« PreviousContinue »
MR M'CULLOCH's book introduces The cry of complaint to which we us to a question much debated in this have above alluded, is inspired by age of class jealousy. As soon as we many diverse motives. As Mr Cochopen it, we are straightway environed rane's ragged followers flocked to Trawith “ a barbarous noise of owls and falgar Square to denounce the incomecuckoos, asses, apes, and dogs," amid tax, so many a man takes up the whose jargon of phrases rises loudest shout against the law of primogeniture and most frequent the cry of " com- and entail, as tying up lands and remercial principles." It is a great stricting their sale, who never had the grievance, it seems, that land should wherewithal to purchase a single acre not be disposed of according to " com- if all broad England was in the market. mercial principles ;" that hill and holt, On the other hand, the purse-proud and moor and dale, should not pass citizen, sore that ready money is not from seller to buyer with the same yet quite at the top of the tree, and readiness as candles and calicoes that he does not receive the same conTruly we have enough, and more sideration at St James's as in Change than enough, of these same commer- Alley, delights to have some grievance cial principles in all walks of thought. whereon he can vent his spleen ; and Even the pulpit is not free from them. really, in some stolid instances, perPolitics are positively smothered with suades himself that he is kept out of them. Ethical science, with the shal- the land which his gold could buy, lowisms of Paley and Bentham round through the agency of aristocratical her neck, struggles feebly with them. laws, as if George Robins had been a The book-keeper is abroad every mythical personage, or the advertisewhere, with an indestructible faith in ments of Farebrother, Clark, and Lye double entry. The Spirit of the Age were a mockery and delusion. wears a pen behind his ear, and sits on But the largest class of assailants a high stool with three legs. That are those who come to the debate forthe prevailing commercial principles tified with certain specious economical should have been so long excluded arguments, generally derived from a from the absolute possession of our one-sided view of some particular laws of land, and that those laws effect of these restrictive laws. To should have preserved to a time like the demolition of these objectors Mr this so much of their feudal character, M'Culloch's work is more immediately is a notable proof of the adaptation of addressed; and very effectually, in our the laws to the general requirements opinion, does it accomplish its end. of the community, and of the steadi- He has not, perhaps, treated the subness of that social system wbich is soject so widely as it might have been essentially linked to the maintenance treated : he has not entered into the of these laws.
indirect social influences that might be
* A Treatise on the Succession to Property racant by Death. Esq. London : Longmans, 1848.
VOL. LXIV.-NO. CCCXCIII.
traced to our system of the laws re- proceeds at once to show how the laws lating to land; but the economical on which he treats operate for this part of the question he has grasped preservation, and to rebut the objecmost completely, and supported by tions advanced against them on the most able and practical reasoning. score of their relations to other classes
We must, we suppose, look for the of the community. text of the work, not where the text O ne of the most frequent of these is usually found, but at the end. The objections is, that the laws in question following sentence, which is almost tend to diminish the productiveness the concluding one, may be taken as of the land, and thereby inflict a the leading proposition of the work:- serious injury on the community at “A powerful and widely-ramified aris
large ; that they prevent, in many tocracy like that of England, not resting
instances, the landlord from granting for support on any oppressive laws, and
leases to his tenant beyond the term enjoying no privileges but which are for
of his own life ; that the tenant, in the public advantage, is necessary to give consequence, is not willing to incur stability and security to the government, the outlay of drainage and other expenand freedom to the people. And our laws sive improvements, because he is not in regard to succession being well fitted secured by a lease; while the landlord, to maintain such an aristocracy, and, at on the other hand, will not enter into the same time, to inspire every other class these expenses, because he does not with the full spirit of industry and enter
feel the same interest in his limited prise, to change them would not be foolish merely, but criminal,-a lése majesté
estate which he would in the uncon. against the public interests.”—P. 172.
Note first of all the logic of this It must not, however, be supposed argument. The tenant, it seems, will from this remark, that any portion of not spend his money in draining withthe work is appropriated to a set de- out a lease. As, however, a lease fence of government by means of an would suffice to induce him so to do, aristocracy. By an aristocracy we we might naturally suppose that the mean the deposition of political power landlord's estate for life, or in tail, in the hands of men of leisure and would be at least an equal induceeducation, as opposed to the tendency ment. These reasoners, however, of the Reform Bill, to transfer the go- aver, that the landlord is only to be verning functions to the " practical” tempted by the unrestricted fee. Acmen of the trading and moneyed inte- cording to this progressive scale, it rests, and the analogous claims of might be fairly argued, that the tenant, Chartism, founded on Jack Cade's on becoming lessee for years, would complaint, that the “ king's council still require the landlord's life-interest; are no good workmen." In England, and the latter, when seised of the fee, we are pretty sure to have an aristo- would decline the requisite expense, cracy-that is, the influences which except on a guarantee of immortality, affect government and legislation will and justify himself by Horace's auemanate principally from that class thority, which is socially at the head of the
66 Tanquam nation; and the question is, whether Sit proprium quidquam puncto quod mowe are to have a mere moneyed aristo
bilis horæ cracy, or one qualified by those mixed Permutet dominos, et cedat in altera jura." and undefinable conditions which, But the general scope of an argumore than any thing else, act to keep ment may be just, though clumsily down the growing and eager ascen- stated and fallaciously supported. We dency of wealth per se. Among the are, however, at no loss for experisafeguards of such an aristocracy as ments on the largest scale whereby we have described, not the least to test the theory here noticed. We powerful is to be found in the laws have English agriculture, subjected discussed in the work before us. Mr to a limited law of entail, contrasted M'Culloch, as we have said, assumes on the one hand with Scottish agrithe importance to the country of pre- culture, under a law of perpetual enserving the present characteristics of tail, and on the other with that of British aristocracy; and he therefore France and its compulsory gavelkind.