VIII. THE HOUSE OF HANOVER.
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.