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.


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.