. The monarch was entitled to the care of all
minors, to aids on the marriage or knighthood of the eldest son, to
primerseizin or a year's rent upon the death of each tenant of the
Crown. These fees were considerable, and were under the care of the
Court of Ward and Liveries.

The artisan class had, however, grown in wealth, and they were
greatly strengthened by the removal from France of large numbers of
workmen in consequence of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes.
These prosperous tradespeople became landowners by purchase, and
thus tended to replace the LIBERI HOMINES, or FREEMEN, who had been
destroyed under the wars of the nobles, which effaced the landmarks
of English society. The liberated serfs attained the position of
paid farm-laborers; had the policy of Elizabeth, who enacted that
each of their cottages should have an allotment of four acres of
land, been carried out, it would have been most beneficial to the
state.

The reign of this family embraced one hundred and eighteen years,
during which the increase of the population was about twenty-five
per cent. When Henry VII. ascended the throne in 1485 it was
4,000,000, and on the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603 it had
reached 5,000,000, the average increase being about 8000 per annum.
The changes effected in the condition of the farmers' class left
the mass of the people in a far worse state at the close than at
the commencement of their rule.

VII. THE STUARTS.

The accession of the Stuarts to the throne of England took place
under peculiar circumstances. The nation had just passed through
two very serious struggles--one political, the other religious. The
land which had been in the possession of religious communities,
instead of being retained by the state for educational or religious
purposes, had been given to favorites. A new class of ownership had
been created--the lay impropriators of tithes. The suppression of
retainers converted land into a quasi property. The extension to
land of the powers of bequest gave the possessors greater
facilities for disposing thereof. It was relieved from the
principal feudal burden, military service, but remained essentially
feudal as far as tenure was concerned. Men were no longer furnished
to the state as payment of the knight's fee; they were cleared off
the land, to make room for sheep and oxen, England being in that
respect about two hundred years in advance of Ireland, though
without the outlet of emigration. Vagrancy and its attendant evils
led to the Poor Law.

James I. and his ministers tried to grapple with the altered
circumstances, and strove to substitute and equitable Crown rent or
money payment for the existing and variable claims which were
collected by the Court of Ward and Livery. The knight's fee then
consisted of twelve plough-lands, a more modern name for "a hide of
land." The class burdened with knight's service, or payments in
lieu thereof, comprised 160 temporal and 26 spiritual lords, 800
barons, 600 knights, and 3000 esquires. The knight's fee was
subject to aids, which were paid to the Crown upon the marriage of
the king's son or daughter. Upon the death of the possessor, the
Crown received primer-seizen a year's rent. If the successor was an
infant, the Crown under the name of Wardship, took the rents of the
estates. If the ward was a female, a fine was levied if she did not
accept the husband chosen by the Crown. Fines on alienation were
also levied, and the estates, though sold, became escheated, and
reverted to the Crown upon the failure of issue. These various
fines kept alive the principle that the lands belonged to the Crown
as representative of the nation; but, as they varied in amount,
James I. proposed to compound with the tenants-in-fee, and to
convert them into fixed annual payments. The nobles refused, and
the scheme was abandoned.

In the succeeding reign, the attempt to stretch royal power beyond
its due limits led to resistance by force, but it was no longer a
mere war of nobles; their power had been destroyed by Henry VII.
The Stuarts had to fight the people, with a paid army, and the
Commons, having the purse of the nation, opposed force to force.
The contest eventuated in a military protectorship. Many of the
principal tenants-in-fee fled the country to save their lives.
Their lands were confiscated and given away; thus the Crown rights
were weakened, and Charles II. was forced to recognize many of the
titles given by Cromwell; he did not dare to face the convulsion
which must follow an expulsion of the novo homo in posession of the
estates of more ancient families; but legislation went further--it
abolished all the remaining feudal charges. The Commons appear to
have assented to this change, from a desire to lessen the private
income of the Sovereign, and thus to make him more dependent upon
Parliament, This was done by the 12th Charles II., cap. 24. It
enacts:

"That the Court of Ward and Liveries, primer seizin, etc., and all
fines for alienation, tenures by knight's service, and tenures in
capite, be done away with and turned into fee and common socage,
and discharged of homage, escuage, aids, and reliefs. All future
tenures created by the king to be in free and common socage,
reserving rents to the Crown and also fines on alienation. It
enables fathers to dispose of their children's share during their
minority, and gives the custody of the personal estate to the
guardians of such child, and imposes in lieu of the revenues raised
in the Court of Ward and Liveries, duties upon beer and ale."

The land was relieved of its legitimate charge, and a tax on beer
and ale imposed instead! the landlords were relieved at the expense
of the people. The statute which accomplished this change is
described by Blackstone as

"A greater acquisition to the civil property of this kingdom than
even Magna Charta itself, since that only pruned the luxuriances
that had grown out of military tenures, and thereby preserved them
in vigor; but the statute of King Charles extirpated the whole, and
demolished both root and branches,"

The efforts of James II. to rule contrary to the wish of the
nation, led to his expulsion from the throne, and showed that, in
case of future disputes as to the succession, the army, like the
Praetorian Guards of Rome, had the election of the monarch. The Red
and White Roses of the Plantagenets reappeared under the altered
names of Whig and Tory; but it was proved that the decision of a
leading soldier like the Duke of Marlborough would decide the army,
and that it would govern the nation; fortunately the decision was a
wise one, and was ratified by Parliament: thus FORCE governed LAW,
and the decision of the ARMY influenced the SENATE. William III.
succeeded, AS AN ELECTED MONARCH, under the Bill of Rights. This
remarkable document contains no provision, securing the tenants-in-
fee in their estates; and I have not met with any treatise dealing
with the legal effects of the eviction of James II. All patents
were covenants between the king and his heirs, and the patentees
and their heirs. The expulsion of the sovereign virtually destroyed
the title; and an elected king, who did not succeed as heir, was
not bound by the patents of his predecessors, nor was William
asked, by the Bill of Rights, to recognize any of the existing
titles. This anomalous state of things was met in degree by the
statute of prescriptions, but even this did not entirely cure the
defect in the titles to the principal estates in the Kingdom. The
English tenants in decapitating one landlord and expelling another,
appear to have destroyed their titles, and then endeavored to renew
them by prescriptive right; but I shall not pursue this topic
further, though it may have a very definite bearing upon the
question of landholding.

It may not be uninteresting to allude rather briefly to the state
of England at the close of the seventeenth century. Geoffrey King,
who wrote in 1696, gives the first reliable statistics about the
state of the country. He estimated the number of houses at
1,300,000, and the average at four to each house, making the
population 5,318,000. He says there was but seven acres of land for
each person, but that England was six times better peopled than the
known world, and twice better than Europe. He calculated the total
income at L43,500,000, of which the yearly rent of land was
L10,000,000. The income was equal to L7, 18s. 0d. per head, and the
expense L7, 11s. 4d.; the yearly increase, 6s. 8d. per head, or
L1,800,000 per annum. He estimated the annual income of 160
temporal peers at L2800 per annum, 26 spiritual peers at L1300, of
800 baronets at L800, and of 600 knights at L650.

He estimated the area at 39,000,000 acres (recent surveys make it
37,319,221). He estimated the arable land at 11,000,000 acres, and
pasture and meadow at 10,000,000, a total of 21,000,000. The area
under all kinds of crops and permanent pasture was, in 1874,
26,686,098 acres; therefore about five and a half million acres
have been reclaimed and added to the arable land. As the
particulars of his estimate may prove interesting, I append them in
a note.

[Footnote: Geoffrey King thus classifies the land of England and
Wales:

Acres. Value/Acre Rent

Arable Land, 11,000,000 L0 5 10 L3,200,000
Pasture and Meadow, 10,000,000 0 9 0 4,500,000
Woods and Coppices, 3,000,000 0 5 0 750,000
Forests, Parks, and Covers, 3,000,000 0 3 6 550,000
Moors, Mountains, and Barren Lands, 10,000,000 0 1 0 500,000
Houses, Homesteads, Gardens, Orchards,) 1,000,000 (The Land, 450,000
Churches, and Churchyards, ) (The Buildings, 2,000,000
Rivers, Lakes, Meres, and Ponds, 500,000 0 2 0 50,000
Roadways and Waste Lands, 500,000
---------- ------- ----------
39,000,000 L0 6 0 L12,000,000

He estimates the live stock thus:
Value without
the Skin
Beeves, Stirks, and Calves, 4,500,000 L2 0 0 L9,000,000
Sheep and Lambs, 11,000,000 0 8 0 4,400,000
Swine and Pigs, 2,000,000 0 16 0 1,600,000
Deer, Fawns, Goats and Kids, 247,900

15,247,900

Horses, 1,200,000 2 0 0 3,000,000
Value of Skins, 2,400,000
-----------
L20,647,900

The annual produce he estimated as follows:

Acres Rent Produce
Grain, 10,000,000 L3,000,000 L8,275,000
Hemp, Flax, etc., 1,000,000 200,000 2,000,000
Butter, Cheese, and Milk, ) ( 2,500,000
Wool, ) ( 2,000,000
Horses bred, ) ( 250,000
Flesh Meat, )- 29,000,000 6,800,000 -( 3,500,000
Tallow and Hides, ) ( 600,000
Hay Consumed, ) ( 2,300,000
Timber, ) ( 1,000,000
---------- ----------- -----------
Total 39,000,000 L10,000,000 L22,275,000]

He places the rent of the corn land at about one third of the
produce, and that of pasture land at rather more. The price of meat
per lb. was: beef 1 and 1/8d.; mutton, 2 and 1/4d.; pork, 3d.;
venison, 6d.; hares, 7d.; rabbits, 6d. The weight of flesh-meat
consumed was 398,000,000 lbs., it being 72 lbs. 6 oz. for each
person, or 3 and 1/6 oz. daily. I shall have occasion to contrast
these figures with those lately published when I come to deal with
the present; but a great difference has arisen from the alteration
in price, which is owing to the increase in the quantity of the
precious metals.

The reign of the last sovereign of this unfortunate race was
distinguished by the first measures to inclose the commons and
convert them into private property, with which I shall deal
hereafter.

The changes effected in the land laws of England during the reigns
of the Stuarts, a period of 111 years, were very important. The act
of Charles II. which abolished the Court of Ward and Liveries,
appeared to be an abandonment of the rights of the people, as
asserted in the person of the Crown; and this alteration also
seemed to give color of right to the claim which is set up of
property in land, but the following law of Edward III. never was
repealed:

"That the king is the universal lord and original proprietor of all
land in his kingdom, and that no man doth or can possess any part
of it but what has mediately or immediately been derived as a gift
from him to be held on feodal service."

No lawyer will assert for any English subject a higher title than
tenancy-in-fee, which bears the impress of holding and denies the
assertion of ownership.

The power of the nobles, the tenants-in-fee, was strengthened by an
act passed in the reign of William and Mary, which altered the
relation of landlord and tenant. Previous thereto, the landlord had
the power of distraint, but he merely held the goods he seized to
compel the tenant to perform personal service. It would be
impossible for a tenant to pay his rent if his stock or implements
were sold off the land. As the Tudor policy of money payments
extended, the greed for pelf led to an alteration in the law, and
the act of William and Mary allowed the landlord to sell the goods
he had distrained. The tenant remained in possession of the land
without the means of tilling it, which was opposed to public
policy. This power of distraint was, however, confined to holdings
in which there were leases by which the tenant covenanted to allow
the landlord to distrain his stock and goods in default of payment
of rent. The legislation of the Stuarts was invariably favorable to
the possessor of land and adverse to the rights of the people. The
government during the closing reigns was oligarchical, so much so,
that William III., annoyed at the restriction put upon his kingly
power, threatened to resign the crown and retire to Holland; but
the aristocracy were unwilling to relax their claims, and they
secured by legislation the rights they appeared to have lost by the
deposition of the sovereign.

The population had increased from 5,000,000 in 1603 to 5,750,000 in
1714, being an average increase of less than 7000 per annum.

VIII. THE HOUSE OF HANOVER.

The first sovereign of the House of Hanover ascended the throne not
by right of descent but by election; the legitimate heir was set
aside, and a distant branch of the family was chosen, and the
succession fixed by act of Parliament; but it is held by jurists
that every Parliament is sovereign and has the power of repealing
any act of any former Parliament. The beneficial rule of some of
the latter monarchs of this family has endeared them to the people,
but the doctrine of reigning by divine right, the favorite idea of
the Stuarts, is nullified, when the monarch ascends the throne by
statute law and not by succession or descent.

The age of chivalry passed away when the Puritans defeated the
Cavaliers. The establishment of standing armies and the creation of
a national debt, went to show that money, not knighthood or
knight's service, gave force to law. The possession of wealth and
of rent gave back to their possessors even larger powers than those
wrested from them by the first Tudor king. The maxim that "what was
attached to the freehold belonged to the freehold," gave the
landlords even greater powers than those held by the sword, and of
which they were despoiled. Though nominally forbidden to take part
in the election of the representatives of the Commons, yet they
virtually had the power, the creation of freehold, the substance
and material of electoral right; and consequently both Houses of
Parliament were essentially landlord, and the laws, for the century
which succeeded the ascension of George I., are marked with the
assertion of landlord right which is tenant wrong.

Among the exhibitions of this influence is an act passed in the
reign of George II., which extended the power of distraint for
rent, and the right to sell the goods seized--to all tenancies.
Previous legislation confined this privilege solely to cases in
which there were leases, wherein the tenant, by written contract,
gave the landlord power to seize in case of non-payment of rent,
but there was no legal authority to sell until it was given by an
act passed in the reign of William III. The act of George II.
presumed that there was such a contract in all cases of parole
letting or tenancy-at-will, and extended the landlord's powers to
such tenancies. It is an anomaly to find that in the freest country
in the world such an arbitrary power is confided to individuals, or
that the landlord-creditor has the precedence over all other
creditors, and can, by his own act, and without either trial or
evidence, issue a warrant that has all the force of the solemn
judgment of a court of law; and it certainly appears unjust to
seize a crop, the seed for which is due to one man, and the manure
to another, and apply it to pay the rent. But landlordism,
intrusted with legislative power, took effectual means to preserve
its own prerogative, and the form of law was used by parliaments,
in which landlord influence was paramount, to pass enactments which
were enforced by the whole power of the state, and sustained
individual or class rights.

The effect of this measure was most unfortunate; it encouraged the
letting of lands to tenants-at-will or tenants from year to year,
who could not, under existing laws, obtain the franchise or power
to vote--they were not FREEMEN, they were little better than serfs.
They were tillers of the soil, rent-payers who could be removed at
the will of another. They were not even freeholders, and had no
political power--no voice in the affairs of the nation. The
landlords in Parliament gave themselves, individually by law, all
the powers which a tenant gave them by contract, while they had no
corresponding liability, and, therefore, it was their interest to
refrain from giving leases, and to make their tenantry as dependent
on them as if they were mere serfs. This law was especially
unfortunate, and had a positive and very great effect upon the
condition of the farming class and upon the nation, and people came
to think that landlords could do as they liked with their land, and
that the tenants must be creeping, humble, and servile.

An effort to remedy this evil was made in 1832, when the occupiers,
if rented or rated at the small amount named, became voters. This
gave the power to the holding, not to the man, and the landlord
could by simple eviction deprive the man of his vote; hence the
tenants-at-will were driven to the hustings like sheep--they could
not, and dare not, refuse to vote as the landlord ordered.

The lords of the manor, with a landlord Parliament, asserted their
claims to the commonages, and these lands belonging to the people,
were gradually inclosed, and became the possession of individuals.
The inclosing of commonages commenced in the reign of Queen Anne,
and was continued in the reigns of all the sovereigns of the House
of Hanover. The first inclosure act was passed in 1709; in the
following thirty years the average number of inclosure bills was
about three each year; in the following fifty years there were
nearly forty each year; and in the forty years of the nineteenth
century it was nearly fifty per annum.

The inclosures in each reign were as follows:

Acts. Acres.
Queen Anne, 2 1,439
George I., 16 17,660
George II., 226 318,784
George III., 3446 3,500,000
George IV., 192 250,000
William IV., 72 120,000
---- ---------
Total, 3954 4,207,883

These lands belonged to the people, and might have been applied to
relieve the poor. Had they been allotted in small farms, they might
have been made the means of support of from 500,000 to 1,000,000
families, and they would have afforded employment and sustenance to
all the poor, and thus rendered compulsory taxation under the poor-
law system unnecessary; but the landlords seized on them and made
the tenantry pay the poor-rate.

The British Poor Law is a slur upon its boasted civilization. The
unequal distribution of land and of wealth leads to great riches
and great poverty. Intense light produces deep shade. Nowhere else
but in wealthy England do God's creatures die of starvation,
wanting food, while others are rich beyond comparison. The soil
which affords sustenance for the people is rightly charged with the
cost of feeding those who lack the necessaries of life, but the
same object would be better achieved in a different way. Poor-rates
are now a charge upon a man's entire estate, and it would be much
better for society if land to an amount equivalent to the charge
were taken from the estate and assigned to the poor. If a man is
charged with L100 a year poor-rate, it would make no real
difference to him, while it would make a vast difference to the
poor to take land to that value, put the poor to work tilling it,
allowing them to enjoy the produce. Any expense should be paid
direct by the landlord, which would leave the charge upon the land,
and exempt the improvements of the tenant, which represent his
labor, free.

The evil has intensified in magnitude, and a permanent army of
paupers numbering at the minimum 829,281 persons, but increasing at
some periods to upward of 1,000,000, has to be provided for; the
cost, about L8,000,000 a year, is paid, not by landlords but by
tenants, in addition to the various charities founded by benevolent
persons. There are two classes relieved under this system, and
which ought to be differently dealt with--the sick and the young.
Hospitals for the former and schools for the latter ought to take
the place of the workhouse. It is difficult to fancy a worse place
for educating the young than the workhouse, and it would tend to
lessen the evil were the children of the poor trained and educated
in separate establishments from those for the reception of paupers.
Pauperism is the concomitant of large holdings of land and
insecurity of tenure. The necessity of such a provision arose, as I
have previously shown, from the wholesale eviction of large numbers
of the occupiers of land; and, as the means of supplying the need
came from the LAND, the expense should, like tithes, have fallen
exclusively upon land. The poor-rates are, however, also levied
upon houses and buildings, which represent labor. The owner of land
is the people, as represented by the Crown, and the charges thereon
next in succession to the claims of the state are the church and
the poor.

The Continental wars at the close of the eighteenth and the
commencement of the nineteenth century had some effect upon the
system of tillage; they materially enhanced the price of
agricultural produce--rents were raised, and the national debt was
contracted, which remains a burden on the nation.

The most important change, however, arose from scientific and
mechanical discoveries--the application of heat to the production
of motive power. As long as water, which is a non-exhaustive source
of motion, was used, the people were scattered over the land; or if
segregation took place, it was in the neighborhood of running
streams. The application of steam to the propulsion of machinery,
and the discovery of engines capable of competing with the human
hand, led to the substitution of machine-made fabrics for clothing,
in place of homespun articles of domestic manufacture. This led to
the employment of farm-laborers in procuring coals, to the removal
of many from the rural into the urban districts, to the destruction
of the principal employment of the family during the winter
evenings, and consequently effected a great revolution in the
social system. Many small freeholds were sold, the owners thinking
they could more rapidly acquire wealth by using the money
representing their occupancy, in trade. Thus the large estates
became larger, and the smaller ones were absorbed, while the
appearance of greater wealth from exchanging subterranean
substances for money, or its representative, gave rise to
ostentatious display. The rural population gradually diminished,
while the civic population increased. The effect upon the system of
landholding was triplicate. First, there was a diminution in the
amount of labor applicable to the cultivation of land; second,
there was a decrease in the amount of manure applied to the
production of food; and lastly, there was an increase in the demand
for land as a source of investment, by those who, having made money
in trade, sought that social position which follows the possession
of broad acres. Thus the descendants of the feudal aristocracy were
pushed aside by the modern plutocracy.

This state of things had a double effect. Food is the result of two
essential ingredients--land and labor. The diminution in the amount
of labor applied to the soil, consequent upon the removal of the
laborers from the land, lessened the quantity of food; while the
consumption of that food in cities and towns, and the waste of the
fertile ingredients which should be restored to the soil, tended to
exhaust the land, and led to vast importations of foreign and the
manufacture of mineral manures. I shall not detain you by a
discussion of this aspect of the question, which is of very great
moment, consequent upon the removal of large numbers of people from
rural to urban districts; but I may be excused in saying that
agricultural chemistry shows that the soil--"perpetual man"--
contains the ingredients needful to support human life, and feeding
those animals meant for man's use. These ingredients are seized
upon by the roots of plants and converted into aliment. If they are
consumed where grown, and the refuse restored to the soil, its
fertility is preserved; nay, more, the effect of tillage is to
increase its productive power. It is impossible to exhaust land, no
matter how heavy the crops that are grown, if the produce is, after
consumption, restored to the soil. I have shown you how, in the
reign of Queen Elizabeth, a man was not allowed to sell meat off
his land unless he brought to, and consumed on it, the same weight
of other meat. This was true agricultural and chemical economy. But
when the people were removed from country to town, when the produce
grown in the former was consumed in the latter, and the refuse
which contained the elements of fertility was not restored to the
soil, but swept away by the river, a process of exhaustion took
place, which has been met in degree by the use of imported and
artificial manures. The sewage question is taken up mainly with
reference to the health of towns, but it deserves consideration in
another aspect--its influence upon the production of food in the
nation.

An exhaustive process upon the fertility of the globe has been set
on foot. The accumulations of vegetable mould in the primeval
forests have been converted into grain, and sent to England,
leaving permanent barrenness in what should be prolific plains; and
the deposits of the Chincha and Ichaboe Islands have been imported
in myriads of tons, to replace in our own land the resources of
which it is bereft by the civic consumption of rural produce.

These conjoined operations were accelerated by the alteration in
the British corn laws in 1846, which placed the English farmer, who
tried to preserve his land in a state of fertility, in competition
with foreign grain--growers, who, having access to boundless fields
of virgin soil, grow grain year after year until, having exhausted
the fertile element, they leave it in a barren condition, and
resort to other parts. A competition under such circumstances
resembles that of two men of equal income, one of who appears
wealthy by spending a portion of his capital, the other
parsimonious by living within his means. Of course, the latter has
to debar himself of many enjoyments. The British farmer has
lessened the produce of grain, and consequently of meat; and the
nation has become dependent upon foreigners for meat, cheese, and
butter, as well as for bread.

This is hardly the place to discuss a question of agriculture, but
scientific farmers know that there is a rotation of crops,
[Footnote: The agricultural returns of the United Kingdom show that
50 and 1/2 per cent of the arable land was under pasture, 24 per
cent under grain, 12 per cent under green crops and bare fallow,
and 13 per cent under clover. The rotation would, therefore, be
somewhat in this fashion: Nearly one fourth of the land in tillage
is under a manured crop or fallow, one fourth under wheat, one
fourth under clover, and one fourth under barley, oats, etc., the
succession being, first year, the manured crop; next year, wheat;
third year, clover; fourth, barley or oats; and so on.] and that as
one is diminished the others lessen. The quantity under tillage is
a multiple of the area under grain. A diminution in corn is
followed by a decrease of the extent under turnips and under
clover; the former directly affects man, the latter the meat-
affording animals. A decrease in the breadth under tillage means an
addition to the pasture land, which in this climate only produces
meat during the warm portions of the year. I must, however, not
dwell upon this topic, but whatever leads to a diminution in the
labor applied to the land lessens the production of food, and DEAR
MEAT may only be the supplement to CHEAP CORN.

I shall probably be met with the hackneyed cry, The question is
entirely one of price. Each farmer and each landlord will ask
himself, Does it pay to grow grain? and in reply to any such
inquiry, I would refer to the annual returns. I find that in the
five years, 1842 to 1846, wheat ranged from 50s. 2d. to 57s. 9d.;
the average for the entire period being 54s. 10d. per quarter. In
the five years from 1870 to 1874 it ranged from 46s. 10d. to 58s.
8d., the average for the five years being 54s. 7d. per quarter. The
reduction in price has only been 3d. per quarter, or less than one
half per cent.

I venture to think that there are higher considerations than mere
profit to individuals, and that, as the lands belong to the whole
state as represented by the Crown, and as they are held in trust TO
PRODUCE FOOD FOR THE PEOPLE, that trust should be enforced.

The average consumption of grain by each person is about a quarter
(eight bushels) per annum. In 1841 the population of the United
Kingdom was 27,036,450. The average import of foreign grain was
about 3,000,000 quarters, therefore TWENTY-FOUR MILLIONS were fed
on the domestic produce. In 1871 the population was 31,513,412, and
the average importation of grain 20,000,000 quarters; therefore
only ELEVEN AND A HALF MILLIONS were supported by home produce.
Here we are met with the startling fact that our own soil is not
now supplying grain to even one half the number of people to whom
it gave bread in 1841. This is a serious aspect of the question,
and one that should lead to examination, whether the development of
the system of landholding, the absorptions of small farms and the
creation of large ones, is really beneficial to the state, or tends
to increase the supply of food. The area under grain in England in
1874 was 8,021,077. In 1696 it was 10,000,000 acres, the diminution
having been 2,000,000 acres. The average yield would probably be
FOUR QUARTERS PER ACRE, and therefore the decrease amounted to the
enormous quantity of EIGHT MILLION QUARTERS, worth L25,000,000,
which had to be imported from other countries, to fill up the void,
and feed 8,000,000 of the population; and if a war took place,
England may, like Rome, be starved into peace.

An idea prevails that a diminution in the extent under grain
implies an increase in the production of meat. The best answer to
that fallacy lies in the great increase in the price of meat. If
the supply had increased the price would fall, but the converse has
taken place. A comparison of the figures given by Geoffrey King, in
the reign of William III., with those supplied by the Board of
Trade in the reign of Queen Victoria, illustrates this phase of the
landholding question, and shows whether the "enlightened policy" of
the nineteenth century tends to encourage the fulfilment of the
trust which applies to land--THE PRODUCTION OF FOOD.

The land of England and Wales in 1696 and 1874 was classified as
follows:
1696. 1874.
Acres. Acres.
Under grain, 10,000,000 8,021,077
Pastures and meadows, 10,000,000 12,071,791
Flax, hemp, and madder, 1,000,000 ---------
Green crops, --------- 2,895,138
Bare fallow, --------- 639,519
Clover --------- 2,983,733
Orchards, 1,000,000 148,526
Woods, coppices, etc, 3,000,000 1,552,598
Forests, parks, and commons, 3,000,000|
Moors, mountains, and bare land, 10,000,000|- 9,006,839
Waste, water, and road, 1,000,000|
----------- -----------
39,000,000 37,319,231

The estimate of 1696 may be corrected by lessing the quantity of
waste land, and thus bringing the total to correspond with the
extent ascertained by actual survey, but it shows a decrease in the
extent under grain of nearly two million acres, and an increase in
the area applicable to cattle of nearly 8,000,000 acres; yet there
is a decrease in the number of cattle, though an increase in sheep.
The returns are as follows:

1696. 1800. 1874.
Cattle 4,500,000 2,852.428 4,305,440
Sheep 11,000,000 26,148,000 19,859,758
Pigs 2,000,000 (not given) 2,058,791

The former shows that in 1696 there were TEN MILLION acres under
grain, the latter only EIGHT MILLION acres. Two million acres were
added for cattle feeding. The former shows that the pasture land
was TEN MILLION ACRES, and that green crops and clover were
unknown. The latter that there were TWELVE MILLION ACRES under
pasture, and, in addition, that there were nearly THREE MILLION
ACRES of green crop and THREE MILLION ACRES of clover. The addition
to the cattle-feeding land was eight million acres; yet the number
of cattle in 1696 was 4,500,000, and in 1874, 4,305,400. Of sheep,
in 1696, there were 11,000,000, and in 1874, 19,889,758. The
population had increased fourfold, and it is no marvel that meat is
dear. It is the interest of agriculturists to KEEP DOWN THE
QUANTITY AND KEEP UP THE PRICE. The diminution in the area under
corn was not met by a corresponding increase in live stock--in
other words, the decrease of land under grain is not, PER SE,
followed by an increase of meat. If the area under grain were
increased, it would be preceded by an increase in the growth of
turnips, and followed by a greater growth of clover; and these
cattle-feeding products would materially add to the meat supply.

A most important change in the system of landholding was effected
by the spread of RAILWAYS. It was brought about by the influence of
the trading as opposed to the landlord class. In their inception
they did not appear likely to effect any great alteration in the
land laws. The shareholders had no compulsory power of purchase,
hence enormous sums were paid for the land required; but as the
system extended, Parliament asserted the ownership of the nation,
over land in the possession of the individual. Acting on the idea
that no man was more than a tenant, the state took the land from
the occupier, as well as the tenant-in-fee, and gave it, not at
their own price, but an assessed value, to the partners in a
railway who traded for their mutual benefit, yet as they offered to
convey travellers and goods at a quicker rate than on the ordinary
roads, the state enabled them to acquire land by compulsion. A
general act, the Land Clauses Act, was passed in 1846, which gives
privileges with regard to the acquisition of land to the promoters
of such works as railways, docks, canals, etc. Numbers of acts are
passed every session which assert the right of the state over the
land, and transfer it from one man, or set of men, to another. It
seems to me that the principle is clear, and rests upon the
assertion of the state's ownership of the land; but it has often
struck me to ask, Why is this application of state rights limited
to land required for these objects? why not apply to the land at
each side of the railway, the principle which governs that under
the railway itself? I consider the production of food the primary
trust upon the land, that rapid transit over it is a secondary
object; and as all experience shows that the division of land into
small estates leads to a more perfect system of tillage, I think it
would be of vast importance to the entire nation if all tenants who
were, say, five years in possession were made "promoters" under the
Land Clauses Act, and thus be enabled to purchase the fee of their
holdings in the same manner as a body of railway proprietors. It
would be most useful to the state to increase the number of
tenants-in-fee--to re-create the ancient FREEMEN, the LIBERI
HOMINES--and I think it can be done without requiring the aid
either of a new principle or new machinery, by simply placing the
farmer-in-possession on the same footing as the railway
shareholder. I give at foot the draft of a bill I prepared in 1866
for this object.

[Footnote: A BILL TO ENCOURAGE THE OUTLAY OF MONEY UPON LAND FOB
AGRICULTURAL PURPOSES.

Whereas it is expedient to encourage the occupiers of land to
expend money thereon, in building, drainage, and other similar
improvements; and whereas the existing laws do not give the tenants
or occupiers any sufficient security for such outlay: Be it enacted
by the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and
consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons in
Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same:

1. That all outlay upon land for the purpose of rendering it more
productive, and all outlay upon buildings for the accommodation of
those engaged in tilling or working the same, or for domestic
animals of any sort, be, and the same is hereby deemed to be, an
outlay of a public nature.

2. That the clauses of "The Land Clauses Consolidation Act 1845,"
"with respect to the purchase of lands by agreement," and "with
respect to the purchase and taking of lands otherwise than by
agreement," and "with respect to the purchase money or compensation
coming to parties having limited interests, or prevented from
treating or not making title," shall be, and they are hereby
incorporated with this act.

3. That every tenant or occupier who has for the past five years
been in possession of any land, tenements, or hereditaments, shall
be considered "a promoter of the undertaking within the meaning of
the said recited act, and shall be entitled to purchase the lands
which he has so occupied, 'either by agreement' 'or otherwise than
by agreement,' as provided in the said recited act."

Then follow some details which it is unnecessary to recite here.]

The 55th William I. secured to freemen the inheritance of their
lands, and they were not able to sell them until the act QUIA
EMPTORES of Edward I. was passed. The tendency of persons to spend
the representative value of their lands and sell them was checked
by the Mosaic law, which did not allow any man to despoil his
children of their inheritance. The possessor could only mortgage
them until the year of jubilee--the fiftieth year. In Switzerland
and Belgium, where the nobles did not entirely get rid of the
FREEMEN, the lands continued to be held in small estates. In
Switzerland there are seventy-four proprietors for every hundred
families, and in Belgium the average size of the estate is three
and a half hectares--about eight acres. These small ownerships are
not detrimental to the state. On the contrary, they tend to its
security and well-being. I have treated on this subject in my work,
"The Food Supplies of Western Europe." These small estates existed
in England at the Norman Conquest, and their perpetual continuance
was the object of the law of William I., to which I have referred.
Their disappearance was due to the greed of the nobles during the
reign of the Plantagenets, and they were not replaced by the
Tudors, who neglected to restore the men-at-arms to the position
they occupied under the laws of Edward the Confessor and William I.

The establishment of two estates in land; one the ownership, the
other the use, may be traced to the payment of rent, to the Roman
commonwealth, for the AGER PUBLICUS. Under the feudal system the
rent was of two classes--personal service or money; the latter was
considered base tenure. The legislation of the Tudors abolished the
payment of rent by personal service, and made all rent payable in
money or in kind. The land had been burdened with the sole support
of the army. It was then freed from this charge, and a tax was
levied upon the community. Some writers have sought to define RENT
as the difference between fertile lands and those that are so
unproductive as barely to pay the cost of tillage. This far-fetched
idea is contradicted by the circumstance that for centuries rent
was paid by labor--the personal service of the vassal--and it is
now part of the annual produce of the soil inasmuch as land will be
unproductive without seed and labor, or being pastured by tame
animals, the representative of labor in taming and tending them.
Rent is usually the labor or the fruits of the labor of the
occupant. In some cases it is income derived from the labors of
others. A broad distinction exists between the rent of land, which
is a portion of the fruits or its equivalent in money, and that of
improvements and houses, which is an exchange of the labor of the
occupant given as payment for that employed in effecting
improvements or erecting houses. The latter described as messuages
were valued in 1794 at SIX MILLIONS per annum; in 1814 they were
nearly FIFETEEN MILLIONS; now they are valued at EIGHTY MILLIONS.

[Footnote: A Parliamentary return gives the following information
as to the value of lands and messuages in 1814 and 1874:

1814-15. 1873-74.
Lands, L34,330,463 L49,906,866
Messuages, 14,895,130 80,726,502

The increase in the value of land is hardly equal to the reduction
in the value of gold, while the increase in messuages shows the
enormous expenditure of labor.]

The increase represents a sum considerably more than double the
national debt of Great Britain, and under the system of leases the
improvements will pass from the industrial to the landlord class.

It seems to me to be a mistake in legislation to encourage a system
by which these two funds merge into one, and that hands the income
arising from the expenditure of the working classes over to the
tenants-in-fee without an equivalent. This proceeds from a
straining of the maxim that "what is attached to the freehold
belongs to the freehold," and was made law when both Houses of
Parliament were essentially landlord. That maxim is only partially
true: corn is as much attached to the freehold as a tree; yet one
is cut without hindrance and the other is prevented. Potatoes,
turnips, and such tubers, are only obtained by disturbing the
freehold. This maxim was at one time so strained that it applied to
fixtures, but recent legislation and modern discussions have
limited the rights of the landlord class and been favorable to the
occupier, and I look forward to such alterations in our laws as
will secure to the man who expends his labor or earnings in
improvements, an estate IN PERPETUO therein, as I think no length
of user of that which is a man's own--his labor or earnings--
should hand over his representative improvements to any other
person. I agree with those writers who maintain that it is
prejudicial to the state that the rent fund should be enjoyed by a
comparatively small number of persons, and think it would be
advantageous to distribute it, by increasing the number of tenants-
in-fee. Natural laws forbid middlemen, who do nothing to make the
land productive, and yet subsist upon the labor of the farmer, and
receive as rent part of the produce of his toil. The land belongs
to the state, and should only be subject to taxes, either by
personal service, such as serving in the militia or yeomanry, or by
money payments to the state.

Land does not represent CAPITAL, but the improvements upon it do. A
man does not purchase land. He buys the right of possession. In any
transfer of land there is no locking up of capital, because one man
receives exactly the amount the other expends. The individual may
lock up his funds, but the nation does not. Capital is not money. I
quote a definition from a previous work of mine, "The Case of
Ireland," p. 176:

"Capital stock properly signifies the means of subsistence for man,
and for the animals subservient to his use while engaged in the
process of production. The jurisconsults of former times expressed
the idea by the words RES FUNGIBILES, by which they meant
consumable commodities, or those things which are consumed in their
use for the supply of man's animal wants, as contradistinguished
from unconsumable commodities, which latter writers, by an
extension of the term, in a figurative sense, have called FIXED
capital."

All the money in the Bank of England will not make a single four-
pound loaf. Capital, as represented by consumable commodities, is
the product of labor applied to land, or the natural fruits of the
land itself. The land does not become either more or less
productive by reason of the transfer from one person to another; it
is the withdrawal of labor that affects its productiveness.

WAGES are a portion of the value of the products of a joint
combination of employer and employed. The former advances from time
to time as wages to the latter, the estimated portion of the
increase arising from their combined operations to which he may be
entitled. This may be either in food or in money. The food of the
world for one year is the yield at harvest; it is the CAPITAL STOCK
upon which mankind exist while engaged in the operations for
producing food, clothing, and other requisites for the use of
mankind, until nature again replenishes this store. Money cannot
produce food; it is useful in measuring the distribution of that
which already exists.

The grants of the Crown were a fee or reward for service rendered;
the donee became tenant-in-fee; being a reward, it was restricted
to a man and his heirs-male or his heirs-general; in default of
heirs-male or heirs-general, the land reverted to the Crown, which
was the donor. A sale to third parties does not affect this phase
of the question, inasmuch as it is a principle of British law that
no man can convey to another a greater estate in land than that
which he possesses himself; and if the seller only held the land as
tenant-in-fee for HIS OWN LIFE and that of HIS heirs, he could not
give a purchaser that which belonged to the Crown, the REVERSION on
default of heirs (see Statute DE DONIS, 13 Edward I., ANTE, p. 21).
This right of the sovereign, or rather of the people, has not been
asserted to the full extent. Many noble families have become
extinct, yet the lands have not been claimed, as they should have
been, for the nation.

I should not complete my review of the subject without referring to
what are called the LAWS OF PRIMOGENITURE. I fail to discover any
such law. On the contrary, I find that the descent of most of the
land of England is under the law of contract--by deed or bequest--
and that it is only in case of intestacy that the courts intervene
to give it to the next heir. This arises more from the construction
the judges put upon the wishes of the deceased, than upon positive
enactment. When a man who has the right of bequeathing his estate
among his descendants does not exercise that power, it is
considered that he wishes the estate to go undivided to the next
heir. In America the converse takes place: a man can leave all his
land to one; and, if he fails to do so, it is divided. The laws
relating to contracts or settlements allow land to be settled by
deed upon the children of a living person, but it is more
frequently upon the grandchildren. They acquire the power of sale,
which is by the contract denied to their parents. A man gives to
his grandchild that which he denies to his son. This cumbrous
process works disadvantageously, and it might very properly be
altered by restricting the power of settlement or bequest to living
persons, and not allowing it to extend to those who are unborn.

It is not a little curious to note how the ideas of mankind, after
having been diverted for centuries, return to their original
channels. The system of landholding in the most ancient races was
COMMUNAL. That word, and its derivative, COMMUNISM, has latterly
had a bad odor. Yet all the most important public works are
communal. All joint-stock companies, whether for banking, trading,
or extensive works, are communes. They hold property in common, and
merge individual in general rights. The possession of land by
communes or companies is gradually extending, and it is by no means
improbable that the ideas which governed very remote times may,
like the communal joint-stock system, be applied more extensively
to landholding.

It may not be unwise to review the grounds that we have been going
over, and to glance at the salient points. The ABORIGINAL
inhabitants of this island enjoyed the same rights as those in
other countries, of possessing themselves of land unowned and
unoccupied. The ROMANS conquered, and claimed all the rights the
natives possessed, and levied a tribute for the use of the lands.
Upon the retirement of the Romans, after an occupancy of about six
hundred years, the lands reverted to the aborigines, but they,
being unable to defend themselves, invited the SAXONS, the JUTES,
and the ANGLES, who reduced them to serfdom, and seized upon the
land; they acted as if it belonged to the body of the conquerors,
it was allotted to individuals by the FOLC-GEMOT or assembly of the
people, and a race of LIBERI HOMINES or FREEMEN arose, who paid no
rent, but performed service to the state; during their sway of
about six hundred years the institutions changed, and the monarch,
as representing the people, claimed the right of granting the
possession of land seized for treason by BOC or charter. The NORMAN
invasion found a large body of the Saxon landholders in armed
opposition to William, and when they were defeated, he seized upon
their land and gave it to his followers, and then arose the term
TERRA REGIS, "the land of the king," instead of the term FOLC-LAND,
"the land of the people;" but a large portion of the realm remained
in the hands of the LIBERI HOMINES or FREEMEN. The Norman barons
gave possession of part of their lands to their followers, hence
arose the vassals who paid rent to their lord by personal service,
while the FREEMEN held by service to the Crown. In the wars of the
PLANTAGENETS the FREEMEN seem to have disappeared, and vassalage
was substituted, the principal vassals being freeholders. The
descendants of the aborigines regained their freedom. The
possession of land was only given for life, and it was preceded by
homage to the Crown, or fealty to the lord, investiture following
the ceremony. The TUDOR sovereigns abolished livery and retainers,
but did not secure the rights of the men-at-arms or replace them in
their position of FREEMEN. The chief lords converted the payment of
rent by service into payment in money; this led to wholesale
evictions, and necessitated the establishment of the Poor Laws, The
STUARTS surrendered the remaining charges upon land: but on the
death of one sovereign, and the expulsion of another, the validity
of patents from the Crown became doubtful. The PRESENT system of
landholding is the outcome of the Tudor ideas. But the Crown has
never abandoned the claim asserted in the statute of Edward I.,
that all land belongs to the sovereign as representing the people,
and that individuals HOLD but do not OWN it; and upon this sound
and legal principle the state takes land from one and gives it to
another, compensating for the loss arising from being dispossessed.

I have now concluded my brief sketch of the facts which seemed to
me most important in tracing the history of LANDHOLDING IN ENGLAND,
and laid before you not only the most vital changes, but also the
principles which underlay them; and I shall have failed in
conveying the ideas of my own mind if I have not shown you that at
least from the Scandinavian or ANGLO-SAXON invasion, the ownership
of land rested either in the people, or the Crown as representing
the people: that individual proprietorship of land is not only
unknown, but repugnant to the principles of the British
Constitution; that the largest estate a subject can have is
tenancy-in-fee, and that it is a holding and not an owning of the
soil; and I cannot conceal from you the conviction which has
impressed my mind, after much study and some personal examination
of the state of proprietary occupants on the Continent, that the
best interests of the nation, both socially, morally, and
materially, will be promoted by a very large increase in the number
of tenants-in-fee; which can be attained by the extension of
principles of legistration now in active operation. All that is
necessary is to extend the provisions of the Land Clauses Act,
which apply to railways and such objects, to tenants in possession;
to make them "promoters" under that act; to treat their outlay for
the improvement of the soil and the greater PRODUCTION OF FOOD as a
public outlay; and thus to restore to England a class which
corresponds with the Peasent Proprietors of the Continent--the
FREEMAN or LIBERI HOMINES of ANGLO-SAXON times, whose rights were
solemnly guarenteed by the 55th William I., and whose existence
would be the glory of the country and the safeguard of its
institution.

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