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greatest disadvantage in the competition for honest employments, and where they would consequently be most tempted to criminal courses. The districts where instruction abounds are, besides, precisely those districts where property abounds also, and where, consequently, crimes against property will naturally be most abundant. We confess that the inference to be drawn from the fact as stated by Sir Edward is one which we were not prepared to find him conceding to the prejudices of the vulgar; and we are the more surprised and grieved to encounter him among the fauterors of these prejudices, because we cannot comprehend how the fallacy, which he is thus instrumental in advancing, is in anywise helpful to his argument in favour of Protection.
The fallacy next brought forward in these letters is, that it is the interest connected with the owning and occupation of land which supports the bulk of our poor, which maintains
the clergy, and defrays the costs that uphold civilisation in rural districts. Now it will not be difficult to show that, not only is there no truth in this position, but that, as respects the support of the poor, it is the very reverse of the truth. If it ever was true, that time has long since passed away. From a period which reaches back beyond the experience of most persons now living, it may be safely asserted, that to the wealth of towns, and the employment which that wealth has given to labour, the landed interest has been indebted for relief from burdens to an incalculable extent. It was shown by the census of 1841, that the number of persons employed in agricultural labour was less absolutely, and, of course, less proportionally, then, than in 1831. The natural increase of the population is always greater in the country than in towns, by reason of the greater longevity attained in country districts, and the larger proportional number of children born in them, who are reared : and as, in this kingdom, where the land has long been fully occupied, there is no room for further employment in cultivating the soil, while the tendeney of improvements in the processes of agriculture is rather to lessen than to add to the demand for agricultural labour on any given area, the fact of a decrease in our agricultural population, as proved by the census of 1841, scarcely needed that confirmation, but might have been assumed from the very nature of the case. Let our landowners, who are so clamorous for legislative protection, by means of import duties upon corn, vefleot a little upon the consequences to themselves of any effective interference which should counteract this tendency; and it is difficult to imagine that they should not see how fatal it must be at least in this point of view,- to their true interests. A duty upon imported grain can only be supposed to benefit the
Who support the surplus Rural Population ?
dyIf, as out the foreign is made to the
British landowner by limiting the quantity imported; for if the same number of quarters should find their way to our markets, it needs no argument to show that the price of home-grown corn would not be increased by the duty, since it is the relation of supply to demand which alone regulates prices. Of course, however, the quantity imported would be limited, for it could no longer answer to the foreign grower to supply us, if, out of the market price which satisfied him when his produce came in free, he should find bis net returns diminished through having to pay a duty. If, as our Protectionists would have us believe is always the case, it is the foreigner and not the consumer who pays the duty, and who thus is made to contribute towards our public revenue, what benefit to the agricultural class would arise from this? It would, indeed, prove advantageous to the country at large, could the foreigner thus be brought to relieve us, in any sensible degree, from taxation ; but where is the man in his senses who imagines for a moment that any one save the consumer, pays the tax upon that which he uses? If the tax does not add to the price, how can its imposition benefit the home producer, and if it does add to the price, by whom is that addition paid, save by those who are forced to give that higher price?
It is clear, therefore, that an import duty, to have any effect in the direction sought by the advocates of Protection, must limit the supply, must raise the price, must diminish the foreign trade of the country, and must lessen the accumulation of capital, together consequently, with the demand for labour in the towns. What is then to become of the individuals who form the natural increase of the population in country districts? Where are they to find the means of supporting themselves ? During all the years in which Protection existed, there were no such means furnished save in the towns; and so inadequately were those means then furnished, compared with what has been experienced since Protection was removed, that the poor-rates, which it is wrongly asserted are principally paid by the farmer, were greatly higher at that period, than they have been since the beginning of 1849. What other reason for this fact can be assigned than that through the repeal of the Corn-law and the all but free admission of foreign grain, the springs of industry throughout the country have been so far relieved, that employment has been found for a greater number of the people than was possible under the restrictive system? Let the advocates for the restoration of that system but succeed in their endeavours, let the manufacturing industry of the kingdom receive the serious check which they would thus give to it, and where are the surplus inhabitants of the rural districts to betake themselves ? They must remain at home in a condition of hopeless pauperism; the whole of these districts must be converted into great pauper warrens; and the farmer, finding himself, as it were, eaten up by the crowds around him, who in this case will be reduced to forced idleness, would be no longer able to pay rent or to hold his position in society.
Besides, it is an error to assert that the land supports the bulk of the poor. The proportion in which land contributes to that support is every year being lessened through the increase and prosperity of the towns, the rateable property in which is constantly and rapidly augmenting in value. Thus in every way is relief practically extended to the land, by the very means which those who own and occupy the land are seeking to destroy. Even at present the contributions of land to the purposes in question, are not beyond nine twentieths of the whole sum assessed; while real property of other kinds is now so rapidly increasing, that we may fairly expect in a very few years to see the land assessed for less than one third of the sum actually needed. At the same time, this entire sum, through the rapid accumulation of capital, under the more natural system to which we have now reverted, -an accumulation greatly beyond the increase of our population,—will be lessened, not merely with relation to our means of bearing the burden, but positively. Sir Edward brings forward an extract from the evidence of a farmer, who was examined before the Committee of the House of Lords, on the burdens affecting land, which sat in 1846; and he evidently thinks that it greatly strengthens his case. The quotation is as follows: — * The poor-rates on Mr. Heathcoat's factory in * this parish, have averaged 417. Os. 9d. a year, for the last seven
years; on the farm occupied by myself, 581. 2s.; so that I have paid 171. ls. 3d. a year more than Mr. Heathcoat. My rental is 3001. a year, and the profits you can imagine ; Mr. • Heathcoat's profits are reputed to be 40,0001. a year!'. It would be well to inquire from what amount of poor-rates this farmer was relieved through the existence in his parish of a thriving manufactory, employing so much labour as could justify the estimate formed of the profits which it yielded : and, further, whether the 411. Os. 9d. a year paid by Mr. Heathcoat was not altogether called for by causes to which that gentleman did not contribute, but which flowed from the insufficient wages paid to labourers in agriculture, and to the operation of the laws affecting parish settlement;—which laws form, probably, a more fruitful source of expense to the occupier of land than any of the causes of which he is so prone to complain.
Who supports the Clergy ?
Sir Edward further asserts, that it is the land which maintains the clergy,—by land meaning landlords. In making this assertion, he presumes too much upon the want of knowledge of his readers. He surely does not question the fact that, as respects tithes, the Church has always been joint owner of the soil, and that the revenue which the parson (persona ecclesia) derives from the soil is as much his property for the time being, as the remaining nine tenths are the property of the lay landlord. Until the passing of the recent law for commuting tithes into a fixed money payment, a system of joint ownership, under which one party bore the whole expense of improvement, in the benefits of which the other party participated, was no doubt a very inconvenient system, and had a tendency to check improvement. This evil is now, however, for the most part, if not entirely, remedied; but, even while it continued in operation, the landowner had no just ground for claiming any compensation on that account from the rest of the community. He had inherited, or acquired, his land subject to the payment of tithes in kind, and was in so far only part-owner of the products of the soil; there could, therefore, be no justice in any legislation which should propose enabling him to draw from the rest of the community an equivalent for the remaining part, which never was his own.
In connexion with this branch of the subject, we must take occasion to ask, whether there be not another part of the usufruct of the land, beyond that belonging to the Church, to which the landowner has no ancient and, in strictness, no equitable claim? The land-tax, as assessed at the Revolution, and as succeeding to the subsidies of former times, amounts, in fact, to only a small remnant of the revenues which, until the Restoration, the Crown had retained for itself from the yearly value of estates held by its feudal tenants. About the year 1080, when the Domesday Book was compiled, all the great landholders met William the Norman at Sarum, and submitted their lands to . the yoke of military tenure, became the king's vassals, and did . homage and fealty to his person, obliging themselves to defend
their lord's territories and titles against all enemies, foreign and domestic. From that time, until the Stuarts were reinstated on the throne of Great Britain, more than 30 per cent. of the whole publio taxation of the kingdom was borne directly by the land. For more than 100 years of that period no tax whatever was levied upon personal effects. Sir John Sinclair, in his History of the • Public Revenue,' after describing the various payments exacted from landholders by the Crown, remarks, . Such was the heavy ' and complicated system of personal slavery, and of financial
VOL. XCIV. NO. CXCI.
comme for publice consisted of Chahech they pose the
oppression, to which this country was subject, from the invasion of William the Norman until the restoration of the regal government in the year 1660. Fortunately, by 12 Car. 2. c.
24., the whole fabric was demolished at a blow; and it is • now å matter of just astonishment how a nation who gloried
in its freedom, and boasted of the mildness and benignity of its laws, could suffer itself to be loaded for so many centuries with a burden, which, notwithstanding some partial mitigations, seems to have been almost insupportable. The forms in which this burden was imposed, and the irregularity of its incidence, constituted a special grievance; but the mere fiscal objection to it could only proceed on the ground of its partiality in favour of the industrial portions of the people. The fact, however, shows, that the real property of the kingdom Was long held to be the source whence the public service should be provided; and, indeed, the complaint amounts to this, that it was a hardship to oblige a tenant, holding upon very advantageous terms, to pay rent for his land. During the time of the Commonwealth, viz. from Nov. 1640 to Nov. 1659, there was raised for public purposes the sum of 83,331,1981., of which more than 59 millions consisted of land-tax, and sales of seques. tered estates. On the restoration of Charles the Second the land, owners took advantage of the power which they possessed in the Convention Parliament, to throw off entirely from their own shoulders the old feudal burdens of the State, and to shift them on shoulders less able to bear them. They passed a law ab solving themselves from the payment of a rent-charge upon their lands, and levied instead a tax upon all the beer, ale, and other liquors sold in the kingdom ; taking care, however, to reserve to themselves all the dues which they had been accusa tomed to receive from their copyholders. It would be well for our Protectionist landowners, if, when led to make complaint of the peculiar burdens placed upon the land, they would remember the peculiar obligation which has been thus removed from them, by proceedings of very questionable honesty on the part of their ancestors.
It forms but a weak argument in favour of protecting duties that they were established at the revolution of 1688, when this class of questions was but little understood, and when the posşessors of land had it all their own way in Parliament. Sir Edward endeavours to make much of the fact, that, ---an act having been passed in 1773 permitting the importation of wheat on the payment of 6d. per quarter, whenever the home price should be at or above 488.,—this duty was raised as soon afterwards as 1791 to one more restrictive. What, however, does