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spite of all the labour and expense bestowed on its careful investigation.

10. Deprive the small farmers, the shopkeepers, and the peasants of almost all chance of buying land.

II. Aggravate all the above-mentioned evils in Ireland by the curses of absenteeism and agent management.

In this letter I propose to show what are some of the less direct, but the no less certain, consequences of our English system of Land Laws.

Few persons, who have read or thought at all, will need to be told by me that for many generations the landowners have been the most powerful class in the State, or that they have almost monopolised the power of one House of our Legislature, whilst they have been, when united, the predominant and far the most powerful section of the other, or Lower House. It is not, therefore, matter for surprise, knowing what we do of human nature, that they should have used, or that they should still use, their opportunities in the promotion of the power and interests of their own class, however patriotic and honourable their conduct may have been where their own class interests were not particularly concerned, or not more concerned than the general interests of the community.

I propose, therefore, to explain, as simply as I can, some of the advantages and privileges which the class of the landowners have secured for themselves, merely remarking that, if the Land Laws I have described had not bound them together by a strong sense of common interest, and supported them in a position of great wealth and power, they never would have been able to retain so long the exclusive privileges which, in days of greater ignorance and of less general wealth, they created for themselves.


If a Manchester merchant were to hire from a jobmaster a carriage and pair for two years, at £400 a year, and at


the end of the first year were to inform the jobmaster that he was unable or unwilling to pay for the first year's hire, the only remedy which the jobmaster would have, in order to obtain his £400, would be to commence an action to recover his £400, to go to trial, to recover a verdict and judgment, and then to instruct the sheriff to seize so much of the merchant's goods, &c., as would be sufficient to satisfy the claim for £400 and the costs of the action and other proceedings. If, while these proceedings were pending, the merchant should become insolvent, the jobmaster would be only able to come in with the other creditors, and to obtain as much for each pound that was owing to him as the other creditors obtained. Surely all this is fair and equitable. The merchant might be able to show at the trial that he ought not to be called upon to pay, on account of the fraud or misconduct of the jobmaster, or by reason of the terms of the original agreement, such as, for instance, that the jobmaster was not to be paid, if the carriage or horses did not answer certain stipulated requirements, &c., &c.

But the powerful class of landowners long ago secured themselves against the delays and expenses and uncertainties of law, and so arranged the law that they should have a short, easy, and summary remedy in their own hands for obtaining their rents, freed from all necessity of applying to lawyers.

If a farmer take a farm for, say, two years, at a rent of £400 a year, without a word being said about "distress" or anything of the sort; and if, like the merchant, he is unable at the end of his first year to pay his rent of £400, the landlord is enabled by the law, by means of his agents, and without the trouble, or expense, or delay of an action, or trial, or judgment, or execution, to enter upon the farm, and to seize so much of the cattle, stock, furniture, &c., as will, when sold by public auction, suffice to satisfy his claim for rent and for all the expenses. of entry, seizure, taking care of the property seized, the sale, &c. Nay, more, if the farmer proves to have many more creditors, and to owe

much more than £400 to each of several other creditors for the very cattle, stock, and furniture so seized, the landlord may disregard these unfortunate creditors, and, even if the farmer has been made insolvent and his affairs put into the Bankruptcy Court, so that his property may be divided equally and equitably amongst all the creditors, as in the case of the merchant, the landlord may still seize so much of the farmer's stock, cattle, furniture, &c., as will satisfy his £400 and all the costs he, the landlord, has been put to.

If this is a fair law for the landowners, why should it not be also fair for the jobmaster and for all men of business? Why should not the Manchester merchant be able to distrain on the calico printer for the value of the cloth he has sent to be printed, or upon his customer for the goods he has purchased from him; why should not the shopkeeper be allowed to distrain upon the customer who has carried off a large amount of goods on credit, and who does not pay when that credit has expired?

Why should the landowner, in short, be allowed to take the law into his own hands, and to be favoured more than the rest of the farmer's creditors, when all other creditors except landlords are compelled to resort to expensive legal proceedings to make out their claim, and, in case of the insolvency of the debtor, only to take their proportion of what remains to be divided? The only reasonable answer is that the landowning class have been rendered by the Land Laws so strong and so united that they have been able to obtain these laws in their own favour, and to defend and keep them after they were once obtained.

This law of "distress" was originally derived from the ancient feudal law; and after the power of the Church and Crown had been greatly diminished, and after Parliament became, as it did after the expulsion of James II., mainly the representative of the landowning class, this law was rendered more stringent against the tenants by many Acts of Parliament.


Another extraordinary landowner's law, which was established in feudal times, and which the landowners have been strong enough to retain down to the present day, though not in all its original severity and unfairness, is the law relating to what are called in legal phraseology "fixtures."

In the feudal times it was settled that the law should be that whatever a tenant of land (whether tenant only from year to year or tenant under a lease) annexed to the land during his tenancy should belong from that moment to the landowner, and not to the tenant, who had paid for it and annexed it. All the tenant's legal right to such annexed thing, however costly it was, ceased from the moment it was annexed.

But might made right in the feudal days, when these laws were first enforced, and might makes these same laws, though somewhat modified, right now. The trading classes struggled from the earliest time against this landowner's law, and gradually obtained exemptions in favour of "trade fixtures," or those erected for the purpose of trade and business, but the law has always operated, and still operates, most severely against agricultural tenants, though some very insufficient and unsatisfactory modifications, subject to conditions which seem designed to render them nugatory, have recently been granted to them, to satisfy the growing discontent a discontent which accompanied and was the result of growing intelligence. To show how hardly this law presses upon the tenant, who most probably knows nothing whatever about it when he commences his tenancy, let me give a few instances.

If the tenant erect a conservatory on a brick foundation, he cannot remove it at the end of the tenancy, however short that tenancy, or however much the conservatory may have cost him, but it becomes, as soon as erected, the property of the landowner. So, too, if the tenant erect

greenhouses in his garden, or a veranda to the house, or wind or water mills, or storehouses, they belong to the landowner as soon as erected, and cannot be removed. I give these merely as instances of what seems a most unjust and inexpedient law. And it must be carefully borne in mind that the law is equally stringent, even if the "fixture" can be removed without doing the least injury to the property to which it is affixed, and it is equally stringent, no matter what the cost or value of the “fixture” may have been. It is no answer to say that the tenant, when he took the house or farm, knew the law, and, therefore, knowing the law, chose for some reason to go to the expense. As every lawyer knows, and as the thousands of cases litigated on this subject show, not one man in ten thousand knows anything about this law; it is scarcely ever mentioned in leases, and even where it is, it is only with reference to the "fixtures” already on the premises; and it is certain that few lawyers even, without consulting the great tomes on landlord and tenant law, and on “fixtures," would be able to say offhand whether a particular article were a "fixture" or not, or were subject to this strange power and privilege

of the landowner.

It is a law which has existed at least since Edward I.'s reign. It emanated from the power of the great landowning class. It is sustained by the same power now.

Of course, if a valuable "fixture" could not be removed without injuring the premises to which it was attached, no such removal should by law be permitted, until ample compensation had been made to the owner of the premises for all such injury, whether prospective or otherwise. And it must be remembered that, if this law were repealed tomorrow, it would always be open to the landlord, before letting his premises, to make it a term of the agreement that the tenant should put up no fixture and make no alteration in the premises during the tenancy, and that, if he did, he should pay heavy compensation, and that the fixture should belong to the landlord. In such a case, each

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